1st Question & Answer Meeting 8
Can we live together without conflict?
1st Public Questions, Ojai, California
May 17, 1983
One thinks it is right to put questions, but to whom are you putting questions? To oneself, or to somebody that you hope will answer correctly, precisely, perhaps logically and sanely? Is the question more important than the answer? Does the answer lie in the question? Please, we are talking it over together. The question and the answer - are they similar? Or is the answer more important than the question? So we are going together to find out. In understanding the question, in delving deep into it, we might come upon the answer. The answer is not outside the question. When we go into that perhaps you will see it, we'll see it together, the full significance of that. If one puts a question, you expect someone else to answer it. In that is involved the whole problem of somebody who knows, and he will answer according to his knowledge, according to his information, his data, and so on. Is there somebody who will answer all our human questions, or we have to rely entirely upon ourselves, and not depend on anybody.
Please, we are talking the thing over together. We are not the final oracle, from Delphi. You know that? And in investigating the question, seeing what the question implies, perhaps in that very implication we'll be able to understand the answer. So the answer does not lie outside the question.
And it's important also to put the right question. Then one asks, what is the right question? A question can be quite superficial: what kind of food should I eat? There are lots of questions like that. Should I take exercise? Do you advocate yoga? Those are rather, one considers, rather superficial, though they have certain necessities. But to delve deeply into a question, and to find out why one puts the question. As we have been saying in all these talks, during all these years, doubt, scepticism are necessary: to doubt one's own thinking, questioning one's own attitudes and conclusions and perceptions, to be sceptical what another says, whether he is very learned, a specialist, and so on. Questioning, doubting, being somewhat sceptical helps the brain to clear itself. I hope we are following this together. Because our brains are rather clouded and conditioned. And one can put a question from that background and wait for somebody to explain, go into it, as the analyst and the analyser, and find out the answer from another. And as there are no leaders, no gurus, no specialists in the human problems, one has to understand all this oneself. I hope we are clear on this matter. If we are clear, then we can go on with the questions, can we?
I haven't read these questions.
1st QUESTION: What is an artist - no, sorry - what is the role of the artist in life and what is the significance of music, poetry, and all art in our relationship to each other and the world.
Are you interested in this question?
First of all, we must be clear what we mean by art. The word 'art', from Greek and so on, Latin, is to join, to adjust, to put things together. That's the root meaning of that word. It also, in Sanskrit means measure, manner, use. The root meaning, we are talking of the etymological meaning. And the questioner asks: what is the role of art in our lives? Having seen what the root meaning of that word is, the root meaning, what is beauty?
Beauty is not something put together. So, we are going to enquire together into the meaning of that word, the significance of that word, the content of that word. I'm not a professor. I'm sorry to sit on a platform, which I don't like, but one has to do it for the convenience of others; otherwise you wouldn't see me if I sat on the ground. I would like to sit on the ground, but I have to sit here.
It's a very complex question, this. If we can go very deeply into it, it has great significance. Art implies, doesn't it, a flowing melodious manner of space, weight, grouping together, and depth. Are there some artists here? I said - the speaker said, a flowing melodious manner of space, depth and grouping together - of words, sentences, or a painting on a canvas or a sculpture or a poem, or literature. Is that right? A flowing melodious manner of space, of depth, of grouping certain things together: trees, people, words; all that is a form of art. Do you agree to this at all? That is, if there is no space, if you see something, say a painting - I hope somebody will correct me if I am wrong - if you see a picture, a painting by the masters, classical masters or recent ones - the really great painters - there is space, a sense of space. The figures are grouped together in a certain way; there is a certain depth to it, in colour, in the sense of movement, and it must be melodious. And when you see some of these paintings of landscape, they may paint a little cottage in a field, with a few trees, but there is space and there is depth of colour, proportion, a sense of harmony. Right? And that would be great painting.
And one has visited - as perhaps you have as a tourist, most of the major museums of the world, and one sees all these great masters, from Holland, Italy, England, America, and so on. So we are asking: what is beauty? Is beauty according to a principle? According to certain rules? You follow? Or, beauty is something entirely different, though there must be proportion and all the rest of it.
When we look at a mountain there, when you see those mountains, those hills: range after range, blue in the evening, and early morning when the sun touches it before everything else. When you see that, the reaction is either great silence - you keep quiet; there is space, enormous space, between you and that and beyond. And when you see such marvellous beautiful mountains, snow-clad against the blue sky, for an instant you become silent. The very beauty, the very grandeur, the majesty of the mountain keeps you, makes you absolutely quiet. You can say, the shock of beauty. I hope you are looking at those mountains, not at me. (laughter) The speaker is not important at all. But what he says may be important and may not be important, but you have to discover for yourself. So when you see something extraordinarily grand, of great height and depth then the very shock of that beauty drives away for the moment all your problems. There is no self wondering, worrying, talking to itself, there is no entity, the self, the me, looking. At that moment when the self is not, there is great beauty. Right? I wonder if you follow all this!
And the questioner asks, what is the role of art in our lives? I don't know. (laughter) But we're going to find out together.
Why should anything play a role? Please, this is an important question. Why should anything play a role in our lives? The greatest art is the art of living - the greatest, not the paintings, the sculpture, the poems, and the marvellous literature. That has its certain place, but to find out for oneself the art of living, that's the greatest art - it surpasses any role in life.
So, some of the great painters in their lives are neurotic: very, very disturbed lives, like Beethoven, and others, very disturbed. And that disturbance perhaps may help them to write great music. Or, if one led an aesthetic life - are we following each other? - aesthetic life, and that life is based on - life is based on relationship; there is no life without relationship. And aesthetic is the capacity of perception - right? Are we meeting each other or am I just talking to myself? Capacity to perceive, which means one must be extraordinarily sensitive. And sensitivity is not shouting, yelling. But sensitivity comes from the depth of silence. Shall I go on? It's no good going to colleges and universities to learn how to be sensitive. Or go to somebody to teach you how to be sensitive. As we said, aestheticism is the capacity to perceive, and you cannot perceive if there is not a certain depth of silence. If you look at these trees in silence - there is a communication which is not merely verbal, but a communication, a communion with nature. And most of us have lost our relationship with nature: with the trees, with the mountains, with all the living things of the earth.
And sensitivity in our relationship, to be aware of each other, is that at all possible? That's the art of living, to find out a relationship that is not conflict, that's a flow of a melodious manner of living together. You understand this? Without all the rows, quarrels, possessiveness and being possessed, fear of loneliness - you follow? - the whole cycle of human struggle.
The art of living is far more important than the art of great painters. It may be that we are escaping through music from ourselves through going into all the museums of the world and talking about them endlessly, reading about books on art. All that may be an escape from our own troubles, anxieties, depressions. So can we live an aesthetic life of deep perception? Be aware of our words, be aware of the noise of this country, the vulgarity of human beings. Because one learns far more in silence than in noise. This all may sound platitudes, but they are not. This requires a great deal of observation of oneself. That observation is prevented by any form of authority, looking to another to teach us how to observe; just to observe, watch, the way you walk, the way you talk, the noise, you know all that goes on. Then out of that comes the art of living.
Art, as we said, is putting things together harmoniously, to observe the contradictions in oneself, one's desires that are always so strong, to observe all that, not create an opposite of it, just to observe the fact and live with the fact. It seems that's the way to bring about a life of melodious harmony. Have we answered the question? Sir, don't bother to clap. I don't know why you do, maybe you like to feel that we have said the right things and you appreciate it, but what the speaker has said is what you are thinking, I hope, therefore, don't clap for the speaker.
2nd QUESTION: Is not the observation of thought a continuing use of thought and therefore a contradiction?
Let's examine the question first. Is not the observation of thought a continuing use of thought and therefore a contradiction? When you observe that tree, are you looking at it with all the memories of trees that you have seen, with the shade under the tree under which perhaps you have sat, and the pleasure of a morning, sitting quietly under a tree looking at all the beauty of the leaves, the branches, the trunk, and the sound of the trunk. When you observe all that, are you observing through words, are you observing through remembrances? Or the memories of those pleasant evenings when you have sat under a tree or looked at a tree, then you are looking through the structure of words. Therefore one is not actually observing. Is that right? So, are we aware that we look at everything through a network of words? Words being the past meaning the usage of certain words with their content, with their remembrances and so on. That is, are you looking at a tree or a single star in the heaven, as it was last night with the new moon and Venus together - are you looking at it with words, or you are looking at the whole phenomena of yesterday evening without a single word.
So is observation a perception, a process of thought? Which is a verbal communication to each other, the usage of words which contain the past memories and incidents and so on, or there is pure observation without time - time being thought, time being memory. So please find out. Let's find out what we actually do. Can we look at a person with whom we have lived for a number of days or years without all the past remembrances and incidents, and the pleasures and the comforts that one has derived from that person, or the antagonism, you follow, the whole process of it? Can you observe as though you are meeting the person for the first time? You may remember his face or her face; of course, that is necessary, otherwise it's rather troublesome. (laughter) But to look at a person, to be so sensitive to a person, and that sensitivity is not possible when there is always the past memory projecting itself all the time. Right?
So from that one asks a question: can thought be aware of itself? This is a rather complex question; I hope - one hopes you don't mind looking at the complexity of it. Can thought, the whole process of thinking, can that thinking be aware of itself, or there is a thinker who is aware of his thoughts? You understand the question? Is this becoming difficult for you? You are interested in all this?
3rd Questioner: May I interrupt a moment, sir? I wonder if the group might find it a little more interesting if you could address yourself to some of the striking statements that are in your tapes and books that I have read. I will give you an example of the sort of thing that could be answered, I think relatively briefly, and might be very stimulating. In one tape you refer to marriage as 'that terrible institution'. My question would be, could you elaborate? Do you think a young man and a young woman, for example, should live together without marriage, or should not live together, that kind of thing? And I have other things.
K: All right, sir. Let's have some fun. (laughter) Let's answer that question; we'll come back to this. One may live with another person, sexually or in relationship with another and take the responsibility - entire responsibility, both of us - and continue with that responsibility, not change when it doesn't suit you, when that other person doesn't satisfy you in various different ways. Right? Or, you go through marriage, which is, get a license, go to church and the priest blesses the couple, you know, and there you are tied, legally. And that tie, legally, gives you more the feeling of being more responsible. Right? That you are held by law. Are you waiting for me to answer this? You are held there by law, and with it goes a responsibility that one thinks is enduring, lasting. What's the difference between the two? You're legally controlled; it takes time to get a divorce; you have children and the children may hold you together for a while, till they grow up; and then when they grow up, you say goodbye to each other perhaps, or get a divorce and all the rest of it. If the other, which is not legalised marriage, and if there is a responsibility as much as in the other, and perhaps more, then what's the difference between the two? Either it is responsibility based on law, either the responsibility of convenience, necessity, comfort, and sexual and all the other demands - where is the question of love in all this? Right?
Each one of us - each one - wife and the husband or girl and the boy or whatever it is, are they ever together, except sexually? Whether they are legally married or not legally married, together. They may hold hands in public as they embrace each other in public, as they do in this country - right? In Asia, that's rather considered immoral, immodest, and they do it quietly by themselves in their house. So what's the difference between the two? And where is love in all this? Please answer this question for yourself.
Is love the pursuit of desire? Is love pleasure? Sexual and other forms of pleasure? Is love mere companionship, depending on each other? Is love attachment? Go on, sir, enquire all this. And if one negates intelligently - because you see the reason of it, that attachment is not love, nor detachment, remembrance of each other's past incidents and pressures and insults and all that, living together day after day, month or year after year, the stored-up memories, the pictures, the imagination - all that's not love, surely. When you negate all this, which is, through negation you come to the positive. But if you start with the positive, you end up with negation. That's what you are all doing. Right? Am I saying things which are true or incorrect?
So, that gentleman asked a question: why doesn't the speaker talk about all that? Sir, what is important in life? What is the root or the basic essential in life? As one observes more and more, in television, and literature, magazines, and all the things that are going on, it is becoming more and more superficial - quick answers. If you are in trouble, go to a specialist; they'll tell you what to do. It's all becoming so superficial and vulgar - if one may use that word without any sense of derogatory or insulting. It's all becoming so superficial and rather childish.
And one never asks what is the fundamental question or fundamental necessity or the depth of life. Surely not beliefs, not dogmas, not faith, not all the intellectual rigmarole, whether in the Communist theology or the Catholic theology, Marxist theology or Lenin or St Thomas Aquinas: they're all the same - theories, conclusions and ideologies, based on belief, faith, dogma, rituals. So all that is becoming more and more in one's life, outwardly, very, very, very superficial. Just out there. And we live like that. This is a fact, I am not saying anything which is not so.
And it's a marvellous world of entertainment, both religious and football, anything to escape: yell, shout, never quiet conversation, never look at anything quietly, beautifully. So what is the fundamental, basic demand or basic thing that is really of utmost importance in one's life?
Q: Do you want us to answer?
K: You can answer, sir, if you want to.
Q: The answer is compassion. Compassion.
K: I know, I know, I've heard it. When you use that word, are you again using that word superficially or there is compassion in you? You understand? When you say, yes, compassion, that becomes utterly superficial; you have already stamped it. The word 'compassion' means passion for all, not just for your family. And you cannot have compassion if you are attached to any belief, to any dogma. If there is not complete freedom, there cannot be compassion. And with compassion there is intelligence. So if you say compassion, love is the root of all things in life, in the universe, in all our relationship and action, to find that out, to come upon it, to live with it and act from there - then marriage or not marriage - then you are no longer an individual, there is something else, entirely different from one's own petty little self.
Right, sir? Is there another question you would like to ask on that level? Or can we go on with this question, which is really quite important, if we can go into it seriously. We asked: can thought be aware of itself?
That is, thought has created the thinker - right? - separate from his thought. Isn't that so? Have you got it? That is, there is the thinker who then says I must be aware of what I think; I must control my thoughts, I must not let my thoughts wander. So there is the thinker separate from his thought. And the thinker acts upon the thought. Right? Now, is the thinker different from thought? Or the thinking, thought, has created the thinker. You understand the question? There is no thinker without thought. Right? Do we meet each other on this? Please, because this is rather important, because if we can find out why this duality exists in us: the opposite, the contradiction, the 'me' and the thought, the 'me' as the thinker, the one who witnesses, the one who observes, and the thing to be observed. That is, the thinker then controls thought - right? - shapes thought, puts thought into a mould; but is the thinker different from thought? Has not thought created the thinker?
Q: I can see it logically.
K: Wait, sir, first of all let's be logical. (laughter) Or let us see it intellectually, which is what? Verbally. Verbally I can see very clearly that there is the division between the thinker and the thought, and thought has created the thinker. So the thinker is the past, with his memories, with his knowledge, all put together by thought, which has come into being after experiences and so on, so it is the whole activity of the past, the thinker. Agreed? Clear? And then it says, thinking is something different from me who is the thinker. Right? You accept that logically, intellectually - why? Not you, sir, but we all do. We all say, yes, I understand it intellectually very quickly. But why? Why do we say that: I understand it intellectually?
Q: It seems obvious.
K: No. No. Go into it, sir, why do we say, first reaction, I understand intellectually. Why? Is it not because we never look at the whole thing. We only look at something intellectually. Now, the speaker explained very carefully, logically, the thinker and the thought. And you accept that logically. And I say, why do you do that? Why does one do that? Is it that the intellect is highly developed with most of us, or developed much more than our sensitivity, our immediate perception. Right? Of course. Because we are trained from childhood to acquire, to memorise - right? - to exercise the brain, certain parts of the brain, which is to hold what has been told, informed, and keep on repeating it. So when you meet something new, you say, I understand intellectually. But one never meets the new totally, whole, that is, intellectually, emotionally, with all your senses awakened, you never receive it completely. You receive it partially - right? And the partial activity is the intellectual activity. It's never the whole being observing. You say, yes, that's logical. (laughs) And we stop there. We don't say, why is it that only part of the senses are awakened? Intellectual perception is partial sensitivity, partial senses acting. To create a dynamo, to do that you have to think intellectually. In creating a computer, in putting computer together, you don't have to have all your emotions and your senses, you have become mechanical, and repeat that. So the same process is carried when we hear something new, say I understand intellectually. We don't meet it entirely. So the statement has been made but we don't receive it totally.
So the problem arises, sir, out of this: why is it that we never meet anything, especially when you see a tree or the mountains, or the movement of the sea, with all your senses highly awakened. Why? Is it not that we live always partially? That is, we always live in a limited sphere, limited space in ourselves. It's a fact. So to look, if you will now, look at those mountains with all your senses. Which means when that act takes place, all your senses - your eyes, your ears, your nerves, the whole response of the organism which is also the brain, receive, look at that whole thing entirely. Then when one does, there is no centre as the 'me' who is looking. Right?
So we are asking: can thought be aware of itself? This is rather a complex question, because this requires very careful observation. Thought has created wars - right? - through nationalism, through sectarian religion, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist. Thought has created all this - right? You are quite sure? God has not created all this: the hierarchy of the church, the Pope, all the dress, all the rituals, the swinging of the incense, the candles - right? All that paraphernalia that goes on in a cathedral or in a church is put together by thought, copied, some of it, from the ancient Egyptians and so on, from the ancient Hindus, Egyptians, Jews and so on. It's all thought. Right? So God is created by thought.
A man who has no fear whatsoever of dying, living, problems, no fear whatsoever, does he need god? So thought has put all this together. One can see what thought has done, step by step - right?
So thought can be aware of its own action; you are following? I wonder if you are following all this. So that there is no contradiction between the thinker and the thought, between the observer and the observed. When there is no contradiction, there is no effort. It's only when there is contradiction, which is division, there must be effort. So to find out whether it's possible to live a life without a single shadow of effort, contradiction, one must investigate the whole movement of thought. And one hasn't the time or the inclination; one is too busy, too much to do. But one has plenty of time when one wants to do something: when you want to play golf you have any amount of time.
So to find out what's the activity of thought, to watch it - that's part of meditation.
4th QUESTION: You have said that quietness, silence, comes unsought. But can we live in ways that will allow it to come more readily.
I don't quite know what it means. Oh, yes, it can, by taking a pill. No? By taking a drug; get drunk. Look at the question. He wants something readily, you don't want to squeeze the orange, but you buy the orange in a tin. You follow? Something readily, quickly.
Have you ever enquired into what is silence? What is silence? What is peace? Is peace between two wars? That's what's happening: what we call peace, it's between two wars. This war, like the next war, is to end all wars. Do you understand that? You have understood that phrase? This war, like the next war, is to end all wars. That is, is peace between two noises, is peace between two wars, is peace between two rows, quarrels? So what is silence? It cannot naturally be bought in a shop or a pharmacy - right? We would like to buy it quickly and get on with it. But silence cannot be bought nor peace cannot be bought. Right? If that is so, what is silence?
Silence must mean space, mustn't it? I can be very silent in a small space. Enclose myself, shut my eyes, and put a wall round myself, concentrate on some potty little affair, and in that there can be certain amount of peace, certain amount of silence. Right? I can go into my den, my reading room or quiet room and sit there, but the space is limited when I do that. Not only my little room, but in my brain also, the space is very, very limited. Right? Because most of us have never even asked about, thought about all this.
So what is space? Is space from one point to another? Is space a limited dimension? Or, space without a centre? Therefore, without a centre, therefore no border. You understand? As long as I have 'me', my problems, my selfish demands, my, my, my, it's very limited. Right? That limitation has its own small space. But that little space is a form of self-protective wall, to remain in there, not to be disturbed, not to have problems, not to have - you follow? - all the trouble and so on. So, as for most of us, that space of the self is the only space we have. And from that space we are asking what is space. I wonder if you follow all this? Am I making the question clear?
Q: Sure. You are saying we’ve got to have space, so that we can have an understanding of silence. We need to have space so that we can have an enjoyment, find the time for the pleasure of silent melody; space; we can’t enjoy or understand silence or have silence without space.
K: Of course. Space to understand, space to enjoy. But always that's limited, isn't it? So where there is limitation, there cannot be vast space. That's all. And space implies silence. Noise doesn't imply space. I don't know if one sees that. All the noise that is going on in towns, between people, and all the noise of modern music - there's no space, there is not silence anywhere, just noise. It maybe pleasant or unpleasant, that's not the point.
So what does it mean to have space? Space between two notes on the piano; that's a very small space. Or silence between two people who have been quarrelling, and later on resume the quarrelling. Right? All that is a very, very limited space, so is there a space that's limitless? Not in heaven, not in the universe, but in ourselves, in our whole way of living, to have space: not imaginative, not romantic, but actual feeling of vast sense of space.
Now, you will say, yes, I understand that intellectually. (laughter) But to receive that question: what is space, what's the content of that, to receive it, entirely, with all your senses, then you will find out what it is, if there is such a vast space which is related to the universe.
What time is it?
Q: Quarter to one.
K: May I go on with one more question? You aren't tired?
5th QUESTION: Is there such a thing as a true guru? Is there ever a right use of mantra?
I think it is necessary to understand the meaning of that word, those two words, guru and mantra. They are two Sanskrit words. Guru: do you know what it means? The root meaning of that word, I've been told by many Sanskrit scholars, the real meaning is 'weight'. W-e-i-g-h-t, you know. And also it means, one who dispels illusion. Right? And also it means, one who points. Points - not the way, just points. (laughter) And one who does not impose his illusions on you, his stupidities on you. Please, this is the meaning of that word.
And also, the meaning, the root meaning of the word 'mantra' means to ponder over not becoming. And also it means, dissolve, put away, all self-centred activity. You understand? Ponder over not becoming, and also dissolve, put away, banish all self-centred activity. Right? Guru means all that, mantra means all this.
And the questioner asks, is there a true guru? In Northern India, they call an educator, teacher of a elementary school 'guru'. They call them guruji, because he is teaching, informing. Now, the word 'guru', has been brought over from that unfortunate country to this country, and they are making millions and millions and millions of money out of it. Telling you what to do, giving you mantras for $500 or $100 or $2, to repeat it. And when you repeat something constantly day after day, your brain becomes, what it is. (laughter)
And there is no right guru, there is only the wrong guru. Because nobody can teach you anything except for yourself. They can teach you how to read, write, mathematics, biology, and so on, but nobody can teach you what you are, about yourself and whether there is freedom from all that tradition, from all the tremendous conditioning of centuries. That implies you are the teacher and the disciple, there is no teacher or a disciple outside you. You understand the implication of this?
We depend on others, which is natural. I depend - one depends on the postman, on the doctor, on the computer expert; how to put together a motor; you depend on all that. On the pharmacist, chemist. And also we think it is necessary that we depend inwardly on others; on my wife I depend, of course in several ways I have to depend - she has to depend on me, I have to depend on her. But the dependence becomes gradually attachment and all the agony of attachment begins.
So learning about oneself is infinite. You understand? Learning is infinite. Not about books, that has certain limitations; all knowledge is limitation. Obviously, sir, obviously, right? There is no complete knowledge about anything, even the scientists admit it. They are always adding - more and more and more, so knowledge is always limited, now or in the future. And outward knowledge is necessary and that same wave, it continues inwardly, Right? That we must know ourselves. Right? The Greeks - before the Greeks - they said 'know yourself'. And 'know yourself' doesn't mean go to somebody and find out about yourself. It means watch what you are doing, what you are thinking, your behaviour, your words, your gestures, the way you talk, the way you eat, everything; watch. Not correct, not say this is right or wrong, just watch, And to watch there must be silence. And in that watching there is learning. And therefore when you are learning you become the teacher. So you are both the teacher and the disciple, and nobody else on earth.
I do not know if you have not noticed in this world, more and more, there are institutions, foundations, associations, for various things, outwardly and inwardly. Right? Foundation for right action, for right thinking - foundation; each holding on to his own little foundation. You might just say, why do you have foundations? I'll tell you. This foundation exists merely to maintain schools - ordinary schools - both in India, where there are six schools, in England, and here at Ojai. And to publish books and to arrange the talks, and nothing else! No spiritual - I dislike that word - no religious content behind that word.
So when one understands the meaning of the word 'guru', and 'mantra', they become very, very serious. Mantra means to dissolve the whole structure of becoming. So it means there is no evolution for the self, for the psyche. That's very complex, I won't go into that. And there is nobody that can free oneself, nobody outside, except one's own inward integrity, great humility to learn.