1st Question & Answer Meeting 9
Why has the brain got caught in the narrow circle of the self?
1st Public Questions, Saanen
July 24, 1983
This is a question and answer meeting. There are several hundred questions been sent in and we cannot possibly answer all those. It would perhaps take a couple of months, so we won't be here for a couple of months!
When we ask questions do we expect a reply from somebody else? Here are several questions this morning. We shall answer them, or rather we shall together investigate the question, not the answer but rather in finding out the meaning of that question we shall then come upon the answer. The question is much more important, it seems to me, rather than the answer. Why one puts a question, what is the motive behind that question and do we expect a reply categorically, yes or no, or do we try to find an answer from somebody else rather than dig into the question, go into the question much more deeply and in the unfolding of the question perhaps we shall find the answer. The answer is not outside the question, it is in the question itself. I hope we are listening to all this.
It is a nice fresh morning. There was thunder last night and the air is fresh and I hope you are not going off to sleep.
1st QUESTION: I understand that in order to have a deep insight thinking must stop; for thinking to stop there must already be a deep insight. Where does one start? In this isn't the brain working to achieve something and thus preventing insight?
I don't know what the question means but we are going to go into it. I don't know what it all means. Let's go into it.
Do we clearly see, each of us, that our brain has become mechanical? We repeat, we live in the past and the reactions we have are obvious. And the question really is: where does one start? Where does one start to understand the whole problem of existence? Not insight, or thinking, how to stop thinking, but rather what is the meaning of all this? If we could start from there and then investigate more and more, deeper and deeper, then we will come upon something which may be not mechanical. That is, if we can realise that our brains have become mechanical. That is, when you insult another, the other insults you. Action, reaction. Right? A reward and punishment. On this basis, action, reaction, from that reaction action, and so on, like a tide going in and out. And that is a mechanical process - right? Our memories are mechanical. We live in the past. If I have an experience and it is an exciting experience, it has brought about several rewards and I cling to that, which then becomes mechanical. If I am attached to a person, or to an idea, or to some kind of experience then that being attached then it becomes mechanical, you repeat over and over again the same thing. Sexual and every other form of repetitive action is mechanical. I hope this is clear.
Then the question is: can this mechanical habit, mechanical brain, which has been programmed to be mechanical because it is seeking security in the mechanical, constant repetition, repeating your own prejudices, is a mechanical process. I think that is fairly clear. And so the question is whether this mechanical process can stop.
Suppose one has a habit, either smoking, drugs, alcohol, sexual and habit of belonging to something, belonging to a group, belonging to some kind of orthodox religion and so on, there you feel safe. There you feel you are among people who also think alike. And this mechanical process gives one a sense of security. This is again fairly clear. I hope you are listening. Are you listening, if I may ask? Because I don't see the point of coming here, going through all the heat, and the troubles one goes through, and sitting here and going off and dreaming something else, while you have come to listen to each other. So please let us listen to each other. Which doesn't mean that you must accept what the speaker is saying or cling to your own prejudices, conclusions and so on but both of us are understanding a very, very complex problem. The problem is living, existence. And in that existence of our daily life and so on, one finds the brain keeps on repeating the same thing over and over again. You may put a different disc but it will be the same thing, repeated. And so on. So our brains have become mechanical through long evolution, through innumerable experiences, and the brain has accumulated a great many memories and keeps on repeating the memories. You know, we know all this. And therefore the brain has become mechanical. And in this mechanical process it seeks security. That is all we want. We all want security, both biological, physical, as well as psychological. And when a brain becomes mechanical one thinks there is security. As long as I repeat that I am British, that I am French, that I am Hindu - there is security. But that divisive process brings about insecurity. Right? That is clear. Are we?
Now the question is, before we go into the problem of insight, the question is: whether this mechanical process can come to an end. This mechanical process brings about a deterioration in the brain - right? Do we see this? The brain needs stimulation. The brain needs challenging, questioning, doubting, asking, demanding. But if it is routine it stops demanding. It stops being sharp, clear and so gradually it deteriorates. You can see it all round - perhaps not here! (laughter) But you can see it almost from teenagers to old age. I wonder if one is aware of one's own brain deteriorating by constant repetition. You may revolt against the old and fall into another pattern and then repeat that. 'I am no longer a Christian, but I am a Buddhist'. 'I am no longer a Buddhist but Tibetan' - you know the game one plays, all over the world.
So the question is: whether the brain can stop deteriorating. That is really a very, very serious question. As long as we are living in the past, which we are, because we live in memory, we are memories, and that is the past. There is no future memory; future memory may be projected from the past, meeting the present and modifying itself and going on - right? This is the process we all do. The past meeting the present, modifying itself and then proceeding further. But it is still the past in movement, isn't it?
So is there a way of looking at life, living, which is not merely the continuation of the past? Have I put the question? I find my brain - suppose I find - my brain becoming repetitive. The language is repetitive, the symbols that thought has created become repetitive, language which is - language is not limited - but the limitation of the language creates the symbols and so on. I won't go into all that for the moment. So language, the past memories, being attached to, tied to an experience, to a series of memories, all those, because they are mechanical, bring about deterioration of the brain. Is this clear? Can we go on from there? Don't please nod your head and say yes, but see your own brain, watch your own brain, watch your own life, because your life is the activity of action, reaction, memories and all the turmoil, the deaths, the pleasures, the anxieties, the loneliness and so on, that is our life. We have lived that way for a million years, or more or less, and that is repetitive. War after war - right? War after war in different parts of the world. There have been two terrific wars within the last few years. So that has been repeating, repeating, repeating. So we have come to that point. I hope you have listened to this.
When you have come to that point, one asks: why does the brain depend so much on the past, on being programmed? You understand? Is that clear? Why does the brain depend, or live with this repetitive action? We are saying this repetitive action gives great security. Freedom doesn't give security - right? We will come to that a little later. So security is the basis of holding on to the past. Tradition is the past. Those soldiers in London going every morning up and down - you have seen all this. Poor devils!
So, now we are asking whether the brain can perceive its own mechanical process and that very perception brings about a challenge to move away from it. You have understood? I perceive that my brain is mechanical and I perceive it, not as an idea but actually - right? I perceive it. There is the perception that it is mechanical. That very perception is a challenge - right? Are we meeting this? I perceive a dangerous snake. That is a challenge - right? I have to do something about it otherwise that poisonous snake will kill me, so I have to act - right? There action takes place when there is perception - right? Are we meeting this?
Look, when I - when one is climbing a mountain and you see a precipice, the precipice is a challenge, isn't it? Either you are very capable and so go on, or you get dizzy and hold on to a rock and crawl back. So in the same way when you perceive, when there is perception that the brain is mechanical, being programmed, and in that programme there is no security, though one may want security there is no security because the brain is becoming dull, deteriorating, therefore in that there is no security - right? Right? Clear? So when there is perception of a danger there is action - right? When there is perception that the brain is becoming, or has become mechanical, that very perception brings about the energy to end that repetitive action - right? I wonder if you get this? (laughs) Are we at all together in this? No, no. How am I to talk about it? You tell me what to do.
First of all, let's begin. Does one, each one of us realise that our brains have become mechanical? Do you realise that? Then whether you are a philosopher, whether you are a scientist, whether you are a businessman, whether you are following some guru, whether you belong to some religion or not, the whole mechanical process is going on - right? As long as that mechanical process is going on the brain must deteriorate because the brain needs to be tremendously active. It is active in mechanical process - right? But it is not active in freedom. Therefore only in freedom the brain doesn't deteriorate. Is this clear, at least somewhat? Can we move from there?
As long as the brain is being programmed, repetitive, there is no freedom, and therefore it must deteriorate. It is like a human being in a prison. And there is no freedom there, therefore, not only biologically, organically, and also mentally, the brain, it deteriorates gradually. Clear? Now let's move from there.
(Noise of heavy rain) Nice after this fortnight of hot weather it is rain, cool.
It is not how to stop thinking, how to break the routine but if you see the fact that repetitive action, clinging to something of an experience which you have had and so on, are one of the major factors of deterioration. If you see that then you have brought altogether a different action - is this clear? Like when there is a perception of danger, physical danger, you act. But when we see that the brain is deteriorating because of various reasons which I have explained, you go on because you don't see the fact that routine is deteriorating the brain. If you saw it you will act. You saw fit to come here - right? You have taken the trouble to come here. You took steps, you saved money, or you had a lot of money you spent and so on, but you decided to come here. Similarly when you see something clearly, the factors of deterioration, you go on. You don't say there must be action - right?
Now from that let's go into it further. What is the process of thinking? You understand? What is the cause, or causation of thinking? We all think, fortunately or unfortunately, some more, some less, some with an extraordinary clarity, logic, others live in a slip-shod way. But we all think. And we have never asked: what is the cause, what is the root of thinking? You understand? Do please find out for yourselves what is thinking. When you are asked a familiar question your response is immediate. What is your name? Where do you live? And you immediately answer. Why? Because you are familiar with your name, you are familiar with the road and the house you live in. And so familiarity and constant repetition, you reply instantly. Right? Suppose one asks a little more complex question, there is an interval between the question and the answer. In that interval you are searching your memory, you are looking. You are saying, 'I wonder if this is right', 'This is wrong' - you follow? The interval between the question and the answer is time interval. In that time interval you are searching for an answer, whether in the encyclopaedia or in your own memory, or asking somebody - right? So there is an interval between question and answer, which is the time interval. Suppose one asks some very complex question and you say, 'I don't know' - right? What is the distance from here to Mars? You don't know. And you say, 'I don't know' - right? So familiarity, an interval of time between question and answer and saying 'I don't know'. So this whole process is thinking - right? Right, sirs? Are we together in this? This whole process of the question which you are familiar with, the question which demands time, and you say 'I don't know', all that is a process of thinking. Thinking along a particular line, if you are attached to a particular experience and you hold on to that experience, thinking then is round that experience - right? (Noise of heavy rain) Shall we wait a minute? Or shall I go on? I will go on in spite of the rain.
And thinking is based on memory. If you have no memory you can't think. And memory is gathered in the brain as knowledge. Knowledge comes from experience - right? Experience, knowledge, memory, thought. One must be absolutely clear on this - right? Experience is always limited, whether you are experiencing pleasure, pain, sorrow, loneliness, depression, anxiety, all that is limited. Right? A man who says, 'I am enlightened' - right? You understand? - when a person is asked, 'Are you enlightened?' and the other fellow says, 'I am', that very experience that he has illumined is limited. No sane, rational, really enlightened man says, 'I am enlightened' - right?
So all experience is limited and therefore all knowledge in the future or in the past is limited. So thought, which is the child of memory, and memory is limited. So the whole thinking process is limited. Is this clear? Can we go on from that?
Now what happens when thought, which is limited, when there is limitation what takes place? You understand my question? Are you listening to this or to the rain? (Pause for heavy rain) Shall we go on? Can you all hear?
When one is thinking about oneself, which most of us do, the thinking about oneself is very limited. You may expand that thinking about oneself as illumined, as a great writer, or... Ah! (Rain stops, laughter) May we go on now? As we were saying that if we are concerned with ourselves, as most of us are, even those people who say, 'I have reached the height', they are thinking about themselves. And consequences of that thinking about oneself is very divisive. Right? If you are thinking about yourself and I am thinking about myself in various ways, it brings about a division, therefore in that division there is conflict - right? So whatever is limited must bring about conflict. I am an Arab and you are a Jew - or if you don't like that - I am a Jew, you are an Arab and so on. So wherever there is limitation there must be conflict. This is very important to understand because all our lives are based on limitation - right? And therefore we are in perpetual conflict. I wonder if we realise this, not verbally as a mere statement, that wherever there is division in our relationship, however intimate, national division, economic division, social division, religious divisions, there must be conflict, struggle, war. This is a law. The law of Moses.
So when one realises that and that self-concern nationally and so on, is brought about by thought, and therefore thought being limited must inevitably create conflict - right? Is this clear? This is logical - right? - rational, sane. That wherever there is division, thinking about myself, my ambition and the other person thinking about his ambition, his fulfilment, this division must breed conflict.
So the question then is: is it possible, seeing the truth of this, that as long as I am an Indian, as long as I am concerned with my piano, with my enlightenment, or with my writing a book, and so on, it must invariably create disturbance, turmoil, conflict. If one sees, if there is perception of that, what is the action? Not how to stop thinking. I wonder if you see that. There is the perception that thought has created this division. Religiously you can see it very well: as long as I am a Catholic, as long as you are something else, we are going to be in turmoil with each other. And that is the product of thought. So what is one to do? You perceive the fact. Does the very fact free you? You understand? Or does the fact merely remain as an idea? You understand? You are not going to sleep? Are we still? The rain has gone, so we can begin again.
When one makes a statement like this: that wherever there is division there must be conflict, in relationship and so on. Is that a fact to you? That is, you see the reality of it? Or you merely see the idea of it? Is this clear? A fact, like a serpent is a fact. But you can draw an idea about a serpent and live in that idea. Therefore you are living with a non-reality, away from fact. Is this clear? Can we go on from there? Which is it we are doing now? Not tomorrow, now, as you are sitting there and we are discussing and we discover that where there is division there must be conflict. Is that a fact to you? Truth to you? Or is it just an idea? Vous avez compri? Al capito, signor? You understand? Which is it? Is it a fact, like you are hungry? Or is it an idea that you are hungry? You understand? Which is it? If it is a fact, it is so, that where there is division there must be conflict. Or you hear only a statement of it, therefore that is nothing to do with the fact. So which is it for you? If it is a fact it is so, that you will fall down a precipice, that is a fact. So you move away from it. So the fact is a challenge which you must answer - right? Are you answering? Or, you say, 'That is too much, I don't know what the danger will be' and so on and so on? So it is up to you.
So it is not a question of thought stopping, but seeing the fact and the perception of the fact in itself brings about a movement which is not thought. I can't go on repeating this umpteen times.
And the questioner asks: what is insight? What is it, how does this perception and action instantaneously take place? That is what he means. You understand? Is the question clear? The question, that is, is there an action which is not based on memory, of course, if it is based on memory it is repetitive - is there an action, please ask this question of yourself, is there an action which is not based on past memories, past experiences and therefore on thought, and if there is action of such kind, that action is limited and therefore must breed conflict. So is there an action which is not based on past memories, experience and so on? Right? That is the question. And he asks, he says, that is insight. You understand? Seeing something clearly, acting - right? For us we don't see something clearly, we take time, during that interval other changes take place, so our actions are always confused. Whereas is there an action - please ask this question of yourself, I am putting forward to you this question, please listen to the question and find out if the question is logical, rational. It is rational, logical because our actions are based on memories, on the past experiences, therefore our actions are mechanical. And the questioner says: is there a movement, an action in which the past, thought, doesn't enter at all? Is the question clear?
Now we are going to find out. Right? Thought as an instrument of action apart from the technological field, has created havoc in the world. Right? Are you clear on this? Oh my god, must I repeat all that over again? Thought has built marvellous cathedrals and thought has put all the things in the cathedral: the ceremonies, the rituals, the mass, all the dresses they wear, all that is the product of thought, and not divine revelation. One might like to think that but it is the movement of thought - right? And that movement is limited, therefore must create conflict. So do we see that the activity of thought, necessary in certain area - right? - but may not be necessary in other areas. Like in one's relationship to one's wife, husband, girl friend and so on, in that relationship, if that relationship is based on thought, therefore divisive, therefore conflict. That is clear, you all see that. Therefore where there is conflict there is no love. Jealousy is not love. Ambition is not love. But when the wife and the husband are both ambitious - right? - therefore there is perpetual conflict. So thought has its place, technologically, from here to there, and thought may not have a place at all psychologically. Do you understand? So find out for yourself whether there is an action which is not based on thought. And the speaker says there is. Don't accept his word, doubt what he is saying, question what he is saying, he is no authority. He says, and he will give you a reason for it presently, that there is an action, that there is an action which is not based on thought. Right?
We are going to find out. Be sceptical please, doubt, question, what he is talking about. Hasn't it ever happened to you in your life, seeing something true and acting? Right? Without the process of thought, without the process of rationalisation, without remembering, it must have happened - right? Every person has moments of this. Clear perception without any movement of thought, action taking place at the same time - no? Aren't you all human? Is this very strange? Some call it intuition, but the word intuition is rather a dangerous word. You can intuit your own desires, say 'I want that' - you follow? So there is a movement - movement is action -there is a movement in which thought doesn't interfere at all. I will show it to you. Love is not thought - right? Agree to that? Love is not desire - right? Do you see that? Love is not pleasure. Love is not ambition, jealousy and so on, hate. So through negation of what love is not, the positive is. Are we doing this? Can you put aside jealousy, hate, ambition, aggression, violence, all that is not love. So love is an action in which desire is not, pleasure is not, therefore love - if there is such a thing as that - from that any action taking place is not the movement of thought. Are we together in this? Or is it all just a lot of verbiage?
Now put it round the other way. We operate from the background of memory. All our actions are based upon the past, knowledge and so on. Now can you, can the brain see the fact that it is operating from the past, perceive that, and see the consequences of that, and seeing the consequences of it doesn't depend on the past - right? And therefore there is an action which is not of memory. I can't keep on repeating this. Are we getting anywhere near? There is an insight which is not born of remembrance. Insight is not of time - right? Time is thought, time is memory, time is experience, knowledge, and as long as we depend on time, which is divisive, therefore conflict, and to see this, to perceive the actuality of this, then only is there an insight into it.
I am allowed another quarter of an hour. We have talked an hour over one question.
2nd QUESTION: I long to be loved. And it is a constant anguish. What am I to do?
Is the question all right?
Aren't most of us in this position? We all want to be loved, specially by one. Now let's go into this. I have got quarter of an hour. It is a very complex question.
Why do we want to be loved? And why has it become anguish, an anguish? What is the cause, the root, or the motive, wanting to be loved? Do you understand my question? I want to be loved by you - god forbid - but I want to be loved by you. Why? Is it I am lonely? Is it that I feel if I am not loved I have no raison d'etre to live? Is it that if I am loved I feel I can flower, grow, be happy and all that? Right? Is it that in myself I am nothing but when you love me I become something? You are following all this? Please this is your life, not my life. So please listen to this. So there is a cause which makes me say, 'I want your love' - right? There is a cause, there is a motive, there is a background which says, 'I must have that' - right? So we have seen some of the causes. I am desperately lonely. You all know that, don't you? Married, unmarried, whether you are amongst a group and so on, human beings through their self-centred activity bring about loneliness. Right? Is that one of the causes of the desire to be loved? As long as there is a cause the effect is to demand that you should love me - right? So can I understand the cause and be free of the cause? You have understood what I am saying? Please sir, this is your life!
I am lonely, depressed, isolated and feel desperately unhappy, and if you love me I will say, 'By Jove, everything is so beautiful'. So my demand, my desire, my longing, is based on loneliness, demand for companionship, with whom I can talk, unfold and all the rest of it. So there is a cause - right? Now do I see the cause, actually? The cause is I am lonely. I am taking that one instance. I am lonely. And I want you to love me, for god's sake. And you don't. You turn away from me. Either I commit suicide - right? Or I become full of anxiety - right? Depressed, more depressed than ever. I then escape from myself - football, church, new guru, or the latest literature, or the latest picture, talk about it - right? So is the cause of loneliness seen? Loneliness is a sense of isolation - right? The isolation comes into being as long as I am self-centred, thinking about myself, I am unhappy, I want you to love me - you follow? I have reduced all my life, which is such an extraordinary thing, to a small affair, that you love me. You understand? Such a petty little affair I have reduced it to. And being isolated I am unhappy and I wish you, I crave for you to love me. (Fly settles on K's face) This particular fly is fond of me! (Laughter)
You understand? See the tremendous complexity of a very simple question. I want to be loved and I am not loved therefore I am full of anxiety. And the questioner says, 'What am I to do?'. When the brain is caught in such anxiety, such anguish, it can't think clearly, can it? Right? It can't even listen, it is so full of its own anxiety, its own sense of desperation. Now can there be an interval in which you listen? You understand? A short period in which you say, 'Tell me about it' and then will you listen? Or will you say, 'No, I don't want to listen because I still love being in a tremendous state of anxiety' - you understand what I am saying? Most people do. Without that sense of anguish you are nothing. That sense of anguish keeps you alive - no? Oh, come on, sirs, this is all ordinary psychology, childish psychology. So will you, if you are in such anguish, for a few minutes, listen to what is being said? Or you love your anguish so much you don't want to listen?
So as we were saying the other day, if you really listen, with your heart, with your mind, with all your being, then you have a space, your brain becomes quiet, then you listen. Then that very listening is like a seed that is being sown, then you don't have to do a thing, it then grows, multiplies. And when you understand love is not something to be asked for, you don't stretch out your hand to be loved. That means you are dependent on somebody. That means you really don't love at all. If you are asking another to be loved, if you are asking to be loved by another, that means you have no love in yourself. It is so obvious. If you have love, you don't ask anybody that you be loved. You see we are making ourselves into beggars. That is what is happening. When you go to church, pray, we are beggars. When we want somebody to help us, we are beggars. Or when we depend on books we are beggars. It may be all right to be a beggar but see the consequences of it: you are always depending on somebody else. And there are all those people who will help you fill your bowl full of their rubbish.
So, see what has taken place when we hear this question: I want to be loved, and I am not, I live in great anguish, what am I to do? That means one has no love in oneself. Then how can another love you - you understand? If you have no love and you are incapable then of receiving love - you understand? Love is not a vacuum, like a sense of emptiness. On the contrary. If you have that tremendous feeling - not feeling - a quality, a depth, a beauty, then you don't ask anybody for love. It is like a cup being full. Right? If you have listened to this very carefully, then the problem is gone.
Finished for this morning. We will meet again tomorrow morning, if you want to. May I get up please?