2nd Question & Answer Meeting 14
Where there is total attention there is no self
2nd Public Questions, Madras
January 03, 1985
I would like to ask, if I may, why you come here. I really would like to ask. What is your, if I may respectfully ask, what is it that you are seeking? What is it deeply we want? If each one of us asked that question seriously, and sustained that question, what would be your answer? Not to speak it aloud, but to find out for oneself what is it most profoundly we desire, or crave for, or pursue. Or do you want to be helped to find out, not only our own nature, psychological structure of oneself, or do we merely build a scaffold of theories, suppositions, and a verbal structure behind which there is no building at all. You understand my question?
Most of us have fears, and - one may be mistaken - we build a marvellous scaffolding. You know what a scaffolding is? And behind the scaffolding there is almost nothing, only a verbal structure, imaginative suppositions and all that. And there is no foundation, no strong lasting building behind that scaffold. Is it that we in our daily life imagine we are something and pursue that imagination? Or accept some tradition and live with that tradition? Or we are very good at talking, spilling out words, and that acts as a screen to the understanding of oneself, and living with oneself.
So one wonders what it is that human beings throughout the world deeply want, deeply are seeking. Is it money? Is it some kind of power? Is it that one has taken a stand and does not wish that stand to be shaken. You understand all this? If we deeply enquire into ourselves, can we ever say what it is we find, or what it is we desire? Or one doesn't want anything at all in this world, or in the psychological world. One must have money to live by, a little money, clothes, shelter, but apart from that, a professional skill or vocation, apart from that, can we say, 'I really don't want a thing'? Can we actually say to ourselves - one must be terribly honest with oneself to say that - 'I really don't want a thing, neither heaven, nor hell, nor paradise, nor liberation, nirvana, or anything you like.' Can one actually say that? Or you are too timid, too anxious?
So to go back to our questions. When we were looking at the dark sky and the rain this morning, what was one's response to nature, to all the squalor, the dirt, the utter, crude carelessness and indifference? It concerns all of us. What is our reaction to all that? Are we insensitive? Or if we are sensitive what can one do? And what is our relationship to society and so on? If we can put one serious question to ourselves, in comprehending that question you have answered all the questions in the world.
So let's go back to our questions, shall we?
1st Question: You have shown that thought is limited, but what other instrument of enquiry is available to man?
I haven't shown you a thing. That's a wrong supposition. We together enquired into the whole nature of thought, not, the speaker has shown something to you and you accept. But rather that together, you and the speaker, went into the whole question of thought, not somebody else's thoughts but one's own thinking. And we live by thinking. Everything we do is by thinking, through thought. All our emotions are recognised by thought, as bad, good, indifferent, romantic and so on. And we went into it fairly sufficiently. Perhaps we should go into it again. Because if one understands this very deeply: what is thought, not only the thought of the so-called great scientists, the great investigators into astrophysics, into archaeology, physics, chemistry and so on. They expend thought enormously, pursue one thought after another, come to a conclusion; and that conclusion is not correct, they throw it out and go on - thinking, thinking, thinking. And the villager round the corner, who doesn't know how to read or write because he has never looked at a book, he also thinks. So thought is common to all mankind. Right? And there is no good thought and bad thought, it is still thought.
We should now, together, you and the speaker, enquire into it. Not I show it to you and then you accept it, which is quite absurd. But if you and K enquire into it, go into it and if you discover it for yourself as a fact then nobody can dislodge your observation. Right? Nobody can deny the accuracy of your thinking. So can we go on, explore together - I mean together. That means you have to exercise your brain - I am saying this most respectfully - exercise your brain to find out together what is thought. Not thought about something. You understand the difference between thinking and thinking about something. We generally think about something, about my job, about my business, about my wife, about my sex, about so many things. The object of thinking may vary, may be different with each person, but thinking, thought, is common to all mankind. That's a fact. Right? Common to all mankind. So we are not talking about the object of thinking, the object: I would like to be happy, I would like to have more money, or I would like to have a better car, I wish I could change my wife for somebody else and so on. Thinking about something. But we are not investigating about something, but rather the whole activity of thought, how it arises, what's the origin, and so on. We are going to go into thinking, not the object of thought. Clear?
All right? What do you think - don't quote me, the speaker, then you are lost - what do you think is thought? Is thought a material process? Do you understand my question? Is thought something outside? In certain tribes thought is always considered something outside. You know, according to the Eskimos thought is considered something apart from the physical, outside, and so on. I won't go into all that. I am not a scholar, I have just observed. I don't read books, I don't go into all that kind of stuff. So thinking can only exist when there is a whole background of memory. Right? If I have no memory at all I can't think. Right? Shall we go along with this?
So I have to enquire why memory, thought plays such an important part in one's life. Memory is based on knowledge. Right? I have had an experience of a car accident and that incident has been recorded, like the tape which is being now recorded, it is recorded by the brain, and that recording is memory of that incident. Right? Don't agree with me, just see for yourself. So the function of the brain is to record, and the recording is knowledge. I have had that injury through an accident of a car, and that is recorded as pain and that remains there recorded. That recording is knowledge. Right? Of course. Next time I drive a car I am going to be awfully careful - if you drive a car. So thought, memory, which is the recording as knowledge, that knowledge is based on that experience of an accident. Right? Experience in that car, which has had an accident, which caused pain, a broken leg - I won't say a broken head for then you are gone! (laughs) So experience, then the brain records that experience as knowledge - right? - then that knowledge is memory and that memory is the movement of thought. Is this clear? Not clear, my description, your own discovery, your own investigation into the whole business of thinking. That thinking may be distorted, or that thinking may live in illusions, or that thinking may run away with some fanciful, imaginative pictures, but it is still thinking. And there is obviously no complete experience of anything. So experience is limited. And therefore knowledge is also limited because the scientists as you observe, are adding more and more and more to their knowledge. Right? They never say knowledge is complete, now or in the future. So knowledge, if you observe in yourself, knowledge is always limited, whether in the past or in the present or in the future. So knowledge is always limited. Right? Do we see that? That is important because if we don't understand the nature of knowledge and what part it plays in our lives then knowledge becomes - one cannot grasp the quality of knowledge. Are we following each other a little bit, or is it all quickly done?
You understand? Knowledge is based on experience, may be thousands of years of experience, but those experiences of ten years, or a hundred years, or one day, are still limited, and therefore knowledge is limited, memory is limited, and therefore thought is limited. Right? Thought is always limited. Are we clear on this matter, or is it all vague? And all our activity is limited too because it is based on thought.
And so the questioner asks, if thought is not the instrument of investigation - you understand? - into deeper levels of one's own consciousness, of one's understanding the fullness, the wholeness of life, then what is the instrument if thought is not? Do you understand the question? All right? Can I go on? Gosh, you all look so asleep. You're all right? Thought is necessary, however limited it is. When you go home from here, or take a bus, car, walk, or these nasty little 'fut-futs', you have to use thought. You have to use thought in your business. You have to use thought when you fly, when you do anything externally, physically, you have to use thought. And if that thought is not employed - or if thought doesn't express itself clearly, then out of that lack of clarity there is confusion. So knowledge is always necessary for external activity. Clear? When one goes to the barber to have one's hair cut you must use thought. When you shave you must use thought.
So is there another instrument which is not limited, as thought is limited? Is there another instrument which can penetrate into the whole structure, nature of the psyche? The psyche being the self, the whole phenomenon of the self. Is there an instrument apart from thought? Right? What would be your answer? If you have pursued what we have said just now about thought, realising that thought is limited, and therefore when you exercise thought as a means of investigating into yourself it will always be incomplete. Right? It will always be limited. It will not be holistic. If you see that clearly for yourself, for oneself, then what is the instrument? Or there is no instrument at all? Careful, please go carefully into this. Are we at least together in all this?
When you see a tree, that thing that is green, outside there, how do you look at it? What's your relationship to that tree? Do you look at it without the word? Or the word is the tree? I wonder if you understand all this. You understand my question? When you look at that extraordinary thing of nature called a tree, which man hasn't created, thank god, and what's your response to it? Is it a verbal response - how beautiful that tree is, and go by? Or can you look at that thing called a tree - the word 'tree' is not the tree. Right? The word which we use to indicate, to communicate with another, that thing which is over there, the word is not the tree. Right? The word 'door', behind here, is not the thing, is it? So could we say the word is not the thing. The word is merely to describe, but that which is described is not the actual. Don't look so puzzled, please.
So this is important to understand because we are caught in words, we become prisoners to words, a slave to words: I am a Brahmin, or you are not, I am a communist, I am a congressman, and so on - words. So when you look at that green thing standing in the garden, do you look at it without a word? Do you look at it without any interference of thought which is limited? Or you are so occupied with your own thinking, with your own problems and so on, you really never look at that tree. Now carry that same thing: do you look at your wife, or husband, or your girl friend, whatever you like, without the word, without the memory associated with that person? You understand this is very important to understand. I know you, you have been here, I see several people here I met a couple of years ago, or ten years ago, do I look at them - I am asking myself, please ask yourself - do I look at them with all the memory of five years ago? Of course, he is so and so. Otherwise that would be rather silly if I have to be introduced every time I meet him! But do I carry that memory of meeting that person on the road which was dirty, noisy, etc., etc., and I carry that memory and when I see him next time that memory operates, therefore I am not looking at him afresh. I wonder if you understand all this.
Are you looking at my face? And enamoured with the face? Or are you really going into this carefully with the speaker? When you look at your wife or husband and so on, you have all the memory: sexual, memory of encouragement, depression, oh, she is a nagging person, and so on and so on, and so on, when you look at a person do you carry all this with you? Let's be quite simple and honest. Of course we do. Don't we? So you never look at that person at all because you have got this memory as a screen and through that screen you look at people. So there is an observation which is not controlled by words, shaped by words, twisted by thought, and that is the only - I don't like to use 'instrument' - that is the only observation, to look, to observe without any word. Don't shake your head, this demands extraordinary watchfulness. To look, to observe, without the word, without your opinions, prejudices, all the activity of thought - to look, to observe. Then that observation, when it is not shaped by thought, or driven by thought, then such observation is holistic, whole, not limited as thought is limited. Is this clear? No, no, please don't say, yes, don't agree, you can't agree unless you do it. Most of us like to be talked at, we like to attend meetings. It is one of our diseases. And you just listen, agree, disagree, and go off home. We are not in that area at all. What we are saying is extraordinarily important to understand for yourself. The limitation of thought, the memory as recorded of an incident which becomes knowledge based on experience and all that process is everlastingly limited. All the scientists are adding more and more and more; with the last two hundred years they have advanced immensely, adding. And where there is an addition, that which is added to is always limited, obviously, it is not complete. And there is an observation, perception, not only seeing with the visual, optical eye but also seeing, perceiving, observing without a single movement of thought. And such observation is complete.
Now from that arises another deep very important question: what is action - the question is not here, I am putting the question - what is action when there is such complete perception? Do you understand my question? What is action to you? The doing, acting, present participle, (laughs) sorry, the doing, what does it mean? The doing, acting according to a past reservoir of memory, knowledge, and you act according to that knowledge. Right? I am not saying anything mysterious, sirs, don't look so glum. Or we act according to a symbol, or according to a preconceived concept, idea, an ideal. Right? Acting according to the past memories, and that action directed by the past, or the future. Right? I must do that, or I act according to my conviction, or I have an ideal, and I act according to that ideal. Right? Right, sirs? Isn't this so? You all look so frightfully serious. (laughter) Either you are really serious, or you don't understand what I am talking about. (laughter)
So action is based on the past memories, knowledge, or acting according to the future: what I must do tomorrow and therefore I will do this today. You understand? Is there an action which is not based either on the past, or on the future? Because the word 'act', I have just heard the other day the explanation of the word 'karma', 'kru' to do - the doing is now, not tomorrow or yesterday. You understand what I am saying? The doing, the acting. We cannot live without acting. When you get up, that's an act, when you go to your home, that's an act; not sublime act. So action, actual action is now. Now I am asking myself, what is the relationship of action to perception which is holistic? Am I right? Are you putting that question? I don't want to torture you, bully you, force you to anything at all. But these are the ordinary questions, this is the ordinary demand of every human being. So is there an action which is holistic, which is whole, not limited? Because our actions are based on thought. If thought is limited, as it is, then action will be limited, therefore it is never - as it is limited, it creates all kinds of trouble.
Look sirs, there is a war going on in the Middle East, in Beirut in Lebanon - the Jews and the Arabs. Right? They are both Semitic people. You understand? But four thousand, or five thousand years of propaganda has made the Jews say, 'I am separate from the Arab'. Right? All right, I wont go so far. Come nearer, much nearer home. Which is, you are Hindus and there are the Muslims. The Muslims have been for the last sixteen hundred years, have been conditioned through repetition, through fear, through conformity, conversion and so on to believe they are Muslims, and you have been conditioned, programmed for three to five thousand years as Hindus. Thought has divided this - right? - not culture. Culture belongs to all humanity, not just Indian culture. I wont go into all that. So you, as a Hindu, and the Muslim are at war - not actually killing each other but when there is a riot you burst out, you are violent. So thought has divided people. Right? You understand? I am French or British - for God's sake, it's all so childish, all this! So, the speaker is saying - don't accept it, question it, doubt it, tear it to pieces. Find out for yourself if there is an action which is completely without division, separation, which is not based on thought.
If I may, if you'll forgive me, forgive the speaker if he uses the word, introduces the word 'love'. I'm not talking of physical pleasure which we call love. That may be natural or unnatural, whatever that is. I don't want to go into this question very deeply because it's a very, very complex thing, what love is. Love is not based on knowledge, love is not the product of thought. Love is not pleasure and so on. When there is that quality of love, there is an action which is holistic, which is whole. Full stop!
2nd Question: Silence is the pivotal point in all your teachings for the transformation of man. To your closest circle you have advocated the need of 'sitting still' (what the devil is this question?) and 'staying in silence' for short periods during the day to bring about this mutation in the brain. Please teach us the practical steps to achieve this transformation.
God! Who put this question? I had better read that question without laughing at it. Silence is the pivotal point in all your teachings for the transformation of man. To your closest circle you have advocated the need for 'sitting still' and 'staying in silence' for short periods during the day to bring about this mutation in the brain. Please teach us the practical steps to this transformation.
The speaker, K, has no close circles. Right? That's the first thing to establish very clearly. Right? He has no close circle round him: the disciples, which is a horror to the speaker, to have disciples, because generally disciples destroy the teacher. (laughter) You may laugh at it but it is a fact. So there is no closed circle. I would walk out of it tomorrow if there was such a thing. And I really mean it. Because independence is necessary. And it is only through independence there can be co-operation. You understand? Co-operation is immensely important in life. We either co-operate for our own profit, for our own self-interest, or we co-operate round a person because we all worship him. Then it becomes personal idolatry, which is an abomination. And co-operation, which is to work together, do things together, can never take place unless each one is completely independent. I know this goes contrary to everything. You co-operate with the government, you co-operate with the guru, you co-operate with the policeman, you co-operate with your governor, chief minister, and all the bosses and so on. And they all destroy your independence. It is only when you are really independent I can work with you and you can work with me. That means we must both be free to co-operate. You are not my boss, I am not your boss. You understand all this? Oh, lord! All right, it's up to you.
I am afraid the questioner has got things totally wrong. Silence is the pivotal point in all your teachings for the transformation of man. Nonsense! And to your close circle you have advocated the need for sitting still, staying in silence for a short period during the day, so to bring about transformation, you know all the rest of it. You know that becomes transcendental meditation. You have heard about that? Morning twenty minutes, afternoon twenty minutes, in the evening twenty minutes keep silent, watchful. That helps bring about a good siesta! (laughter) You can go to sleep during those twenty minutes, relax. I am not joking. This is what is going on in the world. The speaker is not advocating anything. He is not doing any kind of propaganda for you, to convince you of anything, and the speaker really means it. Please take it seriously. On the contrary he says doubt, doubt what the speaker is saying - not only other speakers, this speaker - question, be sceptical, be independent.
So he is not advocating silence. I wont go into all this. It is so trivial this question. The questioner has not even understood what the poor man has been saying for sixty years.
Sir, transformation of human psyche, the human selfishness, the human violence, is not through silence. Silence is something totally different from the word 'silence'. Silence may include sound. I wont go into that now. We don't understand sound: the sound of a tree, the sound of a thunder, the sound of a jet racing across the sky at a thousand miles an hour, a minute - or an hour. There is tremendous sound in the world. Sound in ourselves. And we separate the sound from silence. Sound may be, and is, part of silence. I won't go into this now, you won't understand.
To bring about the transformation of the psyche, which is ourselves, our self-interest, our confusion, our pain, sorrow, fear, pleasure and all the things that we go through life: the pain, the uncertainty, the lack of security, the demand for security both physically and psychologically, all this is me, you - your profession, your name, your bank account, if you have one. All that is you - imagining, sitting very quiet, closed eyes, all that is you: your worries, your problems, your quarrels, your desires, your sexual demands, your name, genetically and so on, is you. And to bring about a total transformation, that is total ending of this self which is creating such chaos in the world, that ending is not through silence. That ending has to take place now, not tomorrow. And that ending can only come through careful, attentive observation of yourself, of your desires, your thoughts, your attempts at meditation, concentration, going to a guru, all that is part of the self-interest. And to end that completely, this self-interest, you need a very good, clear brain, not a muddled brain. And that means to have a brain that is free from all programmes, to be free from all conditioning, and therefore one has to observe the conditioning. The conditioning that you are a Hindu, Muslim, that you are this and that, all those trivialities which thought has created. That requires a great inward attention. You give a great deal of attention to earn money, to go to your office, to do this or that - tremendous attention. And you give very, very little attention to the other.
Have you ever noticed something very simple: suppose you and I have been going north, taking a certain path, always, for the last ten thousand, or a million years, we have been going north. It is a symbol, an example - don't say, we are going north, we are not. We are going north, suppose, and somebody comes along and says, 'You have been going along that path for the last hundred thousand years and more, I have been on that path too, but it leads nowhere'. That man says. And he says, 'Go east, or south, or west'. And he says it in all seriousness, and you listen to it because you are weary of this path, going north, and you listen very carefully. And you say, 'Quite right, let me try, go see'. When you turn from going north, east or west or south, the brain has broken the pattern of the north. You understand what I am saying? Are we together? It has broken the pattern, therefore the conditioning. The moment it turns, going east it has changed radically the brain cells themselves, because you have broken the pattern. I have been a Muslim all my life, and I see how absurd it is, this division. The moment I perceive the absurdity of the truth of it, not the truth I must leave, the truth of this division, brought about by thought and so on and so on, the moment I see that, there is a mutation in the brain, in the brain cells themselves. We have discussed this matter with so-called brain specialists, they won't quite accept what I am saying because they haven't tried it on themselves. They have tried it on dogs, monkeys and all the rest of it. (laughter) Don't laugh, sirs, please. All these professionals never try it on themselves. They are like you and me, ambitious, greedy, seeking position, power and all the rest.
So there is a mutation - mutation means total change, completely something different - when there is clear perception.
rd Question: Can humanity survive without a universal code of morality, which is true for all times and in all climates? Can an earnest man discover this way of life by his own reason and goodwill?
Are you tired? What is universal morality? This is again a supposition. Right? He says, can humanity survive without? Can you survive, because you are humanity? You understand my question? You - oh, God, must I go through all this? Aren't you like the rest of humanity? You may be short, dark, purple, white, pink, whatever pigment, colour of the pigment is, aren't you like the rest of the world? You may have a different profession. You may have dark hair, blonde, purple - you can dye it any colour you like. Aren't you like the rest of mankind? Because you suffer, you go through agonies, worries, live a very, very superficial life, occasionally jolted out of that by sorrow, or fear. And your neighbour, whether it be very, very close, or thousands of miles away goes through the same thing in a different way. He quarrels with his wife, as you do, you're involved when something serious is being said. And they also, they do the same. So you are similar, or you are the rest of humanity. You won't believe all this, it doesn't matter. To you this is not a truth because you have been conditioned to individualism. All your religions, your physical condition says that you are a separate soul, separate human being, separate consciousness, that your brain is separate from any other brain. You have been conditioned to all that. And one cannot understand that you as a human being are like every other human being on earth psychologically. They all go through, every human being goes through death, or knows death, or somebody has died in his family, and there is sorrow. This sorrow is common to all mankind. You may suffer from disease and have sorrow, or another have sorrow through death, of another's death, or the sorrow of ignorance, or the sorrow of limited knowledge. We all go through this, there is not one single human being on earth who has not had this: pain, lack of fulfilment and its sorrow, the desire to fulfil, the desire to have roots in some place and not finding it, the man who can never go in a nice car, the villager. There is sorrow under every stone and every human being. So you are not different from another human being. So you are not individuals. Yes sirs, swallow this. It is a hard pill to swallow. You won't like it. And so you are the rest of humanity, you are humanity. If you are immoral, if you are corrupt because you are of self-interest, you are adding to the misery of the rest of mankind. Don't agree with this, that is theory. But if you set about to see how deeply you can wipe - if the brain can wipe away its self-interest.
Self-interest is one of the most deceiving things because it can hide under everything: in politics, in religion, in prayer, in puja, in rituals, it can hide in a family and so on. It is so cunning, so deceptive. And you can't trace all its hidden ways - nobody can, because it is far too subtle. But when there is the importance and the urgency to see the nature of the self, and its interest, when there is perception, of which I was talking about, which is to see things as they are, psychologically, inwardly, not run away, not suppress, not transmute it, rationalise it. When you observe the thing without any movement of thought then that glimpse of the truth will wipe away all the self-interest.
Questioner: If sorrow is common for all of us why don’t we have love which is also common to all of us?
The gentleman asks if sorrow is common to all of us why don't we have love, which is also common to all of us? We haven't got it. Do you love your wife? I am not asking you personally. Do you love that tree? In India and elsewhere they don't know what love is, sir, don't say it is common. You worship, you are devoted, you go to temples, you pay - there is a temple in Tirupati where they get every third day a million dollars. Think of the brutality of it! And you won't take away the village dirt. So we have no common love. We have no love in our heart. Face it! That's a good question to ask, but it has no meaning. You may be sympathetic, kind, and even, perhaps, generous - which I question too - charitable, give something to another if you have more of it. If you have more money, give it to somebody, a little bit of it; you won't do that either. And you talk about love! My God, don't use that word, sir, you don't know it. It is the most sacred thing on earth if you have it.
Oh, it's nearly ten to nine. Do we go on?
Q: Yes, go on.
K: Yes, sir, I know. You would like me to go on. (laughter) It becomes some kind of hypnotic process. Sir, what we are talking about is a very serious matter, very, very serious, not just repeat, repeat, repeat. You can have a gramophone, tape recorders, play that if you want to go to sleep, but if you are really serious about these matters, with your heart, with your mind, with all your being because we are reaching a crisis in the world, of which you are not aware. Every religion has gone, finished, there is no meaning any more. Every deity, god is gone, finished. Intellectually, any deep, any thinking person rejects all that. There is no morality any more, there is corruption all over the world. In this country it is amazing, shocking. And we went into that. Where there is self interest, whether it is in the politician, in the priest, in you or in the governor or anybody, corruption begins there, that's the root of corruption, not just passing bribes and all the rest of that. That's a symptom. And there is the threat of war, not just war between one or two countries, a global war, the whole world may be destroyed by these atoms. You are not aware of all that, the immense issue involved in all this. Some crazy politicians can push a button and we are all gone, evaporated - you know what that word means, 'evaporated', nothing left of you, no bone, no skin, nothing. I won't go into all that.
So we are facing an extraordinary situation in the world, and there must be a few people like us, a few of us, I don't say all of you, a few of us who turn their face not towards the north but in some other direction.