2nd Question & Answer Meeting 7
Why has man become what he is?
2nd Public Questions, Madras
December 30, 1982
I hope this meeting is not merely an amusement or entertainment. There are several questions here which I have not seen, and we will talk over together. I wonder if one participates or shares in what we are discussing - we are going to answer these questions - do we share or do you merely listen to the speaker? Do you understand the difference? Say for instance, I would like to share with you certain thoughts, certain attitudes, certain qualities of the mind. And to investigate that, the quality of one's brain and the mind requires a great deal of patient direct investigation, not through some theories, not through any form of concepts and principles, but putting all that aside to find out why we think certain things, why we believe, what is the cause of our anxiety, our lack of relationship, our lack of communication and so on. Are we aware of the activities of our brain with all its extraordinary capacities? Are we aware of our senses, the senses that are really part of our life? Are we aware of this extraordinary complex movement of life, not only as one lives but the life of humanity which has such varieties, such great aptitudes and capacities. Are we aware of all this, or are we merely aware of one's own little problems, one's own dejections and impressions, and so on? It is really quite an interesting question to ask of ourselves, whether we are aware, actually not theoretically, of what is going on in the world and in ourselves. Or are we so conditioned, so neglectful, not diligent that we really are totally unaware of the beauty of these trees, the quality of the air, the dirt, the squalor, the ever restless seas, are we aware of all this, or only very limited life?
So, we will answer some of these questions.
1st Question: The Indian mind for centuries has probed into the nature of the self and of cosmos. In spite of this, today it is completely materialistic. What has happened to that ancient wisdom of the mind?
Shall we talk over this together? Because for the last - the speaker has been every winter for the last 50 years coming to this country, travelling abroad, going all over the place, and one sees the decline not only in Europe and America but also especially, obviously, palpably, the decline in this country. The speaker has been asking various scholars, politicians, some scientists and so on, what has happened, or what is the quality of Indian mind? Of course, it is a vast generalisation to say what is the Indian mind, because the Indian mind varies from north, south, east and west, but assuming that it is inaccurate to put such a generalised question, but knowing that and probably it is incorrect to say what is the Indian mind - you are following me? What is the Indian mind? And the questioner says, the ancient people of this country. This country has exploded all over Asia at one time, historically - as Greece, ancient Greece, exploded, waves all over the west. Right? We are following each other? And the questioner asks what has happened to the Indian mind. So, we are going to, if you will, going to enquire what is the Indian mind today. Is that all right? Are you interested in it?
What actually is the Indian mind, today, not go back to the ancient world and be proud about it, or that we are a very ancient race and all that kind of business, but actually when you begin to investigate what is the Indian mind, knowing a generalisation is always inaccurate because you cannot generalise the whole - what is the European mind or the American mind or the British mind - but if you begin to enquire into what is the - not only the human mind, the mind of humanity, but also to particularise that mind, geographically as India - what is our mind? I wonder if you have ever asked that question. I doubt it. If you do ask that question - what is our mind? Is it materialistic? Drawn towards technology? Following the western world of vast movement in the technique, with the computers. Computers are taking over the world. They out-think, out-solve all the technological problems, think much faster, has infinite memory. Right? Your computer is taking over the world. The speaker saw on a television in California where the Japanese car makers Honda - probably you have heard of that car - the workers were in white gloves, white apron, spotless, and there was a computer and the robot. The computer was telling the robot how to build a car and the robot was screwing the nuts and polishing, doing everything that human beings generally do in building a car.
Is our brain computerised? You understand my question? That is, we have been programmed as the computer is programmed. But our brains are much slower, not tremendously active. We only use a very, very, very small part of the brain. So are we, is the Indian mind materialistic, which is seeking - you know what materialism is, I don't have to tell you. And is the Indian mind - knowing always generalisation is not correct - is the Indian mind - may I talk about it frankly? You don't mind? Sure you don't mind? Can you stand it? Right, here goes! Because the speaker would like to be as polite as possible, most respectful, but when we are investigating into a thing like this we must be totally unbiased, totally impersonal, completely unidentified.
The Indian mind as one observes is authoritarian-bound. Right? It functions in a hierarchical movement. Right? It follows, it accepts authority, ancient tradition, the authority of some ancient books, the authority of the guru, the authority of someone who says he knows, he is illumined, blah blah, and you follow him. Right? Would this be correct? Which means, where there is authority there is fear. Have you ever watched a higher politician meet you, how you grovel, almost double up with false respect. This is one of the conditions of the Indian mind - following authority, sycophanticism, fear and therefore totally disorder. Right? No? Disorder in the streets, disorder in one's life, disorder in society and each one out for himself. Not that it does not happen or take place in Europe or America or even Russia, but it is more obvious in this country - utter carelessness, total disregard, lack of consideration. Right? Would you accept all this? And the Indian mind is capable of absorbing everything; different kinds of philosophies, however much contradictory they are. It is so tolerant; it will accept everything. Right? Contradictory philosophies, contradictory gurus, contradictory concepts. So, when your brain is capable of such absorption, it becomes rather sloppy. Right?
Sorry, sir, you can't see my face, but you can hear my voice. Come and sit in front. Come and sit in front, sir - plenty of room here. Have some fun sitting. Come in please sir, please come and look - you don't have to look round the corner. (Laughs) I hope you understand English.
So, when such a mind, such brain is capable of absorbing, tolerant of dirt, squalor, disorder, lack of beauty - probably you never look at a tree, never look at the open skies with all the brilliant stars. Put up with anything. So, such a mind is a very sloppy mind. It is not a mind that is active, alive, seeing everything. So it is tradition-bound and very theoretical, very clever in analysis. That is why they are doing such excellent work in Europe and America; they are capable of great analysis, more subtle than the Western world, but it is all theoretical, problematical, hypothetical, quoting the Gita, the Upanishads, and then trying to relate what has been said to your life. Obviously you don't, so essentially the brain has become sloppy. Therefore, it is capable of becoming materialistic - money, money, money. Isn't that so? Do look at it all sirs. Don't accept the speaker's word and then refute it, or argue against it, split hair about it, which you are doing now. But if you really want to try and utterly change such a quality of the brain, which has become so dead, but technologically you have become extraordinarily alive. But in the psychological world, which is much more interesting, there there is not activity at all. You will talk about the self, the cosmos, discuss very clearly, and cleverly - a sophisticated brain which has lived in theories. But when you come down to your relationship with other human beings, there is nothing at all.
And one asks - may I go on? You don't mind? I don't care if you mind or don't mind, these are facts - and one asks: is there love at all? Love. Not attachment, not personal pleasure in sex and so on, but is there love in this country? That is, generous, kind, considerate, having great sympathy - that is only the outward symbols, the outward activity - but the depth of love, compassion. Have you? If you have such love, would there be war, would you allow the government to accumulate armaments to kill other human beings? Enquire into all this sir. Or we don't care what happens, how we treat our women, your women, your wives. Have you ever gone into all this? The husband walks in front, the wife follows behind.
And is the Indian mind, apart from the technological inventions, is the Indian mind capable of creation? You understand by the word 'creation'? To live a creative life, not a life of pattern - you understand? - following pattern after pattern, system after system, and therefore gradually the brain withers through constant conflict. Is this the Indian mind? Please ask it of yourself. I am not asking you, I am not telling you. Is this the Indian mind that is so chaotic, so disorderly, irresponsible?
Somebody the other day wanted to telephone to Europe and nobody cared to answer, to get the number requested. Waited two or three hours to get it until somebody appealed to a higher authority, and immediately there was action. Right? What do you think of all this? Do please see the tragedy of all this. You may read the Gita, Upanishads - totally unrelated to daily life. There is no application of what you read to daily life. You hear this, and if one may point out - just words. You don't say: look, am I like that? Is my life disorderly? Is my life, my way of thinking hierarchical? One has to have authority of law - naturally - the policeman and so on. But there too there is such vast corruption. You know all this. So, what is the Indian mind? What is the French mind, the British mind? If you live there long enough, one begins to find out. I won't discuss the French mind or the English mind. That is an easy escape from facing these facts.
So, what shall we do when an ancient race, three to five thousand years of a certain culture wiped out overnight. Right? The Brahmanic culture - don't get upset about using that word. You are all probably anti-Brahmin, pro-Brahmin, or whatever it is. The Brahmanical culture, however bad or good, for five to three thousand years has put a strong imprint on the Indian brain - their culture, their books and everything, and overnight it is gone. You understand? It is gone. Why? You understand all this, what I am talking about? Are you interested in all this? You must ask this very serious question: why a certain culture lasting for thousands of years, which has had such strong imprint, strong impression on the human brain, why there is this anti-Brahminism, pro-Brahminism. You follow? Why has it been wiped out? Now it is the fashion in this country to smoke, to drink, to eat meat. Right, sir? I am not pro- or anti-Brahmin, but I am saying that these are the facts. And what has happened to that culture, whether it is good or bad? Was is just a veneer, surface, like a coat that you put on and throw off? The tradition which is dead, is this the Indian mind? And if it is - we are not dogmatic about it, that is why I am saying if it is - if it is, what shall we do? Come on sirs. Answer this question. Just carry on sloppily, indifferent, sluggish? Have you ever noticed that whenever you go to a meeting, somebody is telling you what to do - the politicians, the gurus, the philosophers, who are translating or interpreting the everlasting Gita. You know all this, don't you? Commentaries on Gita - if you have nothing to do, you make commentaries. You live on commentaries. You understand, sir?
So, realising all this, what shall we do? Don't go to sleep. This is a question that you must answer. This is the crisis, not wars or nuclear bombs, this is our crisis. That means one has to observe very carefully, become aware of ourselves because we are the history of mankind. We are the story of mankind. And if we don't know how to read that book with clarity, without any interpretation, then we are going to destroy ourselves. But you don't care, do you? You'll have clever arguments against all the speaker has said and thereby prevent yourself from doing anything. That is what I call a sloppy mind, a brain that is analytical, clever, very subtle, and in their analysis they remain at that superficial, theoretical level, which has nothing whatsoever to do with our daily life. I hope you see the tragedy of this. So is it possible to change radically, break through our condition and be free human beings?
Is that enough? Please, there is no sense of scolding about this, no sense of being superior or inferior. I am not your guru. I am not a philosopher. Each one of us has to be both the teacher and the disciple. The teacher who teaches and the disciple who is learning, learning from life, not from books. There is no end to the making of books. But each one of us, if we see what we are and learn from what we are, move, change, then we become both the guru and the disciple.
2nd Question: The body ages, but is the ageing of the mind inevitable?
The body ages, grows old, but is the ageing of the brain inevitable. You understand - not the mind for the moment. As the questioner says, it is inevitable for the body to age, grow old and die through accident, disease or constant usage, malnutrition, wrong food, the battle that goes on in our heart and mind, all that psychosomatic activity affects the body. Right? Over-drinking, over-sex, overeating, without exercise - look at you all. So, the body inevitably ages. And the questioner wants to know is it inevitable for the brain to age and decay. You understand the question?
What makes a machine, an internal combustion machine, what makes it age? Any kind of friction in the machine makes the machine grow old. Right? This is obvious. Our brain is a kind of machine and it grows old because we live with friction, we live with conflict, struggle, perpetual battle with ourselves, and with the rest of the world. Right, sirs? I am not saying anything new. This is a fact, that as long as there is friction, conflict, battle, rows with one's wife, husband, quarrelling, abusing each other, hurting each other, the brain must inevitably decay. Right?
And also the computer is coming into being now. Please listen to this. We have been talking over with experts about this, top people. The computer can do almost anything that the human brain can do. Right? Almost. It can out-think, out-plan, remember vast information - a little chip contains million memories. And if the computer can do anything, almost anything that human beings can do - of course it cannot look at the stars and see the beauty of the stars, it cannot watch the movement of the wind among the leaves - right? - but each generation of computers is better than the other generation. You understand all this? So what is going to happen to the human brain? You are following all this? Sir, do ask these questions for god's sake. This question is not being asked by the professionals, by the top people. They are only concerned with building better computers, more advanced, ultra mechanical intelligence as they call it. If the computer can do everything, almost, then what is going to happen to the human brain? You understand my question, sir? Are you interested in all this? Or are you just listening for the fun of listening? What is going to happen to your brain if the computer does almost everything? The brain has lived because it has to struggle, it has to work, go to the office, you know, it has to be active, active in its friction. But when that friction, that activity is gradually transferred to the computer, what is going to happen to your brain? The computer can invent a new god. Right? Super-god, better than your gods. It can have marvellous theories. It can invent. You understand, sir? A mathematical professor can program a computer, most complex mathematical problems, and the computer comes out with its own new theorems. So go into it all, sir, you don't know what is happening in the world.
So, what is going to happen to your brain? Either it is going to pursue entertainment - right? - religious entertainment, football, cinema, the puja, it is all entertainment - aren't they - to pass the time, in the name of god, in the name of some kind of silly affair, because we all want to be entertained. You are following all this, sirs? See the seriousness of all this, sir, for god's sake. And the industry, the entertainment industry is already so active: television, football, cricket. I do not know if you have not noticed the world of sport is becoming more and more. Right? So the human brain demands entertainment because it cannot face itself - the troubles, the anxieties, the sorrow, the pain - so it wants to escape into all that. Either you escape through all that and therefore the brain becomes inactive, being entertained from the outside, or you go inward. There are only two possibilities. Are you getting all tired? You understand, sirs, all this? Either you are being entertained, as you are now, becoming more and more caught in the world of entertainment, going to the temples and making more... Or you go inward: the whole exploration of the whole psyche. Not according to books and philosophers and psychologists, but for yourself, enquire into yourself.
Sir they are enquiring into astrophysics, that is, into the heavens. There they are discovering all kinds of things - black holes - you must have read some of them. But nobody except very, very, very few have gone into the whole inward world. That inward world is vast, immense, incalculably deep. Don't accept my words for it. Don't say it is what our ancients said. Throw the ancients out. You are all too clever, but you have never gone inward and discover for yourself the great beauty, a perception that is logical, sane, healthy, a world that is immeasurable, which has nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment. That requires great care, hesitant observation, step by step. That brings about order in one's life. And when there is order in your house, there is order in society. But now we want order in society, in environment while we are disorderly. That is what the Communists try to do - establish order outside with laws, tremendous suppression and all the rest of it, hoping to change man. It is the same pattern being repeated in a different strata. Right?
So, the brain can remain without ageing if there is no friction, if there is no strain, no conflict, but as long as there is the self - me and you, we and they - as long as there is this idea of the individual opposed to the whole, there must be conflict, and that is what is happened to all human beings. To have a brain that is untouched by memory. You won't understand all this. You understand, sir? Our brain - oh, I can go on into it, what's the point of it? - our brain is trodden down by tradition, our brain is caught in past memories, remembrances. There is no pristine, a brain that is completely free. Then that brain is ageless, and yet got extraordinary vitality, passion behind it. Right sir? Will you do something about it? Or just listen to a talk and say yes, that's good, but, but, but
3rd Question: Can thought be separated from sensory perceptions?
Very good question sir, if you are willing to listen. Not the others were not interesting too.
All religions have suppressed the senses. Right? Face the fact, sirs - control your senses, don't yield to them. The speaker was walking behind a group of sannyasis in Kashmir at one time. There was marvellous blue sky, clean air, lots of wild flowers - air was scented with them, the smell of the hills and the groves and the valleys, the smell of the earth, the dew upon the earth. And these sannyasis in front, about a dozen of them, never looked at the trees. They had their head bent, chanting something or other, muttering, and never took notice of the beauty of the earth. Right? You have seen them haven't you? Which you are doing too - it is not reserved to the sannyasis, it is not their special privilege. And they never, never for mile upon mile, never looked at the trees. You understand? There was a stream flowing by. That stream was chattering, making music. The flow of that stream was the clear, unpolluted water, and the sannyasis never looked at that water, nor the trees, nor the blue sky, nor the mountains covered with snow, because sensory responses might lead to sex, might lead to all kinds of desires. Right? Therefore, don't look. This happens also, sir, in the west, the monks. Right? You are following all this? Right, sirs? Am I telling a strange story? So, the religions throughout the world have said if you want to serve god you must suppress your senses, you must control it, shape them according to a precept or to a pattern laid down by the abbots and the priests and the sannyasis and the books, so that your senses are completely numbed, completely destroyed. Right? Look what has happened to you sirs. You never look at the skies do you? The beauty of a tree, the light on a cloud, the new moon, just a slip of light, you never look at all that, do you.
So, we are going to find out what is the relationship between thought and the responses of the senses. Right? What are the senses? Now, please, I'm going to talk about it we are going to talk about it, just follow it because it is important to understand this. Through tradition, through so-called scriptures, through authority, we have suppressed all our senses, the sensory perceptions, seeing something beautiful whether it be a man or a woman, whether it be the stream or the cloud full of light, we never look at them because there is the fear that if we do it might lead us astray; astray in one direction, sexual, pleasurable, and the senses might betray our purpose, our goal, which is to reach god, or whatever you call it. Therefore suppress it, control it, don't yield to them. So that is our conditioning, because sex - there you have all that you want. That is one sensory reaction that you have which is free. You understand all this? There you do what you like, but you must not see anything.
So we look at life with one or two senses that are awakened. And you eat good food, the taste, and you become slave to the taste. So, the question is not to suppress any sense, any of the senses. Please listen carefully, this requires a great deal of understanding. It is not control of senses, it is the awakening of all the senses. Have you ever done that? Have you ever looked at the sea, which is nearby, with all that vast movement, the tremendous waves, the energy, potential, the extraordinary depth of it, the blue of the evening, with the full moon. Now when you look at that with all your senses - the seeing, hearing, the smelling, the feeling, the depth of the feeling - you understand? - looking at that vast movement. Wait, listen to it quietly. Then thought comes along and says: how nice that is, I'll come back next evening and have the same sensory response. Right? You are following this? Thought interferes with the senses. Thought is also a sensory response. So thought controls the senses. Thought then says this sense is right, this sense is wrong, this sense is beautiful, this sense is ugly, and so on. Right? So where there is the interference of thought with the senses, though thought is part of the senses, when one of the senses which is thought controls the other senses, shapes the other senses, then there is the beginning of the self, beginning of the ego, beginning of the 'me'. I wonder if you understand all this. No you
To look at something sir, with all your senses, that means to pay attention to what you are looking. When you pay such tremendous attention to what you are looking, there is no self. It is only when thought says, 'I must pay attention', it is only when thought says 'Those senses are good, those senses are bad', then begins the psychosomatic self and then you battle with the self - I must not be selfish, I must be this, I must be that. So, to be attentive to all the senses and to see when thought begins to interfere with the senses, that requires a great attention, you understand, sir. It is not control of the senses. It is thought that makes the senses to distort. Sex, when thought creates the image, the pleasure, the remembrance, all that, then sex is merely a mental activity. That is what you are all doing. And then you take a vow not to have sex and go through all the torture of it. You follow how thought is operating? Or indulge in it. So whereas if you are really aware of the whole senses, it's like being aware of the earth, sir, the fertility of the senses, like the fertility of the earth, virgin earth, earth which has never been trodden on by man. And to have these fertile senses which have not been touched by thought, then out of that comes great extraordinary sense of beauty and life and love. Right, sirs?
Now what have you got out of it, and what are you going to do with it? You understand my question, sir? What has the speaker been talking to? A sloppy brain, a brain that is so heavily conditioned that it won't receive anything new - except in the technological world - there is money, position, power. Where there is power, there is evil. Right, sirs? Look at the local politicians, how much power they have and what evil thing it is. And absolute power is absolute evil. You all know this, but each one wants power. Power means position, prestige. You tell the people what to do and get away with it. So one asks - I must stop now - one asks what is one talking to? You understand my question? How do you receive all this? You understand my question, sir? Is it just another talk, another chapter? Or you have no book, no chapters, you are living.
May I go now?