A crowded brain is incapable of being free
The brain can function excellently only in order
1st Public Talk, Bombay
January 16, 1980
It would be rather interesting to find out why you are sitting here and what you are going to listen to. You either come out of curiosity or been urged by friends to come and listen; or one is very serious to find out what the speaker has to say: and to find out what the speaker has to say, one has to listen, listen with a sense of care, attention and perhaps affection, as though you're listening to a friend talking about the vast expanse of life with all the complexities, with all the pain and sorrow, anxieties, death, love, meditation, the whole process of living, all this is included. And if we could right at the beginning be clear that you are not listening to a series of lectures, a series of ideas or a philosophy, that is, a lot of words with a great many ideas involved in those words, but rather we are thinking together, if that is possible. We rarely think together. If you have ever observed your friend or yourself or an intimate person, we are never thinking together and if we could during these talks and discussions, or rather, dialogues between yourself and the speaker, then perhaps we could go together into a vast enquiry, into a deep perception of our lives, our daily monotonous life of boredom, tears, sorrow, grief and all the rest of it.
Thinking together implies that both of us, the speaker and you, meet not only at the verbal level, but also at a much deeper level, because words are merely a means of communication. When one speaks English, the other perhaps understands also English and so there is a verbal communication, but words can be dangerous, can be misleading. So one must be very careful in the usage of words, their meaning and their content. Because we are not disseminating any ideas, doing any propaganda or urge you to join some kind of ridiculous so-called spiritual organisations, we are not telling you what to think, but rather how to think over many problems that we have - the art of thinking together. I do not know if you have observed that you can think together about something: about the corruption in this country, the degeneration of human mind, the political situation and so on and so on. Thinking together about something is comparatively easy. But thinking together is quite a different matter. I hope we understand this point.
When there is a crisis of any kind in which we are all involved, we put aside our own personal point of views, prejudices, conclusions, concepts and come together to think over a certain problem, like a war, then we all come together out of our fear, hatred of our neighbours and so on. It is strange how human beings come together when they hate, when they want to kill, which is war. But what we are suggesting is not thinking about something, but thinking itself, together if that is possible. Because we are not trying to persuade you or pressurise you to think this or that. But the art of thinking together demands a great deal of freedom. Freedom implies etymologically, the root meaning of that word is friendship, love, care, responsibility, all that is involved in that word 'freedom'. But as one observes, freedom is being denied to man. Religions throughout the world have denied freedom to man because they have, through a great many centuries, insisted on dogmas, beliefs, rituals, concepts, words put together and that has controlled, shaped the mind and therefore there is never any freedom. If you believe in something, that prevents you from having freedom. If you are caught in a concept, and as most people are, the concept which is to conceive an idea from observation; you see something or understand intellectually something, from that understanding make an abstraction which becomes an idea. And so man, if you observe throughout history and actually what is going on, freedom which is so utterly, absolutely necessary for man, for his growth, for his flowering, for his goodness is being denied by the Marxist, by the Maoists, by the totalitarian states, forcing man to conform to a certain pattern. I do not know if you have not observed all these things. And apparently human beings are too willing to conform to a pattern - religious, economic, social or political. The extreme left with their concepts, ideas - Marxism, Maoism and so on and the extreme right with their concepts, with their conclusions, so gradually, if you observe for yourself closely, freedom is being denied.
Freedom means not doing what you like, being permissive; freedom implies a great sense of love, and with that responsibility, clarity to observe, and freedom also implies action. So we are using that word very carefully. And without freedom man cannot flower in goodness. Please, this is very important to understand. If I may point out, we are thinking together. We are sharing together the meaning of words, not only intellectually, which is: the function of the intellect is to understand and if possible translate it into action.
And without freedom in the sense we are using that word - it does not mean doing what each one likes which has led man to this present state of chaos, to his present state of degeneration, to this collapse of civilisation, of a culture - where there is freedom there must go with it love, responsibility and action. And during these talks it is our function, it is our responsibility to free our minds, which is such an extraordinary instrument, to free our minds from all the burden of a million years, so that our minds can flower, increase, expand.
I wonder how much we are in communication with each other. One wonders whether each one of us really wants freedom - freedom from our traditions, dead, destructive traditions, from our authorities, both religious, ideological authority, from our own narrow experiences and demands and urges and desires, because without freedom there can be no goodness and without goodness you cannot possibly create a new society. A society is not made by some extraordinary events, society is brought about as it is now by human beings with their corruption, with their ambitions, competition, brutality, violence and all the greed and envy that is involved in each human being, we have created this society and we are the only people who can change it, that is bringing about in our own life, in our daily life, a sense of goodness. The word 'good' means whole, not fragmented; good means a life in which there is no contradiction in ourselves. Goodness also means a life that is made whole.
We'll all go into this during these talks, but we must understand right from the beginning, from this day till the end of these talks that we are not only thinking together, but acting. Because life is action, not just a lot of theories, a lot of speculative nonsense. You may read the Gita and the Upanishads and all the rest of it, but they are a vast structure of words, and you cannot live on words, which you are trying to do. So it is important from the beginning of our talks that we understand each other, that we are not trying to persuade you to think one way or the other or disseminating any ideas. What we are concerned about, is with the activities of our daily life, which includes education, sex, sorrow, love, death and meditation - all that is included in our daily life and if we don't understand our daily life we cannot possibly be good.
So can we together, take a journey into the vast structure of the mind. Our minds, yours and the speaker's, our minds have evolved with its brain through millennia, through a million years and more. This is a fact, not a supposition, not a theory, your brain is the result of a million years of experience, knowledge, memories with their continuous expansion and contraction. So your brain and your mind is not yours, it is the mind and the brain of humanity which has grown through vast evolution in time. I hope this is clear. Unless you understand this right from the beginning we will not be able to meet each other. You understand, sirs and ladies, that your mind, the mind being your senses, your emotions, your capacity to think, your sexual desires, your ambitions, your greed, all this is a million years old. So your brain, your mind is the result of vast human endeavour, of vast human struggle. And that mind is not yours, it is the mind of human beings, but our mind has made thought which has made the idea of 'me' and 'you', 'we' and 'they', which is totally erroneous, an illusion. I don't know if you are following all this. Probably you will totally disagree with all this and I hope you do because that's your tradition, that you are an extraordinary individual, with a separate ego, soul, with a separate character and so on, but if you examine at a deeper level all human beings throughout the world, whether they are brown, black, purple, yellow or whatever colour they are, they go through sorrow, they have tears, laughter, pain, anxiety, it is the common factor of man.
But you may have certain technological, educational conditioning, you may be an engineer, a scientist, a biologist, an archaeologist, but basically, inwardly, deeply, you are like the rest of humanity. So you are not an individual. Right? No, you won't understand this, because we cling to our individuality; when we suffer we do not see that mankind suffers, when we are violent which includes anger, cruelty, unkindliness and so on, all human beings have this seed of violence. Right, sirs? You see that point, don't you, that we are the whole summation of humanity, and when one realises that, not verbally, but actually as fact, not as a theory, that our minds, that our brains are the result of a million years of time and growth, experience and knowledge, we then have a total responsibility, not as an individual having a little responsibility to his little family, of course he has - but a responsibility to all mankind, that gives an extraordinary vitality which the individual has not. I wonder if you follow all this. Are we communicating with each other? Would you kindly tell me, some of you whether you are really, logically, rationally, sanely following what is being said or do you say, this is a fanciful utopian idea, sounds very nice, but in fact it is nonsense? Or do you see the full implications of what is being said? How our minds have grown into narrow grooves, as the individual, as the Hindu, as the Christian, as the Communists, Marxists, Maoists, you understand, narrow grooves and to realise that narrow grooves bring about separation: when you call yourself a Hindu you separate yourself from the Muslim and the Muslim from the Islamic people and the Islamic people separate themselves from the Jewish community, the Jewish community from the Christian community and so on and so on. Please realise all this. This is logical, rational, but reason, logic is never convenient. We are more driven by our desires, by our pleasures, by our continuous assertion that we are individual. The very word 'individual' means a human being who is not broken up, who is indivisible. Do you understand all this, sirs?
If we do really understand the depth of the meaning, then the endeavour to be a separate human being, as an individual, as belonging to a certain community completely ends, then you are totally a human being with all the problems involved in that.
So, during these talks - there will be six of them I believe - if you are serious, it is our sharing together the content of our minds. The mind includes not only as we pointed out the senses, emotions and the reactions, but also the brain: the brain which has evolved through millennia, thousands and thousands of years and has accumulated a great deal of knowledge through experience and this knowledge as memory is stored up in the brain. This is a fact, not the speaker's invention, it is a fact that our whole brain, all of it, is the residue of vast experience and therefore vast memory and the cells in the brain hold these memories. You can ask a brain specialist, if he is a friend of yours and if he is willing to discuss with you. Find out if what we are saying is not so, the most advanced brain specialists are saying what we are saying, have been saying for sixty years that the brain has evolved through time and therefore that brain has accumulated vast experiences from which arises our knowledge and this knowledge, which is memory, is in the brain, all the cells of the brain contain memory. You understand the implication of it? You see, when a brain is so crowded it is incapable of being free. You understand the point?
Just go as two friends talking over together their problems, their anxiety to solve their immediate accidents, incidents, problems and reactions, we are two friends, right? Please, I mean it, we are two friends talking over together. 'Friend' also means, the word 'friend' comes from the word freedom, freedom means affections, care, love. So we are two friends talking over together. I am not lecturing, I am not telling you what to think, or what to do, drop this and do that. Two friends concerned with all the problems of life, not just your problem; your problem is the problem of every human being. So two friends talking over together, so there are no barriers, can we be like that, there are no barriers. So we are enquiring together, we are asking, having a dialogue, if the brain is the residue of a million years and the whole of the brain is memory, what are the implications of that? Which means the past is guiding our life, right? The past is shaping our life, the past being the traditions, the rituals, the authority of some so-called priest, guru and all the rest of it, the memories of your hurts, of your demands sexually, memories of all that. So what happens? You are always living in a narrow groove of the past. You understand all this? So what takes place? Your brain then becomes specialised, like a doctor, is specialised, like an engineer, like a housewife, like a carpenter, like a scientist, what you will, they become specialised, therefore they become narrow. They can't think or go beyond their limitations. Have you ever discussed with any specialist, whether he be a doctor, a scientist, or the so-called specialists who are the gurus, have you ever discussed with them? Go beyond their conditioning - they are lost. You understand what I am saying?
So gradually human beings have become specialists. Aren't you all specialists in your jobs? If you are a lawyer, for the rest of your life you think as a lawyer. You may go outside that occasionally, but your whole brain is functioning along a particular narrow groove. With the result - please follow all this, it's your life, not my life - with the result that more and more separation, more and more conflict, more and more struggle, violence. Right? You are following all this? Not what I am saying, that has no importance. I am only acting as a mirror to your life in which you see yourself as you are, and when you see in the mirror what you are, then you can throw away the mirror; the mirror is not important.
So we are enquiring into ourselves, looking at our activities, at our memories, how all our memories are either of yesterday or of a million years, and from those memories thought comes. You are following all this sir? Thought is the response of memory. If you are educated as an engineer, you have stored up an enormous amount of knowledge, stored up in the brain and that knowledge is memory and you think along that memory. So thinking is the response of knowledge, experience, memory. If you have no memory you can't think. Right? Obvious. But as most people have cultivated this memory their thinking is always limited. Right? Please understand this carefully.
Knowledge is never complete - can never be complete. That's a fact, the scientists can explore not only the atom but also the universe, the stars, what is beyond the stars, but their knowledge is limited, they can never, never have complete knowledge of the universe, any more than a mathematician, or a biologist, or any kind of specialist - his knowledge must invariably be limited, which means - listen carefully - that knowledge always goes with ignorance. You follow my point? I wonder if you do. As knowledge can never be complete, it must always have the shadow of ignorance with it. And out of this knowledge springs thought. So thought is always limited. Right? Please come with me, move.
So thought has created our society. Thought has created all the gods, whether the Christian saviour or Hindus business, all are the product of thought. When you go to your church or to your temple, or do your puja, ring the bell and all that circus, it is essentially the product of thought. There is nothing sacred about it. You are following all this? I know you will follow it intellectually, but go home and ring the bell, do the puja and carry on. I know, that's your way of living. That is you hear something logical, sane, true and do exactly the opposite in daily life, and so your life is broken up, you become hypocrites and therefore constantly in battle. So when one realises that thought upon which we depend so much, thought from which all our actions take place, is limited, whatever it has created, however beautiful, however technological, it is still limited. So then, as our whole brain contains memory and from that memory thinking takes place, then what relationship has memory, thought, in our human relationship? You understand my question? Right?
Please, tell me somebody understands or not. Look, relationship, that is, human relationship, is our daily life. Right? Our human relationship can be superficial, sexual, business and so it can be on the surface, or our relationship can be much deeper. Right? The word 'relationship' comes from the word 'relate', that is, to relate something which has already happened. You understand this? Oh, lordy, come on sir. You relate a story, that is, you have already heard that story and you re-say it. If you observe, our relationship is based on memory. Right? Which is on thought. Right sirs? Look at it, don't agree with me. Look at your own life. When you are related to your wife, husband, whatever it is, that relationship contains the great movement of thought. Right? The remembrance, the sexual remembrance, the remembrance of hurts, the remembrance of irritation, jealousy, that remembrance is our relationship. Right? Which means what? Enquire into it much more. Which is, if our relationship is based on memory which is thought, limited, then what place has love in thought? You understand? Do you understand my question? I wonder. Now let me repeat it again in a different way.
As we pointed out the meaning of the word 'relate' means to look back, to refer to. And our relationship is based on referring to the past events, past incidents, past experiences, which has built an image and that image has relationship with another image. You are following all this? Sirs, exercise you minds, your brains, work at it. Don't just go to sleep because I am talking. It is very important to understand because unfortunately most of us are educated. We have cultivated the brain and the knowledge - the knowledge that we have acquired through school, college and university if you are lucky enough, or unlucky enough, and if you are not educated you have just become a - you know.
So our minds, our brains are so conditioned by our education, by our tradition, by our books, so that we cannot find out or break through the limitation of thought. As our life is a movement in relationship we must understand the full significance of relationship and whether it is possible to transform the present relationship into something totally different. Otherwise we live as we are living: absolutely meaningless, quarrelling, jealousy, antagonism, hatreds, hurts. You are following all this? So as relationship is life, the life that we know, the daily life, that relationship is based on memory: the referring back to past events, past memories and so on and so on. So what happens to a relationship when everything is based on thought? Right? You understand my question? You understand sir? Come on! Surely in your life when you look at it very closely, memory, which is thought, is dominant. Right? And what is the relationship between thought and love? You understand my question? That is, is love remembrance? Is love, compassion, merely the instrument of thought? When you say you love somebody, I wonder if you Indians ever say to anybody that you love, do you? Do you? Oh, don't, don't. You know what it means to love somebody? When you love somebody you forget yourself, you are not, and love is. Where you are, love is not. You understand what I am saying?
So we are asking: our relationship now is based on thought and therefore in that relationship there is always division, naturally because thought is a fragment, limited, and when your relationship is based on thought it must be divisive, separate, and therefore where there is separation there must be battle: the Muslims and the Hindus, the Jews and the Arabs. Right? The Communists, the Maoists, Marxists, the Trotskyites, you understand all this? Where there is division, there must be conflict and apparently you are content to live in conflict. Right? You accept it. You say, yes, we know that, but that is inevitable. It is our lot, it is our karma, words, words, words, but you love to live in conflict. Right? So what does that indicate? Sir, go into it. For God's sake, look into it. That you accept everything. Right? You accept corruption because you yourself are corrupt, you accept authority - authority in the sense - not the authority of law - the authority of tradition, the authority of the guru, the authority of the book. You understand? So that your brain accepts anything that is comfortable, not disturbing, stay put. Right? Haven't you noticed this in your own life?
So what happens to a mind that has accepted things as they are? It is a dead mind. Right? You shake your head and say, yes, that means that you are dead, a living corpse. See what we have reduced ourselves to. Please go into it for your own sake.
Sir, human beings cannot perpetually live in conflict because that is the very essence of degeneration. You understand? When you are constantly in struggle, constantly in conflict, constantly competitive, you must inevitably wear yourself out, both psychologically and physically. You know in North Canada, the Eskimos, you know the people who live in the North Atlantic, the Arctic, they never knew competition: they hunted together, they never said, I am a better hunter than you are. They hunted together, though separately they lived in their igloos, they came together and they hunted, shared what food they had and so on. There was never any sense of superior and inferior, never this terrible competitive spirit. Then the so-called white man came there and introduced racing. You understand all this? The slave, which meant, who wins first, then began the competition. Now, all that we are pointing out, is, that a mind, brain in constant struggle, constant pain, constant anxiety becomes a dead mind, you understand, it's not alive. And so a civilisation goes down the drain. You follow what I am saying? What has happened to you all? Sir, you have had a culture in this country for three to four thousand years. Right? The so-called Brahmanical culture. Just a minute, I am using the word 'Brahmanical', the Brahmana, without any attachment to that word. You are following all this? I am not anti-Brahman, or pro-Brahman: I don't belong to that kind of nonsense. But you have had a culture of three to four thousand years, so-called Brahmanic culture which has left a tremendous imprint. And during the last fifty years or a hundred years it has totally been wiped out. Right? The Brahmins are afraid to call themselves Brahmins, naturally they are not Brahmins, but their birth, all the rest of it, they are afraid to call themselves Brahmins, because they won't get a job. They are frightened and so on and so on.
Now if you examine why this culture has completely gone, why? You will say, it is perhaps the Western culture, the technology, the telephone, the radio, the communication, the science, the medicine, all from the West, nothing of your own, all from the West, swamping you. Right? Your business, your travels, the aeroplane, everything is from the West, is that the reason why you have this civilisation, however good or bad - we are not talking about the value of it - has gone? Is that the reason? The Western culture swamping the Eastern culture? That is rather superficial. Is there a deeper cause? Obviously, there is. Which we will go into now.
The speaker has discussed this matter with lots of people: professors, pundits, scholars, politicians, and so on. They are not interested. They say, our culture is going on, we have our traditions, our traditions are this and that, you know all that nonsense. What is the root cause of man - please find out sir, it's your life - what is the root cause of man's degeneration? A thing which has grown into such an enormous capacity. You understand? The brain has extraordinary capacity. The development of technology, the extraordinary things that they are doing, on one side, and degeneration on the other side. You can be a marvellous technician, marvellous computer expert, a great surgeon, but look at their lives and all the rest of it. We don't have to go into it. So what is the cause of this degeneration of human beings? Now it is so, much more in this country than elsewhere, but the tendency is to degenerate. Why? You are all silent, are you? Look sir, people who live by the book, you understand 'by the book', which means by words, by theories, by speculations, by concepts, which are all the movement of thought put down in word, in books, and when you live on those words and books, you are following what is happening to you? You are following all this? That is, when you live on words: the Gita is a word, right? I know, I know your reactions. So the word, the book, becomes all important, not your life. You understand? Not your daily life, but words, look what is happening, sir, this is so simple. You have used the words, books like the Gita, Upanishads and whatever all your sacred nonsensical books, and when you live on that, your mind is incapable of moving away from the lateral - you understand lateral, linear movement - to something totally different. And that's the major factor of the degeneration of man, depending on knowledge in the book which is not their knowledge, which is not their experience, which is not their word, but somebody else's. You follow? That means that you are all second-hand people.
Yes sir, don't - it is frightfully serious and tragic. And if you want to create a new world, a new civilisation, new culture, you have to change the whole way of living, thinking, feeling. But you are not prepared for that. You don't want that. So see the difficulty, when you are listening to all this which you know to be true, which you know to be factual, but you will do nothing about it, because you are afraid, you might lose your position, what will your wife say, and so on and so on. You will find a lot of excuses, and say, I am weak, but it is all right, carry on. So your life becomes an ugly affair. And no god, no outside agency, no social reform, no politician, no scientist, nothing will change you, except you look at yourself, look at yourself as you are, not what you think you should be, that is just non-fact. The fact is what you are, your daily anxiety, fear, all the rest of it, that's what you are. To say, I must be non-violent, is non-fact. You understand? That is just an idea. The fact is, you are violent, and merely escaping to non-violence is just ridiculous - it has no meaning.
So we began the talk by asking if we can think together. Right? Are we thinking together? Or you are merely listening to a lot of words and those words have their meaning and you know the content of that meaning, which means your life: your daily, monotonous, boring, lonely, anxious life, full of tears, and you will create the society which you want, which it is now. You understand, sirs, how serious your responsibility is, as human beings, not as an individual, as a human being living on this earth, which is our earth, not the Indian earth and the Muslim earth, it is our earth. And we have created a monstrous, immoral society. To bring about a change in that society, no outside agency, no system, no new Marxism, new ideas are going to change the society. You have to change. Right? And that change can only begin, that revolution, psychological revolution can only begin very near, which is you. To go very far, you must begin very near. Right, sirs? Very near is you.
So as we are going to talk together next Saturday and Sunday and so on, please bear in mind that we are taking an immense journey into ourselves. Right? Ourselves being the rest of humanity. When you enquire into yourself you are not selfish, it is not a selfish endeavour, it is an endeavour into the vast human struggle, human pain, human anxiety with their sorrows, love and pleasure and all that. So we can only take that journey if you are serious, not merely intellectual - that is nothing. But if you put your heart, your mind, your whole being into this then we can do something together.