A direct perception not related to knowledge
Freedom from authority is necessary to find truth
1st Public Talk, Ojai, California
April 12, 1975
After all the rains and clouds and fog, I'm glad it's a nice morning. But if one might remind you, this is not an entertainment. You shouldn't, if I may suggest, make a picnic of it.
We are going together to consider what is happening, not only in the outward world, but also what is happening within the world in which we live, the inside world, the world within our skin, the world of our thoughts, feelings, affections, like and dislike, hates and violence, we are going to go into all that. And also we are going to talk about meditation, love and death. And whether it is at all possible to transform our human minds and hearts into something totally different from what we are. This is what we are going to talk about during these four or five meetings.
First of all, I would like to say that we are being bombarded by various propaganda - the religious propaganda, the commercial, by the scientists, by the inundation of the gurus from India with their nonsense, with their beliefs and all the rituals and dancing and all that business that is going on in this country. We are being bombarded on all sides. And this is not one of those bombardments. We are going together to investigate, consider, examine the problems that each one has, and the world has, and to do so we must think together, not agreeing or disagreeing, because then we cease to investigate, we cease to examine freely, we cease to be in freedom to find out what is truth in all this. So communication implies not only a verbal understanding, but also investigating, thinking, looking together; and that is very important to look together, to see together, to find out for ourselves together this whole problem of existence. And so if you are at all serious, and these meetings are meant to be serious and not an intellectual or an emotional entertainment, because we want to be entertained, our literature, our magazines, the TV, the religious affairs, all those tend to become, as they have, a kind of entertainment, a carnival, and I hope this won't happen here. So we are examining together this whole problem and therefore it is your responsibility, if you are at all serious to find out, to observe and to learn, not from what the speaker is saying, but learn by or through observation, through looking, not according to our personal prejudices, not according to our particular idiosyncrasy and the knowledge that we have acquired, because they condition the observation. If one is caught in a network of beliefs, dogma, personal opinion, like and dislike, then you cannot possibly observe.
And to observe very clearly one needs the freedom from all this, freedom from your particular opinions, what you think, what you don't think, your personal experience, all your hopes, beliefs, none of those will help to perceive, to observe, to examine - which is fairly obvious. If you are a very good scientist, not hired by the government, but first-class, top scientist, you observe, putting aside all your prejudices, all your previous knowledge, all the experience that has been collected through centuries as knowledge, and have the capacity to examine totally, objectively, impersonally, dispassionately. And I hope that this will be possible - one hopes that it will be possible during these talks that together we are going to examine the chaos outside, the violence, the misery, the suffering, the agony, the appalling things that are happening in Indo-China, all over the world, the violence, the brutality, the cruelty.
Man, which is you and I - it seems rather a pity to talk about all these things on a lovely morning, doesn't it? - I wonder if you have ever considered what beauty is? The loveliness of a tree and the mountains, the beauty of a cloud, the curve of a branch and the shining leaves, I wonder if you've ever gone into this question of what is beauty, not the beauty of a painter, the product of the canvas, or in the marble, or in words, which have filled museums all over the world, but when one sits under a tree like this, with a clear blue sky, with those mountains over which you are looking, that snow, the line against the blue sky. I wonder if one has ever considered what beauty is, not intellectually, not sentimentally or romantically, which all deny the depth of beauty, but when you do perceive that leaf in the sun, the green grass, the curving trunk, and the quiet still air, including that aeroplane noise, what is beauty? Because of that we are going to talk also, because without that, without that sensitivity, one cannot examine very deeply, non-verbally, the problems that we have to face in our daily life.
Beauty is related, I think, to clarity of perception, and you cannot perceive infinitely, deeply, profoundly if there is any movement of selfishness, of the self, the 'me', the problems that one has, which act as a screen that prevents you from looking at the whole world. And as we are going to examine, what is the mind or the heart that is capable of observing? How do you observe the things that you see around you? Those hills, those mountains with the snow, these lovely trees and the green grass, your wife, your husband, your girl or your boy, how do you observe? How do you observe your belief in god, or in Jesus, or in Krishna or in something or other, how do you observe? I wonder if you have ever gone into this question of observation, of seeing. We think we see; we hardly pay any attention to that which we see.
So it is very important, I think, to understand and to learn the art of seeing, without that one can never possibly understand, go very deeply, not only into the world's problems, but also into ourselves. What does it mean to see? To observe? And who is the observer that sees? To see something very clearly, you must look. To look at the mountain or the tree, or at yourself, or your wife, or your husband and so on, your politicians and the leaders that one has, if you have any, and I hope you haven't any, including the gurus who are mischief makers, how do you observe all this? Do you observe them with your background, with your fears, with your hopes, with all the things that man has accumulated as knowledge through centuries? Do you look at all this through the screen of that which you have experienced, which you have acquired, or the image that you have built about another or about yourself?
Please, as we said a little while ago, we are doing this together, not just merely listening to a series of words, or to a picture that the speaker is painting. But together we are investigating what it means to observe, to see. If you have an image about another, obviously you are not looking at that person, you are only looking at the image that you have built about another. That's obvious. Therefore you never see. If you are sitting there and listening to the speaker, because unfortunately he has some reputation and so on, then you are not listening, observing, you are merely concerned with the reputation that you or someone else has built about the person. If you want to see those mountains very clearly, not only the word, 'the mountain', the word itself must disappear, because the mountain, the word 'mountain' is not the thing that you see, the word is not the thing. So one must be free of the word to look. The word means the image, the symbol. And I hope you are doing this as we are talking, actually being aware that you have these images, descriptions, words, a network of reactions in which you are caught and therefore prevents you from looking. In the mind, your mind must be actually free to observe.
So the impediment of a word is as important as your reaction to the word, so that one can observe. And can one observe without any image - image being that which you have gathered, or that which you have built about another - so that you can actually see. Because we are going to ask a question presently whether knowledge has any place in the transformation of the human mind and heart, and so his society. Because society needs to be changed totally, radically, fundamentally, because the present society in which we live is immoral. And whether knowledge can transform man's relationship to man, and therefore society. And that implies, can you observe your relationship with another, however distant, however close, however intimate, however foreign, can you observe that relationship without any image, picture, memory, remembrance? Because we have used knowledge as a means of action, as a means of accumulated knowledge, as a means to bring about in ourselves a fundamental change. Please do understand this, because it is very important as we are going to go into this question.
Knowledge is the accumulated experience of man, stored up in the brain as memory, accumulated through experience of thousands and thousands of years, knowledge accumulated by the scientists, by the philosophers, by the analysts, psychologists, all that immense knowledge in every field of life - in the world of art, in the world of science, in the world of technology, in the world of our own relationship - can that knowledge bring about change fundamentally, psychologically in man. And to find that out, one must be capable of observing the whole phenomenon of action with knowledge, with its skill, and whether knowledge can bring about, or change man. Or is there a perception which is direct and which is not related to knowledge? Are you following all this? Are you interested in all this? I hope you are, because that is why you are here and I am here.
We have accepted knowledge as a means of transformation, as a means of change of the human psychological structure. And we are questioning that totally. And is there a direct perception which will transform man without all the accumulated knowledge gathered, however important it is in certain areas? Right, are we meeting each other? Please do take some interest in this. Don't make this as an entertainment, or some kind of philosophy - the word philosophy means the love of truth in daily life, not some theory invented by some clever brain. And to understand this question very deeply, that is, man has accumulate knowledge in every field, he has got an immense collection, and that apparently we rely on to bring about a sociological and psychological revolution. And we are saying we question that whole structure; and we are saying that a direct perception is the only way to bring about transformation. You understand the question?
Q: What is the question?
K: What is the question. Look here sir, or ladies - women's lib and all the rest of it - you may know about yourself, you may know what other people have said about yourself, the analysts, the psychologists, the Freudians and so on and so on: there is this vast accumulated religious knowledge as well as the modern knowledge about yourself, your behaviour, your reactions, your violence and all that, as knowledge. And you have probably read a great deal about all that. And we are asking whether that knowledge has transformed you, has radically changed you, the human action in daily life? That's the question.
So, one must find out what place has knowledge, and where knowledge becomes totally irrelevant, because one must bring about a change in oneself. Right? That is so obvious. There must be a psychological revolution, because man, though he has advanced technologically greatly, man remains just about the same as he was three millennia, five thousand years - violent, brutal, cunning, ambitious, greedy, anxious, fearful, great sorrow, in conflict. And we have created a society that is violent, that is brutal, that is totally commercial, a religion of make-belief, a religion that has become propaganda of the priests throughout the world, which is totally unrelated to our daily action. So belief has no place in daily life. So observing all this, both intellectually and actually, any serious person who is concerned not only with himself but with his children, with his grandchildren, with the world as a whole, if he is at all serious he must be concerned how to bring about this deep fundamental psychological revolution, transformation in man.
Now, we have made a statement. How do you hear that statement? How do you receive that statement? You understand my question? We have said - please listen - we have said that knowledge has not transformed man fundamentally, deeply; psychologically he remains as he was ten thousand years ago. There are modifications, peripheral changes, but basically he is what he has been for thousands of years. Now how do you listen to that statement? What is your reaction to that statement? How do you listen to that statement? In listening, do you see the actual fact? Or you make an abstraction of what you have heard? You understand? Oh lord! You understand? Look: I say that mountain against the blue sky is marvellous, lovely. You hear that statement, do you make an abstraction? That is, draw from that statement an idea, and therefore you are looking at that mountain through the idea and not actually seeing. You understand? Do you understand what the speaker is saying?
So, we are asking: knowledge has its right place, but knowledge has not transformed man. A statement. How do you listen to that statement? Do you see the statement as a fact, as truth? Or an idea which is an abstraction of the statement and discuss about that idea? Therefore you are away from the fact. If you call me something or other, and in listening to what you have said to me I withdraw from it a conclusion, I am not facing the fact of what you have said, I am concerned with the conclusion. Can I go on? Right.
So it is very important to understand this, because we live in conclusions, in abstractions, that there is god, that there is no god, that we are progressing. You know what that word progress means? Entering the enemy's country fully armed. We have got a great many conclusions and we live in these conclusions, and the more subtle, the more cunning, the more descriptive, the more fine, we think the greater our life is.
So through conclusions, through abstractions, through words we live. Words become tremendously important, conclusions. So can you observe the fact as a fact, as 'what is', that knowledge has not transformed man? He may feel better, he may look better, more healthy - which I question - he may have more capacity to kill, to do things, have greater skill, go to the moon and all the rest of it. But all that knowledge has not transformed man. Don't please draw an abstraction from it, a conclusion from it, that's a fact. Now how do you look at that fact? You understand? It is a fact that the mountain is there. The light, the shadows, the waving hills and the movement of the sky, all that is there, that is a fact. If you draw a conclusion from it - how beautiful, I wish I was there, or this - then you are away from the fact. And how do you look at that fact? How do you look at the fact that knowledge has not transformed man? By looking at it, the fact, not the conclusion, not the abstraction, but the fact, then the next question is: what is there that will transform man? You understand? Not how to transform man? Which again implies a system, a method and therefore you are back again in knowledge. You understand this question? Oh gosh! You know most of us are not educated although we go to college, schools, degrees, we are not properly educated. We learn what other people have said, but we don't know how to deeply think about things. We are so conditioned; we will go into all that presently.
As knowledge has not changed man, and it is imperative, essential, imminent that man change radically, because he is destroying the earth, he is destroying the seas, he is destroying everything around him. The whales are disappearing - you know what is happening in the world, for god's sake. Then what will bring about a fundamental psychological revolution? We are going to go into that.
That means I must know - I am using the word 'know' in the sense of not accumulated knowledge - I must be aware, know, be conscious of the nature and the structure of myself, because I am the world, I am the collective, I am all the religions of the world with their beliefs, with their dogmas, with their superstitions, with their rituals, utter nonsense, all that. I am the world, not a separate human being living somewhere by himself, I am related to the whole of the world. Now, just a minute. I made a statement of that kind. How do you listen to it? Is that a fact? Or you say, 'No, I am not, I am an individual, I am a great man, I am separate, I am this and that' - you are the collective, aren't you? You are Christians, or not Christians, you belong to some group, or some sect, you believe in this - that is what the world is, with all the fears and pleasures, the violence, the greed, competition, envy, all that you are. The collective is that.
So when we are talking about 'I am the world', that is a fact. And therefore I must know myself, because I am the world, I am the collective. Though I may break away from the collective and join a group or a community, I am still the collective of that community, of that group and so on. And to transform myself means I transform the world. That is - please listen to this - that is, the content of consciousness makes up consciousness. Right? The content. And the content of human consciousness, your consciousness is the content of the Indian, the Japanese - the world - with certain modifications, with certain coloration's, with certain shapes and so on, but it is essentially the same. Now when there is a change in that content you affect the content of the world. You understand? The content of the consciousness of the world. You understand what I am talking about? Therefore it is absolutely important that I understand myself, because I am the world. Right? Can we proceed from there? Are you following this?
Now how do I look at myself? Do I look at myself with what other people have said about myself? You understand? The psychologists have said a great deal about myself, they have gone to Africa to study the animals, and say I am like that, and I have swallowed that pill! They have said I am, what - conditioned reflexes and so on - great volumes have been written about myself. Do I look at myself through the eyes of others? That is, do I look at myself with second-hand eyes? And can I look at myself without the knowledge of other people, what they have said about me? You understand this? Move, sir, let's move. Which means I don't understand myself at all. I understand what other people have said about me and I remain a second-hand, or third-hand human being. And that is what knowledge has done. We are terribly educated but caught in that education, in that knowledge, we are second-hand whatever we are. So can I - please listen - can I look at myself, putting aside what other people have said about myself and look. Look at my actions, look at my feelings, look at my thoughts, the way I explain, the way I try to find excuses for my action, all that, can I look at it? Now how do I look? Do I look with previous knowledge of myself? Or do I look without the previous knowledge? You understand? All right, sir. I look at myself. And I say I am - what? I am greedy. Please watch this. I am greedy. I find that I am greedy. I have used a word that is already conditioned, with all its associations, and that word already has a content of condemnation. You are following this? So by using that word I have already conditioned my observation. I realise that. I see that fact. And I want it - the moment a certain feeling, a certain reaction arises, I look at it without the word. Are you doing it? Don't just listen to me for god's sake. This is not group therapy. That is an abomination. Going to somebody, talking about yourself endlessly. But it is a fact that one is greedy or ambitious, competitive, hateful. Those very words have a condemnatory meaning, because we are conditioned through the church, through all that, to associate certain words with certain meanings, which is generally condemnatory. So can I look at myself without the word and watch the reaction? You understand?
And one realises what a slave the mind is to words. The word 'communist', the word 'Christian', the word 'black' - whatever word - we are so conditioned by the word, and therefore that conditioning prevents you from observing. Now can the mind - please listen to this - can the mind be free of that word to look? Don't make an abstraction of it and say, 'How am I to be free of the word?' If you ask how, then you are lost. But if you see the fact in observing yourself that you are caught in the word, that very observation frees you from the word. At the instant, not later. Therefore you can look.
And in looking I have learnt - listen - I have learnt from you to look at myself without the word. I have learnt that. And what I have learnt becomes the knowledge. Right? Are you following? And with that knowledge I examine the next reaction. So I move from knowledge to knowledge, never free from knowledge to look. You are getting it? Let's move together. So can I look, can the mind look at itself without the previous conditioning - however happy, however subtle, however agreeable, however nice it was, to look without the accumulated knowledge which I have gathered by observing myself. You know that requires tremendous discipline. Not the discipline of suppression, control and imitation, conformity - all that is not discipline. The word 'discipline' means to learn. Learning is not accumulating knowledge. Learning means a movement, not from an established knowledge.
So, can I look at myself afresh every minute? So I can never say 'I know myself'? You understand? I wonder if you get this. Because you are learning. So there are two types of learning. Learning which gives you knowledge, and so with knowledge you learn skill, skill to function in the world. That is one kind of learning: learning about mathematics, learning about physics, learning about everything, how to ride a bicycle, how to go to the moon. Learning which gives you an accumulated knowledge to function skilfully in the world of knowledge. Have you understood? Now there is another kind of learning, in which there is never an accumulation. Because the moment you accumulate and function within the field of knowledge there is no freedom. You are always moving within the field of the known. Do you understand? However wide that known is, however intricate, however subtle, however expansive, it is always within the field of the known, and in that there is no freedom. You may have a choice in the field of knowledge, and that freedom of choice we think is freedom. It's not. So, can I look at myself each minute without the previous recognition, previous word, previous knowledge? So that I am looking at the mountain, at you, at myself afresh, anew. That is freedom. That's one point.
And can I look at myself without analysis? Are you interested in all this? Or is it all getting rather tiresome? You are not to encourage me, please. If you are bored with it, be bored and I'll go on and I'll go home. Can I look at myself without analysis? In analysis there are implied several things. And the world accepts analysis as a means of understanding yourself. That is the fashion. That is the conditioning, that is the thing which we have been taught that we must analyse in order to understand. And there is an understanding which is direct, which does not depend on analysis at all. I am going to go into that. Analysis implies the analyser and the analysed, doesn't it? Obviously. And who is the analyser? Is he different from the thing he analyses? Think it out, go into it. I analyse my violence, if I am violent. Who is the examiner, the analyser, the watcher that says, 'I am going to look into my violence'? Is he not the same as the violence? Obviously. This is so childish. And that analyser thinks he is superior, he knows because he has learnt, or accumulated knowledge about the analysed. And then he begins to analyse, separating himself from the thing which he is going to analyse. And each analysis gives him greater strength in his knowledge as the analyser. Watch all this in yourself. Please I haven't read a single book about all this nonsense, about all philosophy - they bore to me to extinction, I don't read them - philosophy, Upanishads, Gita or the Bible - occasionally I read the Bible for the beauty of language, not the sentimentality of it, not some of the historical events, just the beauty of the language.
So I observe myself and I see we are conditioned to analyse, and when I analyse I see the analyser is the analysed. That is a fact, irrevocable fact. And when there is a division between the analyser and the analysed there is conflict, which is also a fact. And in the process of analysis I am accumulating knowledge about what I have analysed, and with that knowledge I analyse the next time, so I gather more knowledge, so I am caught in that. And all this analysis implies a great deal of time. I can go on analysing myself until I die. And analysis also prevents me from acting. So gradually I become hopelessly caught in my own knowledge about myself. I become more and more neurotic, more and more insensitive, dull, stupid, because I am living within the field of the knowledge which I have accumulated about myself, through analysis. So I say analysis is out, finished, I won't analyse. So what am I to do? You understand my question? I want to know myself, how am I to know? I see analysis has no meaning any more. So is there a way of looking which reveals totally, completely, all the content of my consciousness, instantly? You understand my question? Please understand the question first. If I do not analyse, which means seek the cause of certain reactions, certain actions, because the searching for the cause is a waste of time, which is part of analysis. Now I am asking myself: is there a way of looking at myself which reveals totally the whole content of my consciousness. At the moment I observe, at the moment I am fully aware, I am asking, I have put aside completely the introspective, analytical conditioning, now I am asking whether it is possible to look so that it reveals the whole content. You have understood my question?
So I must learn how to look. How to look at a tree, at a bird, at the people I am related to, people around me, to look at them, not romantically, intellectually and so on - is that possible? Is it possible to look at you when you have hurt me, when you have done things against me? To look.
So, as I said, I must learn, the mind must learn how to look, not learn in order to accumulate knowledge, to understand what it means to look. So we come back to the original thing, which is to observe. Observation implies not only through the eyes, ears, and all the sensual responses and so on, but to observe without the image I have built about myself or about another. Can I do that? You are following my question? You have done something wrong, you have done something not true, hurt me, and that hurt remains, which is the image I have built about myself and the image is hurt. You follow? Now can I - can that hurt be wiped away and never to be hurt again - not resist but to have no capacity of being hurt? Have you gone into all this? Or is it just? Are we talking Chinese?
So I want to find out how to observe without an image, without the word, without the picture, without the symbol, without remembrance. You know all that is implied - it implies great attention, doesn't it? So I learn to look at myself non-verbally. It's the word, the image that divides the observer from the observed - when the image, the word, the symbol, the remembrance is not, then the observer is the observed. Then there takes place a tremendous transformation, because in that there is no duality, there is no conflict. When there is no conflict then you have all the energy to go beyond 'what is'. You understand? Right?
I think that is enough for this morning, isn't it? Do you want to ask any questions? Right.