A mind living in control, conflict and desire is never free
The seed of a million years
4th Public Talk, Madras
December 30, 1979
I wonder why you are all here. It would be rather good if you could go into that question, why we have all gathered here. To listen to this speaker, or just to be amused, intellectually activated, or seeking a new excitement, a new experience, or perhaps out of sheer curiosity to find out what the speaker has to say. Perhaps it is all of those. Also, some might be very serious and wanting to find out.
If we may, we will go on with what we were talking about yesterday. First of all, I think we should be very clear that we are not doing any propaganda, nor propagating any ideas or doing a campaign like those fellows across the way; nor are we trying to convince you of anything, and I really mean it; nor persuading you to act in a particular direction, or to think in a certain way, to a certain end. I think that should be very clear. But we are trying or hoping that we can be concerned together to enquire into the whole nature and the structure of the mind, because from that all actions, all desires, all beliefs and actions, various types of action take place. Unless we understand this very complex nature of the mind and the brain, we shall not be able to find out for ourselves what is right action under all circumstances. So I hope we are together, you and the speaker, concerned, at least for this evening committed to the enquiry, to the investigation of our own minds - our minds being the result of many, many, many years, millions of years, with all its vast experience, knowledge accumulated through thousands of years and also acquired recently, inherited both genetically and being under great pressure of evolution. Right? I hope we can go into all this together.
One wonders for what length of period this evening one can maintain a certain attention - to attend continuously, sustain for this whole hour. Which means one must have the urge to listen attentively, carefully, precisely and use the speaker as a mirror in which you are seeing yourself. And when you see yourself exactly as you are, then you can break the mirror, then the mirror is not useful at all. Though the speaker is sitting on a platform, he has no authority. The platform is only for convenience. So, bearing all this in mind, we are together concerned to see exactly what we are.
If you have observed, our minds are always occupied. There is never a moment when it is quiet naturally, easily, without this tremendous exertion, conflict. Our minds are chattering, thought moving from one association to another, from one desire to another, from one longing to another, this contradiction of opposing energies. So our minds and our brains are never, never quiet. They are occupied. If you are an engineer or a surgeon or a lawyer, your mind is occupied with all those skills. You may have a few moments of leisure when you might read other things or go to your club or join some game and so on, but this constant movement, endless apparently, and so the mind is never free. It is possessed by ideas, by knowledge, by all the experiences that one has had, by the pursuit of pleasure, fear, great deal of tears, sorrow and so on. So, this mind being so occupied, both consciously as well as unconsciously, is never free. The word 'freedom', etymologically, has a very complex meaning: it means also love. And when one goes into the question of what is freedom, whether the mind is made up of words, symbols, images, ideas, filling every corner of the brain, memory. If you can observe it yourself you will find out. And also the brain specialists are saying the same thing too.
So the mind, the brain, which has evolved through time has come to a point, it has discovered for itself there is not one corner where it is free. Only its freedom is from moving from one corner to another corner of the same ground, and imagining, thinking or desiring that it is free because it has moved from this to that. Or, that it is free in its choice, to discriminate between this and that - the choice of will, freedom of will. This has been our movement: going from one group to another group, joining this sect or that sect, moving from one authority to another authority, in pain, anxiety, grief, sorrow, jealousy, anxious, that is the occupation of our minds. So, is there freedom at all? You understand my question? Please enquire with me. We are taking a journey together. I am not taking a journey by myself. We are walking together as two friends talking over things amicably, charitably, with certain sense of care and affection, not trying to browbeat each other through argument, through superior knowledge or having a great deal of experience - like two friends who are really friends, moving together with a sense of great affection, understanding each other, moving beyond the words, not just sticking to words, finding out what lies behind the words. So, if we can do that this evening, it will be marvellous. Then we can really communicate with each other not only verbally but much beyond the word, which is to have communion, where both minds meet, not only the minds, their hands, their hearts, the whole of their being meet each other. With that care and attention, if we could walk beginning from very near which is where we are, because that is the only place where you can begin - very near - and then you can walk very far together because we are never alone. All our life is relationship, whether we like it or not. And if you, as an audience, kind of expect, spoon-fed, or you are going to receive something extraordinary, or ideas or conclusions or beliefs, then we are not walking together, and we are not sharing together the same sky, the beauty of the land, the lovely tree in a field.
So, if we could this evening unsentimentally, not being romantic, but exercising our brains and our minds and our hearts, to find out whether the mind being enslaved as we are, whether there is freedom at all for human beings, not in heaven, certainly not in hell, because without freedom there is no love, without freedom there is no order, without freedom there can be no relationship between each other. You may be married, you may sleep together, you may share the same house, have the same children, but if in that relationship there is no absolute freedom there cannot possibly be love.
So, please together we are going to find out whether this mind, so crowded, this brain, every part of it storing up memories of a million years, that is the mind, the brain that lives in the known. You are following all this? Please! We are sharing this. Every part of the brain, because of its long journey of thousands and thousands of years, every part of it, every cell in it, is carrying memory; memory is the result of knowledge and experience, from which thought arises. That is the origin of thought. And within that area, ground, field of that mind there can never be freedom. You may choose, you may think you are free to choose, you may think the exercise of freewill is freedom, or you may determine that you are free. That is, by being permissive sexually, morally, socially, rejecting the established order, you think you are terribly free. I don't know if you have seen a cartoon in the 'New Yorker'. Perhaps you don't know that magazine which is published in New York. A boy and a girl are looking out the window, on Fifth Avenue, looking down from 10th floor, and the boy says to the girl, 'See those people down there - beards, uncombed hair, sloppy dress, those are the new establishment'.
So, is there freedom beyond? Please, this is an enquiry. It is not a statement, that there is or that there is not. But one has to see very clearly within the area of the brain, within the area of the mind - mind being the senses with their neurological responses, the emotions, the various forms of sentiments, all that is the mind, mind is not separate from the brain, brain is part of the mind - so, within the mind, within this whole area, can there ever be freedom? If not, man is everlastingly slave to the known. Please understand this. There have been scientists and professors, and all those people saying man can only ascend through knowledge, that is, gathering more and more and more knowledge. Knowledge is always within the time limit of the past. So, one has to question whether knowledge which is the movement of the past through the present, modifying itself and proceeding, which is the future. Right? You are following all this?
(P.A. System) (Laughs) This is a lovely country, no respect for anybody. As long as you do what you want to do - this great self-concern, this immense selfishness, not be concerned with anybody. And that you call civilisation. And out of that you hope to create a new culture.
So, we are asking whether there is freedom at all within the area of knowledge which is the brain, the mind, because if there is no freedom there, there cannot possibly be love. It is only a man that is completely, absolutely free from the past that can fully comprehend or be in that state of mind where there is love, compassion, intelligence. So this is very important for all of us to find out, not just the speaker alone to find out. As there is no freedom within the movement of the mind including thought, there is no freedom, and so no love. And hence is it possible to go beyond the process of time? Time is movement from here to there, both physically, a movement psychologically from 'what is', to 'what should be', or 'what might be'. This constant movement of thought pursuing the ideal, like a man who is ambitious he needs time to achieve his end, and with that same mentality, that is, one needs time to achieve a certain result, to achieve a certain skill, for a seed to become a plant. That is, there is the process of evolution - right? You are following all this? That is, the movement of time which is called evolution. Man has been for a million years, has acquired through thousands and thousands of years of experience, knowledge, and in that process of evolution he has come into this state of mind. All that needs time. And we think time can bring about freedom: freedom from jealousy, freedom from anxiety, freedom from fear, but not freedom from pleasure. So we exploit time - please listen to it - we exploit time as a means psychologically to achieve a result. Right? That is, I am jealous, greedy, psychologically, full of discontent, full of being hurt, and to get over all that I need time. You understand? That is, I will examine it, I will go into the cause of it, I will analyse it, introspect, examination, and at the end of it, perhaps I will be out of it. All that means time. That is the tradition of the mind, the tradition handed down from generation after generation through thousands of years that time is a means of changing, is a means of conquering, is a means of achievement, both physically and psychologically. So the mind, the brain is conditioned to time. You're following this? Examine it, please I'm not... the speaker is not telling you what to think. That would be catastrophic. But we are examining together, being concerned actively into the nature of the mind, which is our mind. Our mind is the mind of man, of human beings - it is not your mind or my mind, it is the mind, because your mind is the result of many thousand years, the instincts, the subtle intimations are the result of years. So, you are not an individual. You are the rest of mankind. So we are not in this exploration becoming more and more selfish, more and more self-centred - on the contrary. It is the self-centred activity that is destroying the world.
So, the mind which is the rest of humanity has never been able to go beyond the limits of time. You understand? Without this conditioning of time, without this sense of moving from here to there, both physically as well as inwardly, that is the result of outward evolution. Right? From a little plant which becomes a tree in a hundred years, like a Banyan tree, that same sequential concept is carried over psychologically and so we say, time is necessary. Right? That is our conditioning, that is our tradition. You will eventually achieve nirvana, heaven, illumination, god, or whatever you like, if you do this, this, this, this. All that admits this destructive, corruptive nature of time. Right? Are we meeting each other? And, the question arises: is it possible not to be caught in this time? I don't know if you are interested in all this, because it is your life, not my life, and we are going to go into this, whether it is possible to act not in the tradition of time. Right?
The immediate is far more important than the future: the immediate. You understand this? I will show you something, which is, we are full of problems, unresolved, one problem after another, both in our relationships, personal, intimate, there are problems, business problems, scientific problems, mathematical problems. Mathematical problems, scientific problems have their own field. But we are talking of human problems. And these problems, when carried over day after day, day after day, corrupt the mind. In the sense 'corrupt the mind', we mean by that, make the mind insensitive. It is not quick, not active, rapidly responding, because it's like a man carrying this heavy burden of problems - you understand what happens to a mind. Shall I go on like this? So you are carrying these problems, and you say time will resolve these problems. You analyse a problem, find the cause of the problem, go into it, and mind being caught in this tradition of time becomes lazy, insensitive, it says, 'Well, it will be solved tomorrow.' So the tomorrow is the movement of time of postponement, and in that there is no immediacy, there is nothing immediate. Now, any problem - anger, violence: this question of violence. To meet violence immediately in oneself, not have this idea of non-violence, which is again the tradition of time - eventually we will become non-violent, like the United Nations, all the nations are together. Eventually they will achieve brotherhood, which is tommyrot.
So, the mind has become accustomed, trained, conditioned to time. There is never any question of immediate action. And we are saying the immediate dissolves time. Are you following? I will show it to you. Not dissolves time, breaks the tradition of time. If you are violent and you have to deal with it immediately, because there is no non-violence, that is a non-fact. Violence is a fact. It's what is actually going on - your anger, your jealousy, your hatreds, your competition, every sense of that self-assertive, aggressive movement, that is violence, in different forms. And the mind being accustomed to time has invented non-violence, thought has invented non-violence which is non-fact, and therefore, you say, I will gradually become non-violent. But in the meantime you are violent. You are playing a game with yourself. Whereas violence is anger, hatred, forms of competition, and competition is destroying the world, both individual, collective, all that. That is destroying - competition. So, that is a fact and you have to deal with violence instantly - you understand my question? - not allowing time to say, I will get over it. You have to deal with that fact immediately. See what happens to the mind which is faced with the immediacy of action. Are you doing it with me? Or are you going to sleep? Come on sirs.
You have your problems haven't you? Unfortunately. Problems of meditation, problems of love, problems of loneliness, problems of competition, problems of your wife and you know, husband, problems of death, and old age, every kind of problem one has. Now if you take one of those problems, whatever your problem is, not think of the resolution of the problem, which is again, the time element enters, but deal with it instantly, immediately, which means the moment when you set aside time as a means of achievement psychologically, when that is clearly understood that this time element carried over from the physiological to the psychological has made the mind insensitive, actually inactive, so when you have to deal with a problem instantly, immediately, you have denied time. Do you understand what I am saying? Are you following this? No, you don't. Where are your minds, for god's sake?
I will go into it. I will go into it, the speaker will go into this problem, but please join me, don't wait for me to explain. Let us move together. One of our great problems is desire. The word 'desire' means the want of, the lack of, longing for something, not having, longing, because that directs most of our lives - desire. The religious people, the organised religions and the so-called religious people have said throughout the ages, desire must be stamped out. Right? You know the game, don't you? It must be killed, because if you have to serve god, you must give all your energy, both sexual desires, any form of longing, because you have not and you want, and most of us are driven by desire. Isn't that so? Desire to be wealthy, desire to be famous, desire to have a better life, desire to marry a better woman, or man - right? (Laughs) Desire for happiness, desire for enlightenment, you know, desire eating most of us. And we have never, never solved the problem. The sannyasi may put on the robes, but he is burning with desires. Like us, only, like the rest of human beings, only he puts on a different robe. He is just like us behind that robe. Like the priests, when they adorn themselves with all the extravagant robes, they are just like the rest of humanity - ambitious, greedy, wanting position - bishops, archbishops, you know, the hierarchical structure.
So desire is one of our greatest problems which is bringing in our lives great conflict - one desire opposing another desire, the desire of one object, changing constantly that object. So, one has to understand the nature of desire, not suppress it, not control it, not run away from it. One has to understand, which is our problem now. Our problem, I'm facing it. I hope you are facing it. It's our problem. And what is desire, what is the nature of desire, how desire comes into being, what to do with desire. That's our problem. And it must be dealt with immediately - you understand? - not say, I will get over desire, I will suppress desire, I will control desire or I will let desire run its You understand all this?
So we are first enquiring. When we use words like 'enquiry', it means time. The very word enquiry implies time. But we are not doing that in that sense. We are using the word 'observe' rather than 'enquiry'. You understand what I mean? We are observing and observation is always immediate. You can't say, 'I will observe.' It is now.
Desire causes innumerable problems, contradictory problems - conflict, misery, you know, the whole gamut of desire. So, we are looking, observing, what is desire, how it arises. And what is the movement of desire. You are following all this? Please come with me. We are observing, not analysing, not seeking the cause, we are just observing the movement of desire - you follow this? - not the object of desire, whether it is noble, ignoble, beautiful, ugly - none of that, but purely observing the movement of desire, and the observation of that is immediate. Right? It is clear? Are you coming with me? Like two people watching a bird, they are both interested in what the bird is. Their senses, their eyes are actively watching. So, what is desire? Desire comes through observation; seeing - right? - then contact, touching, then sensation. Now careful, follow it, stop there for a moment, I must go into it carefully with you, otherwise we will miss the point here. First the seeing, a woman or a man, seeing the flower, smelling it, then wanting it - you follow? - all that. That is, seeing, contact, sensation. Then what happens? Go slowly, observe it very precisely, carefully. Then what happens? You see a car - the sensation, the contact, then what happens? Then thought comes in and says, how nice to be in it, driving it, seeing the power of it. You follow? That is, seeing, contact, sensation, thought creating the image, and the moment thought has created the image, desire comes into being. You have followed this? Right? Is this clear? No, not verbally. You see a woman, or a man, you know all the reactions. So, seeing, contact, sensation. Then thought creates the image, a symbol, whatever it is. Then from that image, which thought has created bursts desire. You've got it? Please look at it for your own selves. You can see it very clearly, only the movement is so rapid. It is accelerated by the thought instantly responding. Right? Now we are saying, watch it very carefully, and you will see the movement, how it begins. Right? Right?
So, desire comes through the movement of thought creating the image, and thought pursuing that image which becomes desire. Right? So, the question is, if you have gone into it very carefully, why does thought create the image? Do you understand my question? Can thought not create the image? Right? You're following this, sir? Because again it is the tradition of time - thought, thought is time. Right? Or have I to explain that? Oh, my lord! Thought is the movement from the past, knowledge, memory moves, which is thought is time. So this thought which has been conditioned to create images instantly flows into sensation, and from that begins desire. You have got it? No, in your heart, observe it, as you observe it with your if you have ever observed anything, observe it very closely.
Now the question is: can you look, contact, sensation, end there? You are following this? Not allow thought - no, can thought see itself, what it is doing? You have got it? No? Your minds are so slow because you have never exercised your eyes, your ears, you are not quick. You are too educated, that is what is wrong with you. (Laughter) You are all lawyers, engineers, scientists, businessmen, worried about your wife, and children, and so your minds have become dull. For god's sake, see this! And when something new is put in front of you, you don't quickly grasp it.
So, I am saying sir - I am not being impatient, I am just stating what is happening to your minds. I am just pointing out, we are observing together - right, sir? - together. You are as active in your observation as the speaker. He says, look how desire arises. Right? Now, the immediacy and the urgency to see that thought doesn't come into it - you follow? - because the moment thought enters into the creation of desire we are lost. Then the contradictions, the conflicts, the urges, the competition - the desire. So, we are not suppressing desire. We are not cutting out desire. We are not saying it's right or wrong. We are awake to the whole movement of desire, attentive to desire. You understand what I am saying? Attentive. Therefore when you attend, instantly a different activity comes into being. Right sir? Are you doing it?
Now, look at the other aspect of desire, which is will. Will is energy directed in a particular direction. Right? Will which is the exertion of energy and that energy is the movement of desire: I want to be better, collector or an engineer or a lawyer. I exercise tremendous will to become that because thought - follow it carefully - thought has seen - ah, no - one has observed the people who have great will achieve - more money, more cars, better houses, this enormous energy driven in a certain direction and with its consequent results of conflicts, competition, ruthlessness, brutality, violence - all that is involved.
So, will in which there is choice, is the movement of seeing, contact, sensation, thought taking over that sensation through an image, and the movement of desire and the operation of will. You're following all this? You can see this how it comes into being. So, the question then is not whether desire can be stopped - see how our minds have changed. Right sir? You follow? Are you coming with me? Our minds have undergone a change the moment I have realised the nature of desire. It has moved out of the tradition that desire must be suppressed, controlled - whatever it is, transformed, and so on. We are treating desire as an energy. Right? Right sir, you follow this? I am looking upwards, somebody must answer me.
Now as long as energy creates conflict in any direction, that energy is wasted. Right? Energy is wasted in conflict, struggle, competition, drive, wanting to be superior, and all the rest of it. So, desire is energy - right? - desire which is the result of thought creating the image and pursuing that image. So, one realises if you are observing very closely as we are now, the nature of energy which has been caught up in desire and directed in a particular direction which creates conflict, and the seeing of that total process instantly is the awakening of intelligence. You are following this? The awakening of intelligence, which is going to direct that energy. You have followed all this? No, you haven't. You are all asleep. I can't repeat it.
You see sirs, ladies - (Music) Oh for god's sake, it's again you see. To live a life without a single control, think it out - which does not mean doing what you like, a permissiveness, but to understand the nature of control instantly. You understand, sir? Not say, well, why shouldn't I have control? If I don't I will be more sexual, if I don't I will be angry. To understand why thought has brought about control and whether it is possible to live a life without a single control. You understand, sir? Think about it. See the beauty of it! Because when you control, one thought is controlling another thought, that is all. Right? Thought which is the response of memory, knowledge, time, and that thought has broken up into itself - broken up, and one thought tries to control another, but it is still the movement of thought. Right? So, is it possible to observe instantly and act instantly, which needs no control? You understand? I wonder if you do.
Sir, we began by talking about freedom. A mind that lives in controls, lives in conflict, lives in constant desire - wanting, wanting, wanting - is never free, and therefore can never possibly love; and without that extraordinary thing called love, do what you will, you create misery, you will destroy people. You understand? So, this enquiry, this observation - not enquiry - this observation into the mind is freeing the mind to have this extraordinary vitality of love, the energy of it. Right?
We better stop now.