A silence that can only come in freedom
Fundamental change in society
2nd Public Talk, New York, New York State
April 15, 1984
It would be good if we could have a dialogue between two people, but as there is such a large audience, it will not be possible. Because dialogue is very important, so that you ask a question and to that question there is a reply, and to that reply you ask another question and so keep that communication of question and answer going till the question remains without you or the speaker - only the question. That is really a dialogue. But that is not possible here this morning. So we are going to talk over things together, not you accept what the speaker says or disagree, but rather together, as we said yesterday morning, go into this whole problem of living our daily life, not according to any particular ideal or faith or belief, but taking things as they are and observing them very carefully. Perception without the perceiver - we talked about it yesterday morning also - so that when there is that pure perception, that which is observed undergoes a radical change.
We are going to talk over together this morning the art of living as we said yesterday, which is to have complete freedom, not the freedom of choice, not the freedom of what one wants to do or likes to do, for that freedom is limited by the environment, by society, by religious doctrines and so on, but freedom is something entirely different. It is not freedom about something or from something, but freedom per se. And when there is that freedom, which we are going to enquire presently, there is the supreme way of living without any conflict, without any problem, heightened intelligence, when the brain is fully active, not active in a particular direction, either scientific or business, or the problems of daily life, but when there is that freedom there is great energy, tremendous energy. And the word 'freedom' also, etymologically, means love. And that freedom implies enquiry, as we did yesterday into the problem of relationship. In that relationship, whether it is most intimate or with your neighbour or with the neighbour of a thousand miles away, as long as there is an image about the person with whom you are related or the person also relates to you and there is that image built, which we talked about yesterday, there must be conflict.
And we have lived with conflict for generation upon generation, not only conflict in our relationship, but conflict with society, conflict with other nations. Nationalism as we pointed out, is tribal worship and that is causing enormous despair, wars, division: the Jew and the Arab, the Hindu and the Muslim, the Communist and the Socialist and the so-called Democratic. There is tremendous conflict going on in the world. And this is the society, as we pointed out yesterday, which human beings have built. Society is not something that comes out of the air. Society in which we live is created by every human being, and that society, which is immoral, there is a great deal of injustice, and one questions whether there is justice at all. You can hire an excellent lawyer for your crooked way, and he will protect you. So one has to question all these problems in life. Society is what we have made of it and we are caught by that thing that we have made.
And as we say, unless there is a radical mutation, change, a fundamental psychological revolution, not physical revolutions which have led man nowhere, as is shown in the communist world, they have had many, many revolutions, physical revolutions, they have not changed the psychological quality of human beings. Unless there is fundamental, radical change, society will remain as it is now. And we said yesterday too, change implies time, change from this to that, change from violence to non-violence - which is now used for political purposes, invented in India or before India by Tolstoy and others. To achieve, to change violence into non-violence is a long duration of time. Will time change human beings? That is a very basic, radical question. Has time, which is evolution, of fifty thousand years or more, has man been changed during that long period of time psychologically? Obviously he has not. We are very primitive people, quarrelling with each other, wars, wars, endless wars, always in conflict. Psychologically, inwardly, we have not changed, we have changed very, very little. Perhaps, technologically we have advanced immensely, the atom bomb, telecommunication, the extraordinary explosion of machinery, computers, and so on, but inwardly, deeply, we remain what we have been for ten thousand or more years. Time does not change man. Please, this is a very serious statement; don't reject it.
We are exploring the thing together. To explore deeply, there must be a great deal of scepticism, doubt, not only doubt what you think, but doubt of your own experiences and prejudices and opinions - doubt the whole structure, psychological structure that human beings have built in themselves and around themselves. There must be constant questioning. Therefore out of that questioning deeply comes freedom, not acceptance, not holding on to one's own prejudices, opinions. Opinions have no value. They are not facts. You can have opinion about a fact, but fact is a fact; you cannot have an opinion about it; it is so. You are sitting there and the speaker is sitting here, that's a fact.
So, as we said, without freedom - please, we are using that word very, very carefully, not the freedom that you have in this country to do what you like, fulfil, you know the whole idea of freedom: choice, movement, status, position, achieve, success, that's only a very, very small part of freedom, and that may perhaps be a most destructive freedom if everyone does what he likes, as is happening throughout the world - you bring about great chaos, which is what is going on.
So what is freedom? And as we said that very word, etymologically, means love, from the Ancient Greeks and so on. Freedom implies freedom from, freedom from, let us say, fear. Is it possible for human beings who have lived with fear of various kinds to be completely free of fear psychologically, inwardly? We are asking this question. Please, you are asking this question of yourself: not I put that question to you and then answer that question. You are putting that question to yourself, whether human beings, who have lived on this earth for millennia upon millennia can ever be free from fear: fear of insecurity and seeking security, fear of death and what happens after death, fear of god (god is invented by man, by thought. We will go into that when we talk about it a little later on, about religion.) Freedom from attachment. So let us examine together what is the cause of fear, what is the root of fear. This examination is not merely intellectual, logical, rational, sane; it is not an analysis; it is perception. When you perceive something very clearly and that perception is not guided by prejudice, by a motive or a particular direction, then that perception acts on the causes of fear. We haven't time to go into all these matters very deeply in detail, so we must briefly go into it. What is the cause of fear, the root cause? Not fear about something, or the fear of what might happen, or the fear of not succeeding, fame, you know, all the rest of it, what is the essence, the root of fear? Is it time? Is it thought? Or is there another factor which is neither thought nor time? So first let's examine together, I mean, please, together, not the speaker examines, then you accept or reject, but together, which has an extraordinary quality when we do things together. When we do things together there is no authority, there is no leader, there is no guru. And in the matter of the psyche any kind of authority is destructive; in the so-called - if I may use that rather well-worn and shoddy word, 'spiritual', in that field there is no leader and therefore there is no follower. But when there is an examination together, seeing things together, not according to your prejudice or according to the speaker's prejudice, bias and so on, but actually perceiving together, then there is no acceptance or denial, logical or illogical; it is so.
So we are asking: what is the root of fear? We said is it time? Time being not only chronological time by the watch, sun rise, sunset, but time as a movement. That is, time is the past, the present and the future. In the present all time is contained. If there is no radical change in the present, now, the future is what you are. This is logical, you can see it happening now. And time is a process of thinking also. I have had pain, I have not at present pain, but a week later I might have pain. I am secure, but later on I might be insecure. This movement from the past through the present, modifying itself in the future, is the process of time. And is time different from thought?
Please, this is a serious question; it is not something to play with; it is not a hobby. We are dealing with life. Life isn't a hobby. Life means living at the highest excellence, at the highest capacity of intelligence and that implies intelligence is born out of love, not out of calculation, design - planned.
So is time, which is a movement from the past through the present and the future, having done something wrong, or having done something pleasant, modifying itself in the present, and going on in the future: I hope to have more pleasure, I hope to have more money - secure. The whole movement is of time. And is thought time? Thought, as we pointed out yesterday, is born out of memory. If there is no memory, there is no thought, and memory is the accumulated knowledge, whether the accumulation be of ten thousand years or one day, and that knowledge is based on experience. And as experience is very limited, so knowledge is limited. That is what the scientists are doing - adding more and more and more to their knowledge. Knowledge is never complete either now or in the future; it will always be limited. That is a fact; it is not an opinion of the speaker, or a conclusion; a fact, irrefutable. And so thought is limited. As time is limited, thought is also limited. They are both movements, both limited; and as we live human lives in time and thought, our lives are naturally very limited. You may expand it, knowledge may expand, grow - that which has growth must always be limited. Are we following each other?
So is thought, time, the root of fear? Obviously it is, and man has never been able to solve this question because we have lived with fear from the ape to now. Perhaps some of us are rather apish. So we are asking a very serious question: is it possible to be totally psychologically free of fear? Don't, please, agree or disagree. Don't say it is possible; then it is just a theory; or, if you say it is not possible, then you have blocked yourself from further investigation. So, the very question if left untouched by thought - you understand what I'm saying? We have asked this question, whether fear, with which we have lived, with all its darkness, with all its pain and anxiety, fear of death and so on, is it possible to be totally psychologically free of it? It implies, do we actually perceive, not theoretically or verbally, the fact that thought, time - which are both the same - time-thought; they are not two separate movements - to observe, to perceive the root of it which is thought-fear, perceive, not think about it, but to perceive, which means perception without the perceiver, the perceiver being the past. So when there is the perceiver observing, he is colouring, distorting from his memory and so on. So perception is free from that which is the past as the perceiver. To perceive without the perceiver, that means giving total attention. When there is total attention, not concentration. Concentration is something different from attention - which we will go into a little later - when there is complete attention, that attention acts as a flame and destroys completely the root of fear.
Not how to stop thinking - you understand? - which is causing fear. I wonder if you understand all this. (laughter) I was told yesterday that perhaps about two or three per cent understand what you are talking about! I hope not! It is a waste of time on your part, and on the part of the speaker. But if we are moving together, there is an extraordinary movement. It is like a vast river with an enormous volume of water. But when you are working it out by yourself, you are like a little stream that dies, withers up, dries up very soon.
And also we ought to talk over together the question of pleasure: pleasure of possession, pleasure of status, sexual pleasure, pleasure of seeing a sunset, pleasure of seeing the beauty of land, the delight of seeing a great mountain, snow-capped in the blue sky. It gives great pleasure. And also one has to look at it also, whether beauty is pleasure. What is beauty? I hope you don't mind me talking about so many things. We have limited time therefore we have to include as briefly as possible all the things we have to talk about, yesterday and today. What is beauty? You go into any museum of the world, there is a collection of great pictures, statues, from ancient temples. You look at them, and it gives you, if you have studied art, and you know who painted it, you begin to compare, you see the proportion, the light, the shadow and the colour; all that is perceiving a sense of beauty. That is only partial. So we are asking: what is the nature of beauty? Does beauty exist, not in the man or the woman, in a lovely face, good manners, dignity, a sense of proportion, the way he talks, the way he walks? In that also there is great beauty. Not in sloppiness - sorry! (laughter) And when you dig deeper, what is it? Is it a pleasure? Is it a delight? Is it something that you experience? Or it has nothing to do with experience, with pleasure? Please, we are asking this thing together, I am not asking, you are listening. Because man has pursued beauty all the time, created great art - the Ancient Egyptians, the glory of Greece, and before them, the Ancient Hindus, and the Buddhists, the marvellous temples, the great cathedrals and the beauty of the Catholic mass - all that is put together by thought. Do thought and the movement of thought show beauty? Or beauty has nothing whatsoever to do with thought and time? Not in the eye of the beholder: beauty exists only when there is no beholder, when there is no 'you'. Which means when there is total freedom from 'you': from all your problems, your worries, your anxieties, insecurities, sorrow - when all that is not, the other is. And so beauty, not being of time and thought, is not a matter of pleasure. Pleasure is remembrance of things that have happened and so on.
And also, if you are not too tired, we ought to talk over together the question of sorrow. Man, every human being on earth has carried this burden of sorrow. Sorrow that wars have produced; and these wars have been going on for five to six thousand years, practically every year there has been a war in this world and they are still going on - greater destruction of man; ten million can be wiped away in a second. You know all that, you have read about it. And wars have produced great sorrow, tears, people maimed for life. Sorrow of ideologies, ideologies have killed people. This is what is happening now. Wars have been produced by religion. Perhaps, if I may most gently suggest, Christianity has killed more people than any other people. Don't get angry, please. And we are still going on with killing each other in the name of god, in the name of country, in the name of some ideals, so-called nationalism which is really glorified tribalism. So there is a great deal of sorrow in the world and each one suffers in various ways. If you have no money, if you are very learned, you want more - so there is this constant struggle for the more. And there is the sorrow of death. And man throughout the world, from the most primitive to the most sophisticated human being, he has sorrow, and that sorrow has never ended. We have not been able to solve that problem. We have never ended the problem.
So we ought to talk over together, briefly for the moment, what is a problem? Why do we have problems - not only business problems, technological problems, problems with man and woman and so on? We have got so many problems. Why? And problems imply solutions; from childhood we are trained, educated, to solve problems. When a boy or a girl goes to a school they have problems immediately; how to write, how to read, learn mathematics, geography - it becomes a problem. Through college, university and so on, factory - our whole life has become a problem. Why? We are seeking out of those problems solutions. Solutions are far more important than the problem. Why? Is it because - please we are thinking together, not the speaker talking about it, we are together in this. Either we drown together, or live together - that we have reached this state in the world? Why has man not been able to resolve problems? Is it that his brain is conditioned, moulded from childhood to solve problems? His brain is conditioned that way and therefore he makes of everything a problem. How to live properly becomes a problem. What is right action becomes a problem. To understand problems one must be free from the mechanical conditioning of the brain, otherwise you are perpetually solving problems; in the solution of problems more problems, as is happening politically, economically, legislation, more problems because our whole brain is structured, conditioned to solve problems. I will leave that question with you to think about it - no, not think about it, to look at it.
We are asking whether sorrow can end. This question has been put long before Christianity, long before any kind of organised religion. Man has always asked this question while he is suffering: is there an end to all this pain and loneliness, despair, anxiety, remorse, guilt? When we've asked a question of this kind, that is, is sorrow personal, is sorrow also universal and what is the relationship of personal sorrow to the universal sorrow of man? You understand? When you ask that question: whether sorrow can end, can the tears of a thousand years, can all that end? That's a question. Where there is sorrow, there is also self-pity. There is sorrow also at the loss of something precious, sorrow of seeing poverty in this world, the sorrow of the politicians who are creating wars - and you are the politicians who are creating wars, not just the politicians on top, we are creating wars. And this sorrow is shared by all humanity. Please, this is a very serious thing, by all humanity it is shared. That means our consciousness with all its biological, physiological responses, with all the beliefs, dogmas, rituals and fears and sorrows, anxieties, loneliness, despair and so on, all that is our consciousness. All that is what you are. What you think, what you feel, what one has - griefs, beliefs, superstitions - all that, the whole content, is what you are, put there by thought, by remembrance, by fear and so on. This consciousness is universal; it is not my consciousness, because wherever you go on this earth, which is so marvellously beautiful, which you are gradually destroying, wherever you go, to the most remotest corners of the world, there is sorrow, there's great pain, great anxiety and so on. So this consciousness is common to all of us. It is not my consciousness separate from yours, psychologically. You may be tall, you may be short, you may be this or that, you may be a woman or a man, black, white, purple, pink or whatever colour prejudice you have, but inwardly, deeply, we are, we share, the rest of the world. So we are humanity, not individuals psychologically, though religions have said, both Asiatic religions and Christianity have said separate souls, which is so extraordinarily unreal. The fact is we share, we are humanity, not verbally, intellectually, but with your heart, within your blood. And when there is a mutation you affect the whole of consciousness. This is what geneticists are seeking, how to affect, change man. Mutation implies, or if you don't like to use that word, radical deep psychological change, it affects, when you change radically, fundamentally, it affects the whole consciousness of man because you are humanity.
So we are asking whether sorrow can end. Don't answer it - it cannot or it can. Let the question, if you put it vitally, if you put it with all your energy, not just intellectually play with it, when you put that question, with all your being, leave it alone. It's like a seed that you have planted in the earth, you don't pull it to see everyday if it growing, you will destroy it. But if you put that question with all your seriousness, with your intensity, then that question has its own answer. But we are so eager for an answer. We want to be told how. When you put the question 'How' then you are asking for a system, for a method. Then you will fall back into the old routine. Never ask 'how'. If you ask how, then you create authority, a guru. This is very complicated. So we are asking if there is an end to sorrow. There is, but not for you, do not say: 'Yes, I accept that'. You have to dig and leave it alone. Dig and leave it alone.
We ought to talk about death. Why are people frightened of death? Don't, please, you are frightened, don't pass it off. As you get older, either you become a very religious, superstitious human being, or join some cult, or you begin to enquire into what is death, and why we have separated it from living - the living and the dying. And you postpone, put it far away. Why do we human beings do all this? Is it fear - fear of losing the known, entering into the unknown? So the question is: is it possible to live with death? Careful, please, don't answer this. I am living, you have to understand what is living. Living, as far as we know, is one constant travail, with occasional pleasure, occasional comfort, and if you have money you are more or less secure, but there is always insecurity threatening; going to the office every day for the rest of your life, from nine to five, struggling, competing, quarrelling, hating, loving which is called pleasure - all that: that is our way of living, and that is what we know. And we are frightened to let that go. Death means the ending of all that, not only the organism coming to an end, but also all the attachments, all the knowledge, experience. So can one live - please, this is a serious question, not something to be played with - can one live with death and life together, not separate, which means can you live with death so that there is no attachment? Because death is going to wipe away all your attachments; your family, your knowledge, your becoming, your fame, all that nonsense. Can we, as we live our daily life, live with death, which is to be free of attachment, of competition, of psychologically becoming, all that, so that there is no interval between living and dying? You understand what it does? You have tremendous freedom and energy. Not to do more mischief, not to get more money, to become famous, that is rather childish - forgive me - but when you live with something which has immense meaning, that is freedom.
And also we ought to talk over together what is religion and meditation. What is religion? Man from the most ancient of times has sought something beyond the daily existence with its monotony, with its routine, with mechanical habits both physical and inward. He said there must be something beyond all this, so he invented god. God - may I go into it without your getting annoyed, or being supercilious - god is invented by thought. If there is no fear of any kind psychologically, absolutely no fear, not a shadow of it, not a breath of it, then is god necessary? Then you ask, who created all this world? We can't go into creation, that requires an hour or so to go into it, we can't go into it. So man has sought this. And the priests came along and said: 'I will interpret it for you; I will organise it for you; you are ignorant, but we are learned'. And the process of that is to dress up, to impress - don't you know all this? - and also create a great deal of show, different costumes. The ancient Egyptians, before them the Sumerians, seven to eight thousand years ago, they had hell and heaven too. So they said you must believe, otherwise you will go to hell, and they persecuted, killed, tortured. Christianity has done this: you must believe in Jesus, or you are a heretic, doubt is not allowed in the Christian world. If you doubt, then the thing collapses. But the Asiatic world, including specially in India, one of the teachings is, you must question, you must doubt, question not only your guru if you have a guru, but question yourself, have a dialogue, never accept. There is no authority except the authority of the truth, not the truth invented by books or by thought or by priests. So they always had dialogues, like the Greeks - in the Agora - the ancient Greeks. They discussed, but their discussion was questioning, like Socrates questioned and so on. Now what is religion? If you wipe away all the nonsense and superstitions and beliefs that go with organised modern religions whether you are a Baptist, Christian and all the rest of that business, if you wipe away all that, not be a Hindu, a Buddhist or a Christian; it does not mean you become an atheist; it means you are enquiring, questioning, asking, discussing, pushing, driving, flowing.
Then, is there something sacred? Is there something eternal which is beyond time? Is there something totally untouched by thought? To find out, not you find out - for it to be, we said there must be meditation. Meditation is not just repeating some words, whether Ave Maria and all the rest of it, that is all too immature. Meditation is something extraordinary. Meditation is the understanding of the whole of life, both external and inward, the understanding of your daily life, your relationships, freeing yourself from fear, and questioning what is the self, the 'me'. Is the 'me' merely a bundle of memories and therefore no actuality? Please enquire into all this. That is all part of meditation. The very word 'meditation' both in Sanskrit and according to the dictionary meaning is to measure, to free the mind from all measurement, that is becoming. I am this, I will be that - that is a measure. And measure is necessary for all the technological world. Without measure we could not create a dynamo or the atom bomb, or build a car, but psychologically, inwardly, to be free of all comparison, which is measurement. And meditation, when there is this freedom from fear, from all the hurts that one has had from childhood till now, the psychological wounds that one keeps preciously, which distort our lives - to be free of all that, to be free of sorrow, pain loneliness, depression, anxiety, all that, that is to be free of the self, the 'me', not at the end of one's life - right from the beginning, right from the moment you hear this to live it.
And meditation means an extraordinary activity of the brain, not silencing the brain. When the brain is at its highest quality, full of energy, there is silence, not the silence put together by thought, which is limited silence. And in that silence which can only come when there is freedom, and therefore there is love and compassion with its intelligence. That intelligence is supreme, and there is no compassion or love if you are attached to some religious organisation or believe in something. There must be complete freedom, and in that freedom there is a great, tremendous energy because there is an emptiness - not nothingness, emptiness. In that there is that which is beyond all time. This is meditation. This is religion.