An urgent change
Fundamental change in consciousness
2nd Public Talk, New York, New York State
April 10, 1983
May we continue where we left off yesterday? We were talking about, were we not, about the urgency of change. It is becoming more and more important, as one observes what is happening in the world, that human beings after millennia upon millennia have not fundamentally in any way, psychologically changed. They have produced out of their psyche a very cruel society, a society that is immoral, brutal, violent, and during the last or in the twentieth century there have been tremendous advancements technologically. But we have changed very, very little, if at all.
And, as we said yesterday morning, we have been programmed. Our brains though have extraordinary capacity, probably infinite capacity, which has been shown in the technological world what extraordinary things are being done. And in the psychological world if we could unprogram ourselves we then have infinite capacity, the brain has. I think most of the brain specialists who have gone into the question of the activity of the brain must inevitably ask if and when, can the brain be unconditioned, though it has its own rhythm, its own movement, but the self imposed conditioning - religiously, politically, economically - if the brain could uncondition itself then it has infinite capacity. Capacity is not merely the accumulated knowledge of experience. As we pointed out yesterday, such experience and knowledge is limited. And is it possible for us human beings who have been conditioned, programmed, definitely moulded in a certain pattern psychologically, is it possible to radically, fundamentally bring about a change?
And that change must be urgent. As we pointed out yesterday, time is an enemy of man. Time as evolution. We have evolved for the last, according to biologists and so on, forty, fifty thousand years, we have evolved, our brain has grown. But during those forty thousand years psychologically we have remained more or less the same. It is a fact. This is not a pet theory of the speaker. He has no theories, he has no belief, no conclusion, but if one observes very, very carefully, quite impersonally, these are obvious facts. And is it possible? One must ask oneself this question if one is at all serious, and the present crisis demands that we human beings be terribly serious, frighteningly serious, committed to the enquiry of the urgency of change, which implies whether it is possible for the whole content of our consciousness, which has been put together there by thought, thought itself being limited, and therefore our consciousness is equally limited and therefore conditioned. What is limited must invariably bring about division, conflict. And we ask in all seriousness whether that brain which has been programmed for, according to the Christians, if you believe in all that stuff, four thousand years ago, which is rather incredible, and according to the scientists and biologists, perhaps forty, fifty thousand years. One wonders if one is aware entirely with the present state of the world and our relationship to the world, and is our relationship different to the world and to the family, to the small unit of the community, however large that community be?
As we said yesterday, if one may remind each of us, that this is not an entertainment. You are not being stimulated, you are not being told what to do, or an exotic philosophy from India or from the Far East. We have gone beyond all that kind of nonsense. There is no Eastern thought and Western thought, there is only thinking; thinking that can be expressed in Eastern terminology and Western philosophy, but it is still thinking. And this thought, being limited, and all the content of our consciousness is put there by thought. And in the enquiry whether it is possible to bring about the urgency of change, one must look into our consciousness. That's what we are. Into our psyche. Not analytically because that takes time. The analyser and the analysed. I hope we are following each other. As we said, this is a dialogue between two friends, without any conclusions, without any belief and biases, but having a friendly dialogue, serious and deeply committed to the discovery whether it is possible for human beings, which is both of us, to be totally free from the condition which thought has brought about. So we are enquiring together into the nature of ourselves, what we are. Not according to any psychologist or philosopher, or what the ancient Greeks or the Hindus have said about what you are, but examining actually what we are now.
Our psyche, which is the consciousness, the awareness of our consciousness, and we are enquiring into the content of it. The content is what we are: our beliefs, our experiences, our faith, doubt, questioning, desires, superstitions, fears, pleasures, and the great agony of loneliness, suffering, and what we call love, which has become merely sexuality, sensory pleasures; and the religious enquiry, if there is something beyond all the manifestations of thought, if there is something utterly untouched by thought, something sacred, holy, which doesn't belong to any religion. All that is our consciousness, is our psyche, is what we are. And our consciousness is limited, and we have reduce that we have made that consciousness as the individual consciousness, the my consciousness and yours, and so where there is this division, this limitation as the individual there must be conflict, which is so rampant in the world at the present time. So there is man against man, ideologies against ideologies, my country, my god, and your country and your god; each conclusion opposing other conclusions. This is the whole content of our consciousness, our psyche. That's what we are. Again, this is an indisputable fact. It is not the speaker is telling you what it is. If you enquire into it quietly, unbiased, deeply, this is what you, with your name, with your particular form, female or male, your bank account, if you have one - fortunately we have not - and this is our life, the conflict from the moment we are born till we die, the fear of death, the fear of living, the fear what lies beyond.
So we are asking whether there can be a fundamental change in this content. I hope we are thinking together, knowing that our thinking is limited, that we are communicating with each other not only verbally but much deeper. Because otherwise there is no communication at all, then it becomes a series of ideas, a stupid lecture without any significance, and it would be a waste of your time and that of the speaker. So please, we are together going into this matter: the urgency of change.
There are those who say it is not possible - man will always be conditioned. Volumes have been written about it by specialists. You are conditioned and you will always be conditioned, and modify that conditioning, put up with it and do the best of it, make the best of it. And the speaker says this conditioning can be totally, radically be changed - not modify it. If one has talked or discussed or read what the specialists say about the conditioning and living in that conditioning and modified, if you have read it, if you have enquired into it, please listen to what the speaker has to say, what you and the speaker are enquiring together. We have to find the truth of the matter, not the opinions of the experts. I do not know if one is aware that we are becoming slaves to experts. Not to the experts of medicine, doctors, surgeons and the specialists in computers and so on, but the specialists who tell you what we are, how you should behave and so on. We are gradually becoming overwhelmed by the specialists. And here the speaker is not a specialist, he has no profession. This isn't a job he is doing for personal achievement or entertainment. This is a very serious matter. And so we are together, always please remember that we are together enquiring into this. We are not asserting any authority, any specialised knowledge, but walking together, perhaps hand in hand as two friends, along the same path, same narrow road of enquiry. It is your responsibility to enquire, not just follow what the speaker is saying. That means one's brain must be active. And it is very difficult when one is tired. I hope you have all had a good night, fresh, not weary, so we can walk rapidly, because we have limited time, through the content of our consciousness and see whether it is possible to be free from all the misery, confusion and the agony of living.
So briefly we are going to go into it step by step. First we must enquire into our relationship, however limited, however intimate, the relationship between man and woman, between the parents and the children, and our relationship to the world. Because relationship is very important; relationship is life. Without relationship no man can exist. Even the most exclusive hermit, he is related to the world, and all the monks and the sannyasis of the world have relationships. So we must begin with the enquiry into our relationship with each other. Are we related at all when each person is pursuing his own desire, his own ambition, his own fulfilment, his own success? The man and woman who are doing separately the same thing, each wanting to fulfil, to become in his own way - how can there be relationship at all? Like two parallel lines running, never meeting. Perhaps for sensuality purposes, but otherwise apparently in this world the divisions are so deep between man and woman, psychologically they hardly ever meet at that level. And is it possible to meet, not merely sexually, but to have deep relationship with each other? Which means no separation at all. Please, this is a very serious enquiry. Don't just accept the words and look at the words and twist the words to suit your own particular way of thinking.
Can human beings, man and woman, without each one forming an image about the other, can they live together, with the world? That is, the world of the two individuals with their problems, with their whole being, meet together. That's only possible when each one doesn't make an image about the other. And what place has love in this relationship? Is there love at all? Or merely that love which is called sensual pleasure. Please, you are enquiring with the speaker. Is love desire? Is love pleasure? And if there is love then what is the quality and the nature of that word, the significance of that word? The holding of that word in your heart and your mind to find out the depth of that word. Do we ever hold a word like that, like 'suffering', 'loneliness', 'anxiety' and so on, do we ever live with a word, see the depth of it, the beauty of it, the energy of that word? To learn about that word means to look at it, to feel it, to go into it. And is it possible to have a relationship in which there is no conflict whatsoever? And that is possible when there is no thought building the image about the other, about each other. That means being aware, attentive, diligent. And love has that quality.
And is love desire? And what is desire? Please, if I explain the movement of desire, if the speaker goes into it, you are going into it too, not merely accepting the words and agreeing or disagreeing. We are moving together, enquiring together. So what is desire? How does desire arise? And desire becomes so potent, so driving, astonishingly powerful. All commercialism is based on that, to acquire more, more, more - desire. So what is desire? We will go into it together, though the speaker will point out, but we are learning together about it. I do not know if you have ever enquired into the nature of learning, what it is to learn. May we go into it? All this is not boring to you? Even though you may be familiar, some of you may have read what the speaker has said before, which would be unfortunate if that remains merely as a memory, but if you could enquire into the nature of desire. The speaker is enquiring, and so please, what he says, question, doubt, be sceptical, strong, when you are enquiring.
Surely desire is a movement of time. Desire - when does desire begin, what is the origin of desire? There is, first there is sensation - seeing, contact, sensation. Right? You see a beautiful picture, touch it, then from that seeing, touching, there is sensation. That's a natural, healthy reaction the sensation. Then thought creates the image of you having that picture in your house, in your room. At that moment when thought shapes the sensation by its image, at that second begins desire. Please see this for yourself, not accept what the speaker is saying. He has no authority, he is not a specialist, a guru - he has a horror of all that. So please see this for yourself, discover it: that where there is perceiving, seeing, visual, then contact, touching, smelling and so on, out of that arises sensation. Then thought creates the image, and at that second desire arises. So one asks can there be a hiatus, a gap between sensation and the moment when thought creates the image? The awareness of that intrusion of thought requires great attention. You are following all this?
You know, we have all been taught to discipline ourselves, to control ourselves. The word 'discipline' means, the etymological meaning of that word is, arises from the word 'disciple'. The disciple is one who learns, not who imitates, not who conforms, but is one who is learning. And if we are learning together there is no teacher and the taught. Then you are both the teacher and the disciple. I don't know if you are following all this, if it interests you. So, one has to learn the nature of desire. As one learns one begins to understand how desire is born, and be attentive to that movement, not controlling, suppressing or fulfilling, but be in a state of learning.
Obviously desire is not love. It can never be. But we have translated in the modern world that love to mean pleasure and sensation, sensuality. And in enquiring into the nature of love, what it is, we must also look into the content of our consciousness which is fear - part of that consciousness is fear. We are all afraid of something or other, from this smallest to the greatest, from losing a job, from being lonely, from growing old and dying, from not becoming somebody in this beastly world. There's fear of losing and the fear of gaining. Everybody in the world from the poorest to the most highly educated sophisticated human being knows what fear is. You know it, don't you? It is nothing new to you. And what fear does to each one of us. We may have our own pet fear, and we want our particular fear to be solved, but if we understand not the particular fear, but what is fear. In the larger the lesser is included. The lesser is my particular fear or your particular fear, but if we understand the root of fear, the cause of fear, not how to resolve fear, but in the understanding and the learning of what causes fear, then if you are serious and committed to the understanding and learning about fear, giving your time and energy to find out. Then there is an ending to fear completely, not relatively, not for the moment, but the total complete abnegation of that fear. So we will go into it, and I hope there will be time for other things too, because life is very complex. We ought to discuss what is pleasure, what is sorrow, what is the meaning of death, what is meditation, and if there is something that is beyond all time. All this within an hour. Exactly. So we will have to go into all this very, very briefly, succinctly, hoping that each one of us understands.
So we are enquiring what is the root of fear, not a particular fear but the root of all fear. The root of fear is time. What I will be, what I have been, what I might not be. Time is the past, the present and the future. The past modifying itself in the present and continuing in the future. Fear of something that has happened psychologically or physically last week or last year, and hoping that it will not continue in the future. So time is a factor of fear. The poor man; fear of not being able to find the next meal. You don't know all that. The fear of having no home, no shelter, no food. And the effect of fear, both on the physical organism, and on the psychological, on the psyche, and the very psyche may be made up of fear. Please understand that. You understand? The psyche, what you are, may be the result of fear, and probably is. So it is important to understand the depth and the meaning of fear. And that is time and thought. Time as the future - I might die, I might lose, I might be nobody. I am somebody now - which I doubt - but I want to be somebody in the future, the next day and so on. So time and thought are the root of fear.
We went into the question of thought, limited, and therefore one must ask a much more serious question: whether time and thought has a stop. Not fictional, scientific fictional time and thought, but actual thought and time. When we discuss, if we have time, meditation, we shall be able to find that out. Meditation is not all the silly nonsense that is going around, imported by the fantastic gurus with their nonsensical systems and all that. But to enquire into the ending of time and thought, because as long as those two have movements, fear will exist. Fear is related to pleasure. To have an amusing evening, or tomorrow, which is time, thought is already looking forward to some exciting pleasure, and that thinking about that particular form evokes fear, pleasure. So time and thought are related to fear and pleasure. We are not suppressing fear or overcoming fear or escaping from fear and pleasure, but understanding, learning the depth of it. When one understands, not intellectually, verbally or ideationally, or theoretically, but by watching, diligently, every movement of thought, not letting one thought escape from the awareness, then you begin to perceive, then there is the perception of the nature of fear and pleasure.
We have very little time, we must go on to the next thing, which is sorrow. Why man throughout the ages, from time beyond measure, why man has suffered, and is still suffering after so many centuries of existence. What is suffering? Why do we tolerate it? Why do we carry it in our heart, in our recesses of our mind - why? We have had two terrible wars in this century, in this last hundred years, terrible wars, brutal. You have seen all the horrible pictures. Soldiers being decorated heroes for killing so many, and imagine, or aware of how many women and men have cried, maimed, and being decorated by some silly people for killing others. That is the sorrow of the world. Are we responsible for this sorrow of the world? Of course we are, there is no question about it. As long as we are nationalistic, separative, tribal economically, socially, and religiously, we are responsible for these wars, for the killing of millions of people. Probably the Christians have killed more than anybody else. There is only one religion that has more or less avoided killing - first Buddhism, and Hinduism - not recently - and this is what religions have done to us. The religious people from the highest authority of the church talks about everlasting peace. But they never stop talking and saying we will excommunicate anybody who indulges in killing another.
So there is sorrow of the world. Then there is this sorrow of each one. Losing somebody through death, and in that loss of that person suddenly becoming aware of one's own terrible incalculable loneliness, shedding tears and so on. One cannot avoid sorrow. It is there. One may seek comfort, and that comfort is so shallow, meaningless, because after a little comfort and the passing of that comfort, sorrow is still there. We all know this. And is there an end to sorrow? Or man is destined, it is his nature, his condition, that he must suffer endlessly. The Christians try to avoid it by saying one figure has suffered for you and you perhaps will suffer less, but that has been meaningless too. Then there is the whole world of Hinduism with all their explanations of sorrow, karma and so on. I won't go into all that.
So is there an ending to sorrow? That is, is there an ending to self-centred activity? You understand? It is this self-centred activity that has brought about sorrow, not only outwardly, but inwardly. As long as the content of our consciousness is not diligently explored and broken down, there must be sorrow. There is no avoiding it or escaping it, it is there. Therefore it behoves us, if we are at all serious, that the ending of sorrow is far more important than the pursuit of pleasure, which the world is committed to. This vast entertainment industry which is spreading all over the world, sports, entertainment, it is taking further and further away each one of us from ourselves. And computer is doing that too - we won't go into that for the moment. So unless we understand what we are, what is our actual state, and to question whether it is possible to change. I will go into that briefly because time again is very limited because we have to discuss death, and meditation.
Take sorrow. You know what it means. You look at it, you feel it, you shed tears, become aware of the deep loneliness of one's life. And that brings about sorrow. We never stay with the feeling of that loneliness. Is that loneliness - please follow this for a minute, give your attention if you will - is that loneliness separate from you? Or you are that loneliness. You see the question? I suffer, and that suffering reveals that I am really an extraordinarily lonely person, that loneliness brought about by my self-centred activity, by my asserting aggressive individualism; that I see as though something different from me. But is that loneliness separate from me, or the very loneliness is me? You understand all this? Are we together in this a little?
When you are greedy, envious, is that envy different from you? Or you are envy - of course. But when there is a division between envy and you, then you do something about envy - control it, shape it, yield to it, and so on. So where there is division between you and the quality, there must be conflict. Clear? But the actuality is you are envy. That is a fact. You are not separate from envy. You are not separate from your face, from your name, from your bank account, from your values, from your experience, from your knowledge - you are all that. So, when one realises this truth, that you are not separate from that which you feel, which you desire, which you want, which you pursue, which you fear, there is no conflict. Therefore you stay with that. You understand? When you have conflict with envy, you are trying to avoid it, trying to suppress it, trying to do something about it. Here if you are envy, if you are grief, if you are sorrow, you stay with it. You understand? You don't move away from it. You are that. Therefore you have tremendous energy to look at it. You are following? There is a wastage of energy when you suppress, analyse, escape, or try to find a way out of it. That is a wastage of energy. But when you see that you are that, there is no division between that suffering, that loneliness and you, you stay with it. You stay with it like when you hold a precious jewel in your hand. I don't know if you have held something very beautiful in your hands. If you have, you stay with it, look at it, you watch it, you play with it. You understand? There is such a sense of release, freedom.
We ought to enquire also quickly into what is death. Why human beings from time generation after generation, from the ancient people to modern times, why they have feared death, why we have separated living from dying. Is it not far more important to enquire before, not after? That is, before dying, is it not much more important to enquire what is living? Isn't it? Not what is death - we will come to that - but isn't it far more urgent, important to see what is it we call living? You can answer perhaps better than I can. What is living? Endless struggle, conflict, work, labour, all the rest of your life. From 9 o'clock to 5 o'clock in the factory, in the office, earning money - we are not saying we shouldn't, please - battle, suffer, pain, this is what we call living, with pleasure, excitement, imagination, hoping, live in great turmoil. And when death comes along, that is the end of it. Your bank account, your friends, your everything comes to an end. You understand? And there are those in the Asiatic world who believe that there is a life after death, a life of what you have lived now, continued in the next life. You understand? So you keep going till eventually - which is called evolution - eventually you are freed from this turmoil. You follow? That's what they believe. And if they really believed it in life, actually, they would change now, not ten years later, or next life. But to change means disturbance, and they don't want to be disturbed, like you. So we carry on.
So what does death mean? The ending of things we have remembered, which we have now, and with the hope of something in the future. A great confusion, turmoil, sorrow. This is our life. And death comes, says, it will end. All this will end. So is it possible - please listen if you are interested - is it possible, take for example one thing, attachment. You are attached to a person, to an idea, to a conclusion, to a belief, to some imaginative romantic pictures, you are attached to it. And death says, it's over, you can't be attached any more, it is finished. So while you are living can attachment end? You follow what I am saying? You understand? Which is death. I am attached now to my experience, to my knowledge, to my wife, husband, children, to the various conclusions I have, I am attached to it. And in that attachment there is fear, jealousy, anxiety, all that happens. And when death comes there is a break, there is an ending. So can I, knowing this, being aware of the whole nature of attachment, can there be freedom from attachment, now, living? So if there is an end I am living with life and death together. You understand? Are we following each other a little bit? There is no separation from living and dying. There is great beauty in that. There is great truth in it. Not some romantic nonsense. So the brain it becomes free. And then it has infinite capacity, infinite energy.
Then we ought to talk about what is religion.
Well, never mind. They will have to wait, we'll go on another quarter of an hour. It doesn't matter. They can throw us out, physically. (Laughter) (Clapping)
What is religion? Again man has sought something that is not of this world. From the most ancient of people till now man has sought something that time, thought, has nothing to do with that. He has sought it. And in his search he has been trapped by the priests. Priests of the world who become the interpreters of that - we know, you don't, we will tell you all about it. And the established religions are just nonsense, as far as - please don't accept this. For the speaker they are just entertainment, excitement, the thing to do for a while. If you are young you avoid all that nonsense. As you grow older you get frightened, you become this or that. And all the things that are in the churches, temples and mosques are put together by thought. God is an invention of thought. So if we can scrap all that from our brain, from our belief, from our hope, then we are free to enquire what is religion. Etymologically that word has not an exact beginning, it is not 'to bind' as was originally thought. So we are enquiring into what is the religious mind. Not the believing mind, that is very simple, very easy to explain. But the religious mind, because the religious mind alone can create a new culture; not the believing mind, not the mind that has faith. So we are going to enquire into it, if you are not tired.
To enquire into it very deeply one must ask what is meditation. Not how to meditate, not what are the systems of meditation, whether Eastern, Far Eastern, Near East, or the present gurus with their - whether gurus from India or gurus from America, they have got systems, methods, which have all become money-making concern. It has no depth to it. So if you can abolish all that, put aside all that. That means you are free from all authority to enquire what is meditation.
To go into it one must be, as we said, be free from fear, pleasure. The ending of sorrow is the beginning of meditation. In meditation there is no motive - please understand this - there is no motive to achieve, to arrive, to become illumined or find illumination. All that is not meditation. Meditation means to have no measure. To have measure means time. Please understand all this. When you have measure, which is comparison - I am this, I will be that, or I'll have more, the better, the words 'the more', 'the better', the measurement, has completely come to an end in meditation - must. There is no motive or the will to meditate. But meditation implies a mind, a brain that is freed from the pain of existence. That's the beginning of it. And meditation means attention, to attend. Not that you attend. I don't know if you have gone into this question of attention. If you have, when you attend, when you give your attention to something, there is no centre from which you are attending. Right? Have you ever done this? Just watch when you attend, music, for example, when you go to a concert. Not the modern noise. When you go hear Mozart or Beethoven or Bach, when you listen attentively, in that attention there is no you attending. You are listening. Not that you are listening, there is only the act of listening. So, where there is attention there is no centre which is the self, the 'me', the psyche. That is meditation. To attend so completely and diligently there is nothing of negligence, then there is the beginning, the real depth of meditation, for in that there is no measure, no time, no thought. And out of that, or in that, there is deep abiding silence. That means the brain is utterly quiet, not chattering. The brain has its own rhythm. Let it act out of itself, but not the self imposing, thought imposing something on the brain. So the whole structure, the organism and the mind utterly quiet. I don't know if it has ever happened to you. It may happen occasionally when you are walking in a beautiful lane, in a wood of trees and birds and flowers, and the beauty of a sunset or a morning dawn, then one is for a second or two you are quiet, breathless, watching the beauty of the world. But that is external.
But when the brain is quiet, though it has its own activity, quiet in the sense thought is not functioning, so time and thought come to an end where there is deep attention. And then in that silence, which is not the manmade silence, silence has no cause, then in that silence there is that which is nameless, which is beyond all time. Such a mind is a religious mind. And it is only such minds can bring about a new culture, a new society. And because that is eternal it has immense significance in life.
May I get up now? Please don't clap, because I don't know why you... If it entertains you, clap, but you are not entertained. It is not. A waste of energy. May I get up please?