Beauty is the quiet of the self forgotten
Without beauty and love there is no truth
4th Public Talk, Saanen
July 17, 1985
You heard all the announcements. May I also announce that I am going to talk? And also that you are going to share in the talk. It is not a solo, but together, and the speaker means together, not that he is leading you or helping you or trying to persuade you, but rather together, and that word is important, together we take a very, very long journey. It is rather a difficult path - rather, I won't use that word, that is a dangerous word - a santier, lane, a way that will be rather complex because we are going to talk about self-interest, austerity, conduct and if it is possible in our daily life to end all sorrow. This is a very important question: why humanity after so many thousands and thousands of years has never been free from sorrow, not only each one's sorrow, the pain, the anxiety, the loneliness involved in that sorrow but also the sorrow of mankind. We are going to talk about that. And also, if we have time, we are going to talk about pleasure, and also death.
It is such a lovely morning, beautiful, clear blue sky, the quiet hills and the deep shadows, and the running waters, the meadow, the grove and the green grass. We ought also - we should talk over together what is beauty, on such a lovely morning. Could we talk about what is beauty? Because that is a very important question. Not the beauty of nature or the extraordinary vitality, dynamic energy of a tiger. You have only seen tigers in a zoo but the poor things are kept there for your amusement. If you go to some parts of the world that the speaker has gone, he was close to a wild tiger, as close as two feet away. Don't get excited!
And we should also go into this question because without beauty and love there is no truth. And we ought to examine very closely the word beauty. What is beauty? You are asking that question and so is the speaker asking that question. So we are both together looking, not only at the word, the implications of that word, and the immensity, the incalculable depth of beauty. Should we talk about it? We can talk about it, but the talk, the words, the explanations and the descriptions are not beauty. The word 'beauty' is not beauty. It is something totally different. So one must be, if one may point it out, one must be very alert to words. Because our brain works, is active in a movement of words. Words convey what one feels, what one thinks, and one accepts the explanations, descriptions because our whole brain structure, most of it, is verbal. So one must go into it very, very carefully not only with regard to beauty but also with regard to austerity, with regard to self-interest. We are going to go into all these questions this morning, if we will.
So we are asking ourselves: what is beauty? Is the beauty in a person, in a face? Is beauty in the museums, paintings, classical paintings, modern paintings? Is beauty in all the music - Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and all the rest of them? Is beauty in a poem? In literature? Dancing? And all the noise that is going on in the world called music? Is all that beauty? Or is beauty something entirely different? Right? We are going into it together. Please don't be, if one may respectfully point out, don't accept the words, merely be satisfied with the description and explanation, not agreeing and disagreeing, all that business, let's put out all that, if we can, from our brain and look at it very carefully, stay with it, penetrate into the word.
Because as we said without that quality of beauty, which is sensitivity, which implies not only the beauty of nature - the deserts, the forests, the rivers and the vast mountains with their immense dignity, majesty, but also the feeling, not the romantic imaginations and sentimental states - those are merely sensations. Is beauty, then we are asking, a sensation? Because we live by sensations. Sexual sensation, with which goes pleasure, and also the pain that is involved in the feeling that it is not being fulfilled, and so on. If we could this morning put out all those words from our brain and look at, go into this enormous question, very complicated, subtle: what is the nature of beauty? We are not writing a poem.
When you look at those mountains, those immense rocks jetting into the sky, if you look at it quietly, you feel the immensity of it, the enormous majesty of it. And for the moment, for the second, that tremendous dignity of it, the solidity of it, puts away all your thoughts, your problems, for a second - right? And you say, 'How marvellous that is'. So what has taken place there? The majesty of those mountains for a second, the very immensity of the sky and the blue, and the snow-clad mountains, drives away all your problems. It makes you totally forget yourself for a second. You are enthralled by it, you are struck by it. Like a child, who has been naughty all day long, or naughty for a while, which he has a right to be, and you give him a complicated toy. And he is absorbed by the toy till he breaks it up. And the toy has absorbed him. You understand? The toy has taken him over and he is quiet, he is enjoying - right? He has forgotten all his family, mother, you know, 'Do this, don't do that', and the toy becomes the most exciting thing for him. You understand? The mountain, the river, the meadows and the groves absorb you, you forget yourself - right? So is that beauty? You understand my question? To be absorbed by the mountain, by the river, or the green fields, that means you are like a child being absorbed by something else - right? And for the moment you are quiet, being absorbed, taken over, surrendering yourself to something. Is that beauty? Being taken over? You understand? Surrendering yourself to something great? And that thing forcing you for a second to forget yourself. So then you depend. Depend as the child does on a toy, or depend on a cinema, television, and for the moment you have identified yourself with the actor, or the actress. Surely all that is a form of being taken away from yourself - right? Would you consider that state, being taken over, surrendering, being absorbed, that quiet second, is that beauty? When you go to a church, or a temple, or a mosque, there the chanting, the rituals, the intonation of the voice, everything is so organised, so carefully put together to create a certain sensation, which you call worship, which you call a sense of religiosity. Is that beauty? Or beauty is something entirely different. You understand? Are we understanding this question together?
Is there beauty where there is self-conscious endeavour? Or there is beauty only when the self is not, when the me, the observer, is not? So is it possible without being absorbed, taken over, surrendering, to be in that state, without the self, without the ego, the me always thinking about itself? You understand my question? Is that possible at all, living in this modern world with all its specialisation's, with its vulgarity, its immense noise that is going on - not the noise of running waters, of the song of a bird. But is it possible to live in this world without the self, the me, the ego, the persona, the assertion of the individual? In that state when there is really freedom from all this, only then there is beauty. You may say, 'Well, that is too difficult, that is not possible. I prefer looking at a painting, or being in a lovely spot where there is a great sense of silence and quietude, and is it possible to have no self-interest at all?' Right? We are going to go into that.
Is it possible to live in this world without self-interest? What does self-interest mean? What are the implications of that word? How far can we be without self-interest and live here, in the bustle, the noise, the vulgarity, the competition, the personal ambitions and so on and so on? We are going together to find out - right?
Self-interest, you know what that word means so I don't have to explain. Self-interest hides in many ways, hides under every stone and every act. Hides in prayer, in worship, in having a good profession, in having great knowledge, in having a special reputation, like the speaker. When there is a guru who says, 'I know all about it. I will tell you all about it' - is there not also self interest there? One may be an expert, a specialist, skilful and there is this seed of self-interest. It has been with us for a million years. Our brain is conditioned to self-interest. And if one is aware of that, which means just to be aware of it, not to say, 'I am not self-interested, it is wrong, it is right - how can one live without self-interest?' You know all the arguments and pros and cons. Just to be aware how far one can go, how far one can investigate into oneself and find out for ourselves, for each one of us, how far in action, daily activity, how far in our behaviour, how deeply can one live without a sense of self-interest.
So if we will, we will examine all that. Because - not because, sorry. Self-interest divides, self-interest is the greatest corruption - sorry! The word 'corruption' means to break things apart - rompere, to break. And where there is self-interest there is fragmentation - your interest as opposed to my interest, my desire opposed to your desire, my urgency to climb the ladder of success opposed to yours. So where there is self-interest, just observe it, you can't do anything about it - you understand? Just to observe, to stay with it and see what is taking place. If you have ever dismantled a car, as the speaker has done - and the car ran afterwards! - (laughter) if you ever have dismantled a car then you know all the parts, you know how it works and you learn all about it, not merely get into the car and drive off. I am talking of the 1925 cars, at that period they were very simple, very direct, very honest, strong, beautiful cars. And when you know something mechanically, then you can feel at ease. You can know how fast to go, how slow, etc. etc. So if one knows, understands, is aware of our own self-interest then you begin to learn about it - right? You don't say, 'I must be against it, or for it. How can I live? Who are you to tell me myself?' etc., etc. When you begin to be aware choicelessly, not say, 'Well, this is my self-interest, this is my...', but to be aware choicelessly of your self-interest, to stay with it, to study it, to learn about it, to observe all the intricacies of it, then you can find out - one can find out for oneself where it is necessary, where it is completely not necessary - right? It is necessary to live daily - right? To have food, clothes and shelter and all the physical things. But psychologically, inwardly, is it necessary - is there a necessity to have any kind of self-interest? You understand my question? That is, to investigate relationship - right? You understand? Because in our relationship with each other there is mutual self-interest. You satisfy me and I satisfy you. You use me and I use you. I sell you, you sell me down the river! - right? You understand all this? We - in our relationship, is there self-interest? This is important to understand because - sorry I don't use that word, it is silly.
To find out if there is self-interest in our relationship. Where there is self-interest there must be fragmentation, breaking up - right? I am different from you - self-interest. What is relationship? Relationship to the earth, to all the beauty of the world, to nature and to other human beings and to one's wife, husband, girl, boy and so on, what is that bondage, what is that thing that we say, 'Yes, I am related'? You understand my question? Please investigate this thing together. Don't, please, rely on the description that the speaker is indulging in. Let's look at it closely.
What is relationship? And when there is no relationship we feel so lonely, depressed, anxious, you know the whole series of movements hidden in the structure of self-interest. What is relationship? When you say, 'My wife', 'My husband', what do you mean by that? When you are related to God - if there is God - what does it mean? So that word is very important to understand. I am related to my wife, to my children, to my family. Let's begin there. That is the core of all society - family. In the Asiatic world family means a great deal, to them it is tremendously important, a family. The son, the nephew, the grandmother, grandfather - you understand? It is the centre on which all society is based. So when one says, 'My wife', my girl, my friend, what does that mean? Most of you probably are married, or a girl friend, or a boy friend - right? What does it mean to be related? What are you related to? When you follow a guru and say, 'I am following him', what are you following? You understand? Let's move away for a second from the wife and husband (laughs) and we will come back to it a little later. You might rather not like to investigate that question, husband and wife, girl and boy, but we can approach it more quietly. When you follow somebody, guru, a prophet, when you follow the speaker, or some other person, politician, and so on what is it you are following, what is it that you are surrendering, giving up? You understand? Is it the image that you have created about the speaker, or the guru? Or the image that you have in your brain that it is the right thing to do and therefore I will follow it - you understand? Is it the image, the picture, the symbol, that you have built and that - you are following that, not the person? You understand? Not what he is saying? The speaker has been talking for the last seventy years - right? I am sorry for him! And he has established a certain... unfortunately, some reputation, and the books and all that business, so you have created, naturally, an image, a reputation and you are following that. Not what the teaching says. The teaching says, 'Don't follow anybody.' But you have the image built, and you are following that which you desire, which satisfies you, which is of tremendous self-interest - right?
Now let's come back to the wife and husband and all the rest of it. When you say, 'My wife', what do you mean by that word, what is the content of that word, what is behind the word - you understand? Look at it. Is it all the memories, the sensations, pleasure, pain, anxiety, jealousy, all that is embodied in the wife - right? - or in the husband? The husband is ambitious, wants to achieve a better position, more money, and the wife not only remains at home but she has her own ambitions, her own desires. So there they are. They may get into bed together, but the two are separate all the time - right? Let's be simple with these facts and honest. And so there is always conflict. One may not be aware of it and say, 'Oh, no, we have no conflict between us', but scrape that a little bit with a heavy shovel, or with a scalpel and you will find there the root of all this is self-interest - right? And the self-interest may be in the professionals. Of course there is - doctors, scientists, the philosophers, the priests, the whole thing is - you understand? Which is sensation, desire, fulfilment - right? We are not exaggerating we are simply stating 'what is', not trying to cover it up, not trying to get beyond it or anything - there it is. That is the seed in which we are born, and that seed goes on flowering, growing till we die. Or there is a control of all that. You understand? Controlling the self-interest. That very control is another form of self-interest. Bien? How cleverly self-interest operates. And also it hides behind austerity.
So we have to examine that word, what do we mean by austerity? Right conduct - right? What is austerity? Because the whole world, specially the religious world, has used that word, has laid down certain laws about austerity, specially for the monks and various monasteries of the West, and also as there are no monasteries in India and Asia, except in certain Buddhists and so on, in India they are single. You understand? There are no organised monasteries, fortunately. So what do we mean by that word 'austere'? With which goes great dignity - you understand? What do we mean by that word austere? We looked up in the dictionary what that word means. May I explain what the dictionary - which is the common usage of a language - says it comes from Greek, to have a dry mouth. Which means dry, harsh, not just the mouth, harsh. Is that austere? That is, to deny oneself the luxury of a hot bath, you say, 'No, I'll have a cold bath', or to have few clothes, or a particular form of robe, taking a vow to be a celibate, to be poor - you understand? To control oneself tremendously, all one's desires, you know, all the rest of it. Is that austerity? Or austerity is something entirely different? One has those who have fasted, who have sat up straight endlessly, controlling themselves, having a few clothes. Surely all that is not austerity. It is all outward show. Right?
So is there an austerity that is not a sensation? You understand? That is not contrived at, that is not cajoled, that is not saying, 'I will be austere in order to...' Is there an austerity that is not visible at all to another? You are understanding all this? Is there an austerity that is - an austerity that has no discipline. The word discipline means to learn. The sense of a wholeness inwardly in which there is no cleaving, there is no breaking, there is no fragmentation. And with that austerity goes dignity, quietness.
One has to also, if we have time we must, we have to understand the nature of desire. That may be the root of the whole structure of self-interest. Desire. Right? Are we together in this? Desire is, a great sensation - right? Desire is the senses coming into activity. As we said earlier, sensation is of great importance to us. Sensation of sex, sensation of new experience, sensation of meeting somebody who is well-known. I must tell you this lovely story. A friend of ours met the queen of England, shook hands with her and went on with all that kind of stuff. After it was all over a person came up to her and said, 'May I shake hands with you because you have shaken hands with the queen?'! It is all this we live by sensation, sensation is tremendously important to us. Sensation of being secure - please watch it - sensation of having fulfilled, sensation of great pleasure, gratification and so on. What relationship has sensation to desire? You understand? Is desire something separate from sensation? Go into this please. It is important to understand this thing. I am not explaining it. We are together looking at it. What is the relationship of desire to sensation? When does sensation become desire? Or are they inseparable? You follow? Or do they always go together? Right? Are you working as hard as the speaker is working? Or you are just saying, 'Yes, go on with it.'? Or you have heard this before and say, 'Oh God, he has gone back to that again'! (laughter)
You know the more you understand the activity of thought, the more you get at really the depth, the root of thought, then you begin to understand so many things. Then you see the whole phenomenon of the world, nature, the truth of nature, and then you ask: what is truth? I won't go into all that for the moment.
So we live, our life is based on sensation and desire. And we are asking: what is the actual relationship between the two? When does sensation become desire? Right? You are following this? At what second does desire become dominant? I see a beautiful camera, with all the latest improvements. All that you have to do is to lift the camera and look, it is already taken. There is sensation of observation - right? The seeing the beautiful camera, beautifully made, very complex, and it has great value as a pleasure of possession, pleasure of taking photos, and all the rest of it. So there is sensation, seeing that camera there. Then what is that sensation to do with desire? You understand? When does that desire begin to flower into action, and you say, 'I must have it'? You understand? Right sirs? Have you observed the movement of sensation, whether it is sexual, whether it is climbing the hills, and the valleys, looking at all the world from a great height, or when you see a lovely garden, see the beautiful garden and you have a little lawn around your place. And you see this take place and then what takes place that turns the sensation into desire? You are following all this? Please don't go to sleep - too lovely a morning. If you stay with this question: what is the relationship of sensation to desire, stay with it, not try to find an answer. But look at it, observe it, see the implications of it. That is to stay with it. Then you will discover that sensation, which is natural and so on, that sensation is transformed into desire when thought creates the image out of that sensation. You understand? That is, I have a sensation, there is a sensation of seeing that camera, very expensive, beautiful and so on. There is sensation. Then thought comes along and says I wish I had that camera. You holding it, you taking the pictures and so on. Then thought creates the image out of that sensation - right? At that moment desire is born. I don't know, is it clear? Right sir? Look at it yourself, go into it. You don't need any book, any philosopher, anybody - just to look at it. To look at it patiently, tentatively, go slowly, then you come upon it very quickly. That is, when sensation becomes, or sensation is a slave to thought and thought with its image creates something - you understand? - at that moment desire is born. Right? And we live by desire: I must have this. I don't want it. I must become... you follow? This whole movement of desire.
Now what relationship has desire to self-interest? We are pursuing the same thread. Or, as long as there is desire, which is creating the image out of sensation by thought, as long as there is that desire there must be self-interest. Right? Whether I want to reach heaven, or become a bank manager, or rich person, it is the same. Whether you want to achieve heaven (noise of train) - whether one wants to achieve heaven or become a rich man, they are exactly the same. Right? If one desires to be a saint, a noble, and all that business, and the other fellow says, 'I have got a great skill,' it is exactly the same thing - right? One is called religious, the other is called worldly. How the words cripple us - right? You don't look at things!
So we must come to the question - it is now half past eleven - we must come to the question: what is sorrow? Is it sorrow exists as long as there is self-interest? Please go into it. If you understand all this you don't have to read a single book. If you really live with this thing, the gates of heaven are open - not heaven, you understand, that is just a form of speech. So we are asking a very serious question which has haunted man from the beginning of his existence, a million years or more. What is sorrow, the tears, the laughter, the pain, the anxiety, the loneliness, the despair? And can it ever end? Or man is doomed for ever to live with sorrow? Go on sirs. Everyone on the earth - everyone, whether highly placed or nobody at all, everyone goes through this turmoil of sorrow, the shock of it, the pain of it, the uncertainty of it, the utter loneliness of it. And the sorrow of a poor man who doesn't know how to read or write, when you look at him, when you talk with him, he is like you, he has his own sorrow, and you have your own sorrow. You understand all this? So the sorrow of millions and millions of people who have been slaughtered by the powerful, by the bigoted, tortured by churches, the infidel and the believer - you understand all this? Religions, specially Christianity, have murdered more people than anybody else - sorry! Great wars: hundred years war, thirty years war, of the religious people, church. All this, there is sorrow in the world - right? Sorrow of the man who has nothing, except one meal a day and sleeping on the pavement. You don't know anything about all that. So there is sorrow. What does that word mean? Is it a mere remembrance of something that you have lost and therefore you feel sorrowful - you understand? You had a brother, son or wife, dead, and you have the picture, the photo of it on the piano, mantelpiece, or next to your bed. The remembrance of that incident, the memories of all those days and that - those memories are suddenly cut off - right? - is that sorrow? Is sorrow engendered, cultivated by memory? You understand all my questions? Do you understand our questioning to each other? Does memory of the things remembered, and when that is cut by death, by accident, old age, or whatever it is - you understand? - when the memory is not, actually not, but the memory continues, is that sorrow? Is sorrow related to memory? Come on, sirs.
I had a son, or a brother, or an aunt. I like - I will use the word 'like' for the moment. I call that like love. I liked those people very much. I lived with them. I have chatted with them. We played together. All that memory is stored. And my son, my brother, my mother, or somebody, dies, is taken away, gone for ever. And I feel a shock, shed tears, and I feel terribly lonely. And I run off to church, temple, pick up a book, do this or that, to escape. Or say, 'Well I will pray and get over it. Jesus will save me.' You know all that business. Sorry, I am not belittling the word. Or use the other word - Buddha, or Krishna - you follow? It is the same. It is the same thing with different names. Or the same symbol, the same content of the symbol - symbols vary but it is the same content.
So is it - is sorrow merely the ending of certain memories, actually, though I have memories but the actuality that created those - that brought together those memories has ended, therefore I feel I am lost. I have lost my son. Is that sorrow? Or - we are not being harsh, just examining it - self-pity? Concerned more with my own memories, pain, anxiety, than the ending of somebody - you understand? Is that - is sorrow self-interest? Please go into it all. And I cultivate that memory. I am loyal to my son. I am loyal to my former wife, though I marry a new wife, I am very loyal to my..., which is the remembrance of those things that have happened in the past. Is that sorrow? Or there is the sorrow of failure, success, you know the whole momentum of self-interest identifying itself with that word and shedding tears. And these tears have been shed by man and woman for a million years - right? And we are still crying. The war in Lebanon, in Afghanese, the brutality of all that. And the Afghanistans and the Lebanese are crying, shot to pieces because of an idea that we must dominate, we must be different. Right? The idea. Thought is destroying each other. And think of all the people who have cried before you.
So is there an end to sorrow? The word sorrow also implies passion. There is - as long as there is self-interest identifying itself with those memories which have gone, which are still there but the actuality is gone, that self-interest is part and parcel - is the movement of sorrow - right? Can all that end? Where there is sorrow there cannot be love. So what is love? You understand? Can we go on tomorrow, not tomorrow, sorry, Sunday? Or shall we go on with it now? You know we have entered into very, very serious subjects, all this. It is not just something you play with for a Sunday or Wednesday morning. It is something deeply serious, all this. It is not galloping down the road. It is walking in the path very slowly, watching things, you know watching, watching, watching, staying with things that disturb you, staying with things that please you, staying with things that are abstract - all the imaginations, all the things that the brain has put together, including God. It is the activity of thought. God didn't create us. We created God in our image, which is - well, I won't go into this, it is so clear and simple.
So to talk about love, which also implies death. Love, death and creation. You understand? We can spend an hour on this because it is very, very serious. We are asking: what is creation? Not invention. Please differentiate between creation, invention, new set of ideas - you understand? That is, new set of ideas. And those new set of ideas are inventions, technologically, psychologically, scientifically and so on. We are not talking about ideas. We are talking about very serious things, that is love, death and creation. This cannot be answered in five minutes. Forgive me. We will deal with it tomorrow, next Sunday - not that I am inviting you. We will go into this. And also what is religion, what is meditation, if there is something that is beyond all words, and measure and thought. You understand? Not put together by thought. Something that is inexpressible, infinite, timeless. We will go into all that. But you cannot - one cannot come to it - or for it to exist if there is fear, lack of relation - right relation, you follow? Without all that in your brain, free from all that you cannot understand the other. Right? Now may we stop?