Can consciousness go beyond itself?
Is it possible to observe the whole movement of consciousness?
6th Public Talk, Saanen
July 20, 1978
What shall we talk about? If I may, I would like to go into the question of what does it mean, not merely words or ideas, that a human being, as we are, should bring about a deep profound change in himself. What does that mean? We are using the word 'change' not from this to that, but rather bringing about a transformation or a mutation in the very structure of our consciousness. That I would like to talk about, if you will permit me. Because we human beings seem to remain in our traditions, culture, social, economic structure, and psychologically, inwardly follow a certain pattern for the rest of our life, whether it be sexual, imaginary, fanciful, mythological, or a very matter-of-fact worldly life. That seems to be the pattern of our existence. Either we are very worldly - I mean by that word 'worldly', very superficial, living only at the level of the senses, with money, position, freedom, casual freedom, indulgence and so on - superficially. And recognising what society is, what the economic structure is, there are those who want a bloody revolution along a certain ideology, a physical upsetting of the whole apple-cart. Yes. You know what I mean by the apple-cart? Not actually apples, but the idea of it. And they have tried every kind of physical, economic revolution. And apparently that hasn't brought about a change in man - control the environment, impose certain economic laws, impose according to totalitarian beliefs and ideologies and so on, so on. They have tried every form, every means, or every structure, economic, social, cultural, to bring about a fundamental change in man. Religions have tried it. Right? They say, 'Forget yourself and give yourself over to Christ' - or this person or that person. Or, surrender yourself to some guru - which is very convenient for the guru. And so on. And apparently from everything one observes, and this observation is not casual, or according to one's desire, but if one has observed very closely, deep down, fundamentally man has not changed for millennia upon millennia.
Now, we are asking: is it possible to bring about a fundamental psychological revolution? Not just trimming the tree here and there, but deep, abiding, enduring, irrevocable change, transformation? Because we are not happy as we are. I don't know why we live the way we do. We are generally miserable, in conflict, jealousy, anxiety, fear - we have been through all that. We accept all that. We are conditioned according to that. If you live in a totalitarian state, after a certain time you get used to it. You accept all the restraints and the compulsions and the terror and all that. So, is it possible for a human being to bring about an enduring transformation? That is what we are going to - if I may - we are going to talk about that.
One should ask this question of oneself: why we human beings live the way we are doing? And can we live in this world, bringing about this fundamental, psychological revolution or transformation and yet live in this world, sanely, rationally with an occupation and all the rest of it? May we go into that - if you are interested in it, and I hope you are.
First of all, the Western world has divided consciousness, the unconscious, deeper, and the superficial, conscious. And one may temporarily bring about a modified change in the obvious, superficial consciousness. That superficial consciousness can adjust itself to anything, to terror, to wars, to all the travail of human beings, superficially. And the unconscious, the deeper, the hidden layers of the mind - the mind being consciousness and we are using that word 'mind' which we have explained carefully, which we won't go into further - and that deep unconscious entity is part of the race, part of the deep unconscious demands, fears and a sense of deep sorrow. I think it is a great mistake to divide consciousness into these departments: conscious and the unconscious. Consciousness is whole. You may divide it for convenience, for exploration, for investigation, but as long as one maintains this divisive consciousness, the consciousness which is broken up into the deeper and the higher, there is not only conflict but also, if one goes into it, a sense of the abiding past always controlling, shaping the present. You're following?
Now please, as I said, as we said, the speaker is not here. You are asking these questions yourselves. And we are using words that are common. And we are not being driven by the words. You may have read psychological books and have certain jargons, certain ideas, and those ideas, those words, drive you, control you, control your thinking, control your reactions and so on. If you do that our communication with each other becomes extremely difficult. Whereas if we use the word without all its associations, which our education, our reading has brought about, emotionally or not, if we can use the word plainly, simply then we are in communication with each other. Right? And I hope you will do this while we are talking together.
Now can the unconscious, the deeper, be revealed? Or revealed totally, completely, exposed to the bright light of perception? Or must it be investigated through dreams, through occasional hunch, occasional intimation, or some form of intuition? I personally don't like that word 'intuition' because you can have an intuition about anything, it may be your own desire, prompting you to have certain feeling about something. So we are not using that word at all. So is it possible to investigate without analysis the whole content of the deeper layers of one's mind? Do you understand my question? Please, follow! It is your life, not mine.
Since the psychologists have divided this, the conscious mind thinks it can investigate into the unconscious. It can then proceed to analyse its dreams, its superficial activities, its reactions, always from the superficial, from the conscious delve into the unconscious. Right? And in that there is a great deal of danger because the conscious mind is full of imaginary, sensory demands, beliefs and so on. With all that, it is trying to investigate something which is hidden. You are following this? And there are those people who try to investigate their reactions, their actions and so on in a group, telling each other, which is the same as talking to oneself. You are following all this? And this division is always maintained. So there is always conflict between the outer and the inner: the outer being conscious, the superficial, and the deeper. I do not know if you have not noticed all this. You don't have to go to any psychologist, philosopher or any professional specialist in psychology, you can observe all this in yourself if you know how to read yourself. And most of us haven't got either the energy or the interest, or the demand that says 'I must find out'. But when there is a crisis then we go to some specialist hoping he will solve our problems. So we are always dependent on somebody. And he on whom you depend is equally conditioned, perhaps much more divisive, a little more neurotic and has to be analysed by another analyser and so on, the game goes on. This is what we are doing: depending on somebody to tell us what to do, how to think, how to move out of our own problems, out of our own desperate crises.
Now is it possible to observe our consciousness, not at two broken levels, but totally? You understand my question? Can I observe my consciousness, not as the unconscious and the conscious but as a total unit, not divided, but a thing that is intrinsically whole? Right? Is it possible to so observe? You understand my question? It is only possible when I understand very clearly that this division is artificial, perhaps convenient and perhaps it might explain certain neurotic activities, but actually it is totally brought about by man, by thought. I don't know if I am right? Are we following each other? You are asking these questions yourself, I am not asking you to ask them.
So we are asking: is it possible to observe without any direction, without any distortion, this whole movement of consciousness? It is possible only when you have no direction. Which means the moment you have a motive you give it a direction. Right? The moment you want to get something out of it, it becomes distorted. If you say, 'Well, I must go beyond this limited entity' - the very desire that wants to go beyond this limit is born out of its own conditioning, therefore it is still distorted. I hope you are following all this. So is it possible to observe without direction, without motive, without reward and punishment - is that possible? Don't say, 'yes' or 'no'. One has to find that out for oneself, for yourself. Can you observe your wife, your girl, whatever it is you are observing, without a motive, without a direction, without wanting something out of it? Which means then your whole attention is there because there is no deviation. You are following this? Then you are completely alert and aware. And then only it is possible to observe this whole phenomena of consciousness in action. And can you observe without all that? So we say, 'As it is not possible to do it instantly, I will practise, I'll gradually, day after day, cultivate attention' - right? Practise a sense of awareness which is the essence of sensitivity. To be so tremendously sensitive. If you are not sensitive you can't be attentive, so you practise sensitivity, a kind of - you know. We are monkeys really. Which means we haven't basically understood that wherever there is an intention, a desire, a cultivation in order to do something then that kind of mentality is devoid entirely of sensitivity, attention. I hope you are doing all this. Are we doing this as we are talking to each other? Not tomorrow or another day, but actually as you are sitting there, talking together, will you do this? Are you doing it? No direction, no motive, no desire for reward for doing something, if you don't do it punishment, to be totally out of that field altogether.
Then is there an observation of the whole nature and the structure, the complex movement of consciousness as a whole? Then only it is possible to bring about real deep fundamental transformation, because in that there is no positive action. We explained that, what we mean by positive action. That is, try to do something about your consciousness, try to force it, try to control it, try to expand it, suppress it. Consciousness means all its contents, your angers, your desires, your sexual demands, your beliefs, dogmas, belonging to a certain culture, all that is part of consciousness. To observe it, as most people are, if they do observe, try to do something about it. That is, I must be free of the Church and in freeing themselves from a particular organised religious body they topple into another religious body and think they have changed tremendously. It is the same pattern repeated over and over and over again.
So can you observe this whole movement? Or must you take each reaction, bit by bit? You understand my question? I think it is clear. I am making it clear. If I am sexual, I am concerned about that. If I am worried about my relationship to my wife, not only sexually but in other ways, I am concerned about that. I am concerned about my health. We lay emphasis on one thing and neglect the others. Right? We must have perfect health and therefore you become a vegetarian and god knows what else and become neurotic about it. This is what we are doing all the time. Go to India to find god, or enlightenment. You know there is a lovely story from India: a young man leaves his family, goes to various teachers all over India and asks them to teach him truth. He wanders about thirty, forty, fifty years and doesn't find it. And ultimately as an old man he comes back to his house. And he knocks on the door and the door is opened by somebody and just then he sees the truth! You understand? It is there, not over there.
We were talking the day before yesterday, about the whole question of what love is. And can this totality of consciousness, which is made up of the incidents, accidents, knowledge, practice, beliefs, anxiety, and so on, so on, so on, can this consciousness live or understand what love is? You understand? Our consciousness obviously is put together by thought. And thought, if you have gone into it, is limited, time-binding, and so can this consciousness, which is the result of centuries of various reactions and dangers and so on and so on, pleasure, fears and so on, can that consciousness contain the thing that we call love? You understand my question? Or love lies beyond that consciousness? Which means, thought has no relationship whatsoever with love. Right? Do you see the truth of it, not the idea of it, the actuality of it? Therefore it becomes extraordinarily important if you want to find out what that extraordinary thing called love is, that there must be a transformation in our consciousness. How is this possible? Without effort, that means motive, without any strain, without any exercising of thought in order to go beyond itself - is this possible?
You know, to find this out is part of meditation. That is, can this consciousness become completely empty, except in the area where knowledge is necessary? Do you understand what I am talking? Will you come? Are we meeting each other, some of us at least? That is, can thought, with all its activity, end, except in that limited area? That is the art of perception. The art of perception, the seeing, is to give everything its place.
From this arises another question, which is: consciousness contains mankind's sorrow. That is, you as a human being are part of the world. You are the world. Not an idea, not something that has intellectually been put together by reason and you say, 'Yes, quite right', but the reality, the truth of it, that you represent, as a human being, the rest of humanity because you suffer, you are anxious, you are uncertain, confused, miserable, fearful, hurt, everything, and every human being has this. So your consciousness is the consciousness of mankind. If that is the truth to you, not an idea, then what takes place? You understand my question? One has lived as an individual, fighting, struggling to express oneself, demanding - you follow? - as a limited, contained, narrow individual. And it is very, very difficult to see the truth that you are the rest of mankind, that in you is the whole of man and therefore his fears, his anxieties, his mischief, his arrogance, his pride, his violence, all that, and his sorrow. Right? And mankind has lived with this sorrow. Right? Lived with sorrow, has accepted sorrow as part of his life, and if he doesn't accept it he runs away from it through every form of entertainment, religious and otherwise. Or he personifies this sorrow into an image, which the Christians have done, and think they have solved this problem.
Now our question is: can this sorrow, not only your particular little sorrow, you are the sorrow of mankind. You understand? What an enormous perception that is, if you see it. That your sorrow is not yours, it is the whole of mankind's. Then you don't cry. Then you don't shed tears about your little wounds, your little failures, your little anxieties and so on. But when you realise you are the representative of all mankind it brings about an enormous sense of vitality, energy. It is only when you are thinking about yourself, your sorrow, that vast energy is limited into a small little channel, and it becomes rather dirty. Now is it possible for sorrow to end? If there is an ending in one human being - please go with me for a little while - if there is the ending of sorrow in one human being, who is the representative of all humanity, that ending affects the whole of consciousness of man. You understand? Stalin has affected the whole of consciousness of man - no? - Hitler, all the rest of those world people, national people. Through the priest the idea of Jesus Christ has affected mankind. Right? You will accept that more easily. So when there is a fundamental ending of sorrow in a human being who is the representative of all humanity, then that brings about an action in the totality of mankind - I wonder if I am making this clear? Capito? Have you understood something sirs? Not what I am saying. Do you see the truth of this, the fact of this?
That is, most of us have some kind of sorrow, either we are unhealthy, or our children are not what they should be and so on, or we can never reach the other side of the river, or we can never be as intelligent as somebody else, or there is the love of someone who dies - the sorrow of thousands of people who have been killed during the wars. Now what can a human being, you, do, or not do to end this? Take an ordinary everyday incident of death. Someone whom you so-call love dies; old age, disease, accident and so on, dies. And you have lost him or her, and you shed tears of loneliness, shed tears of sudden loss, irrevocable loss, nothing can bring him back, or her. You are left completely, suddenly isolated because you are so attached, given yourself over to that person so completely and when that person ends you suddenly discover how empty you are. There are tears of self-pity, tears of loss, tears of loneliness - right? - which we call sorrow. And can that sorrow end? It doesn't mean that you are callous, that you are indifferent, that you become totally isolated from everything and therefore self-protected. Is it possible to end sorrow? - not the sorrow of somebody whom you lose but the whole meaning of that word 'grief', the depth of it, the enormity, the weight of it. It is possible only when you as a human being, who are etc., when you observe without action, without doing something about it, just be entirely with it. You understand? Your wife or your girlfriend has left you. You are jealous, angry, vicious, hating and you realise that, if you are at all intelligent, aware, then you say, 'I must get out of this'. But to remain with it - understand? - to remain totally without any movement with your jealousy, with your anger, with your hate - you understand? - completely one with it. Not identify yourself with it, because you are that, but to remain with it without any movement. I wonder if you are capturing something at all.
Then you will see that there comes an extraordinary transformation. The transformation that comes about with the ending of sorrow is passion, not lust. Passion is something entirely different. If you have no passion you are non-existent. So you will find, if you actually, without moving away from that thing called sorrow, a totally different movement takes place. And that movement is this extraordinary endless passion. Right? And that passion is compassion. You understand? The word 'compassion' means passion for all things: for birds, trees, for human beings, for the rock, for the stray animal. But when there is compassion for one person then it is limitless because in its very nature it includes all things. Right? Don't go to sleep please. Or don't go off into some kind of imaginary, mystical, romantic idea. Compassion is not romantic. It is not intellectual. It is not sentimental.
From that - quelle heure est-il? Bien - we ought also to talk over together the common factor of all mankind, which touches every human being, young and old, which is the ending of life, which is called death. Right? We should go into that. It is really a very complex question, like all human problems, it is very complex. And man, every human being or woman in the world, has tried to find a way out of it, tried to immortalise himself, or her, through some action, through some book, through some way of life. So that this idea of ending has become a terror, has become something which man must avoid at all costs, postpone it as long as possible. And there have been a thousand explanations - rational, irrational, based on belief, conclusion and hope. Because man doesn't want to end, because he says I have gathered so much experience. I have cultivated my house and my garden so carefully, inwardly, and outwardly. I have accumulated so much knowledge. I have lived so clearly and why should I, who have gathered so much, end all this, what for? And if that is all then I might just as well live very superficially, enjoy myself, do whatever I want and call the whole business a jolly good life. You understand? The two extremes, the one who doesn't care, the one who has had many experiences of every kind, sensuous, otherwise, and he says at the end, 'All right, dust to dust.' The other says, 'Why should I die?' - you follow all this? 'I have loved, I have known beauty, I have swam against the current, I follow nobody, and I have lived, tried to live as a human being who is not second-hand'. And unfortunately most of us are second-hand.
So we must find out for ourselves what it means to end, not the ending of death - you understand? - that is one of the things, but what does it mean to end? The ending of my anxiety, ending, not what happens after I end, we will find out. Ending my desire, my longing, my frustrations, ending my hurts, ending the desire to fulfil, ending it. Right? You understand what I am The ending of something, psychologically, and even physiologically. The ending of your attachment to another. The ending of your belief, the ending of - not belonging to any institution, the ending of it. What happens? You follow what I am saying? If we understand one thing then we can move to the ending which we call life, which is death. The ending of attachment, because most of us are attached to something or other. Right? To our bodies, to our looks, to our husband, to our girl, to our belief, to our gods, something or other - attachment. Now can you end attachment, not say, 'I will get something out of it', just cut it, surgically, rationally, seeing all the causes of attachment, what is implied, which we went into, I won't go into all that, and to end it completely? Have you ever done anything, ending something completely? Specially attachment, do it now as we are talking. Become aware of your attachment, end it, and see, observe. Then what takes place? You cannot observe very clearly if you don't end something. What happens? Right?
Say for instance, you are attached to nicotine, smoking. I am taking that very ordinary, rather stupid example. What happens, without fear, you end it because it is irrational, why waste money and all the rest of it. If you end it because it affects your heart, your lungs, then you are not ending it, you are ending it out of fear. But being aware of all the results and so on, the cause of smoking, you say drop it completely, today, now. Then what has taken place? Isn't there not only freedom from smoking, but isn't there a new sense of freedom, a new beginning? You are following this? If you end your attachment to the country, you know, attachment, to a piece of furniture, if you end it completely then there is a new beginning, isn't there? No? There is no new beginning if you do it out of fear, if you do it out of rationalised, careful analysis. But if you see the whole nature of attachment, what is involved in it, completely, and end it, then you will see there is totally a new beginning. Because the ending is the past, and when you are ending the past then there is not only a new observation but a sense of extraordinary freedom and movement not born of the past. I wonder if you get all this! Do it and you will discover this for yourself.
And death: we are all going to die one day or another. If everyone of us lived for ever and ever, and ever, amen, think of what the earth would be like! Filled with ghastly, old, decrepit - you follow? (Laughter) So. I am asking myself, and you are asking yourself, why shouldn't I die? Not commit suicide, that is too silly. Why shouldn't I die, what's wrong with death? Why is there this colossal fear about it? I know very well what it means to end smoking. Right? I took that silly example. I know, there is an awareness of ending attachment to a guru, to ideas, to a pattern - ending. What happens when I end? There is such a great sense of freedom and beauty in it. So why shouldn't there be an ending, ending to what? You understand my question? I know I can end smoking, ending attachment, but ending which is death, what is this ending? You are following this? Does it interest you, all this? Bene. Allora. (Laughter)
So I enquire into what is living. You understand, you're following? Not what is ending, what is living? It is odd that you all should be listening to this man, isn't it? So we are asking, what is living? Can there be an ending to this thing called living? Right? Then I am asking, what is this living? The living, daily, monotonous routine with all the problems, that is my life, your life - not mine, sorry. It's your life. Not that I am separate, I don't enter into it. What is this ending? Ending to what? Ending to my attachment to my husband, wife, girl, boy, ending knowledge, ending experience, ending all the sensations, ending sex - right? - ending this constant battle in oneself and with others. Right? This thing is what we call living. Right? It is not my idea, this is what you are doing. Now is there an ending to all that? Ending to your sorrow, ending to your ambition, your pride, your vanity, your arrogance, violence, can you end all that? Of course you can. As you have ended smoking, as you have ended attachment, you can end your ambition, your vanity, your hurts, you know the whole thing, I don't have to go into it, you can end it. Right?
If you have ended it actually, not theoretically, in daily life, then what is death? Death is then the ending of sensation, ending of the brain cells. You understand? Ending. Like a leaf in the autumn. That leaf in the autumn has beautiful colour, it's full of colour, there is in that leaf the whole universe is, not theoretically but actually. So if we end the way we are living, then there is a totally different beginning; not I begin totally differently, because when you left attachment completely there was no 'I' beginning, there was a state of total freedom from a particular thing, and in that freedom there was a great sense of release, a great sense of freedom, a totally new beginning without the anchors of attachment.
So can you end what you call the living: the worries, the problems - ending the problem, never to carry it a single minute over, because if you have a problem and you carry it over, over and over and over, day after day for another year, that deteriorates the brain. So we are asking if you end the way one lives now, there is a new beginning without the 'me'. And then death has no meaning. Then you don't ask what happens after my life. Right? Because you have ended the thing that you call living, which is me, with all my problems, my anxieties, my worries, my pride. You follow? Will you do it? Or say, 'Yes, it is a marvellous idea', and carry on our daily, monotonous useless life?
When you understand the full meaning of death and the ending of what it signifies, time as such has come to an end. I am just talking to myself, unless you do it. Time in the sense of non-movement of thought. And this whole enquiry is really a profound meditation, not sitting cross legged and doing all kinds of silly stuff. Because then in the total ending creation takes place. Then there is really an extraordinary sense of tremendous passion and energy, which is not a reward.
Bene, finito, basta.