Can one know oneself completely?
On being conditioned
3rd Public Talk Brockwood Park
September 01, 1979
May we continue with what we were talking about last Sunday and go on further into it?
We were saying, weren't we, that the human mind and our way of living is so fragmented, broken up and because human beings are so thus we make the world into what it is - a chaotic, cruel, confused, frightened world. And we were also saying that self awareness, that is, to know all about oneself, both the conscious as well as the unconscious, the deep down and the open mind, so that in knowing oneself completely, and it is possible to know oneself completely, then we can approach the world and ourselves as a whole. Our life, as it is now lived, of which we know very little about ourselves, and perhaps the psychologists, the therapists and the psychoanalysts tell us what we are, but to find out what we are we can't listen to them, because they are like us, equally confused, equally uncertain, equally frightened in various different ways. So one has to rely completely on oneself, and not look to another to tell us what to do, including the speaker, naturally.
Can we know ourselves so completely? The wounds, the fears, the anxieties, the uncertainties, the very complex network of pleasures, death, love and if there is a continuity after we die. And also we should be aware and know and understand what is meditation. All that is our life - our education, our jobs, our way of thinking, our beliefs, our experiences, deep strong opinions and so on. All that is our life, with all its struggles, with all its escapes, miseries and so on. Can we know ourselves completely - all that? Then perhaps it would be possible to approach all our life as a whole, not as fragmented human beings. So we are going to talk over together this morning whether it is possible, without any guidance from outside, because they have all led us up the garden path, they have all led us to this present state of the world, the politician, the economist, the religious people and the gurus and all the rest of the gang. And it becomes more and more imperative and necessary to find out for ourselves what is right action, irrespective of circumstances? - such action which will not bring about further confusion, regrets, sorrow, more misery and so on.
So can one, each one, know oneself so completely? Or must we be guided, be prepared to investigate, explore with the help of others? The others however erudite, however knowledgeable, experienced are just like us, psychologically - they have more skill, greater capacity to express themselves and so on. But we are each one, as we pointed out the other day, like the rest of the world, with their sorrows, miseries, confusions, insecurities, intolerable fear and so on. Can one know oneself so completely so that there is not a spot which is not being explored, understood, gone beyond? That is what we are going to talk about together this morning. Which is: to know oneself, all the movements of thought, the fears, hidden and open, all the pursuits of pleasure, sexual and otherwise. And find out for ourselves what love is. And understand the full significance of not only personal sorrow but also the sorrow of mankind. And also is it possible to understand the final event of our life which is death? All that is our living. And if we are not clear in ourselves whatever we do will bring about further confusion. So it behoves us, it seems to us so absolutely necessary to find out if we can know ourselves - right? We are going to begin.
Which is: the speaker is not going to investigate and you just merely listen, accepting or denying, but together. Together, think together, if it is possible, because no two people apparently seem to think together. And without pressure, without any form of compulsion, together go into this matter. That demands first of all certain attention, not concentration but a certain quality of deep interest, a mind that is committed to find out, therefore care, freedom to observe. Right? That is absolutely obviously necessary. If one has certain prejudices, experiences which one clings to, then we cannot possibly think together, investigate together, or find out. So one must be somewhat free, at least for this morning, so that you begin - one begins to explore - right? We are going first to explore as we did the other day the psychological wounds that one has received from childhood. We went into that the other day.
And this morning we will first begin with fear. The fears that are deeply hidden, of which you are not conscious, know or aware, and those obvious both psychological and physical fears - right? We are following each other? Please we are together, walking together. The speaker is not walking by himself, talking to himself. Together we are going along the road which might help us if you are interested, if you are serious, if you want to go to the very end of it, investigate this enormous problem of fear.
There is both fear of insecurity, physically, not having jobs, or having jobs, frightened to lose them, the various forms of strikes that are going on in this country and so on and so on. So most of us are rather nervous, frightened of not being physically completely secure. Obviously. Why? Is it because we are always isolating ourselves as a nation, as a family, as a group? And so this slow process of isolation - the French isolating themselves, the Germans and so on and so on and so on - is gradually bringing about insecurity for all of us, which is obvious. So can we observe this, not only outwardly? By observing what is happening outwardly, knowing what exactly is going on, then from there we can begin to investigate in ourselves, because otherwise you have no criteria, otherwise one can deceive oneself. So we must begin from the outer and work towards the inner. Right? It is like a tide that is going out and coming in. It is not a fixed tide, it is moving out and in all the time. I hope you are all following this.
And this isolation, which has been the tribal expression of every human being, is bringing about this physical lack of security. Right? If one sees the truth of it, not the verbal explanation or the intellectual acceptance of an idea, but if one actually sees this as a fact, then one doesn't belong to any group, to any nation, to any culture, to any organised religion because they are all so separative, the Catholic, Protestant, the Hindu and so on and so on. Will you do that, as we are discussing, walking together, drop the things which are false, which are not factual, which have no value whatsoever? Though we think they have value, actually when you observe, nationality breeds wars and all the rest of it. So can we drop that so that physically we can bring about a unity of man? You understand, sirs? And this unity of man can only come about through religion, not the phoney religions that we have - sorry, I hope I am not offending anybody. Either the Catholic, the Protestant, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Arab - you know, all those religions are based on thought, put together by thought, and that which thought has created is not sacred, it is just thought, it is just an idea. And you project an idea, symbolise it, then worship it, and in that symbol, or in that image, or in that ritual there is absolutely nothing sacred. And if one actually observes this then one is free from all that to find out what is true religion, because that may bring us together.
So if we can go into much deeper levels of fear, which is: psychological fears - right? Psychological fears in relationship, one with the other, psychological fears with regard to the future, fears of the past, that is fears of time - right? You are following this, please? We have got a lot to cover this morning. Please, I'm not a professor, a scholar delivering a sermon and going back to his rotten life. But this is something very, very serious, which affects all our lives, so please give your attention and care. So there are fears in relationship, fears of uncertainty, fears of the past and the future, fears of not knowing, fears of death, fear of loneliness - right? Look at yourselves please, not at the speaker and the words. The agonising sense of solitude, you may be related to others, you may have a great many friends, you may be married, children, but there is this sense of deep isolation, sense of loneliness. That is one of the factors of fear.
There is also the fear of not being able to fulfil. I don't know whatever that may mean. And the desire to fulfil brings with it the sense of frustration, and in that there is fear. There is fear of not being able to be absolutely clear about everything - right? So there are many, many, many forms of fear. You can observe your own particular fear, if you are interested, if you are serious. Because a mind that is frightened, knowingly or unknowingly, can try to meditate - right? - and that meditation only leads to further misery, further corruption, because a mind that is frightened can never see what is truth. Right? So we are going to find out together if it is possible to be totally completely free of fear in all its depth - right?
You know we are undertaking a job which demands a very careful observation: to observe one's own fear. And how you observe that fear is all important - right? Can we go on? How do you observe the fear? Is it a fear that you have remembered and so recall it and then look at it? Or is it a fear that you have had no time to observe and therefore it is still there? Or the mind is unwilling to look at fear? You are following? I wonder if you do. So which is it that is actually happening? Unwilling to look? Unwilling to observe one's own fears, because most of us do not know how to resolve them? Either we escape, run away or - you know all the things - analyse, thinking thereby we will get rid of it, but the fear is still there. So it is important to find out how you look at that fear - right? How do you observe fear?
How do you observe fear? This is not a silly question, because either you observe it after it has happened, or you observe it as it is happening. Right? For most of us the observation takes place after it has happened - right? Now we are asking whether it is possible to observe fear as it arises - right? That is, you are threatened by another belief, a belief that you hold very strongly, you are frightened about it, there is fear in that - right? Now I am challenging you now. You have certain beliefs, certain experiences, certain opinions, judgements, evaluations and so on, when one is challenging them there is either resistance, building a wall against it, or you are doubtful whether you are going to be attacked and so fear arises. Now can you observe that fear as it arises - right? Come on, sirs. Right? You are following? Are you doing it? Now how do you observe that fear? The word, the recognition of the response which you call fear, because you had that fear previously, the memory of it is stored up, and when the fear arises you recognise it - right? So you are not observing but recognising. I wonder if you see this?
So recognition doesn't free the mind from fear. It only strengthens the fear. Whereas if you are able to observe as it arises then there are two factors taking place in it. One, that you are different from that fear - right? And so you can operate on that fear, control it, chase it away, rationalise it and so on. That is you doing something about that fear - right? That is the way we generally observe. In that there is a division: the me and the fear, so there is conflict in that division. Right? Whereas if you observe that fear is you. You are not different from that fear. I wonder if you get this. If you once grasp the principle of this that the observer is the observed, that the person who says, 'I am observing', then he is separating himself from that which he is observing, whereas the fact is the observer is that fear. Therefore there is no division between the observer and the fear - right? That is a fact.
Then what takes place? Let's first hold it for a minute. Are you all following all this? As we said, are we observing fear through the process of memory, which is recognition, the naming - right? From that the tradition says, 'control it', the tradition says, 'run away from it', the tradition says, 'do something about it so that you are not frightened'. So the tradition has educated us to say that we, the 'me', is different from fear. Right? So can you be free of that tradition and observe that fear? That is, observe without the thought that has remembered that reaction which has been called fear in the past. It requires great attention. You understand? It requires skill in observation. That is also part of yoga. You understand? It is not merely doing exercises, which is not yoga at all, but the skill in observation. That is, in observing there is only pure perception, not the interpretation of that perception by thought. You understand all this? Please do it as we are talking about it. Then what is fear? You understand? Now I have observed someone threatening the belief that I hold, the experience that I cling to, the saying 'I have achieved' and someone threatens it, and therefore the fear arises. In observing that fear, we have explained it, we have come to the point when you observe without the division - right?
Now, the next question is: what is fear? You are following this? What is fear? Fear of the dark, fear of husband, wife, girl, or whatever it is, fear, artificial and actual and so on, what is fear, apart from the word? The word is not the thing. Right? Please, one must recognise this very deeply, the word is not the thing. Right? May we go on?
So what is that which we call fear without the word? Or, the word creates the fear. Are you interested in all this? Because if the word creates the fear, the word being the recognition of something that has happened before, which means a word has been given to something that has happened before which we have called fear, so the word becomes important - right? Like the Englishman, the Frenchman, the Russian, the word is tremendously important for most of us. But the word is not the thing - right? So what is fear? Apart from the various expressions of fear, the root of it? Because then if we can find the root of it then unconscious and conscious fears can be understood. The root, the moment you have a perception of the root, the conscious mind and the unconscious mind have no importance, there is the perception of it - right? What is the root of fear? Fear of yesterday, of a thousand yesterdays, fear of tomorrow. Right? Tomorrow death - not for you. Or the fear of something that has happened in the past. There is no actual fear now. Please understand this carefully. If suddenly death strikes one, it is finished. It is over. You have a heart attack and it is finished. But the idea that a heart attack might happen in the future - right? So is fear - please follow this carefully - is fear, the root of it, time? You understand? Time. Time being a movement of the past, modified in the present and going on in the future. This whole movement, is that the cause of fear, the root of it?
We are asking: is thought, which is time, the root of fear? Thought is movement. Right? Any movement is time. So I was asking: is the root of fear time? Thought? And if we can understand the whole movement of time - right? - the time psychologically as well as physically, the time that it takes for you to go from here back home, physical time to cover the distance, and the psychological time, which is the tomorrow - right? So is tomorrow the root of fear? Right? Which means can one live - please we are talking about daily living not just theories - can one live without tomorrow? You are following this? Do it. That is, if you have had a pain yesterday, physical pain, to finish with that pain yesterday, not carry it over to today and into tomorrow. You understand the question? It is the carrying over which is the time that brings fear. I wonder if you can do all this?
So it is totally possible, and absolutely possible that fear, psychological fear can end if you apply what is being said. The cook can make a marvellous dish, but if you are not hungry, if you don't eat it, then it remains merely on the menu and of no value. But whereas if you eat it, apply it, go into it by yourself, you will see that fear can absolutely psychologically come to an end, so the mind is free from this terrible burden man has carried - right?
Then the next question is, which is part of our life, which is pleasure. Right? Are you afraid to tackle it? Because for most of us pleasure is an extraordinarily important thing. Pleasure of possession, pleasure of achievement, pleasure of fame, pleasure of doing something skilfully and so on - pleasure. Sexual, sensory and intellectual. A man who has a great deal of knowledge, he delights in that knowledge. But as we pointed out, with that knowledge goes also ignorance, because knowledge is never complete but he forgets that part and only remembers the knowledge which he has acquired. And in that there is great pleasure - sensory, sexual, romantic, sentimental, intellectual, having experiences, which are sensory. So this whole combination of various elements brings this extraordinary feeling of pleasure - right? Why shouldn't we have pleasure? You understand? Religions throughout the world have said 'Don't, only have the pleasure to serve god'. You understand? All your senses, sexual, all that must be dissipated, put away. This is what the organised religions throughout the world have said. We are not saying that. We are saying investigate it, why man, human being, demands, pursues this thing, pleasure - why? Go on, sirs. There is the pleasure, physical pleasure, sexual. Seeing a lovely sunset, seeing the beauty of a mountain, the calm waters of a lovely lake, if you observe it. But having observed it, having seen it and enjoyed it, the mind has a remembrance of that enjoyment and pursues that enjoyment - right? That is the continuation of pleasure: having seen the sunset, taken delight in it, not end it but remember it, and that demand of the previous pleasure to be continued.
So thought - right, you are following this? - thought interferes with that moment of perception, then remembers it, then wants more of it. You have seen all this, sex, you know all about it. The remembrance of it, the picture, the excitement, the whole mechanism of thought operating and pursuing that - right? Why does thought do this? You are following my question? Why does thought take over an incident that is over, remember it and pursue it? The pursuit is the pleasure. You are following this? Why? Why does thought do this? Is it part of our education, part of our tradition, part of our habit, every man does this - better include the woman too because otherwise! Every human being does this, why? Go into it, sirs, don't look at me. Why do you pursue pleasure? Is it that that creates isolation? You are following this? Is that what makes for the so-called individual? My pleasure and it is private. All pleasure is private, unless you go to football and all that kind of stuff. Pleasure is private, is that one of the reasons why human beings secretly pursue this pleasure? Because it gives them importance to themselves? You are following all this? Therefore pleasure may be the cause of this tremendous isolation - as a group, as a family, as a tribe, as a nation. I wonder if you see all this?
So when one sees the truth of this - the truth, not the words, not the intellectual concept - then will thought take over and make it a remembrance? You understand? Or just see the sunset - finish. Experiment with this, you will see for yourself, if you do it, that thought, as in the case of fear, is the origin, the beginning of this conflict, both of fear and the pursuit of pleasure - right?
Then there is the question - we are dealing with the whole of our life - then there is the question why human beings throughout the world suffer. We are not talking about the physical suffering, that can be dealt with also if the mind is not continually attached, always concerned with itself - you understand? You have had a pain, disease, infirmity of some kind or other. Thought then becomes so concerned - right? And so it identifies itself with that and so the mind itself becomes crippled - right? So can the mind, thought see the infirmity, the disease, the pain - 'Yes' - you follow? Try it, do it, you will find out. When you are sitting in the dentist's chair - the speaker has done for four hours - when you sit down on the dentist's chair and the drill is going on, observe it. You will see, find out. Or look out of the window and see the beauty of the trees so that the mind is capable of observing itself with a detachment - you understand? Oh, you can't do all this.
So we are asking: why do human beings throughout the world suffer, accept suffering and live with it? There have been two wars, terrible, think of the tears that human beings have shed. And their children, their grandchildren will support war. So sorrow doesn't teach man apparently - right? They worship sorrow - the Christians do. The Hindus have different explanations for sorrow, for what you have done in the past, past life and so on. I won't go into all that.
So we are asking: what is sorrow? And why man lives with sorrow? You understand? Find out sirs, give your minds to this. As you give your minds to sex, to jobs, to this or that, give your mind and heart to find out whether man can ever be free from sorrow. Is sorrow part of the egoistic attitude towards life? That is, my son is dead, or my wife has run away, or something or other, to which I am greatly attached, and he is taken away for various reasons, and I suffer. There's grief, there're tears, there's antagonism, there's bitterness, cynicism - why? You understand? Is it I am so caught up in my own problems, I am so self-centred, my son is me - right? Or my daughter is me. I am attached. I hold on. And when that is gone there is a great sense of emptiness, great sense of loneliness, great sense of lack of relationship. Right? Is that the reason that one suffers? That is, the son being taken away, death or whatever it is, has revealed to me what I am, my loneliness, my isolation, my lack of real relationship. I thought I was related but it is my son - you follow? So the taking away of the son reveals my condition. Go carefully into this. And I suddenly realise my loneliness, my sense of loss, the deprivation of something to which I am greatly attached. The death of the son has revealed to me - right? But that revelation, an awareness of the self, of the 'me', has revealed before the incident. I wonder if you see this? Right? You are seeing this?
As we said at the beginning of the talk, self-awareness. Self-awareness is to know one's self, one's attachments, one's loneliness, one's sense of isolation and all that, to know the totality of oneself. The incident of the son reveals that - right? That is, reveals after the incident. But if there is self-awareness from the very beginning, taking away the son, the son dying, is what? - Is no longer the sorrow which is brought about through attachment. Right, you have understood? My mind now accepts it. It is no longer caught in self-pity, in the struggle to be free from isolation, taking comfort in a belief, or in this or that - right? So one sees sorrow exists so long as the self is there. I wonder if you see this? So the total abandonment of the self is the ending of sorrow. Are you following all this? Will you abandon yourselves? No, sirs. Therefore we worship sorrow, or run away from it.
And also we should go together and investigate this whole question of death. Not just for the old people like us, but also for everyone in the world - young, old or middle aged - death is one of the most extraordinary things that happens in life - right? What do you think of it? What is your instinctual response to the word and to the fact? What is death? Death is an ending - right? Please follow this carefully. Ending. Ending voluntarily, you can't argue with death, you can't say, 'Please give me another week', you can't discuss, it is there, finished. So can you voluntarily end your attachment, which is death? You understand? Ending is something like death. The ending of a particular habit, not struggle, fight, wrangle, end it. If you smoke, if you take drugs, if you drink - that is what is going to happen when you pop off! (Laughter)
So can we voluntarily end - do you understand? - your experiences, your opinions, your attitudes, your beliefs, your gods, end. We are afraid to end - right? To end anything voluntarily. If you say, 'What is there if I end?' That is then you are looking for a reward. You consider then ending as a punishment. So the ending being considered as pain, then you will naturally demand a reward. If I give up, then what? You don't ask that of death.
So can you end and see in that very ending there is the beginning of something new? You understand? That is, one ends attachment - attachment to furniture, people, ideas, beliefs, gods, the whole thing, ends. And you end it voluntarily, because it is intelligent to end. Right? So in that ending a new - this isn't a promise, you understand - a new thing takes place. Try it, sirs. That is, while living inviting death, which is the ending. You understand? Ending to one's incredible complex way of living. So that the mind, because it has ended everything, you understand, do it and you will discover it for yourself, therefore it is always new. New in the sense fresh. You know when you climb a mountain you have to leave all your furniture behind, all your problems, because you can't carry all the furniture that you have collected up the hill. So you let go and you'll discover for yourself that there is a quality of mind, that being absolutely free, is able to perceive that which is eternal. The word eternal is not an idea, you follow? Eternal means out of time. Death is time. I wonder if you see this?
So the mind that understands this extraordinary mystery - it is a mystery because what we are clinging to is our problems, our furniture, our ideas, all that, we are clinging to that, which is put together by time, and with the ending of that there is something totally new dimension. Now it's up to you. Right. Right, sirs.