Can the mind change radically outside of time?
A mind that seeks truth must be free of the observer
1st Public Talk, Saanen
July 15, 1973
Are you as nervous as I am? At least I hope so.
As we are going to have seven talks and seven discussions we should go rather slowly and carefully into the many problems, not only that exist outside of us in the world, but also inwardly. What is most important, at least I feel, when we are confronting all these terrible, horrible problems, the real issue in all this is to bring about a total transformation of the mind. That seems to me the chief concern, not to be involved in details at the beginning, but rather bear in mind that to resolve the external and the inward problems we need a totally different kind of mind. And that is our chief concern during all these talks: whether human beings, as we are, it is possible to bring about in ourselves, psychologically, inwardly a fundamental change. Otherwise we shall have no means of translating, or going beyond these problems.
I hope you and I see the same thing, understand not only verbally but also non-verbally that these problems, whatever they be - economic, social, religious, personal - we need a mind and a heart that is not put together by thought. Thought is not going to solve our problems, because these problems have come into being through the activities of thought. And to bring about a fundamental, radical, revolutionary, psychological change is our main problem during these talks and discussions.
First of all we are communicating with each other through words. Words have extraordinary significance: when I use a certain word it creates in you a symbol, an idea, a formula, an image, and you react according to that image to what is being said. If I use the word 'freedom', you have your own idea of what freedom is, or should be, or ought to be. So when you hear that word 'freedom' you have already created an image, already a symbol, a conclusion. And the speaker may have a totally different kind of meaning, so communication becomes impossible. Communication is only possible when you and I are using the same word, with the same meaning and sharing together the meaning of that word. That is really communication; not you having an image and I another image, then it is impossible to communicate. So as we have to use words to communicate with each other, and perhaps it may be possible to communicate non-verbally also, but first we have to understand the verbal communication, and that is going to be rather difficult because we are going to concern ourselves first with freedom. I am using that word in the dictionary sense only, objectively, non-personally, non-imaginatively, or speculatively. Freedom implies, does it not, the capacity to observe non-emotionally, non-imaginatively, without any symbol whatsoever, to be able to look. And we are going to look, we are going to observe the world as it is about us, and we are going to look at ourselves as we are. And to be able to observe impersonally, without any opinion, judgement, to observe in such a manner demands complete freedom, otherwise you cannot possibly observe. So let us be clear on that point first.
We are going to look at the world outside of us - politically, what is happening, the economic war that is going on, and the various religious organised sects, the divisions of communism, and socialism and capitalism, the various conflicts between nations - we are going to observe, look at them. And to observe them one's mind must be free from the conclusion or knowledge that you have had previously. And if you have such knowledge or conclusion, opinion, one is not capable of looking, observing freely. Right? Can we go on from there?
Can my mind, and your mind, look - not only at the particular problems, say in Switzerland, or in America, or in Europe or India, but to look at the world's problem, to look at this whole map? Not where you are going, because then if you are looking at the map wanting to know where you are going, then you are not concerned with the whole perception of the map. Right?
Do please pay a little attention to all this because this is not an entertainment, you are not here to be entertained by the speaker, either psychologically, politically, or religiously, or intellectually. We are very, very serious, at least I am, frightfully serious because to me what is happening in the world is dreadful, horrible. And we are contributing to it, we have made it. We have created this world out of our desires, ambitions, cruelties, vanities, personal position and so on, it is our responsibility, we have made it, we are the world and the world is us. And any man with a little intelligence, with a little observation, reading the many things that are happening in the world, must feel terribly serious. And I hope you are also feeling the seriousness of it all and not merely spending a morning listening and then be casual, be entertained, be gossipy and all the rest of it. So this is not an entertainment, not an intellectual feast or a group psychological analysis, but being serious together, creating right atmosphere in which we can communicate, discuss, talk over together the problems of our life. And that requires attention, care, affection, love and therefore all that implies a great seriousness.
So as we were saying, we are going to look at the world not with your eyes, or my eyes, or with your opinion or my opinion, or conclusion, but look with clarity. And you can only look when you are free to observe; and that is going to be our greatest difficulty, not only outwardly of what is happening, but also to look inwardly at ourselves. If we can look at the world freely and then also look at ourselves without any conclusion, then you will see for yourself that the world is you, and you are the world. You know to realise that, not intellectually, not verbally, not as a theory, but actually realise it, feel it, then you will see for yourself what a human being can do, and must do in a world of which he is a part, which he has created. Nobody has created the monstrous world except each one of us, through our education, through our ambition, through our nationality, through our violence, brutality, through our search for pleasure, through our desire to be secure, we have created this. And to bring about a fundamental change in this, and that change is absolutely necessary, each one of us must bring about a total transformation in oneself, and therefore in his relationship to the world. Right?
I do not know how serious you are. Because it is only two serious minds that can meet - serious people who are concerned, not verbally or intellectually, concerned with their heart, with their mind, with their whole activity. And I don't know how serious your intentions are. You may attend these talks for the next four weeks and you may treat it as an intellectual entertainment, or desire a new kind of experience, or slightly bring about a change in one's mediocre life. That is not serious. That is not being serious at all. Seriousness implies that you be totally concerned with the whole problem of existence, not just one part of it, one's own personal security, or one's own personal salvation. It is a vast area which you are going to deal with, the area of our whole life; our whole life isn't merely an intellectual concept and living at an intellectual level. Our life is not only intellectual, emotional, affection, love, sex, gathering money, fear, pleasure, pain, sorrow, death, the whole of that is our life, much more is involved in it. And if we are not serious, and I do mean if we are not serious, it isn't worth listening. There is tennis going on there, go and sit there, or go and climb the lovely hills and the mountains, watch the rivers flowing. But if you are here for this purpose, after you have spent money, taking a journey, we must spend together in seriousness. And there is great beauty in seriousness, it isn't a pain, it isn't something that you must be serious about. Life is serious and it is only the man who is really serious knows how to live, not the flippant, not the ones who are merely seeking entertainment. So please bear this in mind, if I may suggest, that we are here for a serious purpose. And we are going to spend several hours together. Though the speaker sits on a platform, he is sitting there only for convenience so that you and I can see each other. He has no authority and therefore we can share things together. And sharing implies affection. It is only this intense demand of love that brings about transformation. So bear, if you will, carry that with you throughout the days, and we will talk more about it.
So first let us look freely at this whole map of the world - not at the map of your little village and your little backyard and your little mind, but the whole map of the world. You know it is one of the most difficult things not to be prejudiced, not to have some conclusion, not to have an image; and if you want to look at this extraordinary map of the world you can't have a conclusion, you must come to it freely, happily, curious to find out, to share.
I am sure you must have observed how terrible and decadent and destructive the world is becoming. I happen to go to several countries every year, I have been doing this for the last fifty years, and I see the deterioration, morally, if one can use the word, spiritually, politically, there is so much corruption, at the highest level and also among the poor people who are unrecognised. That word 'corruption' means to break up - the real meaning of that word 'corrupt' is to break up - rompere. And this process is going on, all over the world things are breaking up. You know what is happening politically. Governments are corrupt, some more and some less, but all governments are corrupt. It is not my opinion, it is happening around you if you observe it. And so to look to a politician, or to a government for the human change has no meaning. So the politician, the government, the bureaucracy, is not going to help man - help man to change. It may help him monetarily, socially and so on, outwardly, but that is not going to bring about a radical revolution psychologically, inwardly. So you cannot possibly look to them because they are morally corrupt. Nor can you ask help from the business world - you know that better than I do. Nor from any organised religion. All organised religions are based on belief, dogma, ritual, authority, all of them. Therefore they are sectarian. The word 'sectarian' means breaking up, also. They may be very large, like the Christian churches, immense number of Catholics, Protestants, but they are still sectarian and are not going to bring about salvation or change in the human mind because they are essentially based on thought. Right? We will go into that too. Nor can you look to any guru, to any philosopher, to any book. Philosophy means the love of truth in daily life, not an abstract truth, not a truth invented by a clever, cunning, sophisticated, learned mind.
So you cannot look to a teacher, to a guru, to a priest, to a book, to any authority because all this has produced this world outside of us. So can the mind reject all that, totally deny all that? You understand what I am talking about? Not to look to another for clarity, for clear perception, for understanding. If you do, then you will create authority, and the moment you have authority in any form in your search for truth then you are denying that very truth. Right? I hope you see the logic of it at least, the reasonableness of it, because the moment you follow somebody you are perverting yourself.
So that is the world outside of you - wars, corrupt politicians and governments, religious sectarian spirits dividing people, nationalities, communities fighting each other, and amongst all this confusion and weariness and sorrow, there are those gurus and teachers who say, 'We know, we will lead you to the truth', 'We will help you, we will unburden you of your sorrow' - but they can't. They impose their own kind of formula, they don't take away your burden, they impose their burden on you. Right? I hope you all see this so that you never go near any of them, including the speaker! So that being free of all that, you can look, otherwise you can't look, otherwise you are not serious, you are playing. It is like going window-shopping, going from window to window to window. That is what most of you are doing, and you think that is very serious if you go from one window to another window. Whereas if you discard totally, deny all the windows, then you are capable of standing alone and looking at yourself, and that is what we are going to do. And that is what I mean by being serious.
So having looked at the world - not at the details, there are too many details, the sorrow, the suffering, the brutality, the violence, the communities that are trying to establish a way of life according to a certain pattern, the economic war as well as the actual bloody war, the politicians with their deception and their corruption and all the rest of it, if you can put away all that, then we can look at ourselves. And to look at ourselves requires seriousness, because what you have denied outwardly is what you are inwardly. I do not know if you see that? Because what you have created outwardly is the projection of yourself, because we are very violent, we are deceptive, we have various kinds of masks that we put on, various poses. And we want throughout all this, security. So what we are the world is. Right? Do please see this, actually, not theoretically. And it doesn't depress one to realise that the world cannot be changed unless you radically change yourself. That doesn't depress one. On the contrary it gives you tremendous energy to change.
So one realises in all seriousness what the world is, we are, and we are the world. Then the next problem is: how is the human mind to change? The mind that has been cultivated through millennia, a mind that has been educated, conditioned, a mind shaped by the environment in which it lives, by the culture in which it has flowered. This mind has taken time to arrive at what we are now, ten thousand years or more. That mind is full of experiences, knowledge, images, symbols. So we are asking a question, which is: what place has knowledge in the transformation of the human mind? You are following all this? We have acquired a great deal of knowledge, both technologically - oh, in so many ways, in so many departments, science, biology, anthropology and so on and so on and so on, medically. And also we have acquired a great deal of knowledge in the field, in the area of the psyche. So we are asking what place has knowledge - knowledge being the past? What is its relationship to the transformation of the human mind? Is the question clear?
I have a great deal of knowledge about myself, why I think certain things, what are the associations of that particular thought, why I react, what are my experiences, my hurts, my anxieties, my fears, my insistent pursuit of pleasure, and the fears of living and dying. I have accumulated tremendous knowledge about myself, I have watched it for fifty years, very carefully, observed all the subtleties, the cunning, the deceptions, the cruelties; when I am talking about myself I am talking about you, don't put that cap on to me, and looking at me and forget yourself. We are talking about you. I have watched, I have listened to dozens of philosophers, teachers, gurus, they give their knowledge, their experience. So during these years, whether it is ten years, or fifty years or a hundred years, or ten thousand years, there is a great deal of knowledge that has been accumulated. And yet I am just a mediocre, shoddy, second-hand, cunning, stupid human being. I react so quickly to violence, to flattery, my vanities and pride are immense. I conform, I battle against conformity. I talk about art, teach a little bit of art here and there, play an instrument, write a little book, become famous, notorious, wanting publicity - you know - I am all that. I have gathered tremendous information, knowledge, and that knowledge is the past. All knowledge is the past, there is no future knowledge, there is no present knowledge - please listen to all this - there is only knowledge as the past. And knowledge is time - are you following all this? Now I say to myself, 'I know this'. And also by careful objective, non-personal observation of the world, I see there must be total change in me, as a human being, not only in my relationship with another, however intimate, my relationship with a man ten thousand miles away, my relationship with my neighbour, with human beings, I see there is a battle, conflict, misery, always asserting myself, the selfish activity, the self-centred movement. And that is all knowledge.
Now what place has it in the human transformation which the mind sees also is absolutely necessary? So that is the question. Will future experience gathering more knowledge, not only go to the moon and to various other fields of knowledge, but also the knowledge of myself, gathering more and more and more, taking time, will that bring about change? That is, will time and knowledge - and knowledge is time - will that bring transformation in me, in you? Or quite a different kind of energy is demanded. This is the problem we are going to discuss. Right? Are we meeting each other? Because, as we said, we are sharing the thing together. And to share something together you both need a relationship of affection, consideration, enquiry. Right? Otherwise you can't share. We must both be interested in the thing we are sharing together. Which means sharing together at the same time, at the same level, with the same intensity, otherwise you can't share it.
So I have this problem, you have this problem: we know a great deal what others have said about us, and what we also know about ourselves, and will that bring about change? That means, will thought change the human mind? You understand? Thought being the response of knowledge. Thought has created this world. Right? Thought has divided the people as the Christians and the non-Christians, as the Arab and the Jew, as the Catholic and the non-Catholic, the Communist and the Hindu, divided people, thought has done this. Are you aware of it? Thought has divided the world as Switzerland, France, Germany, Russia and all the rest. Thought has brought about conflict between each other, not only religiously, socially, economically but also in our relationships. And we are looking to thought to change us. That's what we are doing, aren't we? We may not be conscious of it but actually that's what we are trying to do. Is the picture clear - not my picture but the picture? That thought, knowledge, time - which are all the same - time, knowledge, thought has brought about this world with all its confusion, misery, corruption, sorrow, pain, out there and also in here. And we say it all must change, serious people say that, but they employ thought to bring about a change. You understand? So I question the whole thing. I see very clearly that knowledge cannot change. Knowledge cannot change my activity, my self-centred movement of you and me, as two separate entities fighting each other. So what am I to do? You understand? Do put this question to yourself in all seriousness. What is your answer? You see the world, and see yourself as the world, and you see what knowledge is, knowing knowledge is necessary in certain fields of activity, and also asking yourself, can that knowledge, which human beings have gathered for thousands of years about oneself as time, can that knowledge, time and thought bring about a radical psychological revolution? Now take that thought, look at it. Now how do you listen to that statement? How do you listen to the statement: what place has knowledge in human transformation? How do you listen to it? When you listen to those words, do you translate it into an abstraction? You understand what I mean by an abstraction - draw from listening to that statement a conclusion, which is an abstraction, and therefore you are not listening to the statement but listening to the abstraction. You are following this? Are we meeting each other? No I see we are not.
I have made a statement: what place has time, which is knowledge and thought, in the transformation of the human mind, human being? Because there must be transformation. Now how do you listen to it? Do you listen merely to the meaning of words? Or do you listen and in the very act of listening draw a conclusion, and therefore listening with a conclusion and not actually listening to the statement? Have you understood? You see the difference? When you listen to a statement, to this statement, and draw a conclusion, an abstraction, then thought is in action. You follow this? Sir, I am not being clever, this is not an intellectual thing, but you can observe it in yourself.
Words let me put it this way: can you think without a word, without an image, without a symbol? Now I am asking you that question, please listen to it: can you think without a word, without a symbol, without an image? If there is no image, no symbol, no word, is there a thinking? Right? Now you listen to that: what do you do with the act of listening? What have you done after listening to it? Go on please. You are trying to find out, aren't you, if there is a thinking without a word. And you say, 'By Jove, I can't think without a word, I must have an image, a symbol, otherwise there is no thinking'. So the thinking, the word, the symbol, the image is knowledge, and that is time. And so can that time change the human mind? And all philosophies, all religious structure is based on thinking, which is knowledge, and we are looking to that knowledge to bring about a change. And I say that is not possible, it is impossible. But I must see that very clearly, see it in the sense, be sensitive to the truth of that statement. The truth being that knowledge though necessary in the world of action - how to drive a car, language, the field of science and so on, knowledge is necessary - but knowledge as a means of transforming the human being has no place whatsoever. Do you see the truth of it? And you can only see the truth of it if you don't draw a conclusion from it. You will say, 'Then what am I to do?' That is a conclusion. 'Then how shall I act, I have lived all my life on conclusions, beliefs, ideas, thought and you come along and say Look that has no place in relationship, in human change'. Then you ask: 'Then what will take its place?' That question is put by thought. Therefore you are still functioning in the field of thought, therefore you don't see the truth of it. I don't know if you I can't make it any more clear, it is up to you.
What time is it?
Q: Eleven thirty.
K: You see our chief concern for a serious man is the total transformation of the human mind - total not partial, complete revolution in the psyche - because that is the first movement which can transform the outward environment. Without that radical change mere changes in the outward has no meaning anymore, because it creates more and more and more problems. You can see that, how they are polluting the earth, the waters and so on and so on and so on. And mere reformation there is not going to change. So being serious one asks, if knowledge has no place then what will what is the energy, what is the flame, what is the quality that will completely change the mind? Right? Now do I, do you see clearly the truth that knowledge is not going to change man? Not because I say it, not because intellectually I am convincing you, not because you feel that is the only way. Do you, irrespective of your environment, irrespective of the speaker, irrespective of any influence, impression, demand, do you see the truth of it for yourself? If you do then what is the state of your mind? What is the state of the mind that sees the truth of a statement? The falseness of it, or the truth of it? What is your mind that says, 'Yes, that is true'? Can you answer it? Is it an intellectual conviction and therefore not truth? Is it an opinion sustained by reason and therefore not true? Is it logical sequence, which you accept and therefore not true? Or is it an opinion, dialectally, which is seeing the truth through opinions and therefore not truth? I wonder if you are following all this?
So what is the quality of a mind that when facing this statement, how does it receive it? Is it capable of looking at that statement as though hearing it for the first time and seeing instantly the fact of it?
We will leave it there for the moment. We will continue with this the day after tomorrow. We will leave it there and pick it up the day after tomorrow.
Perhaps this morning - we have a little more time - you might like to ask some questions, because we are going to have discussions after the talks are over, but perhaps you would like to ask some questions relevant to the things we have been talking about.
Q: I don’t see why knowledge is time.
K: He doesn't see why knowledge is time. Don't you see it really? Look, I don't know how to ride a bicycle but it will take time to learn it. I don't know how to speak Russian, it will take time to learn it - learn the language with all its knowledge will take time. Time to cover from here to there. And I require knowledge to go from here to there. So all knowledge, obviously, there is no question about this, all knowledge is time. And all knowledge is the past. No?
Q: You don’t need time at all, you can use knowledge now.
K: Having accumulated knowledge as time you can use it in the present. Is that it? Yes? Now listen to that: having accumulated knowledge, which is, I have learnt English and I use that language, that knowledge in the present. Right? Which is obvious, I am doing it.
Q: How can I change my mind?
K: Just a minute sir, I haven't finished this question yet. I have in my relationship with you built knowledge about you. Right? And that has taken time and I use that knowledge in my relationship with you in the present. So I use the past to look at you in my relationship. I use the image which I have about you in my relationship, the image functions. So that image, which is the past, divides you and me.
Q: What if you are looking at an individual who is in himself the result of the past, then to see him mustn’t you look also at the past because he is it?
K: Of course. To look at myself, which is the past, do I use the eyes of the past to look at myself? Then if I do use the eyes of the past to look at myself, I am looking at myself with there is no looking at myself.
Q: They are my only eyes.
K: Wait. I do not look at myself. I can only look at myself with eyes which are not of the past. It is obvious, all this.
Q: How can I change my mind instantly?
K: How can I change my mind instantly. You have put the wrong question sir. You know this requires, to answer that question, this requires that one has to go into the whole question of time. Right sir? And that is an immense question, not for the moment, we will come to it. Can the mind change instantly? That is, can the mind, which is of time, put together by time, put together by knowledge, put together by experience, can that whole mind - the mind being heart, the whole works - can that change radically outside of time? Right? Not instantly - I don't know if you see the point. I say, in all humility, that it can, otherwise I wouldn't be talking about it. I would be a hypocrite if I talked about it, then I would be indulging in ideas, which is stupid.
You know sir, this whole problem of what place has knowledge is extraordinarily intricate, subtle, because you see on one side you need to have knowledge. I have to have knowledge to go from here to the place I live at, to drive a car, to speak this language, to recognise you, to play golf, tennis, to go to the factory, to do anything, I must have knowledge. And yet I see knowledge has no place - or has it a place in human change? You are following all this? So it requires enormous wide and swift perception of this. Not a conclusion. I can conclude and say, 'Well it has a place', or 'It has no place' - that has no meaning. But to see the whole field of knowledge, and to see the whole field and where the knowledge is necessary, where it becomes a destructive thing, requires great intelligence. So is intelligence the product of time? Do listen to it. Don't agree or disagree. Is intelligence personal, yours or mine? Or is intelligence the seeing of this whole movement of knowledge? And to see it you must be highly sensitive, attentive, care, affection, love, you must have, otherwise you can't see the beauty, the swiftness of intelligence.
We'd better stop. We'll do it the day after tomorrow.