Can we radically bring about a change in ourselves?
Is it possible to bring about a deep psychological revolution in ourselves?
1st Public Talk, Madras
December 31, 1983
I want to point out this is not an entertainment. This is not a lecture either. A lecture is intended to convey information on a particular subject, to be informed about it. So this is not a lecture but a conversation between us, friendly, serious and if it is possible to communicate with each other deeply and go if we can together for a long journey, a journey that covers, we hope, the entire human status, not the idea of a particular country or a particular group of people or community, nor are we concerned with any particular philosophy. And if one is waiting to be instructed, informed, told what to do, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. So together we are going to take a very long journey, not only outwardly in the physical world but also in the psychological world, in the world that lies inside us, inside this skin as it were, a world that few of us have taken seriously or gone into it very, very deeply. So together, bearing in mind that we are not giving a lecture nor a sermon I hope, so don't get bored with it. And also one would like to point out that in listening to someone, as to the speaker, one has to listen not only with the hearing of the ear but also listen. And that is an art, to listen to somebody freely, intelligently, without any interpretation, without any conclusion, but as two friends talking over together not only about the world situation but also about their own problems, their own behaviour, their own ways of thinking, their prejudices, opinions, conclusions. So, one hopes that you will so listen, not only to the network of words but also to the deeper issues of life.
It seems to one, religion and to have peace in the world are the most two important things in one's life. Religion, the etymological meaning of that word is not very clear, but it's generally accepted, religion to be that which is going on in the world, the Christian religion, the Muslim, the Islamic, the Hindu, the Buddhist and so on, with their temples and mosques and churches or cathedrals and all the rituals that go on inside them, and all the things that are in the temples, in the churches, in the mosques, and follow, having certain faiths, belief, and the repetition of certain phrases, doing puja, rituals and so on, the whole structure of superstition - that generally is what is understood to be religion. To the speaker that's not religion, it's all put together by thought. Thought is a material process and that which thought has created, given sanctity, tradition, then that very thought turns to worship that which it has created. This is a fact, not a theory. (Sound of aeroplane) We'll wait for that aeroplane.
And also there is no peace in the world. There are the preparations for war by all nations, especially the present crisis, nuclear war and the destruction of the whole of mankind. So there is no peace in the world, nor is there peace in ourselves. To be a religious human being requires a great deal of intelligence, and also to live peacefully in this world, without conflict, without problems, without this divisive process, that also requires a great deal of intelligence. Not repetition of some slogans, not following some guru, all that is gone, finished, because man no longer, if he's at all aware, intelligent and conscious of what is going on, he has put aside all that rubbish. You may not agree but please listen to the very end of it, if you have the patience and if you want to face facts. Because facts do not need opinions, they are so. How you translate facts depends on your background, on your prejudices, on your conditioning, but facts remain facts, like that there is war in certain parts of the world, that they are preparing, both sides, right and left. One hopes there will be no war.
And religion has no longer any meaning at all, except for sentimental, sensory excitement and emotional titillation, but otherwise religion, in the deepest sense of that word, which is to live a righteous life, a life of freedom, responsibility for one's own actions, independent of environment, and so on, which we'll all go into during these four talks. So please, from the very beginning of these talks, if you are willing, listen not only to what the speaker is saying but also listen to your own interpretations of what the speaker is saying, how you receive or accept or react to what is being said. So this requires a constant communication with each other, to be aware not only to the word, the significance of the word of the speaker, but also to be aware of one's own responses. So it's a responsibility. (Singing) Lovely! This is modern civilisation. Shall we go on? Oh, let's shout a little more than they do. (Laughter)
So we are going to take a long, friendly, not dogmatic journey, both outwardly and inwardly. It is far more difficult to take a journey inwardly. It's fairly easy, if you are well informed of what is going on in the world. But one must have a criteria to evaluate, as in a mirror to see things as they are, to see what is happening in the world, in the outer world - it's really not an outward world at all, it's a world which we have created. It's like a tide going out and coming in - it's the same water. But we have unfortunately divided the world as the outer and the inner. This eternal movement of action and reaction, challenge and response, problem after problem, and these problems are increasing more and more, not only created by the politicians and also by all the religious people but also the problems which we have created for ourselves. It's a society which we have created. It hasn't suddenly come into being. This is what we are. If our house is burning, disorderly, competitive, ruthless, we have created such a society - whether it's brutality, cruelty, injustice, and so on. So it's our responsibility, not to change society but to see in our journey which we are going to take together, whether in that very movement of taking the journey there is a possibility of changing ourselves fundamentally, a psychological revolution, not a physical revolution. So let us go together.
The world, geographically, nationally, religiously is divided; economically, traditionally, the world is broken up, fragmented. That fragmentation has taken place through nationalism, which is glorified tribalism, and each country is concerned with itself. But politicians and those people who are leaders forget we are all human beings, we are one people, though you may call yourself a Muslim or a Hindu or a Buddhist or a Christian, we are one humanity. You may belong to a certain sect, assert your own personal ambitions but behind all that we are one entity. The whole of humanity is us. But unfortunately for various reasons of security, our own search for security, through the family, through the community, through the nation, we have separated the world as the American, the Russians, the French and the Indian and the Arab and Jew and so on. This separation has been, this division, this fragmentation, has been one of the causes of war, destroying each other in the name of god, in the name of religion, in the name of ideologies. We all know this. And this process has been going on from the most ancient of times, this division of tribalism, economic division, religious division, social division and so on - traditions.
So, where there is division, fragmentation, there must be conflict. That's a fact. That's not the speaker's conclusion, this is what is going on. One ideology against another ideology - the conservative ideology against the liberal, the socialist against the communist, the fascist against everybody else. There is racial division, linguistic division and so on. So please, we are taking the journey together, don't merely listen to the speaker but see the facts, not according to the speaker but what is taking place actually, daily in our life. Unless that division ceases completely, that you are no longer a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Christian, or belonging to different ideologies, communist, socialist, capitalist and so on, we are bound to create war. That means killing other human beings by the thousands, by the millions. If this nuclear war is to take place we'll all disappear, the earth will be burnt out. Probably you know all this if you have read the newspapers or talked to certain scientists. And the argument goes on. It has been like this for a million years, or actually forty-five thousand years human beings have existed on this earth, according to the archaeologists and biologists, and man has struggled, struggled, struggled, fought, killed, and as it has been before, it shall be now. And also that is the future of mankind, everlasting struggle, everlasting quarrels, destruction. This is what you are facing; not only you but your grandchildren. And we accept it. If you are a Jew you ascertain that you are a Jew, or a Hindu or some other stupid title.
So we are sustaining, nourishing the destruction of human beings. That is what is going on and the politicians cannot solve this problem. On the contrary they are adding more and more problems. In the very solution of one problem they multiply a dozen other problems. You see all this. And our brains are crowded with problems. And inwardly - that's the outward world - and inwardly, if you have examined at all, if one is aware what's going on, we are very primitive people. Though we have lived on this earth for forty-five thousand years, we are very barbarous people, cruel people. We have been more or less what we have been from the beginning of time - hating, jealous, frightened, and in our fear create all kinds of horrors. And this is the world in which we live, outwardly and inwardly. No philosophy, no guru, no politician, nobody has solved our human problems. You can escape from them (sound of aeroplane) You can escape from them by joining some monastery, by taking certain vows, or joining some cult, and no authority has ever solved our human problems.
So we have reached a point where one does not believe in anything. We have reached a point when we are utterly confused, because those who are certain at the beginning end up with uncertainty. You understand all this? I wonder if you understand what I am what the speaker is talking about? If I start believing firmly in god or in some kind of mystical affair, if I am intelligent, somewhat intelligent, as I grow up I begin to doubt everything. So, one must begin with uncertainty, doubting, questioning, having a sceptical mind, then one comes to a place where there is absolute certainty. Because after all, both outwardly and inwardly we are seeking security. That's why we have invented god, because that's the ultimate security. Don't be shocked, please. You are all believers in god, probably the majority of you; god or some higher principle and so on - all that is invented by thought. Thought is a material process, so anything created by thought in the world of religion is still materialistic, as technology is.
So, together we are taking the journey to find out if we human beings can radically bring about a change in ourselves. Not through compulsion, not through some enticement or some promise, but seeing things as they are - the frightening, the desperate state man has reached, the confusion that really thinking man is in, because he has been told so many things all his life, all contradicting. So we are confused human beings whether you admit it or not; confused not only consciously but deeply, in the deep layers of the consciousness we are confused. The world has reached that point, where you believe neither in the scientist nor in politicians nor in any of the so-called - these thoughtless gurus. Man has not changed. And when one has reached this stage of confusion, deeply, then that very confusion demands right action, that very confusion brings a crisis in our life. The crisis is not out there but the crisis is in our consciousness, in our being.
So we are asking ourselves whether it is possible to bring about a deep psychological revolution in ourselves, not outward revolution - the outward revolutions have failed. The French the recent revolutions, the French, and the communist revolution, they have failed utterly. What is important is that there should be a psychological mutation, a fundamental change in the very cells of the brain, because our brains are conditioned. That is, the cells in the brain are conditioned. The speaker is not a specialist in the brain, in the structure of the brain and so on, but he has discussed with a great many scientists and so on - it's not important. But one can watch it in oneself - much more important than talking to innumerable scientists and their authority and their contradictions. One can see in oneself how our brains are conditioned, as a Hindu, a tradition, as the Jew, as the Muslim, as the Christian. Nationally, linguistically, religiously, economically, our brain is conditioned, and we are asking whether that very brain which has been conditioned through knowledge, through education, whether those very cells can bring about a mutation in themselves. You understand? Do we understand each other, the problem? Suppose the speaker has been trained as a Muslim, repeating the Koran from boyhood and his brain naturally has adjusted itself to the words, to the content of the words, to the meaning of words and so on, so the brain becomes conditioned by the climate, by the food, by the tradition, by your education. So knowledge itself becomes the conditioning factor. Right? I wonder if you see this. Do you see this? Are we meeting each other somewhere? Please tell me, otherwise you can't
Knowledge is the outcome of experience. And experience and knowledge are limited. Look at the scientist, what they are doing. After two hundred years they have gradually accumulated knowledge, bit by bit, through hypothesis, through various forms of experiments, acquired a great deal of knowledge, about matter, and so on. So knowledge is never complete, it's always limited - whether the knowledge of Koran or your sacred books or the Bible, because it's based on experience and experience is always limited. When once you grasp that fact, the reality of that, then all thinking is limited. Right? All thinking. Thinking is the reaction of memory; memory is stored in the brain, in the very cells, and those cells have been conditioned through centuries of human living and experience and struggle, those cells are conditioned, limited. And we are asking whether those cells themselves can undergo a fundamental mutation so that a man, a human being is entirely different, no longer conditioned. You might say that's not possible. That would be a natural reaction - it's not possible. We have lived this way for so many centuries and you are asking, you are saying how can that change take place, that mutation? That's what we are going to enquire together. That requires a great deal of enquiry, a great deal of attention, energy, passion to find out. But if you are lethargic, as most of us are, occupied with so many things, occupied with our living, frightened with what's going to happen, frightened of the past, frightened of the future, frightened of the present, and if our brain is so clogged up, as most brains are, then the first question is, is it possible to solve problems, to have no problems? We'll go into that.
Our brains are conditioned from childhood to solve problems. The child goes to the school, he's got mathematical problems, how to read, write. Right? Right, sirs? I am not saying anything strange so don't look so surprised or bored. From childhood through school, through college, through university, if you are lucky or unlucky to go through all that, your brain, the physical brain, the cells are trained, educated to solve problems. Right? So you treat the whole of living as a problem to be solved. And you approach everything as a problem: sexual problems, problems of relationship, economic problems, religious problems, political problems - you follow? - and we are solving them with a brain that's conditioned to solve problems. So the problems are never solved. Have you realised that? These are facts. You may solve one problem happily but in the very solution of that problem you have another problem. Look at what is happening politically in the world, in the Western world, in the communist world. They have got so many problems - economic problem, the political problem, the desire to be president, to be the top man. You know, they are all problems. You have problems with your wife and with your husband. You have a problem with your children, you've a problem with your guru. And we are not making a problem for you, the speaker is not creating a problem for you. All that he is saying is look at things as they are first, without any prejudice, without any conclusion, and if you have conclusions, opinions, judgements, put them aside because it's only a brain that is free can look. So can you put aside all these opinions, judgements, evaluation, tradition and look at things as they are. Not as a politician, not as a follower, not as a person who has read a great deal and can speak endlessly, but as a human being, that our brains are conditioned to solve problems. So the brain itself has a problem. You understand this? Do understand this, please. And therefore whatever it meets it turns it into a problem. So our question is whether it's possible not to have a brain that is conditioned to the solution of problems, to have a brain that's free to look and not make a problem of what it looks. Right?
So, we are asking whether the brain cells themselves, without any compulsion, without any instigation, without any pressure outwardly or inwardly can bring about a change, a mutation in itself. So we are going to find out these four discussion talk conversations - really a dialogue - one can't have a dialogue with so many people, but one can have a dialogue with you, not with all of you, with each one of you, separate. And we were saying, religion is the most important thing in life. Not the thing that - the crows are going to bed. The last trumpet. (Laughs) All right, all right.
We are asking, a new culture, a new civilisation cannot come about through economic adjustments, through political action, through various forms of institutions and foundations. Religion is the only factor, and that religion is our enquiry, to find out whether the human brain can be really religious. We mean by religion absolute freedom, freedom from fear, freedom from conflict, freedom from problems, freedom from sorrow so that a mind, a brain that is completely free, it's only then there is that quality of love and compassion. Then that state alone can find out what is sacred. And in the understanding of that truth, or that perception of that which is true, then there is peace, peace in oneself, in one's own psyche. That means no conflict whatsoever. Now is this possible? If you say it is not possible, then that becomes a block that prevents you from looking at the possibility; the possibility of opening the door to look. Or if you say it is possible, then you are merely talking theoretically, then you have shut the door. So one must have the quality of a brain that's enquiring, looking, searching, asking, questioning, doubting. Not only doubting of others, of your books and of your so on, but doubting what your own thinking is, question your own responses, your own reactions. That requires an alertness of mind.
So we are now on our journey. We are going to enquire together, first thing, which is, what is thinking? Because we live by thinking. All our actions are based on thinking. Our relationship with each other is part of thinking. The images you have built about your wife and your husband, your guru, your leaders and so on is put together by thought as an image. We'll go into that presently. So thinking is our fundamental instrument. It may think devotionally, romantically, imaginatively, but it's still thinking, whether you are a scientist or a philosopher, mathematician, a biologist, or just an ordinary human beings. Even the most uneducated person thinks - the villager. So, our first enquiry on the journey is to find out what is thinking. Why thinking has become so extraordinarily important. Knowing that thinking is a material process, because it is stored up; knowledge and memory, experience is stored up in the brain cells, and that knowledge, experience, memory, and so thought is limited. This is a fact. There is no complete knowledge about anything. You may think god is complete knowledge or some extra principle, outside agency, and we all like to believe that in all of us there is something of that quality, which is again thought.
So one must understand very clearly the nature of our thinking. Please, observe your own thinking, not what the speaker is telling you, but observe your own thoughts, how they arise, how limited they are. Each one of us is concerned about himself basically, self-centred, and you may try to hide it behind all kinds of words but it is still there. And that self-centred thinking is limited. When you think about yourself, your achievements, your desires, your purposes, your wanting to build temples in the West and temples here, it is still limited. Right? Whatever is limited must bring about conflict, must bring about division. That's a law. If I am divided against you, thinking about myself all day long, it's a very limited process. That's what we are all doing, happily, miserably, successfully, but that's what we are doing. So, thinking being limited, has made us, our whole outlook, limited. Right? I wonder if you get all this. Are you getting tired, or are you asleep? I don't mind if you go to sleep, it's your affair.
And this thinking has created, because of its very limitation, nationalities. Hoping to find security in nationalities, in tribalism, in tribal gods, and you haven't found security. And one thought there would be security in communities. There has been no security there either. So, where is security? You follow? Where is security for us? Not through division, not through calling yourself a Hindu, Muslim and all the rest of it. So, when you see danger - do you understand what I am talking about? For god's sake, move. I don't mean get up and go. Perhaps you want to get up and go. But I mean, I am talking your outlook, your way of looking at it. What will make you change? You've had sorrow, you've had pain, you've had wars, you have every kind of toil and travail and yet we go on as we are. What will make us change? Reward? Reward in heaven? Reward on this earth? When you are seeking for a reward there is always the other side of it, punishment. Reward and punishment is one of our principles.
So, it becomes very important to find out if thought is the only instrument that we have and that it has created such havoc in the world - do we realise that? Look what the scientists have produced, not only medicine and surgery and fast communication and those happy convenient things but also they have produced the most diabolical things - the nuclear war, nuclear, the atom bomb, the submarine - you follow? - the whole technological world of warfare is the product of thought. Going to the moon is a product of thought, and putting a flag up there is a product of thought. And our relationship with each other is based on thought. So, let's for the moment talk over together the question of relationship. Don't be nervous, I'm not going to attack you.
Your relationship, life is a process of relationship. Living is relationship. You cannot possibly live by yourself, even though you may retire for the rest of your life to the Himalayas or to a community or to a monastery, you are still in contact with humanity. You are related. You may not be related to a person but you are related to a tradition, related to knowledge, related to all kinds of things. So, relationship is one of the basic factors of life. The husband and the wife and the children, and in that relationship, with their conflicts, with their sexual demands, with their pleasures, with their pains, with their flattery, with their insults, with their nagging, with their - you know all that goes on in relationship. Don't you know all that? Or you pretend it doesn't exist. Oh, you are all so silent aren't you? In that relationship you have created thought has created the image about your wife and the wife has created an image about you. That's a fact. And the relationship is between these two images. I know my wife, and the wife says, 'I know my husband' - you really don't know each other. All that you know is the image you have about her and she has an image about you. That is built through time. Right? This is a fact, sir, don't dodge the issue. And where there is a relationship between two images there is actually no relationship at all. That's again a fact. And that's why there's such conflict in relationship. There are very, very, very few people living together who are really related happily, not adjusting to each other or tolerating each other or exploiting each other.
So the question is whether it's possible to live without a single image, and who is it that creates the images? There you are, you're sitting there, all of you, and you have an image about the speaker, haven't you? Otherwise you wouldn't be here. That's a fact. Right? The image which you have built about the speaker is not the speaker. Right? But you worship that image, or you may not worship it or you might kick it or disregard it but still you have created an image about the speaker, and so your relationship is with the image and not with the speaker at all, because to have a relationship with the speaker we must meet each other at the same level at the same time with the same intensity. Right? You understand what I'm saying? For god's sake! Isn't that love? When you meet somebody at the same level at the same time with the same intensity - not sexually, I'm not talking only that, but with all your human being, with your whole being, then that is love. And there is no love if you have the images about each other. And where there is love there is no time. Where there is love there is no conflict. And to understand that extraordinary thing called love we must have great intelligence, and not fear, not ambition, not greed, not jealous, hatred.
So we are asking why has thought become so important in our lives? Realising what thought has done, technologically what it has done, immense things, both appalling, fearful, dangerous, diabolical things, and also thought has created medicine, surgery, communication. And also thought has created war, divided people as the Hindu, Buddhist, you know, all the nonsense. Unless thought has been totally understood, and thought has its place, and thought may not have any place at all psychologically. You understand what I am saying? As we said, thought is limited because knowledge is limited, experience is limited. And in relationship, if thought is the means of communication with each other there must be conflict. And also thought is necessary for you to get home, to take the bus, to go to your office, not tomorrow, Sunday, but Monday, and to go to the office for the rest of your life, day after day, day after day, day after day. This is all the product of thought. I know you have to go one knows one has to go to your office, to a factory, to your business and so on, there thought is necessary. But is thought necessary in relationship? Enquire into it, go into it, you will find out.
So, as our brains are conditioned by thought, through thought, is it possible - please listen to this - is it possible to find a totally different movement which is not of thought, which is not put together by thought? Thought being the activity of time, a material process. Don't go off into meditations and all that kind of stuff. We'll deal with that presently. But to find out, that is, if thought is the only instrument we have then we are condemned forever. You understand this? Because then all our action becomes limited, then whatever we do, religiously, politically, economically, will be always limited, and therefore perpetual conflict and more problems. But thought is necessary. If I want to write a letter to you I must employ thought. To go from here to your house you need thought, and so on. So we are asking is thought necessary in relationship with each other? And to discover for oneself, not to be told everlastingly, but to discover for oneself an instrument - not an instrument - a process of living in which thought doesn't come in. This requires this requires enormous enquiry. This requires a great deal of your attention because knowledge has become so important to you - knowledge about the Gita, about the Upanishads and all the commentary. Knowledge - you worship knowledge. Your goddess... you have goddesses, don't you, of knowledge. But knowledge has its place. Truth isn't knowledge. It isn't something put together by thought, it's something that comes into being when the brain is totally free, uncontaminated, pristine, original. And to discover that is part of meditation - not this stupid repetition.
So, we must stop now. We'll continue. But please, we are not talking about something theoretically, hypothetical, but we are dealing with facts. Facts are that which is happening now, that which has happened before. Not that which is going to happen, is not a fact. The fact is what you are thinking, doing, now, and the fact of what you have done before - those are facts. But ideals are not facts, but you have all ideals, therefore you live in illusory worlds. When a brain lives in an illusory world you are bound to create conflict for yourself and for others. But when you are dealing with facts, day after day, not supposition of facts, not saying, because to me my opinion is a fact and I stick to that fact - it's so obvious, your opinions, like any other opinion is non-fact. But what you do out of that opinion, out of that conclusion, out of that theory is a fact. You understand? If you have an illusion and act according to that illusion, that becomes a fact. And your illusion is a fact too. You understand? So one has to be aware, look, question and doubt to find out.
The other day in California, two months ago when I was there, a car in front of us had on the bumper a sticker which said, 'Question all authority'. Will you question all authority? Your own authority first, and the authority of your religion, of your gods and your temples and your - question the politicians, everything question, doubt, so that your own brain begins to be active. But most of us don't question because we are frightened. We'd rather be told what to do: you know better than I do, so please tell me. And where there is authority, power, position, status, there is evil. It leads to such misery. But to have humility; that humility can only come naturally, uninvited, easily, when you begin to question your own thoughts, your own relationship, your own desires, your own achievements. Then out of that comes this quality of humility. When there is humility you are then learning. Learning is infinite, knowledge is limited. And that humility - not bowing down to somebody, that's not humility, not touching somebody's feet, that's not humility, going to the temple, all that's rubbish - to have humility, saying, 'I don't know, let's find out'. To be so free to look, and to have that great simplicity - not the simplicity of a loin cloth but the simplicity of a clear mind and clear heart, then only that which is beyond time comes into being. Right, sirs.