Conflict, ideologies, fear and pleasure
Freedom from authority is necessary to find truth
2nd Public Talk, Ojai, California
April 13, 1975
If we may we will continue with what we were talking about yesterday morning. We were saying how important it is, considering what the world is like, that there should be a radical psychological revolution. Not the revolution of bomb, tyranny and the ideologies, but a revolution that can bring about a totally different kind of society because we in ourselves are totally different. We were talking about too yesterday the whole problem of knowledge. What place it has and where it is irrelevant.
This morning, if I may, I would like to go into the question of conflict, ideologies, fear and pleasure. The word 'idea' comes from the Greek which means to see. Idea means to see, to observe; not what we have made of it, we have translated it as an ideal, a concept, a conclusion, a matter of intellectual perception. Idea being what it is, which is to observe, to see, we have abstracted from that observation, a conclusion, which becomes the ideal. Perception, seeing and drawing from that seeing a conclusion, an idea, an ideal, and something projected in the future. And so there is conflict between 'what should be' and 'what is'. And we are conditioned through education, through social structure, religious sanctions and all the rest of it that ideals are necessary: not the observation of 'what is', but the importance and the cultivation of ideals. The communist ideal, the religious ideals, capitalists ideals and so on and so on. All derived from that word 'idea', which is to see. And we spend our energy in this conflict between 'what is' and 'what should be'. This is the constant battle in our life, which is utter waste of energy.
And the problem arises: is it possible to transform 'what is' without the ideal? Which means to transform 'what is' without conflict which ideal brings about.
Please, as we said yesterday morning, this is not an intellectual entertainment, this is not something that you casually attend, absorb a few ideas or words, some conclusions, and go away. On the contrary, we are here to find out for ourselves whether it is possible to live in this world without conflict, in harmony, not as an ideal, not as a concept, but in our daily life and thus bring about a radical psychological revolution and so bring about a different society. That is the problem: whether it is possible to live a life without any conflict. And that involves understanding the conditioning of the mind which has accepted ideals as a means of transforming 'what is'. I hope we are sharing all this together. We are taking a journey together and the speaker is not indulging in some kind of intellectual or emotional entertainment for himself, or for you. We are here for a serious purpose, because life demands that we be serious and it is only the earnest people, really earnest people of sound mind that can enjoy life. So if you are serious - and you must be I hope because you have come from some distance, the climate isn't too good this morning, it isn't as beautiful as yesterday - we will go into this question: why man with all his immense knowledge about everything, lives in constant battle within himself and with society. One of the factors of this conflict is ideals. We think ideals are necessary as a lever to bring about a change in what we perceive now. I perceive, as we said yesterday, in oneself, envy, greed, anger, violence, anxiety, and great sorrow. Can one meet that, look at it, observe it without the ideal? Which means when there is an ideal there is a time element involved in it. Isn't there? I am what I am, I am jealous, angry, or whatever it is, and to become that which is not, which is an ideal, takes time. A direction set by my perception of 'what is', and projecting what it should not be. We are following each other, I hope.
So there is a time gap, a lag between what is actual, a reality and what should be, which is in the future, towards which the mind is progressing slowly, and that involves not only direction but will and effort. And that we are conditioned to. Whether you are a communist, or a socialist, or a capitalist, or belong to any sect, a religion, or your own inward perception is based on this everlasting conflict. And one sees that it is utterly wasteful of energy. So one must find out if there is a way of living in which conflict doesn't exist. Because conflict is the very essence of violence. And you may say, 'Well, violence is necessary, nature is violent, and we are part of that nature therefore it is right that we should be violent'. That is one of the theories. And so it gives you an opportunity to vent, to express your own personal violence. And the more cultured, intelligent one is, the urge to violence disappears totally.
So we are going to go into that question of conflict, violence and whether it is possible to live a life in which there is no conflict whatsoever, not only at the conscious level, but also at the deeper layers of the mind. Is this clear? Can we go on from there? This is our problem - not mine, but your problem. That is what we are facing in the world, where there are constant wars, constant brutality, the conflict between man and man, man and woman and all the rest of it, whether it is possible to live without any shadow of conflict? Probably you have not asked this question at all. If you have asked, you say, it is not possible, living in this rotten society one must be violent, otherwise we will be destroyed. But if one is serious, one has to answer this question for oneself.
Why does conflict exist at all? What is conflict? This battle that is going on inwardly and so outwardly. Why should man live like this? Is it because we are not satisfied with 'what is', what actually is? We are going to go into this. And therefore we want to change 'what is' into what we think 'should be'. Right? I am dissatisfied with myself and I project an ideal of what I should be. So where there is a division between 'what is' and 'what should be' there must be conflict. Right? Like the nations who have separated themselves into nationalities, like the Arab and the Jew, and the American and the Russian, the German and the Italian, and all that, this division of nationalities must inevitably create conflict. That is a law: where there is division inwardly or outwardly there must be conflict. And is it possible to transform 'what is', what actually is, without the ideal? 'What is', is reality; 'what should be' is not real. Right? Now, there is a difference between reality and truth. May I go on? Are you interested in all this?
Reality comes from the word, the Latin word which we needn't bother about - reality is that which thought thinks about. And truth is something that thought cannot think about. It is very interesting if you go into this. I think about the ideal which I have projected and that becomes a reality, but it is not the truth. The truth is actually what is - though it is the product of thought - perceiving that as it is, is the truth. I wonder if I am making myself clear? Right, sirs? Now therefore I have to go into the question, which you are going along with me, I have to go into the question, what is thinking. Because thought has created 'what is' and 'what should be'. And to transform 'what is' completely I must understand the whole structure and nature of thinking. Because it is thought that has projected the ideal, it is thought that has created the culture, the civilisation, the religions, it is thought that has brought about this duality in myself, and in society, the 'me' and the 'not me', 'we' and 'they'. Right? So all religion, whether Hindu or Christian, or whatever it is, all religions are fundamentally based on thought. So if I would understand how to live a life without conflict I must also go into the question very deeply, what is thinking.
Please don't memorise what the speaker is saying, because we said if you act from memory all the time that is a factor of degeneracy. And we are degenerating mentally, psychologically, morally. The word 'degeneracy' means inferior to that which is excellent - not the excellence set by thought as a pattern.
So I must, to understand myself, to transform my misery, confusion, conflict, and the whole network of beliefs that the mind has cultivated as a means of being secure, I must investigate, examine what thinking, thought is. I must have the capacity to observe thinking. Right? I hope you are doing that too. What is thinking? Now I ask that question: what is thinking - what happens to you when you are challenged with that question? Watch it carefully, you will see it for yourself. I have asked a question: what is thinking? And thought is investigating, looking into the memory, knowledge, books that you have read, stored up, and trying to find an answer according to that memory, according to that knowledge. Right? So the question is asked, there is an interval of time to investigate in memory and then the answer. The gap between the question and the answer is the process of thinking. Right? Please observe this in yourself, it's so simple. But if I ask a question with which you are totally familiar there is no time gap at all. What's your name? - immediate answer, because you are familiar. But if you are asked a very complicated question, the interval between the question and the answer is longer. During that gap thought is looking, examining, questioning, asking; if it can find an answer it says, 'Yes, this is it' - or if it cannot it says, 'I don't know'. Right? That is, thought is the response of memory. Thought is the response of memory accumulated through experience as knowledge. Right? And therefore thought is a material process, a process of accumulated knowledge, experience, sensory movement. Right, sir?
So thought is a material process and thought has built the structure as the 'me', both physical as well as psychological, as well as spiritual, it is still the movement of thought. So thought has brought about this fragmentation as the fact of 'what is' and 'what should be'. Right? And so thought being in itself fragmentary, breaks up all my actions into fragments: I am a businessman, I am a religious man, I am a phoney man, I am a hypocrite, I am an artist, a politician and so on. Thought by its very nature is fragmentary, and it has created a fragmentary society. Right? Can we go on from there? You are not agreeing with me please, or accepting. We are just examining actually what is going on around us and in us, not according to the speaker or according to anybody else. And thought, being fragmentary, has created fear. So I have to go not only into the question of whether I can live without conflict, whether human beings can live without conflict. And in the process of observing one sees thought has also created the ideals and thought also has created fear. And in looking at fear, what is the root of fear? This is an immense problem. You understand? It isn't just a casual, intellectual investigation. But as long as one lives in fear, as most of us do, one lives in shadow, in darkness, in restriction, in a state of, you know what fear is, don't you - not only the fear of another, fear of something that you have done and should not have done, fear of public opinion, fear of darkness, fear of the things which you have created which have become neurotic, if you are conscious of it, fear of having no security at all, psychologically, fear of not being loved, fear of great loneliness, isolation, fear of having repeated physical or psychological pain, fear of receiving shocks and hurts, and ultimately the fear of death.
So we know all this, if you are at all aware, if you are at all enquiring, observing, looking, but if you want to escape from all this the world gives you a lot of entertainment, both religious and non-religious. So is it possible to live without conflict? Is it possible to live without fear? Not only at the conscious level, superficial fears, but deep hidden fears? May I go on with all this?
I wonder why man, man including woman - please, when I use the word 'man' don't sit up and say, 'What about the woman?' Don't become suddenly 'lib', or whatever it in this country, include the whole human race - why man has never been able to resolve this question of fear and conflict. This goes from the ancient of days, the battle between what is right and what is wrong, between the ugly and the beautiful, between honesty and dishonesty, between pride and humility, you know this battle that goes on within us. And this battle is expressed outwardly - violence, and all the rest of it. That is one question. And also why man has lived with this fear? We'll talk about death and all that next Saturday or Sunday, and meditation too. But we are now talking over together this question of fear. Why? And is it possible to completely be free of fear? I mean completely, absolutely, not partially. We're going to find out together, it is your problem. It is your life, therefore you have to look at it, go into it, not just sit outside it and consider it.
You know first of all there is physical fear of pain. Physical deterioration through pain, through some kind of damage, disease, and you are cured - if you are lucky - and you want that pain not to occur again tomorrow. Please follow this a little bit. You have had pain last week. It is registered in the mind, in the brain. There is remembrance of that pain. And one says, 'I don't want that pain again tomorrow'. And there is fear that it might come, and the fear is caused. You follow this? There is the registering in the brain of the past pain, the memory, the remembrance of it, and thought which picks up that pain and says, 'I mustn't have it again tomorrow'. That is, put it the other way: you have been hurt psychologically, as most people are, through education when they are very young, in the family, they are hurt, in school they are hurt. The hurt takes form in different ways; comparison, you are not as good as somebody else, you don't get as many marks as the other fellow does, you are not as clever as your brother. All these are forms of hurt that hurt the mind, the sensitive being. So there is the psychological hurt and the physical hurt, which are recorded and kept in memory as memory. Right? The recording must take place, but need it continue? You understand my question? I'll show you. You have said something to me which has hurt me, I can't help hearing it, I can't help feeling it, but why should it continue tomorrow? You understand my question?
What gives it a continuity? Thought obviously. Right? So is it possible psychologically not to be hurt at all? Which means to hear what you have to say, the ugly word or the brutal word, or the brutal gesture, to listen attentively to what you are saying, and when there is that total attention to your cruel intention, then is there a hurt? You are following all this? It's your life sirs, come with me. I have had pain, physical pain yesterday, and yesterday is over, why should I fear that pain recurring tomorrow? Because thought is in operation, the remembrance of things past and the fear of the future. So it is imperative that I understand the structure and the nature of the whole process of thinking. So as long as thought is in operation as a reaction to memory, there must be fear. Right? So I have got a problem, which is: what am I to do with the whole movement of thought? Thought which has created the ideal and the division between 'what is' and 'what should be', and thought creates this conflict, through creates this sense of being hurt. I have created an image about myself from childhood and you say something to me, and that image is hurt, and that image is me. Which means again thought. And thought has created this fear of having no security, psychologically, which is much more important than having physical security, because we want to be psychologically secure, therefore we identify ourselves with a nation, with a group, with a guru, with an idea, with ideals, and all the rest of it, and that creates fear. And what am I to do with thought? Right, sir? The thought which is endlessly chattering.
So not being able to perceive or understand the movement of thought, I hope for some divine intervention to cleanse me of all this! So I invent a god. So I invent an outside agency that will help me out of this mess. And the outside agency, people are too willing to give you that security, the gurus, the systems, you know all that blah that goes on. So what am I to do with thought? Can I do anything with thought? Please listen to all this. You know how to listen? Not to the words, not to the idea and then make an abstraction of that, but just listen without any movement of either wanting or not, you know, just listen.
And also I must understand this question of pleasure, because that is part of our thinking. So I have got these many problems, conflict between 'what is' and 'what should be', the ideal, fear, conscious as well as unconscious fears, and the incessant unconscious or conscious pursuit of deep abiding demand for pleasure. Right? So I have to find out why my thought pursues pleasure. Not that we must be against pleasure, or deny pleasure, that is what they have done, the monks, the priests and all that, but we have to understand it, go into it. Lord, there is so much to talk about, isn't there? Too bad!
What is pleasure? Why do we give such extraordinary importance to it? Pleasure in so many ways, sexually primarily, pleasure of possession, pleasure out of power, having power, power over others politically, religiously, dominating people which gives extraordinary pleasure - why? So I have to go into the question of what is pleasure. And is pleasure love? And can there be love when there is the pursuit of pleasure? Can there be love when there is ambition, when there is attachment, when there is possession, possessiveness, which are all forms of pleasure? Can there be love in a man who is pursuing power, position, prestige, success, which are all forms of pleasure?
So pleasure, an experience of something that you've had yesterday, either sensory, sexual, or the sight of a beautiful sunset, the morning star, the beauty of it - and there is great delight in that beauty. Then that is registered and thought comes along and says, 'I must have more of it'. Haven't you noticed all this? I must have more of that pleasure which I had yesterday, sexually, the repetition and all the rest of it. So wherever there is a continuity of an experience of thought, an experience which has been pleasurable, and thought gives it a continuity, that is pleasure, giving a continuity. Right sir? Do you understand what I am talking about? Am I explaining myself? Somebody say, yes or no, please.
K: So, is love a remembrance, a memory, a picture, a pleasure? Or love has nothing whatsoever to do with pleasure? Therefore love has nothing whatsoever to do with thought. And if it has nothing to do with thought, then what is the action of love? You are following all this? So I must understand, the mind must understand the whole movement of thought, as conflict, as fear, as pleasure. Not how to stop thought. That's a game you can play endlessly. If you want to stop thought, who is the entity that is going to stop it? It is still part of thought. Right? You can divide it as a higher consciousness, a superior self, higher self, and all that business, but it's still the movement of thought. So please listen to this. So the thinker is the thought. Right? The experiencer is the experience. If you have an experience of any kind you must be able to recognise it, otherwise it is not an experience. Right? Recognition implies that you have already had it, otherwise you can't recognise it.
So can the mind do, act with regard to thought? And what is the mind? Is this all right? Is it getting too much in one talk? So what is the mind? Somebody says it is the intellect, the capacity to think, the capacity to observe, the capacity to have an insight, the capacity to act skilfully, the capacity to observe, rationalise, conclude, act. So the mind is the whole thing. Right? Not merely the intellectual perception and action and conclusion; not merely a gathering of information, storing, and responding, acting skilfully. Mind is the total thing. That is the brain, the feeling, the affection, everything is the mind. Now can that mind, which has - no, let me put it this way: the brain has evolved through centuries, it is conditioned, it is like an electronic brain, and that mind is the storehouse - that brain is the storehouse of memory, and from that memory we are always acting. And as long as we are acting from that memory there must be degeneracy, because we then become like machines repeating, repeating, repeating. So what is to be done with this enormous problem of thought? Can one do anything at all? And if there is an entity who can do, who is that entity? You are following this?
So then the problem arises from that: what is action, and non-action? Action as we know it, is either according to a principle, according to an archetypal ideal, or according to a conclusion, or according to an experience as knowledge. Right? Which is all within the area of memory, within the area of knowledge. So as long as we are acting within the area of knowledge, within the area of conclusions, the mind must deteriorate. And therefore excellency, that is, the highest form of excellency, is a state in which there is no degeneracy. Right? And to find that action, which is not based on memory, the repetition, can the mind do anything? Or it can do absolutely nothing? You follow?
Now let's go back and look at it. Can I, can the mind observe without any reaction, just look at your greed. I'm taking that as an example. Just look without any action, which means without any movement of thought. Because thought has created greed. Right? And if thought says, 'I must not be greedy', it is still the movement of thought, or suppress it, it is still the movement of thought, or sublimate it, it is still the movement of thought. So can there be an observation without the movement of thought, which means without an idea, merely observe, which is non-action, and therefore complete action? I wonder if you get this? Right sir? No, you haven't got it.
Look sir: human beings are violent. To look at violence without the idea of non-violence, because the non-violence is fictitious it is unreal. What is real is violence. Real in the sense that which you can think about, as we explained earlier. That which you can think about is the real, and you can think about violence: try to suppress it, try to rationalise it, try to say, 'Well, it is necessary to live with violence in this world' and so on. Now can you look at violence without any movement of thought which has created the opposite, which is non-violence? Just to look, and not make an abstraction of what you see. Then will that violence exist? Don't agree, don't say, yes or no, do it and you will find out. When there is violence and the ideal of non-violence there is conflict. And conflict is the very essence of that violence. So can the mind observe, knowing all the structure of violence, can it observe without a movement of thought? The movement of thought is the observer. Right? Who says, 'I mustn't be violent', or 'I'll rationalise this' and so on and so on. Can you observe violence without the observer, who is put together by thought? Right? Then when you do, then is there that which is called violence? Because then you have all the energy which has been wasted on suppression, control, conflict between the ideal and the fact. All that wastage of energy has gone and you have got tremendous energy to go beyond 'what is'. You have understood?
So the problem then is: what is action which is not always based on memory? You are following all this? Because action based on memory must inevitably lead to degeneracy. That is our problem, because human mind is degenerating, and one of the factors of that degeneration is conflict, is fear, is this everlasting pursuit of pleasure. All based on the movement of thought which is a material process. Have you got it? Is there an action which is not degenerating? Is there an action which is perception and action? Not perceiving and then ideal, action. You follow? Actually perceiving-acting, without the interval of time.
Look sir: let me put it the other way, if you are not bored. To me this is of tremendous interest so I can go on talking to myself. I can do that in my room anyhow. Life is relationship, without relationship there is no life, living. And in one's relationship there is a great deal of accumulated memory in that relationship, between two people, the hurts, the nagging, the pleasures, the annoyances, the dominations and so on. You know what happens in a relationship. All that is stored up in memory as an image. You have an image about her, and she has an image about you. And these two images say, 'We are related, we love each other'. See what is happening: love is reduced to the images that you have about each other. And those images are memories. And so you call love a remembrance of things past. That is a fact. That happens in daily life. Now can you live without these images? And then only is there love between - is there love, not between. And in that relationship, in which there is no image, there is an action from moment to moment, which is always fresh. Have you understood? I'll go into it.
You are related to somebody intimately, your wife, or your girl, or your boy, or whatever it is. And living together for a day, or for fifteen years, or thirty years, you have created, put together an image about her or him. That is a fact. You can see it in your own life. And from that memory, accumulated memory of various incidents, insults, annoyances, impatience, anger, pleasure, domination, all that, that has become a memory, an image, and that image is always responding. Right? That memory is always responding in that relationship. Now can you live without building an image at all? Then only there is relationship. Right? Now can you do it, never to create an image, whatever happens? Don't say, yes or no, please don't say, you are going to find out. Then if you say, 'No, it is not possible', then there is no problem, you go on in your own way. But if you want to find out, which is how to live differently, you must ask this question, whether you can live without a single image. Do you want to find out? I'll show it to you - not show it - I will point it out to you and go together. I am not your guru, thank god! Nor your teacher, nor your explainer - nothing.
So you have to find out what is attention and what is inattention. You understand? I am related to you intimately, privately, and I have an image about you. Why has that image come into being at all? And does the image come into being when there is attention? So I must find out what is attention. What is attention? Is attention concentration? And what is concentration? When you concentrate you exclude. Right? You are putting your whole being on a certain point when you concentrate, and therefore you build a resistance round yourself, and in that resistance there is conflict, not wanting and wanting. Do sit down, girl. Sorry! You see this is it: if I was concentrating I wouldn't have observed the girl walking. So I must find out what is attention. And if there is attention will there be no image? Because relationship is the highest importance in life. If I have right relationship with you, I have right relationship with everything, with nature, with my neighbour, with everything in life I have right relationship. And because I have not right relationship with you everything goes wrong. So I must find out, when there is attention will there be an image? Or when there is no attention, only then there is an image? You understand my question? You say something cruel to me because you are my wife, or husband or whatever it is, and because I am not paying attention it is registered. But if I pay attention completely, at that moment of insult, do I register at all? You understand what I am saying?
Find out. Go into it and do it. That is, when there is attention there is no centre. When you concentrate there is a centre. When you are completely attending there is no me, the image, nothing. When, say for instance, you are listening now with complete attention, if you are, what takes place? There is neither agreeing, nor disagreeing, there is such care, such affection, such love, so you are completely listening. In the same way when in relationship there is a word, a gesture, a look that hurts, when at that moment there is complete attention there is no image. Nothing to register, go beyond it. That's enough.