Desire, will, pleasure and sorrow
Knowing oneself is the beginning of freedom
3rd Public Talk, Bombay
January 28, 1979
If I may, I would like to talk about many things this afternoon.
As we were saying yesterday and in the previous talk, it becomes very important if one is at all serious that there should be a radical transformation of our consciousness, because the world is in such chaos, almost insane and few people apparently take notice of it. They are only concerned, it appears, with their own immediate problems, with their own particular desires, with their own little backyard and cultivating that little backyard. And it appears rather rare that a group of people are really concerned as to how to bring about a change psychologically naturally, in the human mind. I do not know if you are concerned with it, or you are merely listening to a talk and not participating, sharing in what is being said. We are not propagandists. We are not putting out new principles, old ideas, or new ideas, new methods, new systems. But we are concerned with the transformation, mutation of the human mind because the society in which we live is corrupt and no politician, no scientist, no ecologist or economist is going to save man. This is so obvious. Nor any guru, nor your particular meditation, if you do meditate and I hope you don't, because I am sure you don't know what it means.
So, if you are at all serious, and I hope you are, is it possible, ask yourself, please, we are sharing this thing together, I am not talking to myself or giving a lecture, we are sharing this question, whether it is possible for our minds, for our daily life to be radically changed. One has thought that human beings would change by bringing about a physical revolution, change in the environment, dictatorship, totalitarianism, but man has remained more or less the same through millennia. His brain, his mind, his heart, the whole nature of the human being is more or less as it was a million years ago. We have made technological progress but not psychological transformation of the human mind and that is what we are concerned with.
We were saying yesterday that we waste our energy and energy is required to have a religious mind because it is only religion that brings about a new culture. Religion in the sense, not what we call religion, all the circus, the nonsense that is going on around us in the name of religion or in the name of god, but religion which is based on deep aesthetic morality, a religion that is not based on belief, on experience, on authority, whether it is the authority of the Gita, or the Upanishads, or the Bible, or the Koran or any book - and in matters of the spirit there is no authority. And if one can put aside authority - not the authority of the law and all that, but the authority of the priest, the authority of the guru, the authority of the so-called sacred books, then your mind being free we can investigate together into the nature of what is a religious life in the modern world.
And to so examine we must first look at desire, what place it has in life, what is its importance, whether desire has significance of any kind at all, and what is its right place. So we are going to talk over together - the speaker means together, that you don't listen merely to a talk and not participate, share in what is being said - so we are going to talk over together this evening, not only desire, pleasure, love, whether sorrow can end; and if we have time we shall go into the question of death, because all this is part of our life, our daily, monotonous life.
So we will start with what is desire; why religions throughout the world have said, you must control desire; why you must suppress desire or transmute desire, and desire has been associated with the ultimate enlightenment and so on. So please, as we said yesterday, one must learn the art of listening, that you listen with care, putting aside your particular experience, your desire, your own thoughts, and try to find out what the speaker has to say. That is, listen and in the very act of listening, share, which doesn't mean you agree or disagree but in listening you will find out for yourself whether what is being said is false or true. If it is false, don't accept it, put it completely aside, but if it is true then test it out. Test it out now as you are sitting here - because we are going to talk over things that need a great deal of attention, a great deal of perception, insight, care. This has been one of the great problems of our life - desire, and why man has tried to suppress it, to control it, to give it full reign, why has desire become so extraordinarily important. So we are going to go into this question: what is desire, not the objects of desire, whether it be for a woman, for a man, for a car or for god, they are all the same. The moment you have desire, the objects - god, car, woman or a house, whatever it is, they are on the same level, because desire is driving you.
So, we are enquiring into what is desire, the nature of desire. Desire exists when there is want, when there is lack. If you lack food then there is desire; if you lack clothes; there is desire, when there is a want, there is a desire. This is so obvious. And why does man not only psychologically want, but want something which is immeasurable, which is beyond all measure.
So we are going to first ask, if we may, what is the nature of desire? What is desire and will, because most of our lives are dictated by the action of the will. So will and desire are not separate. So we are going to enquire together into the nature and the movement of desire and whether will is part of desire and whether man can exist without will. All this is involved in this. What is desire? How does it arise, and why have religions, Christian, Hindu, Buddhism and so on, said that to serve god - not Buddhism - to serve god you must give over your desire. So we are asking what is the nature and the movement of desire. Don't wait for me to answer. I am going to go into it. But you must also enquire with the speaker. Otherwise you will merely hear words and that you have heard for a thousand years - words. Sir, would you mind not taking notes because you cannot possibly take notes and pay attention. This is your life, not my life. So please be good enough to pay attention, if you are interested, if you are not, then it is all right too.
Desire is sensation, the movement of the senses, which is to touch, taste, smell, see. The sensations - the senses in action. That is, you see, then there is contact, from contact there is sensation and in that sensation there exists also thought which creates the image for the object. Are you following all this? Just see it for yourself. First you see, perceive, then you touch, then in the very touching of it there is sensation, then the object is created by the mind with its image. I will explain this carefully. Please listen. You see a car, a nice low, speedy car - that doesn't exist in India! - and the perception, the touching of it, the sensation and the thought that creates the image, you in the car, and driving it, and the enjoyment of driving it, the power, all that. That is the seeing, the touching, the sensation, then thought creating the image, you in the car, all that is the movement of desire. That is clear. Now, the problem arises when thought creates the image. You are following this? Desire for enlightenment - that is why some of you are all dressed up like this - desire for enlightenment, that is, one lives rather a shoddy life, ugly, conflicting life, and one wants something much greater; and those who have renounced the world by putting on a robe are traditionally respected because they think they are nearer to that thing called enlightenment. It is still part of desire.
So desire for enlightenment, desire for a car, desire for a woman, desire to have a big position, desire to have money are on the same level, because they are born out of desire. One may call it noble but it is still desire. So our senses are very strong and out of those senses with their movement, with their reaction is born desire. Right? It is clear. And why has man decried desire? You understand my question? Why have you suppressed desire - if you have? It is all right to have desire for money. That is highly respected. If you have a desire when you are married, for another woman, that is disreputable. It is highly regarded and respectable, if your desire urges you towards power, position, prestige. But they are all on the same level. There is no noble desire or ignoble desire. I know this will shock most of you, but look at it, examine it.
And will is energy directed in a particular direction. Will, with which one acts, is the energy operating, driving in one direction, which is the same as desire. You are following all this? When you want to be a politician - I hope you don't - all your energy is directed in that direction, which is the operation of your senses, thought seeing that if you achieved a certain political status you will be respected, you will be feared, you will do good to mankind and all that nonsense. So, desire and will go together and when we want happiness or enlightenment or a position, a status, that energy is being driven along a particular direction. So that is the movement of desire.
From that desire arises the acceptance of authority who will tell you what to do, because you feel you can't think so clearly as your guru or your leader or your boss, so you accept that authority because it gives you comfort, it gives you security, it gives you a sense of doing something which you think is right. This is all the nature of desire and the action of will. We are not denying or suggesting that you suppress desire. We are saying that one must understand the nature of desire. When you comprehend something then you will deal with it intelligently, but if you don't understand it, then you battle against it. You understand this naturally. When you understand something you deal with it naturally. But when you don't understand then there is conflict. So we are pointing out the nature of desire, how it comes into being and the nature of will which operates in most of our lives.
We are going to point out whether there is a way of living without the operation of will at all. I wonder if you are interested in all this, because it is very fascinating, it requires your intellectual capacity to find out logically, reasonably, sanely whether it is possible to live without the operation of will, which is energy directed in a particular direction. You understand that? First listen to that. Our life is broken up, as the business man, as the artist, as the lawyer, as the politician, as the householder, as the monk and so on and so on. They are broken up, and the will, which is the energy operating in a particular direction, is operating in all these departments. You are seeing this? So, is there an action which is not energy driven in a particular direction but the operation of total energy which is action itself?
I hope you are not tired. This may be something new to you, because you are accustomed, you have the habit of exercising will, that is the tradition, from time immemorial that is the tradition: exercise your will, control and so on. We are going to enquire if there is a different way of living without the operation of will at all, because will creates resistance. Will or desire breaks up into different categories of desire. And we are asking whether it is possible in life to live without the conflict and the resistance of desire. You understand my question? Please understand my question first.
We are saying that there is a different way, that when the senses are operating as a whole then there is no action of will. I am going to explain, go slowly. I am going to explain. You see the speaker comes here not having prepared his talk, so he is investigating and so are you. So we must hesitate, take time, look into it. Have you noticed that one particular sense, touch, smell, seeing or tasting, predominates over the others? Have you noticed that? That one sense, one sensory response is greater than the other responses. That's obvious. That is so. So, in that there is division and in that there is conflict. When one sense dominates all other senses there must be inevitably resistance. When one sense uses its total energy in a particular direction the other senses are in abeyance, also trying to exercise their energy. So there is always a fragmentation in our senses. And so when one sense operates with greater energy than the others, that operation is the action of will. Right? Clear, at least to some of you.
Now we are saying there is a totally different kind of operation or function or action when all the senses are in harmony, when all the senses move together. That is, when you see the sea, the ocean, when you observe the sea, observe it with all your senses, not with your eyes only, smell it, look at it, taste it, take it completely. Then you will see there is no centre from which you are acting which is the operation of desire as will. You are getting this? This requires a great deal of testing it out. Don't accept a thing the speaker is saying. Test it out. We are saying there is a way of living in which there is no conflict whatsoever - a way of living in which will doesn't operate at all, and therefore no resistance, which doesn't mean you turn the other cheek, but it means that you are living with all your senses at their highest level. Therefore no one sense is greater than the other, therefore there is no contradiction, therefore there is no conflict. And when there is no conflict, there is no need for will. You are getting all this? I am investigating with you, now, the speaker is examining it as he is speaking. So you are doing the same, so you are testing it out.
So you find then, that there is a way of living in which there is no - please carefully listen, because what I am going to say is dangerous - a way of living in which there is no control whatsoever. Because for most of us control has become the habit, the tradition, the most respectable thing. Obviously. Your life is all the time controlled, controlled, and when somebody comes along and says, it is possible to live without control you immediately reject it or you say, tell me how to do it, which means you want a method, you want a system, an authority, a guru, which implies that you have not understood at all the nature of desire and will and when you give importance to one sense there must be conflict. When you understand this whole thing, then you will see for yourself that you can live without the operation of will which is essentially control and therefore conflict.
If you understand this deeply, then we can enquire into the nature of pleasure, because we enquired yesterday into the nature and the movement of fear. I do not know whether you have tested it out and are free of fear completely, without a shadow of it - that is real freedom, that is real moksha on earth, to be free completely, entirely from the shadow and the destructive nature of fear, then you are a free man, mature. Now, we are going to enquire together into the nature of pleasure, because for most of us pleasure has become extraordinarily important, either it is sexual pleasure, or the pleasure of having money, or the pleasure of being a sannyasi, or the pleasure of being a politician, having power, position, status. They are all the same. Man has said, to be a sannyasi is the noblest thing, because he has renounced the world - but he hasn't, because he is still burning with desire. He is still full of knowledge of the world, not what is happening outside him, but the knowledge of the world inside.
So we are enquiring into the nature of pleasure. What is pleasure? Go on, sir, think it out - because it is very important, because pleasure and fear go together. When pleasure is denied there is violence which is part of fear. So one must understand the nature of pleasure, not suppress it, control it, deny it, or run away from it, but understand it, logically, sanely, clearly. As we pointed out, when you understand something you can play with it - you can put it aside or accept it - it becomes very simple. But when you do not understand it becomes a problem. Right? What is pleasure? What is the nature of pleasure? What is the nature of joy and enjoyment? Pleasure, enjoyment, joy - you are waiting for me to tell you (laughter). You see, sirs, you read a lot of books, you attend talks, lectures, but you never read the book of yourself. If you know how to read the book, which is yourself, you don't have to read a thing in the world. The speaker hasn't read any book - book in the sense philosophies, the Gitas, Upanishads and so on, they are not worth it because everything is inside you, if you know how to look, because you are the result of millions of years, and everything is there, all man's experience, all man's inspirations, desires, purposes, gods, everything is there, the illusions man has created, but you must know how to read it. But we don't want to read it, because to read it one must be free to look, but we want to live a comfortable, easy life, a life of routine, so we accept authority, we accept what other people say, we read all about this, but never look at our own book which is the history of man, because you are the history of man, the story of entire manhood in which womanhood is included.
So we are asking what is the nature of pleasure? Is pleasure - please listen, question it - is pleasure love? Is desire with its will, love? Is the remembrance of pleasure, whether sexual or otherwise, is that love? And where there is desire, without understanding it, there is jealousy. Is jealousy love? Can love exist where there is jealousy? You understand all this? And since we have put pleasure as the most important thing in our life, we have lost that thing which we call love. Haven't you? Come on, let's be honest and look at it. Haven't you lost that thing? Do you love your wife? You may remember sexual pleasure - is that pleasure love? Love implies no attachment because when there is attachment there is fear of loss.
So one must go into this question very carefully, which is to read yourself, read the book of your own history, of man which is you. You know, joy has nothing to do with pleasure. Have you ever noticed it? It may come unexpectedly when you are with many people, or when you are by yourself somewhere, and then thought comes along and says, 'what a marvellous state, how happy that was'. Then that thought becomes pleasure. You are following all this? Look at it for yourself; you are not learning from me, you are learning nothing from the speaker, you are learning by observing yourself in the mirror which the speaker is putting before you. And after looking at that mirror, destroy the mirror - the mirror is not important. So we are asking: what is pleasure, which has dominated most of our lives, from childhood till we die. At the moment of pleasure, at the second, moment of seeing a beautiful sunset, or a beautiful person or a lovely poem, at the moment of it, you don't call it pleasure, do you? It is only a second later that thought comes along and says, how marvellous that was and being so marvellous, I want more of it. The 'more of it' is the pursuit of pleasure. You understand it? Now if you understand it, see the truth of it, then thought doesn't interfere at the moment you see the beautiful sunset - it is finished. There is no recording of it as thought and then demanding more of it. You understand? No, don't agree with me, look at it, test it out, because 'the more' is the measure, the measurement is the movement of thought, which is time. I won't go into all that for the moment.
So, to see the nature of pleasure and to observe the movement of thought as it arises, when you see the lovely mountain and as it says, I must come back and look at it tomorrow, to see that the thought itself destroys the beauty of the mountain. You understand? To be aware of all this, then pleasure becomes very, very simple, it doesn't bring any problem.
So from that, that is the understanding of desire, not intellectually, in your heart, in your depth, see the nature of it, the operations of it, the movement of it, the nature of desire, the nature of will and the total movement of all your senses, then you will see that pleasure is a very small affair. There is a much greater thing than pleasure, not in measurement. When I use 'the greater', it is a mere means of communication, not as measurement. That is, is desire love? Find out. Work at it. Is desire pleasure? Obviously, when there is fear, there is no love. When you fear your bosses, there is no love, obviously. When you go, bow down to your politicians, you know the game, it is not love. So, then what is love, which you have lost? You understand my question? One observes in this country more evidently, obviously, perceptibly, that human beings have lost this extraordinary love; the perfume of it, the beauty of it, the greatness of it, the enormity of it. You have lost it because you don't care, do you? You don't care for your son, and especially your daughter, do you? Specially your daughter. If you have many daughters, what happens? You know what happens. You have to find money to marry them off. So you don't want daughters, you want sons. Love implies care - care for a tree, care for your wife, the respect of your wife, or your husband. Love implies no conflict. Love has this quality of purity, because if you love you can do anything - not promiscuousness, not lust. When there is this extraordinary sense of the beauty and the greatness of this thing called love - the word is not the thing, you understand? One can describe what love is, or what love is not, but the word, the description is not that. So, don't be carried away by the word. Find out why you haven't this love in your heart. One of the reasons is, why you have lost it, is that you have given your so-called love to your guru, to your principles, to your gods which are all illusory. Watch it sir, look at it for your own self because without it you are savages.
So how can human beings come to this extraordinary flame which is called love? Ask yourself, sir. And what relationship has love to sorrow? You understand my question? First understand the question. What relationship has love to sorrow? Because most human beings suffer. I do not know if you suffer, do you? Do you suffer when you see all these poor people in the world? You mean to say you don't know what suffering is? Don't you suffer when you lose somebody whom you think you love, to whom you are attached or you say, that is karma, reincarnation, and pass it by. Have you never cried? Either you have cried out of self pity or out of your immediate reaction to something that you can't get, you have lost, or you want. Haven't you ever - hasn't it been a tremendous shock to lose somebody? So we are asking probably a futile question for those who have never suffered. One can't imagine a human being who has not suffered - not physically, the invalid, the man that has only one leg, one arm, paralysed, they are suffering, physical suffering. We are talking also of psychological, inward suffering, not only a personal disaster but the suffering of mankind, of the world. Don't you know about all that? Does the speaker cry for you or what you should do? Sir, man has suffered, perhaps you haven't suffered. If you haven't suffered, you are most happy, most compassionate human being in the world. But a vast number of people suffer, consciously or unconsciously, deep down and that has been one of the great problems of humanity - whether sorrow can ever end or must human beings suffer everlastingly. You understand? Put this question even intellectually for yourself.
One part of humanity says, we suffer because of our past wrong actions, this life is to test it, next life will be better and so on and so on. Another group says, the son of god has suffered for us, so he will help us, save us and so on and on. We are asking something entirely different: whether a man, you, a human being living in this world, with all the turmoil, with all the agony, with all the anxiety, uncertainty, confusion, misery, which all implies suffering, whether that human being who is apparently so extraordinarily alive, and capable in one direction technologically, whether such a human being who has got such an extraordinary brain, whether he cannot end sorrow. Do you understand my question? Because with the ending of sorrow there is compassion. If you have not known or ended sorrow you cannot have that quality of compassion and without compassion you can't live; you are dead, you are sterile. And compassion is love.
So one must enquire very, very deeply and most profoundly seriously if sorrow can end. Because desire is part of sorrow. You understand? Pleasure is part of sorrow. Fear is part of sorrow and sorrow is also part of this terrible thing man has accepted as evolution. You understand what I am saying? For God's sake understand. You have accepted evolution, that is, a continuity, that you will evolve psychologically, you can't evolve any more biologically, you can't grow a fourth arm, or a third arm. But you have accepted the psychological growth, psychological evolution that you will evolve, get better and better, and better, till you ultimately reach some extraordinary nonsense, you have accepted that, that is part of sorrow. You have accepted time as a means of change, that is part of sorrow because you are postponing. As you have accepted attachment because you are attached to your money, to your position, to your memories, to your experiences, to your ideals, you are attached to a person, to an idea, to a belief and that is part of sorrow because in attachment there is great sorrow, whether you know it or not, because there is fear in it, you might lose. So all this is the movement of sorrow and if you haven't seen this movement, and to put an end to that movement is the transformation of your consciousness.
Is there time now to talk about death? We can do it on Wednesday and go into also on Wednesday meditation and all that. I think we should stop now because if some of you have understood, not verbally, this movement of sorrow in our life, with all the implications involved in it: attachment, loneliness, failure, success, fear, pleasure and the anxiety, all that is part of sorrow, and if one doesn't end it, there is no hope for man. You understand sir? It is in our hands, not in some guru's, in some fantastic leader; it is in our hands. The book is there for you to read and finish with the book. That requires a great deal of energy, attention, care, love to read your book which is the book of mankind. Then from that, when you end sorrow, then begins wisdom. Wisdom doesn't lie in books nor in your experiences nor with the gurus - they are the least wise. You know, one of the great tricks of the mind is that it has invented various paths to truth. Have you noticed that? Various paths that will ultimately lead to truth. That is one of the comforting ideas which we have accepted. Truth has no path, yours or mine. When there is a path it means that truth is a fixed thing; truth is a living thing, never the same as it was before and that is the beauty, the greatness, the absoluteness of truth. And you cannot come to it if there is no love in your heart; you can pray, you can stand on your head, you can do all the tricks man invented in order to be religious, but if you have not that compassion, haven't understood the nature of all desire and so on, you will never come upon that glory which is truth.