Freedom is necessary to investigate into oneself
Meditation is the transformation of the mind
1st Public Talk, San Francisco, California
March 20, 1975
If one may point out this is not an entertainment, nor a complicated explanation of some philosophy, nor is it a gathering of people who have to be told what to do. More and more with all the things that are going on in the world - the catastrophes, the misery, the violence - one seeks to run away from them through some form of entertainment, amusement, or merely to accumulate knowledge. And it would be a great mistake if this gathering, this meeting becomes a kind of amusing, intellectual explanation, entertainment and in which you, as an audience, you a person, do not take a part. As we said also this is not a philosophy brought over from India, a system of thought which you can copy, imitate, conform to. But it is a serious affair, a sustained investigation, enquiry into several things with which we are confronted. Among them is this question of communication.
Communication implies that both the person who receives, and the person who gives, should at the same time think together, share together, take a journey together. All that is implied in that word communication: to think together, to share together, to bear the responsibility of what is communicated. But it does not imply agreement or disagreement. But it does require that both the speaker and you who are listening should together think out seriously, go into the problems that we are confronted with. And that means a quality of listening in which there is not merely the acceptance of the meaning of the word but go behind the word. Because language is necessary to communicate, words must be employed to convey what one wants to say, but behind the word there is a great deal, the overtones, the significance, the deeper meaning of a particular word. And that means a quality of attention in which both of us are deeply concerned over the enormous problem of living, with all its complexity. A quality of attention which is sustained, continuous, for we are going to investigate together the problem of freedom, the problem of discipline, the problem of self-knowledge.
Freedom implies, does it not, that you must not follow anyone? You must be free to enquire, not accept, not look to a guide, to a system, to a saviour, to a guru, to a swami, to various forms of inundation that are coming from India to this country. Freedom implies that one must have the capacity to enquire, not what others say but to enquire within oneself, to enquire, to investigate, to examine the whole structure of a human mind, that is our mind, your mind. And so freedom means really - does it not? - that any form of conformity, imitation according to a pattern, a mould, does not allow free enquiry. And what we are going to talk about this evening demands that you be free to listen, not only to the word but the meaning of the word, and not be a slave to the word, and not accept whatever the speaker says, or deny what he says, but to listen to find out. To find out for yourself not according to some interpretation, not according to some other speaker, but to find out for yourself the truth or the falseness of what is being said.
So freedom is not to do what you want to do. That's not freedom at all. And I think probably that freedom has brought about great misery in the world, each one doing exactly what he wants to do. And that is rampant in this country, where there is no tradition, where there is no discipline - I am using the word discipline totally in a different sense, which we will go into presently - where Christianity has become what it has - a meaningless structure, an entertainment, a carnival. And this country is inundated, flooded by gurus, yogis, swamis from India and they are collecting not only coins but disciples, which totally denies freedom. Freedom is not, does not imply choice. One thinks one is free if you can choose. I do not know if you have ever gone into this question of choice. You have a vast array in front of you - the various teachers, yogis, philosophers, scientists, psychologists, analysts - bombarding your mind, constantly, day in and day out. And among this array you are going to choose who you think you should follow, who you think you should listen to. So you choose according to your temperament, according to your desire, according to your pleasure. Please do listen to this, if you will, carefully because you are confronted with this problem, when so many of them are telling you, 'Follow this and don't follow that' and 'Do this' and 'Do that'.
And you are forced or faced with the question of who to listen to and who to follow, whether that yogi, that philosophy, that guru - I wish the word 'guru' never existed in this country, because it has quite a different meaning, that word in Sanskrit means 'weight'. It also means one who dispels ignorance, and it does not mean the one who imposes on another his ignorance. (Laughter). You laugh, but you still want to follow somebody, you still want to be told. So you are not free and it is absolutely necessary to be free to find out what is true and what is false for yourself, which no one can tell you, no system, no philosophy, no guru. And when you face this array of teachers, philosophers, and systems you are forced because you yourself are confused. Life has become terrible, painful, uncertain, there is so much poverty, threat of destruction, violence, and you want to escape from all that. You are forced to choose one of these. And your choice is based upon your confusion, naturally, whether to follow, to listen to that yogi, to that guru, to that philosopher, so you begin to depend on yourself thinking you are free to choose. The background of choice is invariably confusion. Aren't you confused when you choose? Aren't you uncertain when you pick one amongst all these? So your choice is essentially the outcome of confusion.
Please do listen to this because life is becoming very, very difficult, not only in this country but in Europe and in India, and elsewhere. Life has become so uncertain, so painful. There is so much brutality, cruelty. And one must think out all these problems very clearly, so that one is completely free from choice, so that you see for yourself directly what is true. And you cannot do that if you are conditioned, as we are, conditioned by the culture in which we live, conditioned by the climate, the economic structure, by the philosophers, by the saviours, by the church, by the organised religions throughout the world, we are conditioned. Knowledge conditions us, and knowledge is always superficial. Knowledge is the outgoing of thought, accumulated through memory, experience and knowledge is invariably outward, there is no other knowledge, which we will go into presently.
So freedom is absolutely necessary to investigate, to look at the world, to look at ourselves as we are, not according to some philosopher, some psychologist, but to investigate freely into ourselves what we are. And that investigation demands its own discipline. You cannot investigate if your mind is not in order. And you cannot investigate if you are prejudiced, if you are frightened, if you are merely seeking and pursuing pleasure. So discipline implies, in the very root of that meaning, the root meaning of that word is to learn, not to conform, not to suppress, not to imitate, but to learn. And one cannot learn if one is not free, if one is conditioned by one's own prejudices you are not free to learn. If you are conditioned by your own fear there is no freedom to learn, or if you are merely seeking everlasting pleasure then that conditions the mind and therefore it is not free to learn. And here, at least for this evening, we are trying to find out what it means to be conditioned, whether it is a gradual process to uncondition the mind, or can it be done instantly, and to find out for ourselves how to observe, not only the world about us, but also the world that is inside, below the skin. And to do that there must be freedom.
If this is what you want, if this is your urgent enquiry, that very urgency makes one very, very serious. Not go off at a tangent but stick to the point and pursue it to the very end, which is I hope what we will do this evening.
Freedom also implies - does it not? - that there is no authority in this enquiry. Because you are the teacher and the disciple in yourself, you are enquiring and learning and therefore freedom implies this sense of absolute cessation of every kind of authority. Not the authority of law, not the authority of a technician, but the so-called spiritual authority, the hierarchical attitude which all religions have diligently cultivated, and as the gurus do. So freedom implies a mind that is serious, enquiring, examining, and such examination is not possible when there is prejudice, when there is fear, when there is merely the desire to find deeper and wider pleasure.
And all this implies, does it not, that one must know, understand oneself. You know a great deal has been talked about, and written about knowing yourself. The ancients from every country have talked about know yourself. And apparently no one has done it. They have escaped from themselves into all fanciful, imaginative, speculative philosophy, and the word 'philosophy' means actually the love of truth, the love of truth in daily life, not the love of speculative thought. And to know oneself is the beginning of wisdom, which you cannot buy in a book, or by following somebody, or by following a system, whether others have invented it or you have invented it for yourself. So self-knowledge, knowing oneself implies a great deal. And that is what we are going to do together, investigate not through analysis because analysis is paralysis. Analysis implies a great deal. Analysis implies the analyser and the analysed. Analysis implies time. Analysis implies a movement of thought as knowledge, enquiring into another thought, which is also knowledge. And analysis gradually postpones, paralyses all action. But without analysing we are going to look at ourselves, we are going to see, investigate the structure and the nature of the mind, which has created, through thought, this whole scaffold of the self, the 'me', to which one has given such enormous importance.
Now is it possible to look at oneself, the images that one has created about oneself, the desires, the failures, the frustrations, the hopes, the faith that one has cultivated through this hope for a future, the faith in an imaginative god or saviour, or a master, or a guru - can one look at that, this whole structure, which is the structure of thought which has created the 'me' and the rest of the world around me, can we look at that without analysis and observe actually what it is? I hope you are following what the speaker is saying. I do not know if you have not realised that all our religions, Christianity, whatever religion it is, organised, is based on thought, is the product of thought. And thought is the movement of matter. Thought is the response of memory, response of experience which is knowledge. On that all our culture is based, technologically, artistically, spiritually. All our religions are the product of thought, and thought is a material process.
And can we look at ourselves and the movement of thought in which all our minds, all our activities, all our sensual pleasures and so on are based? To look at ourselves without any distortion. Because if you can, then you need no guru. Then you do not need to read a single book about all this business. You may read technological books, but there is no need to read a single book about philosophy, psychology because everything is in you as a human being if you know how to look at yourself. Because after you are the result, your mind is the result of the collective. You are not individuals, are you? Individuality, the word means indivisible, an entity, a human being who is not fragmented, broken up, divided in himself. And most human beings are fragmented, and so you are actually - the very word is misapplied; you are like the collective, you are the result of the collective, of the social structure which thought has created. And that social environmental culture, with its religions, with its philosophy, with its immorality, has conditioned our minds.
So can the mind look at itself, observe without any distortion? And that is only possible when you understand who is the observer. Are you all interested in this? Yes? I hope you are because it is your life, not mine. I hope you are seriously concerned with your own life, and not waste it, not distort it. And our civilisation helps us to distort it, to destroy it, our education, our religious upbringing destroys the capacity to live a life that is whole, not fragmented, a life that is whole, that means sane, and sanity means health, and whole means also holy: h-o-l-y. And as human beings we are fragmented, we have divided the world nationally, racially, religiously, economically - the business man, the artist, the doctor, the scientist - we have broken up the human being as specialists, and so we are not individuals at all, we are fragmented human beings. And being fragmented we think we can put it all together and integrate it. You cannot integrate broken fragments. What one can do is to observe these fragments - how they have come into being, what has divided them, why this division exists - then out of that observation comes a total sense of wholeness. So one must go into this question of how to observe, not only the things that are outer, but also inward.
You know we want to learn, we want to be taught, we go to colleges, schools, universities, or go to some of these classes of the yogis and the gurus, and all that, we want to learn. But learning has two qualities, learning in order to accumulate knowledge and from that knowledge act skilfully. That is what we do when we go to college, accumulate knowledge in order to live in the outward world skilfully with what we have learnt, technologically and so on. There is also another form of learning, learning which is never the accumulation of knowledge. And to learn about ourselves, not according to any philosopher, or any psychologist and all the rest of those people, but to learn about ourselves, and there comes the difficulty. Please do listen to this. When you look at yourself freely, without fear, without prejudice, you examine yourself, and by examination, and through examination you learn what you are, and that becomes knowledge. And with that knowledge you again look at yourself. So the previous knowledge conditions your observation of the next movement of thought. You are following what I am saying? That is, I look at myself, born in India, a Brahmin with all their culture and superstition and their feeling of superiority, ugliness and all the rest of the ugliness that goes with that particular arrogant class, conditioned by tradition, if you are, entering into a European world, conditioned by their culture - you are all that. You look at yourself. I look at myself, and in looking, observing my thoughts, my feelings, my activities, my despairs and agonies and all the rest that human beings go through. By looking at oneself one learns how a certain reaction has come into being, the mistake that one made, the arrogant expression, the vanity, the violence, and through examination you have learnt a little part of yourself, and that learning has become knowledge, has it not? And with that knowledge you next examine, you examine the next movement of your reaction, of your thought, of your feeling, of your desire. So you are never free to look afresh at the next reaction without the previous knowledge. You are following all this?
Do please, it is really very interesting if you go into yourself very deeply. So the previous understanding, the previous learning, the previous knowledge impedes, hinders the examination of the fresh movement of a feeling. You distort that feeling. So is it possible to be free from knowledge of that kind to examine afresh, so that your mind is capable of seeing directly without the previous conditioning? Do you understand my question? Because this is very important to understand, because that is the very essence of freedom, that the previous knowledge conditions the mind and so it is incapable of examining a new movement of thought, a new reaction. And so one asks what place has knowledge? What place has knowledge in the world, not only outwardly, but inwardly, in the world, in this inward world that is so complex, so contradictory, so limited? You understand my question? What place has knowledge in the transformation of man and society? That is what we are concerned with for the moment. What place has knowledge in the examination, or the observation of myself? Will the previous knowledge, acquired or gathered from another, help to observe? Or must there be freedom from knowledge to observe?
So I must go into the whole question of the observer. I hope we are thinking together, sharing this thing together, journeying together, otherwise my talking about it is quite useless, if you are not at the same level, at the same time, which is the very essence of love, then communication comes to an end. So one hopes that we are sharing this thing together, therefore it is your responsibility to share, not to merely learn and accumulate as knowledge and act according to that knowledge, therefore that denies freedom.
So, as we said, we must enquire into this question of who is the observer? Because that is what we are doing. We are observing the world, all that is going on, in the scientific field, in the world that is violent, brutal, wars, starvation, poverty, and the affluent society of this country, where there is also great poverty. Not poverty of prosperity but inward poverty, you are terribly poor people inwardly, terribly, and being poor you are gullible. You will accept, try anything for a while and then drop it, go to something else, which all indicates an extraordinary sense of inward insufficiency, inward poverty, inward loneliness. And to enquire together, for I am not your authority, for the speaker is not your guru, thank god, he is not your leader, teacher, he has nothing to do with propaganda, to tell you what to do, but to observe, share what is being said so that it is yours, not someone else's, so that you are independent, free human beings.
So we must go into this question of who is the observer? When you look at the war that is going on in Vietnam, the fear of the threat of war in the Middle East, the appalling poverty in India, and the things that are going on in this country - the vulgarity, the noise, the everlasting desire to be entertained, the inundation of the oriental thought in the shape of gurus, yogis and their magazines and their dances and their stupidities - how do you observe them all, how do you look at them? Are you separate from them? Are you capable of looking dispassionately?
Or are you frightened, uncertain, unclear, confused? Wanting to get something, to attain something, attain peace, enlightenment, Nirvana, god knows what else you want? Have you observed all this? And how do you observe, with what eyes, with what kind of mind, with what kind of heart do you observe all the things that are going on in this appalling world? How do you look? Do you look at it as an American? - whatever that word may mean. Do you look at it with eyes that are satisfied, angry, prejudiced, hatred, jealousy and so on, do you look at it with those eyes? Or do you look at it with eyes that are clear, without any prejudice, without any conditioning? Because if you have such eyes then you know what love is, what compassion is. And it is only compassion that can solve all our problems. But unfortunately we haven't got such eyes. Our eyes and our heart and our minds are conditioned by our affluency, by the culture in which we live, which is competitive, selfish, immoral.
So we observe the outward world in this distorted way. And also we observe ourselves, if we at all ever do, either with fear, with condemnation, or rationalisation, or justification, look at ourselves with the image that one has built about ourselves, the image imposed by society, the image which we have created for ourselves about ourselves. Again these images, these conclusions, these speculative assertions, which are really prejudices, distort our inward look. So it is very important, it seems to me, to learn not from another because what you learn from another is his prejudice, his dogma, his conclusion, his arrogance, his ignorance and stupidity, but if you can learn about yourself by observing yourself then out of that learning there comes freedom.
So the observer, when you look at the world as an Englishman, German or Italian, or an American, or a Russian, as a Communist, as a Socialist, as a Capitalist, the world as an architect, as a scientist because you are specialised then you bring about, not only in yourself but in the outer world, this fragmentation. So can you look at yourself without any distortion? And you can if you see the truth that to understand oneself there must be no distortion - if you see instantly that truth. And that truth can be seen instantly when your mind is not conditioned by your religion, by your culture, by your own imaginative, fanciful desires. You know we are so conditioned to accept gradual understanding, gradual perception, gradual seeing the truth of something. But I think that gradual process of understanding is sheer nonsense because when you want to understand something immediately you do, about yourself. For that immediacy you must have energy, you must have the intensity to find out. Here you are conditioned, take one thing, conditioned by your religion - I am taking that as an example - or by intellectual conclusions, which are fanciful prejudices. You are conditioned by a conclusion. Look what that conclusion does. You have your conclusion, another has his conclusion and that divides you, as belief does. Where there is division, nationally, politically, religiously, the division of conclusions, there must be conflict, and conflict is the very essence of violence. Now if you see that, the truth of it, not the verbal explanation, the verbal comprehension of that explanation, because that which is explained, that which is described, the description is not the described. So if you see the truth that any form of division in oneself and in the world must inevitably breed conflict - the Arab and the Jew, the Communist and the Socialist and so on, the division between you and me, we and they, the division between the one who knows and the one who does not know, the guru and the disciple, which is a division. And that must inevitably, logically, bring about conflict. If you see the truth of that, and you can if you apply your mind, then you will see that this whole idea of hierarchical progress, gradually unconditioning, step by step or jump from one state to another conditioning and go beyond it, becomes utter nonsense.
So we have created the division between the observer and the observed in ourselves, have we not? When you look at yourself you are the observer and what you are looking at is something different from the observer, isn't that so? When you say, 'I am greedy', 'I am arrogant', 'I am this or that', and 'I must be different', when you say that you have divided the observer from the observed, haven't you? So in that division there is conflict, there is the desire to control, to change, to bring about a satisfactory conclusion. Now is the observer different from the observed? You understand my question? Am I talking Greek? Or have you gone to sleep? Or are you actually sharing what we are talking about together? Therefore you are giving attention, it is your problem, you have got to solve this. It is your life, whether you are young or old. So is the observer that says, 'I am watching myself' - 'I' am watching myself, there is a division in that. Is the 'I' who is watching different from the thing which is being watched? Therefore, do see the truth of that, not my explanation and the understanding of that explanation, but the truth that there is no division between the observer and the observed.
That is, the observer is the observed. When you see that as truth then conflict in yourself comes totally to an end. Then quite a different thing takes place. When the observer is the observed then there is only the observed, not the observer. When there is division as the observer and the observed there is conflict, there is the desire to control it, to suppress it, go beyond it, to conquer it and so on and so on, all that is a wastage of energy. But when there is only the observed, not the observer observing, watching that which he is seeing, then you have the energy, then there is that energy to go beyond the observed, beyond 'what is'. So it is very important to find out how to observe. Don't go to schools or classes to learn how to observe, that is your tendency in this country. You go to schools to learn how to become sensitive, or go to some community where they teach you how to become sensitive. And when you learn how to become sensitive you are no longer sensitive. For god's sake be simple. It is very important to understand this for yourself, not from my explanation, not what the speaker is saying. But this is a fact. This is the truth. See it for yourself. Then this conflict in yourself comes to an end and therefore you as a human being have no violence. Because what you observe, what you see is yourself without the division, therefore there is no you and me, we and they, the Jew and the Gentile, and all the rest of it. Inwardly also: the division between the observer who says, 'I am greedy and I must do something about that greed, or that violence' brings about a conflict, and that conflict is another form of violence. Where there is the truth, the understanding, not intellectual but the fact that the observer is the observed brings about a totally different freedom in which there is no conflict whatsoever.
And to learn about oneself is to observe without the observer, to observe, to see without distortion, without prejudice, without fear. And out of this observation you begin to understand the nature and the structure of fear and pleasure, because those are the two things, fundamental issues or principles in our life. And perhaps next time we meet on Saturday morning we can go into that. But we have these problems as human beings, these problems cannot be solved by another because the solution of the problem is in the problem itself, not in the organised groups. You know there is a lovely thing which I used to talk about, which is: two friends were walking down the street one day, one walked a little ahead and picked up something off the street, a dirty street, much travelled upon. Looks at it and his face brightens, he is cheerful, he is extraordinarily radiant, and he puts it in his pocket. And the friend says a little later, 'What did you pick up that made you look so radiant, so happy?' The friend said, 'Oh, that was truth that I picked up, I am going to keep it'. And the other friend says, 'Don't keep it, let us organise it'.
Do you want to ask any questions about what we have talked about? Before you ask questions, if you want to, it is very important to find out who is going to answer your questions. But we must ask questions, we must have doubt, scepticism. But doubt and scepticism must be kept on a leash, as you keep a dog on a leash, to know when to let it go and to know when to hold it back. Otherwise doubt and scepticism destroy people. So we must ask questions. And also find out for yourself who is going to answer them. If you are waiting for an answer from another, that answer is going to condition you, is going to destroy you. But when you share that question with another, in the enquiry of that question, in the sharing of that question, in the problem that troubles one, then there is no one to answer you but the very enquiry into the question, there is the answer in the question. Which does not mean that you mustn't ask questions of the speaker. The speaker is not, by stating that, preventing you from asking. If you have no questions...
Q: Yes. (Laughter)
K: Yes, sir?
Q: Do we speak in the loudspeaker?
K: I can hear you.
Q: Because while I wish to ask a question, I would also like to include by definition what I hope is an answer. I do not have much doubt or scepticism over your observation of the importance that we look into ourselves but must we equate conflict with violence? As the water of the seas bash the rocks of the shore, as the branches of a river go in divergent ways, are we not constantly in our lives, within our own selves, faced with the dilemma and the conflict of our greed and our kindness? If we are to accept all conflict as violence, are we not precluding the importance that while there is conflict in nature and conflict in man, we can reconcile this conflict by the important word you used, compassion. And is not that the bridge in the dilemma of our conflict?
K: Are you saying, sir? I hope you have heard the question. (laughter) I don't know what you are laughing at. But I asked if you have heard the question.
K: The gentleman asks: why do you equate conflict with violence? Nature is violent, the rivers, you know all the business. We human beings are supposed to be a little more intelligent and must solve this problem of violence. When a wild animal kills a deer and a tiger destroys a cow, that is part of nature. That is its nature. If you accept that human beings by their nature are violent and that it is necessary to be violent, that is part of our innate structure, then we will create a society as we have - violent, competitive, aggressive, brutal and all the rest of it. And the question is also: can this violence be transcended, gone beyond? And the gentleman pointed out that the speaker used the word 'compassion'. You know compassion is something that you cannot come by through the conquering of violence. It is totally unrelated to violence. The word 'compassion' means passion for all things; passion is not lust, is not the act of determination or will. Passion comes from the word suffer, suffering. When you understand deeply, fully what is suffering and the freedom from suffering then there is compassion. But the freedom from violence is not necessarily compassionate. You see one has to go into the question of what is freedom. Is freedom from something, freedom. You understand my question sir?
Q: I am a little puzzled.
K: Right, sir, sorry. I wish you had told me earlier. Is freedom from violence, that is freedom from violence, is that freedom not a reaction? And is there a freedom which is not from something, but freedom, per se? So we are asking, as we human beings, living in this world which we are slowly and gradually destroying, because of our greed, for various economic reasons and so on, this violence that we have accumulated, inherited, cultivated, is it not possible to be free from it, not as an ideal, to become non-violent, that is just non-existent, that is just political jargon. To be free from violence is one thing, and to feel this sense of total freedom, not from anything, which is the very essence of intelligence. And intelligence is not the cultivation of knowledge. Intelligence is wholly different from knowledge. One can be free, put away, through great observation, understanding, the sense of violence in oneself. I don't know if you have gone into this question of how important it is - may I go on a little bit? May I go on? Sorry, little bit, no more.
You know human consciousness, that is your consciousness, is the consciousness of the world, isn't it? What you think and feel, they feel the same thing in India or in Russian, feel. Your consciousness is the consciousness of the world. And that consciousness can be affected. Hitler affected that consciousness. Stalin affected that consciousness. The priests in the name of Jesus affected consciousness, the priest, not the human being. So if you transform yourself, you affect the world consciousness. You understand? If you understand the nature of violence, the whole complexity of it, not say, 'Well, nature is violent, therefore it is all right for me to be violent', but the violence that human beings feel, their anger, their hatred, their jealousy, their antagonism, all that is involved in that word 'violence'. And it is part of that consciousness of human beings, and when there is transcending, going beyond that violence, you affect the totality of the human consciousness.
Sorry, I must stop.