Freedom, pleasure and joy
Is it possible for the stream of selfishness to end?
5th Public Talk Saanen
July 22, 1975
We talked over together the last time, which was on Sunday, the whole question of fear. I think we ought to go into the problem of pleasure, enjoyment and that which is not pleasure, which is joy. It's really quite a complex problem because it involves a great deal and to understand this problem, this question, which man has been pursuing for centuries upon centuries - the pursuit of pleasure - we ought to consider what is freedom with regard to pleasure, what part does intelligence play with regard to pleasure, and beauty which incites pleasure.
What is freedom? Many books and theoreticians and so-called philosophers - the word 'philosophy' means the love of truth, not the love of words and theories - many philosophers and others have written a great deal, I believe, about pleasure and about freedom. The Communist world denies freedom, all dictatorship, totalitarianism denies the necessity and the demand for freedom, they call it a bourgeois idiosyncrasy without any reality. I am using the word 'reality' in the sense which we have been talking about. And religious people have said there is no freedom in this world, you have to find it in heaven, or withdraw from this world into some kind of monastic world and seek freedom inwardly - freedom from everything that one has observed in oneself and in the world about one. If there is no freedom of expression, of thought, of speech, then one lives a life of slavery. But that freedom of expression has led to a great deal of danger, damage, a freedom to express oneself without investigating totally, completely what is expression and what is it that is being expressed, and who is it that is expressing it - without considering that, merely to demand freedom of expression does lead to a great deal of mischief and confusion. And in enquiring this question of freedom, is there freedom - total, whole - or is freedom partial, that is freedom from something which is invariably partial? That is, if I want to be free from something, it is only a reaction which cultivates the opposite. And the opposite invariably contains its own opposite - so in that there is no freedom. Are we moving together in this?
That is: in the opposite - whether it is the Communist opposite as an antithesis - the opposite can never give freedom, because the opposite has its root in that which has been considered its own opposite. So in that there is no freedom. So is freedom away from reality, reality being that which has thought which thought has brought about, which thought has put together, which thought reflects upon, which thought has created the idea of freedom and then seeks it as something separate from itself - or is freedom not from something but from reality? That is to give reality its right place.
As we said the other day, the word 'art' means to put everything in its right place, where it belongs. So in enquiring into freedom, is that freedom totally away from reality, though in reality there must be a certain order of freedom? Right? If in the world of reality there is no freedom at all, then we are completely slaves. But when there is order, that is to put everything where it belongs in the world of reality, then there is a certain quality of freedom there. But that freedom is not the total freedom. Right? This is not a theory, this is not a speculative conclusion, but when one observes the whole demand of man for freedom, he has always sought freedom in the world of reality. Please see that. He has always sought out this sense of self-expression, choice, identification - always in the world of reality and there he says, 'I must have freedom'. And that freedom has created a great deal of confusion, chaos, individual pursuits and so that freedom, without order in the world of reality becomes meaningless. But freedom, that is, total complete psychological freedom, is not within the field of reality. And in enquiring into this question of freedom one asks: what is intelligence? The word 'intelligence' in the dictionary it says: to read between the lines and to keep a mind very alert. To read between the lines in the printed page, but also read between linear expression. I wonder if you understand - between two thoughts - and thoughts are always linear, line - vertical or horizontal. And intelligence also, the dictionary says, is to keep a very alert mind. Is that intelligence? We are asking: what is intelligence? Because in understanding what is intelligence, we shall be able to put pleasure where it belongs, otherwise the pursuit of pleasure becomes dominant in life. I wonder if you are meeting this?
Is intelligence merely to keep a mind extraordinarily awake, which is necessary, and is it merely to read between two thoughts, between two lines, between two words, between two symbolic conclusions? Or is intelligence does intelligence come about through the orderly action in the field of reality and that orderly action in the field of reality gives intelligence to perceive? Am I conveying something at all or is this altogether Greek or Chinese? There must be freedom for perception. To see clearly, you must be free. You cannot see clearly if you are not able to read between the lines, to have a clear undistorted mind and therefore there is the act, the total act of perception and that act of perception is intelligence.
I am investigating as we are going along. Because I see very clearly that in the world of reality in which we live, we live a very disorderly life, and to escape from that disorderly life, we resort to all kinds of absurdities. But if we do not bring about order in the field of reality - the field of reality being the activity of thought, seeing its limitation, seeing it cannot possibly go beyond its limitation however much it may expand, it is still limited and that thought, which has created a disorder in this world of reality, that thought itself cannot possibly bring order in that reality. To see all that is intelligence. Right?
Please. The word 'intelligence' is not merely just a word, it doesn't come by merely offering opinions or definitions about intelligence. We can play that game endlessly. But without that quality of intelligence, which is the act of perception, and the act of perception is to do what it sees immediately - that is intelligence. That is, a man who has ideals is unintelligent - forgive me - because his action is fragmented by what he calls a future achievement, according to the goal, the ideal and therefore he is not acting. If a man has a belief and acts according to that belief, it is not action. But a man who perceives acts instantly - such a man is an intelligent human being, because he sees the danger and acts. He sees the falseness and acts. Not, 'Tell me how to act', or, 'I'll take time to act'. When you see a dangerous animal, you act instantly. So the action of perception is the movement of intelligence. Have you got this? Please, don't accept my word or my argument, or my logic, or my - just see it for yourself. Like a man who has been brought up in a culture which says you must be nationalistic, patriotic - fight and kill etc., etc. If you see that, what it has done in the world - all the calamity, the misery, the suffering, the brutality of division - if you see that clearly you act. Therefore you are no longer held within the boundaries of a particular country. I wonder if you see this. So such an action is supreme intelligent action. Right?
Then also we must consider what is beauty in relation to pleasure. We asked what is freedom with regard to pleasure, because we all say, 'I must be free to pursue my pleasure.' If I am thwarted, I'll become violent and all the rest of it. And in the understanding of pleasure, what is the relationship of intelligence to the pursuit of pleasure? The pursuit is one thing and pleasure is another. The pursuit of pleasure is the movement of thought in time. All right? May I go on?
So, there must be an understanding, there must be the ordering of beauty in relation to pleasure. So what is beauty? You know again this is a very, very subtle question, because we all have opinions unfortunately. We say beauty is this, beauty is that or this is not beautiful, or that is beautiful - and so on - this is ugly, that is beautiful. We are so entrenched in our own conclusions, in our own experience, in our own accumulated prejudice which we call knowledge - and if you could put aside all that, what you think is beauty, what other people have said about beauty, what you have experienced and hold that memory and say, as long as beauty conforms to that experience which I have had as beautiful, that is not beautiful. So if you could put aside all that, which is quite arduous - because that is freedom. If I cling to my experience of beauty and somebody comes along and says, 'Look, that is not beautiful', I won't give up my beauty, because I have experienced it. I know, what it means. So if we could liberate ourselves from those various forms of conclusions, then what is beauty? Is beauty in the world of reality or is it not within the movement of thought as time? Please follow this carefully, because we are investigating together - I am not laying down the law. I am not so stupid as that. I have no opinions about it, I have no conclusions about it. I am just asking myself: does beauty lie within the movement of thought as time? That is, within the field of reality. There are beautiful paintings, statues, sculpture, marvellous cathedrals, wonderful temples - if you have been to India, some of those ancient temples are really quite extraordinary, they have no time, it has not been there has been no entity as a human being who put it. Those marvellous old sculptures from the Egyptians, the Greeks and to the modern. That is: is the expression the creative feeling? Does creation need expression? Please, I am not saying it does or does not, I am asking, enquiring. Is beauty which is both expression outwardly and the sense of inward feeling of extraordinary elation which comes when there is complete cessation of the 'me' with all the movements? I wonder if you follow this.
So before we begin to enquire what is beauty, we have to go into this question of what is creation? What is the mind that is creative? Can the mind that is fragmented - however capable, whatever its gift, talent - is such a mind creative? If I live a fragmented life, pursuing my cravings, my selfishness, my division as the artist and everything is non-art world, my life, my activity, my thoughts, my self-centred ambitions, pursuits, my pain, my struggle - is such a mind - I am asking, please - is such a mind creative? Though it has produced marvellous music, marvellous literature, great cathedrals and temples and mosques - and poems - English literature is filled with it, as other kinds of literature. Is a mind that is not whole, can that be creative? Or creation is only possible when there is the total wholeness and therefore no fragmentation. A mind that is fragmented is not a beautiful mind and therefore not creative. I wonder if you get this.
No please, this is not my conclusion. I am not the Delphic Oracle. I am enquiring with you, we are enquiring together, taking the journey together into this enormous problem of what is called beauty. And does such a mind that is whole, whole in the sense not fragmented, not contradictory in action, not contradictory in its activity, not self-centred, caught in the movement of thought in time - all that - is such a mind, which always demands expression: my painting, my work, my picture, my poem, my everything else - which is identifying the expression with himself as the entity who expresses - is such a mind creative? Or a mind that has never known or lives in fragmentation? Fragmentation implies contradiction and therefore conflict, struggle. And you will say that may be marvellous, but we have to live in this fragmented world, we haven't got that extraordinary feeling of totality - and so there is division then between the artist, the businessman, the scientist, the writer and you are just as destructive in this division as anybody else. I wonder if you see this thing - not accept my feeling about it.
So is beauty the expression of a marvellous building, the outlines of an extraordinary structure? Is beauty the poem - however romantic, however usual, however rhythmic, whatever its content, written by a poet who himself is ambitious, greedy, wants to have success, sensitive in one direction and totally insensitive in other directions - is such a man really creative and can such a man, though he may express the feeling of what he thinks is beauty in words and which we accept as beauty, is that really beauty?
So, to find out what beauty is - the inward sense of it, not the expression of it. When you see the mountain which is beautiful, we don't have to be told it is beautiful - and when you paint that mountain and exhibit it, the thing that is painted is not the mountain. So we have to go very deeply into the question of what is beauty, because apparently all religions have denied beauty. Have you ever watched monks in Europe in a monastery - they may have a lovely old, ancient monastery - but have you watched them? They are immersed with their own prayers, they are everlastingly looking at the book, they are caught in a routine, and so on. Once in the mountains in the north of India I was following a group of monks, Hindu monks - they didn't know I was behind them but if they knew they would have all turned round and done all kinds of silly superstitious respect. I was walking behind them: not one of them looked at the sky nor the beauty of a tree, and there was sound of water - because they were chanting and never dared to look at anything that might incite a desire - a desire for a woman, a desire for great pleasure. Nothing.
And if you have watched only - I have been told, in recent years the landscape was painted in Italy with the saints. So religions, because they said, 'Beauty is associated with pleasure, therefore if you are pursuing god you cannot pursue pleasure, therefore don't be caught in beauty.' You understand? This is happening. And beauty and love and pleasure.
We said a human being who is selfish - selfish being ambitious, greedy, worldly - worldly in the sense wanting a name, position, recognition, popularity, money, a status - all that is included in that word 'selfishness' for the moment. A mind that is selfish, is he creative or is it only a mind that is totally unselfish that knows this feeling of total creation - not as an artist as a - nothing, total? That is: there is beauty only when there is total abandonment of the ego, the 'me', because the 'me' is the product of thought. Having created the 'me', the 'me' thinks it is different from thought. Haven't you? And that 'me' may have certain capacities, talents, gifts and that expresses itself and which we greatly admire - buy pictures worth millions, because it has financial value later on. But we consider all that creative. It is like a person who is teaching or concerned with creative writing. Creativeness comes only when there is no 'me'. Then there is beauty. That requires great sensitivity of the body, the mind, the whole entity.
So, pleasure has been identified with beauty - the beautiful woman. The beautiful, which is lovely. So love and beauty and pleasure apparently have gone together. And one questions that whole concept, because it is a concept: that love is beauty and the pursuit of beauty is pleasure. So one has to go into this question of what is pleasure. You understand? Freedom which is an enormous thing, enormous issue; then there is intelligence. We said intelligence is an act of total perception - not the cunning mind that reads between the lines, or having a very alert mind. You can have a very alert mind by taking drugs, by various forms of stimulation - but that's not an alert mind, that is gradually becoming a dull mind. And also freedom, intelligence and this quality of beauty with which is identified love and pleasure.
So is love pleasure? You understand? We have associated love with pleasure, with the desire - and what is pleasure and why does man everlastingly pursue that pleasure? If you have watched yourself, if you have gone, looked at yourself even for ten minutes, ten seconds - this is one of the great principles, like suffering, pleasure, fear. And why does man pursue to the very end of his life or beyond it as coming nearer to God - the ultimate pleasure. Why? And what is pleasure? Is there such thing as pleasure? Please go into it.
There are three things concerned with pleasure: joy, enjoyment and pleasure. This is so - look at it. You are going to find out what is the relationship between the three of them. Joy - real enjoyment of a lovely day, the enjoyment of seeing the mountains, hearing the great thunder rolling among the hills - and the mind that is pursuing the pleasure as that which has happened yesterday, with that lightning. So what is pleasure? Is there a moment of pleasure - I am asking - when you can say, 'This is pleasure'? Or you only know it after. You recognise it as pleasure when it is over, which is the movement of thought as time. I wonder if you see this thing! So is there a moment when you say, 'My god, this is great pleasure!' But only when thought, when that incident which has been called 'pleasure', in quotes, has been registered in the brain and then the awakening of thought and recognising that as delight, pleasure and pursuing it - sexually - in so many ways. So what is the relationship of thought to pleasure? Pleasure being emotions, great feeling, sentimentality, feeling tremendously sentimental, gooey, romantic, ideological. What relationship has pleasure to thought, or is pleasure the movement of thought only? I take There has been a pleasure - what we call pleasure - a flattery, someone flatters you: 'Marvellous, how beautiful, what a lovely writing that is, what a marvellous speech you have made!' That is pleasure. And you listen to that and you like the flattery of another, which means you are not really concerned with the truth of perception but the flattery of someone who says, 'What a marvellous fellow you are'. Then thought picks that up, pursues it and you who have flattered are my everlasting friend and I seek more and more flattery. That is the pursuit of pleasure which also acts in the other opposite way, which is: you hurt me and I pursue that hurt, thought pursues that hurt, and you are my enemy or I don't like you, avoid you. It's the same principle. So is thought the pursuer, not pleasure? I wonder if you see that. I've found something!
We are not pursuing pleasure but thought is pursuing pleasure. And when you pursue when thought pursues something, it must be in the field of time. Therefore yesterday the sexual pleasure, the remembrance of it and the pursuit of it. Seeing the pleasure, all 'pleasure', in quotes, the mountains and the sunset, and the thunder rolling among the hills and thought pursuing that sound, pursuing that marvellous light of an evening on the snow. So it is the movement of thought as a remembrance in time that is the pursuit of pleasure. I wonder if you get all this. I pursue a guru - not I (laughter) - I have an abomination of gurus, because they are the new priests; before you accepted the Catholic domination. You were told exactly what to do and you did that - now you are bored with that and you take on new gurus and you will get bored with that and then you will go on to the gurus from China or Japan, or Russia - it is the same pattern.
So: can thought not pursue? You understand? You flatter me - and I listen to it - and that's the end of it. Thought then doesn't carry it over. You have said something which was maybe right or wrong; I listen to it - there's the reaction and there's the ending of it. The light on those mountains yesterday evening, with all that great sense of space, stillness and great strength - see it, end it, so that thought doesn't come and say, 'What a lovely thing that was, I am going to pursue it'. I wonder if you understand?
That means to be totally awake to the whole problem of pleasure. And what is the relationship between pleasure and enjoyment? You enjoy a good meal - if you do - and you want the repetition of that enjoyment tomorrow. Right? So there is the enjoyment of the moment, and thought pursuing that enjoyment of the moment as a movement in time. I wonder if you see that. Is pleasure What is the relationship of pleasure to joy? Is there any relationship at all? Or the joy comes unexpectedly, not invited. That which is invited is pleasure as thought in time. I wonder if I am getting
So, is love pleasure? Tell me sir. That is, we said the pursuit, the hunter is the thought. So is love to be hunted by thought? And which it does, as we live now - and is that love? Has love any relationship to thought? Please sir, go into it. And if it has no relationship to love, then what is my relationship to another whom I so-call love? To find out all this, not from another because each one is concerned with his own life. His own life is the life of the world and the life of the world is you - because you suffer, you are anxious, you pursue pleasure, there is suffering, you have fear, so has another. So you are the world and the world is you - and this is your life. Don't waste it, for god's sake, don't waste it. And to find out what it is to be totally free.
So freedom, intelligence, beauty and love and the pursuit of pleasure are all interrelated - they are not separate things, which we have made it. 'I must be beautiful' - not only physically attractive, sexually appealing. This is our education, our conditioning, and to see all this as a whole - not as fragments, not as broken up, as freedom something separate, intelligence something separate and so on - to see the whole of it as a whole, that is the act of intelligence, that is beauty, that is love, that is freedom.
Here all this is important to understand and live - not merely intellectually, understand verbally - because we are going to deal with something much more something which is the total truth and total creation, which is death. And to understand that problem which has torn man, which has man has pursued something, tried to understand the problem, overcome it - unless we lay the foundation, which we have been doing, because in comprehending what death is, then we shall see what the meaning of life is. At present our life has no meaning actually as we live it. Has it? If you are honest to oneself, deeply, has it any meaning? Meaning in the sense: total significance. It might have a meaning in order to earn money and livelihood and all that - but that must be related to the whole of life. If you are merely concerned with the earning of a livelihood, unrelated to the rest of our existence, then that earning a livelihood does cause great mischief, then we become totally competitive - you follow? - all that is happening in the world.
So we have this problem of death, and later on perhaps we will talk about meditation and all that. We have got two more talks, haven't we? Two more. We'll have to cover those two things next two days that we meet here. But you know, if you have no sense of beauty - not painting and all the rest of it, paint your face and long hair and short nose and the latest fashion, you know - but the feeling of beauty which can only come about when there is total abandonment of selfishness, the total abandonment of 'me' which thought has created. That means there is only beauty when thought is silent. You understand this? I've got it. You understand that? Not when thought is chattering about the thing that is painted. Only when thought is completely silent, then there is beauty. But when you say, 'How is thought to be silent?', which is what you will ask - then you have lost beauty. And the gurus and all the professionals are supplying how to make thought silent. Therefore they never had beauty. And when you pursue them, you are denying beauty. For god's sake see this. We'll have to stop soon.
The whole meaning, the whole substance of life is this, if you can capture it and live with it; and if you do live with it then you will affect every consciousness of human being. You can't help it. Right sir.