Freedom, responsibility and relationship
Looking at the complex problem of living
2nd Public Talk, Santa Monica, California
March 17, 1974
Shall we continue with what we were talking about yesterday morning? We were saying, weren't we, that freedom demands order. As most of our lives are lived in disorder, and in the understanding of that disorder, learning about that disorder, comes naturally and inevitably order. That is what we were talking about yesterday morning. I think that word 'freedom' has been so misused, like so many other words, that we should go into it fairly deeply and see if it is at all possible to live in this ugly mad world, which is so utterly insane, whether one can live a life that is totally free and yet orderly, and what that order means in relationship. In exploring that it is not a matter of memorising but rather learning. We are educated unfortunately to memorise, in school, in colleges and universities all over the world tremendous importance is given to memory; and the cultivation of memory has its place, and also the cultivation of memory makes for a mechanical way of living because relying on memory gives a certain security, certain stability but it also brings about a rather dull mind, mechanical mind. Whereas learning, I feel, is something entirely different.
Learning is not the cultivation of memory. Learning about something I don't know requires not only attention but care and curiosity, a certain amount of risk, a certain quality of a mind that is not merely functioning in the field of mechanical knowledge but also investigating into things that it doesn't know. And in that very investigation is beginning to learn it, not to accumulate but constantly learn. And that is what we are going to do, if we can this morning, what it means to have freedom, order, responsibility, and relationship.
We went somewhat into the question of order and disorder yesterday. And in observing one's life, which is so utterly disorderly, we apprehended, or rather we were aware of the many causes that bring about disorder. One can give many explanations for this disorder, for the causes of it, and most of us seem to be satisfied with explanations, rather than go discover what are the causes and go beyond it. To see ourselves clearly, living a life of disorder, disorder which means contradiction, division, various appetites opposed to other appetites, various demands contradicting other demands, and so on. This division in ourselves is one of the major causes of disorder. To observe that disorder and to observe as a whole the cause of disorder needs attention and care, which again we talked about yesterday morning.
I wonder how many of us have gone into this deeply, not intellectually, not superficially but enquiring very, very deeply into ourselves. And when one begins to enquire, look, examine, disorder must exist not only in contradiction within ourselves but also in our relationship. Because all our societies are based on the outcome of our relationship, not only with those who are close to oneself but also the neighbour, whether that neighbour be a hundred feet away or a thousand miles away it is still our neighbour. And to discover, and therefore learn, what is relationship in the context of freedom. Can there be freedom in relationship? Or freedom is always limited where memory in relationship acts. I don't know if you are sufficiently serious enough to go into this question, and if we are, please, as I said yesterday, it is a matter of sharing. The exploration which we are doing, or the investigation, is a work in which we share together, in which we are co-operating to find out what it means, and therefore learn, freedom in relationship.
So what is relationship? Are we related at all to each other? Though we may have married, children, girl and boy and all the rest of that business, whether we are at all related. That is, to be in contact with, to understand the other, to have close companionship, to be able to have deep responsibility in that relationship. As I said, we are going to learn what this responsibility in relationship, in the context of freedom, means.
One can make a statement and as we are educated, most unfortunately, to abstract from that statement a conclusion, then that conclusion becomes a memory, and according to that memory we live. That is, I hear you make a statement and I draw a conclusion from that statement, which is an abstraction of that statement, a conclusion which is stored up in memory, and according to that memory and conclusion I act. This is what we generally do because conclusions we think will give us security. It is a safe thing to have a conclusion about something, therefore it has become merely a knowledge, a memory and therefore learning comes to an end. Whereas if we could listen to a statement - please listen to this attentively if you will - if you listen to a statement don't draw a conclusion - right or wrong, agree or not agree, have opinions about it - but just listen. And in the very act of listening is the learning, which is not an abstract conclusion. Because most of us, most of our lives are based on conclusions, a conceptual way of living, not actual living but a concept according to which we are living. That very concept and the actuality is a division and therefore conflict and disorder.
So what is relationship, because it is one of the most important things in life? Because we cannot possibly live without relationship. All life is a movement in relationship. And without understanding the meaning of that word, the significance, the inward nature of that word, to bring about a fundamental transformation in society seems so utterly impossible. So it behoves us to understand the meaning and the responsibility that is involved in relationship. Are we ever related to another? Or there are barriers between us, between a man and a woman, between the neighbour and yourself, between another and yourself and so on. If there are barriers, which are essentially conclusions, then relationship doesn't exist. If I have a conclusion about you, which is an opinion, a judgement, an evaluation, an image about you, I am obviously not related to you. The barrier comes in between and therefore relationship has no responsibility except to the conclusion which I have drawn about you. Please do see this.
If I have a conclusion about you, I am loyal to that conclusion, I am responsible to that conclusion, and I feel safe, secure in that conclusion, and I feel I am responsible being to that conclusion, to you. And you have your own conclusions, opinions, judgements, images about me. And you are responsible to that image, opinion, judgement, conclusion, and yet we think we are related.
So can the mind observing this, not memorising it, but observing it, learning about it, can the mind see actually if it is functioning, living in conclusions with regard to relationship. That is, to put it more bluntly and definitely, you have conclusions about your wife, your husband, somebody or other, you have them, and you are responsible to those conclusions, not to the person, but to the idea of that person, and so you have actually no relationship at all. And can that conclusion, opinion, judgement, image, to which you are loyal, to which you are responsible, not to the person, but to the conclusion, can that conclusion be set aside totally? And to prevent further conclusions being formed? Are we going together? Please do share this thing with the speaker, both of us are travelling the same road. We are trying to learn on that road the question of relationship, what it means, because relationship is one of the most important things in life. One cannot possibly escape from it. One can build barriers between each other, one can, as one does now, pursue each one's own idiosyncrasies, ambitions, pleasures, isolating oneself in relationship. That is what we are doing, each one trying to fulfil his own selfish aims.
We are asking two things: the conclusions we have made about the other, and to prevent further conclusions being made. I have conclusions about you, and undoubtedly you have about the speaker, otherwise you wouldn't be sitting there. Now can you put aside totally that conclusion? Otherwise you have no relationship with the speaker, and therefore no communication, and therefore you cannot possibly share in what is being said. So can you put aside, seeing the significance, the meaning of relationship, and that where there is a barrier of conclusion, image, judgement, which is really knowledge between you and the other, can you put those aside? And you can put those aside only by observing it, learning about it, not saying, 'I must put it aside in order to have good relationships'. That is, can you observe in yourself the conclusions, the image that you have built about another, observe it without wanting to transform it, suppress it, deny it, or justify it, just to observe it? And can you observe without the observer who is the very who creates the image? I hope you are following all this.
You know, this is not a process of analysis. To me analysis is paralysis. (Laughter) You laugh very easily, don't you, but yet that is what you are doing. You see analysis really prevents complete action, which is a form of paralysis. You can postpone action through analysis. Analysis implies time, the analyser and the analysed, and each analysis must be complete and right, true, otherwise what you have analysed, if it's not complete distorts the next analysis. And the analyser himself needs analysis professionally as well as for yourself. And it also implies time. You can take years and years analysing and doing nothing about it. At the end of your life you are still analysing. And that is what is happening now in the world. And it seems so utterly - I was going to use the word stupid - it has no meaning. Perhaps it has a meaning to those who are somewhat neurotic. And perhaps maybe as most of us are more or less neurotic we think analysis is necessary. But if you go into this question of analysis rather deeply and clearly you will see for yourself and therefore learn for yourself, not from the speaker - if you learn from the speaker then it becomes merely the cultivation of memory. But if you learn in sharing the investigation of analysis you will see for yourself the cause becomes the cause has its effect, and the effect becomes the cause for the next action, so it is an endless chain. Whereas if you look and see that analysis does not bring understanding; or, and therefore perception and action. And as I said we are not analysing, we are just observing, looking at exactly what is going on. So can the mind, with its observer, which has drawn conclusions about the other, can that mind observe itself while it has drawn a conclusion, because in that conclusion there is safety, security, which prevents relationship. And hearing that statement, not draw a conclusion but see the truth of it. And seeing the truth of it and learning about it finishes the conclusions that one has made. And can you prevent other conclusions being made in relationship? Those are the two questions we are asking ourselves: to wipe away the conclusions that one has, and to prevent further conclusions from arising. Further conclusions that arise can be prevented, if at the moment of the word, gesture or look you are totally aware. Look, I don't know if I am conveying all this.
You flatter me, and I like it. And the liking is a conclusion about you, and I remain with that conclusion, you are my friend; and you insult me and I draw from that insult a conclusion, and you are not my friend. Now can I, can the mind observe attentively when you flatter and when you insult? In that attention there is no recording. The function of the brain is to record and from that record act. This is obvious. Now when there is insult and flattery, not to record at all. Which means at the moment of flattery and insult, to be completely aware, give total attention. You know - there are so many things to talk about
Let's put this differently. From childhood we are hurt, we have got so many wounds, so many painful memories, so many things that have given us great pain. They are all recorded. At school we are hurt; when you are compared with somebody who is better than you, you are hurt. At home we are hurt, at college - our whole existence is a process of wounding each other, even in the most intimate relationship. Those hurts remain and from those hurts we want to hurt others. Or from those hurts violence erupts. All of us know this, consciously or unconsciously. And in relationship there are so many hurts which we don't have to go into in detail, but there they are. And those hurts bring a deep barrier. Now can one be aware of those hurts? Perhaps one can be when one is consciously. That is fairly easy. But to be aware of the hurts hidden deep down in the recesses, in the dark corners of one's mind, can one be aware of all that? Because if you are not then you cannot possibly know what it means to love, to be kind, to be generous.
So the question is: in our relationship we have been hurt, either brutally or very, very subtly, and can those hurts be wiped away, especially the unconscious ones? And we think we can wipe those away through analysis, through constant examination, constant investigation, uncover one layer of hurt after another, endlessly. And inevitably that will take time. And is there a way of doing it completely exposing all the hurts totally, and being totally free of them? That is a challenge to you. Can you, without analysis, expose all the content of hurts, which is part of our consciousness, of which we were talking about yesterday, expose those hurts and be free of them, that is a challenge, can you? If you say, 'I don't know', or 'It can be done' or 'It can't be done', you are merely blocking yourself, aren't you? Whereas if you say, 'Let us observe, let's look if it is at all possible to explore and expose this whole field of hurt'. Why does one have hurts in relationship? One has hurts obviously because one has an image about oneself. Haven't you an image about yourself, if you are honest. The image may take so many forms. But you have an image about yourself and that image, having been created by thought through various happenings, incidents and events, invited or not invited, that image is hurt, insulted and flattered. And can one live - please listen - can one live without a single image about oneself? If you can then you will never be hurt. And is it possible in a world that is - you know it better than I do, what the world is - can you live in this world without a single image about yourself? And to find that out you have to learn - learn how to live surrounded by images created perhaps by you and by others, how to live a life in which there is no single conclusion in relationship. To learn about it, not whether it is possible or not possible. And where there is learning freedom comes into being, and in that freedom responsibility.
Now, that word 'responsibility' is rather an old-fashioned word, and probably most of you don't like that word, responsibility, it sounds square - isn't that the word? Yes, that is the word. (Laughter) What is it to be responsible? The word means to respond, to respond rightly at the given moment. You cannot respond adequately if you have an idea, or an ideology in responsibility. That is, you are responsible if you have children, for those children. Are you responsible to the child? Or to a pattern of a way of life which you have accepted as being social, necessary, religious and so on. Are you responsible to the child, or responsible to an ideology, a pattern? Please investigate this as we are talking. Really in the present world, as one is living, you are not responsible for children at all. Responsibility means care, affection, attention, not only when they are very young, but what kind of education they have, what kind of life they are going to have, what kind of life they are going to meet, and so on. So when we use the word 'responsible' you are responsible for their education. Is education merely - now wait a minute - what does it mean to be educated? Why are you being educated? All of you I am sure went to some kind of school, college, university, and you are being educated, what for? To lead the kind of life that you are leading now? To conform to the pattern of society which the past generations and generations have set? To imitate, to follow, to accept wars, to be killed and to kill? Is that what you are being educated for? The big establishment, big politics, big business, religion and all the rest of those things that are going on in the world - is that what you are being educated for? And yet you say you are responsible for the children. So I question very much whether you are at all responsible. Or you are only responsible to yourself and to your desires, to your selfish aims. Please do go into this, investigate it, enquire into it. Because as we are now living, life has no meaning; endless work, for fifty years, and then collapse, the struggle, the money, position, which is being encouraged by commercialism and consumerism, with all the things involved in it, and we are educating the children for that.
So, are we responsible? Apparently we are not. And yet we want, if we are at all serious, we want to bring about a change in society, because society is corrupt, and the society is built by us, so that corruption is in us. And unless that corruption ends in us we cannot possibly create a different society. And freedom means responsibility, right to the end of our life. Not only for our children, but what we do, what we think, we are responsible. And that is why life becomes very, very serious and one is frightened to be so serious because we are trained to pursue pleasure. To us pleasure has become an extraordinarily important thing. Pleasure is one thing, joy is another and enjoyment is something else. You can cultivate pleasure. All the commercials that you have on the TV are the cultivation of pleasure. And if you observe yourself you will see that very deeply you are pursuing unspoken words and actions and feelings of pleasure. And what is the relationship of pleasure to joy? Is there any relationship? Or they are totally divorced from each other? You can invite, cultivate, pursue pleasure. You cannot possibly cultivate, pursue joy. When joy occurs, it occurs always without invitation, and when you pursue that joy which has gone, then that joy becomes pleasure, and then you pursue that. And when pleasure is not completely fulfilled there is anger, there is bitterness, there is frustration and fear. Haven't you noticed all these things in yourselves? If you have, is it not possible to wipe out all this? You know religions throughout the world have denied pleasure because they have said that you cannot come to God through pleasure: you must control your desires and devote your life to Jesus, or to Krishna, or to Buddha, whatever that may mean. So don't look at a woman, don't look at nature, don't look at the beauty of a mountain that might remind you of the beauty of a woman, don't look at the flying bird because you need all your attention to serve God. And these poor fellows who have pursued this live in torture they think they can come to God through a tortured mind. They not only torture their body, but they torture their mind. And unfortunately truth wants a sane mind, a clear mind, a mind that has never been hurt, which means a mind that is totally innocent. The word 'innocent' means a thing that has never been hurt. Not what the Christians have made of that word.
So freedom, order in relationship and responsibility go together. And if this is not fully, deeply lived and understood and acted, then you will find that one's life becomes not only meaningless, so utterly superficial, so utterly verbal, intellectually a vast field of conclusions without a single flower blooming in goodness. And without establishing this, meditation or the perception of that which is truth can never come into being. Right sirs.
Now perhaps you will ask some questions, if you wish, about what we have talked, bearing in mind that we have talked about relationship and responsibility, and the thing that everybody, the politicians, the priests, the big businessmen and the world are talking about freedom. Can you live in this world with a total sense of freedom? Yes sir?
Questioner: What is real friendship if it does not involve trust or respect?
K: What is real friendship, if in that there is no trust or respect. If there is no trust or respect, what is the meaning of real friendship? I don't know. (Laughter) If you haven't got respect and affection how can you have friendship? I don't quite understand the meaning of this question.
Look sir, first of all why do you want a friend? Why do you want a friend? Is it because you are lonely? Is it because you want to depend on him, rely on him? To have a companionship with him? Is it out of your loneliness, insufficiency, you depend on another to fulfil or to fill that emptiness, and therefore you are using another, exploiting another, to cover your own insufficiency, your own utter emptiness, and so call that person a friend? Is he a friend in that way? When you are using somebody for yourself, for your pleasure, for your whatever it is? Answer sir, go into it, don't accept what I am saying. Because most of us are so lonely, the older we get the more lonely we discover our emptiness. While you are young these things don't occur to you, you have no time, you are enjoying the beauty of the sea, the clouds, the rich earth, or demonstrating against some idiotic politician and so on, you have no time. But as you grow, mature, if you are ever mature at all, then you begin to discover for yourself what it means to be empty, to be lonely, to have no friend at all actually because all your life you have lead a superficial life, depended on others, exploited others, invested your thought, your feelings in another, depended on another and when they go away, die or disappear you feel so lonely, empty, and out of that emptiness there is self-pity, and then you again begin the good game of seeking somebody to fulfil that loneliness. This is what is happening all the time, the days of our life. Now can you see this and learn from it? Learn what it means to be lonely and never escape from it, look at it, live with it, see what is implied, so that psychologically, inwardly you depend on nobody. Then only you will know what it means to love. Yes sir?
Q: If relationship is related to love how can love exist in a paradoxical society without being born again?
K: How can - I haven't quite understood it sir.
Q: As you know Jesus came to bring us love, and then he gave us four basic elements of salvation.
K: Oh (Laughter) I suppose you are all Christians? (Laughter)
Q: No, I am not. I don’t belong to any religion, like you.
K: I have no religion sir.
Q: You don’t have a religion?
K: Wait sir. What do you mean by the word 'religion'? Belonging to some belief, some sect whether it is an immense sect or a small sect, like the Catholic sect, Protestant sect or other sects, does that mean that you are a religious person? What do you mean by religion?
Q: A belief.
K: Belief which has been cultivated by others and given to you? Or you yourself have cultivated a belief out of your fear, out of your insecurity. Is that religion? Do look into it sir. Don't accept what the speaker is saying. The speaker has no belief, doesn't belong to any group or any sect - he is neither a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim or whatever it is. Because religion is something entirely different, which we will talk about another time, because that is an immense subject not to be dealt with in a couple of minutes. Perhaps this is not the occasion to go into it. But when you talk about somebody bringing you love, which means you have no love yourself, and can somebody, however great, or your neighbour, can they bring you love, can they give you love? And what does that word mean, which we so easily use? Love. Make love, don't make war. What does it all mean when you use that word? You see sirs, everything we have touched we have spoilt. We have spoilt the word love, we have spoilt the word freedom, we have spoilt all the beautiful things of the earth, and until we find out for ourselves what it means to love we should never use that word.
You know it would be one of the most excellent things if you never used the word or the phrase that you yourself have not completely understood and lived. If you don't live it don't talk about it. Don't quote somebody else, whether it is Marx, Lenin, gods or saviours, whoever it is, don't use what others have said unless you yourself have deeply understood and are living it. Then if you use those words you become a hypocrite. Yes sir? Go ahead, sir.
K: I see. You have used words yesterday, like, idiotic, stupid and so on. You have used those words, you are rather cruel, you divide yourself. Is that it, sir? Is that what you are saying?
Q: No, I wondered if it was a personal judgement on your part.
K: Is it a personal judgement on your part. Look, it is not a personal judgement. When you see something idiotic, it is idiotic. (Laughter) It is not my judgement. When you see wars, killing, maiming each other, it is terrible. That word 'terrible' is the natural word to describe that, it isn't personal. And people who have ideals, conclusions, I say those people are living in a world of ideas and therefore idiotic, it isn't my opinion. Sir, please do understand this. We must use words to commune. Right? When you use the word 'idiotic', it doesn't mean you condemn the poor people who are idealistic. You say, 'Look it has no meaning'. When the house is burning, don't talk about the ideal house, put the fire out first. Well, sir?
Q: Realising the fact that I am a self-centred person and that I won’t give up my way of life, without a reason either positive or negative, why then should I change?
K: The questioner says, please correct me, sir, if I am not representing your question properly - the questioner says, I am very selfish, that is a fact. Why should I give up that way of life. If I am offered something better, positively or negatively, then I will give up what I have. Is that the question sir?
Q: Also could be involved the fact if I see that I am doing something destructive to myself, that could be the negative aspect.
K: Yes, that's what it means. I have explained that, sir, that means that. Let me repeat the question, which is, I am selfish, why should I give up that way of life unless I am offered a better way of life, negatively or positively. Right? That is, sir, I am selfish, I live in a world of selfishness, offer me something better and I will pursue it. If I may point out, that is commercialism, isn't it? Give me something better than what I have then I won't pursue that. I don't see the implications of selfishness, what it has done in the world - how it destroys and so on, I don't see the falseness of it and therefore I don't see the truth of it, but give me something better.
Now if you were given something better would you accept it? Because your mind is completely selfish, and can you accept something better which is not selfish, will you accept it? Of course not. Because the better is the enemy of the good. Right? Have you understood? No?
Q: They are both positive.
K: Sir, you haven't understood what I have said.
K: When we said 'the better', what do you mean by that? The better. Better than what? Better than what I am? The better of what I am is still selfishness, is better selfishness. Isn't it? The more polished, the more refined selfishness, and that is what we are doing actually. The better therefore becomes the enemy of the good. No?
Q: Can you define sharing?
K: Can you define responsibility? Sorry. Can you define caring. The question is, can you define what you mean by that word care - no?
Q: No, share.
K: Oh, share. Can you define what you mean by the word sharing. It means caring. (Laughter) Now don't you share if you have food with another? Don't you share with a friend the beauty of a mountain? Don't you share with another if you have more money than he has? Don't you share with another if you know something which he doesn't know? Don't you share if you have abundance of affection with another? Don't you share the feeling of beauty, not the thing that is beautiful, but the feeling of beauty? Don't you share with another? All that implies in sharing a great deal of affection, care, a sense of partaking in which there is neither the giver nor the receiver. That is the meaning and beauty of sharing.
Now just a minute. You have heard that, what do you do with it? What do you do with that statement, with the expression or the description of that? What do you do with sharing? Do you share? Or do you say, 'Yes, that is a marvellous description, I rather like it, it includes almost everything, both pleasure and pain, and perhaps I will think about it' - and therefore you have drawn a conclusion, you are not acting, you are not sharing. The sharing is an active present, not having shared or going to share, sharing means now. Are you doing it? The little that you have you share with another. The beauty that you perceive or feel, can you share with another? Or you have no beauty at all. Or you only have beauty in the things that you have been told are beautiful. So you have to go into the question of what is beauty. And perhaps this is not the occasion. And you use that word 'beauty' - beautiful person - what does that mean? Somebody who appeals to you? Whose smell you like? When you use the word 'beauty', what does that word mean? Therefore you can go on describing endlessly but the description is not the described. And when you are not caught in description but are concerned with the thing that is described, then perhaps you will share that with another. Yes sir? Yes madam?
Q: I would like to share with you that my life has been working lately and what I’ve done is let go of being right about my images. I just wanted to tell you that.
K: Good. (Laughter) That is not a sarcastic remark when I said good.
Q: I understand that.
K: Yes sir?
K: All right sir, I understand the question. May I? The questioner asks - if I am rightly interpreting what he is saying, if I am not, please correct it - the questioner is asking how does one perceive what is false and what is true. How do you perceive war - take the most obvious thing - the killing of another human being in the name of religion, in the name of country, or in the name of your own personal bank account. How do you look at it? Because killing, not only animals for your food, but killing another human being, what do you see when you see this happening in the world, when a baby seal is killed by a devout Christian - and you are all good Christians - and when you kill animals for your food, and when you kill human beings and are killed by another, how do you look at it? You say, 'It is perfectly right' - do you? Or do you rationalise it? Say it is necessary because if Russia attacked us, or some other country attacked us, we will be destroyed. That means we will be destroyed, we can't live the way we are living, with our bank accounts, our comfortable houses and bathrooms and all the rest of it, we can't go chasing all over the place, and therefore we must protect ourselves and therefore we must kill. How do you look at all this? Do you justify it? Killing somebody? In the name of God, which Christians have done. You know that is one of the most extraordinary things, probably the Christians have killed more human beings than anybody else. After them probably the Islam. The religion that has not killed people is Buddhism, and after that Hinduism, and all the rest of it. But the Christians obviously have killed many more people than they have killed the gods. So how do you look at all this? What does your intelligence say to all this? Or do you say, 'It is justified. What can we do if Hitler attacks us?' Go on sirs, answer all these things, it is your life not mine, the life of your children, and the love that you talk about. So when you look at this do you see it from a personal point of view, from a conditioned mind that says, 'I am an American, I have got certain ideals, a certain way of life and anybody that interferes with it must be destroyed'?
So, in being aware of that which is false there comes intelligence, and intelligence is not yours, nor mine. And that intelligence operates when any incident, any propaganda, any demand, is put before us, or any challenge. Either you respond unintelligently or intelligently. And intelligence is the perception of what is false and what is true. That is enough sir.
Q: I noticed today and yesterday you referred to yourself several times as ‘the speaker’ rather than in the first person. Is there a reason for that?
K: Why do you refer to yourself as a speaker and not me? That is fairly simple, isn't it? Look, you know people generally right through the world look up to a person, to a figure, to a name, to a reputation. Personally I don't like to act as a guru, I don't like being personal. That is all.