How do we psychologically respond to the present condition of the world?
When you observe ‘what is’, there is no conflict
1st Public Talk, Madras
December 26, 1981
If I may I would like to point out we are not entertaining you. We are not indulging in some kind of intellectual game, or trying to point out what kind of belief you should have; or to seek a leader to solve our problems. We are not doing any kind of propaganda to persuade you to think in a particular direction, or to convince you of a particular point of view. But we are thinking together, observing together the problems, the crisis, that we are facing, the war, destruction, corruption, and the superstitions in the name of religion; all that nonsense that goes on in the name of religion, god and so on. What we are going to do in these talks here, and the discussions, we are observing carefully first what is happening in the world outside of us: the environment, the social condition, the immorality of society in which we exist, the contradictions and so on. We are together, if you will, going to examine, investigate what is happening outside. So please this is not a lecture, something you listen to, agreeing or disagreeing, but rather that together you, and the speaker, together, are going to look at all these problems that man is facing now: the great crisis, not only outwardly but the crisis in our consciousness, in our mind, in our behaviour, in our relationship with each other.
We are going to talk over together the problem of fear, relationship, pleasure, sorrow, death and what is right meditation. During all these talks we are going to cover all that, that is, the whole existence of man. So we are not dealing with ideas, theories, or come to some kind of conclusion and from that conclusion act. But we are together going to think, we are together examining, we are together going to observe impersonally, not as Hindus or Christians, or Capitalists, or Socialists, or Communists, but together as intelligent, if we are, intelligent human beings who are facing an extraordinary world; the world that has become very dangerous, a world that we have made, a society which we have created. We have contributed to all the horrors that are going on in the world.
So please from the very beginning I would like to point out that this is not a form of speculative entertainment. We are facing a very dangerous world, a very corrupt world, perhaps more so in this country. And no politicians, nor a particular party with their theories, with their promises, are going to solve our problems - no politician, nor politics, no religion whether it be Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, or the Islamic world, is going to solve any of our problems. Nor any leader, whether they be political, religious, or some kind of fanciful guru. We have relied on leaders, somebody to tell us what to do when we are so confused, when we are in great trouble, when we are in sorrow, conflict, we look to others, politically, or religious leaders. They have all failed because we are what we are. We are, after two or three million years, or perhaps twenty five thousand years, which is the latest calculation of man's beginning, we have had every kind of leader, every kind of spiritual being who will tell you what to do. We have followed our gods, the scriptures, or perhaps we have not followed them, we have read them. Our minds are filled with knowledge of other people's sayings and their commentaries. And after all these millennia we are finding in the outward world wars, the threat of the atom bomb, the extraordinary technological military advance, the tribalism called nationalism: all this is what man has created. Man has created his own gods, his own rituals and so on.
So if we are serious, if we are really concerned not only with what is happening in the world but also if we are concerned as a human being - a human being who has lived, experienced, suffered, loved perhaps - and at the end of this millennia we are what we are now; lost, uncertain, insecure, and all the gods that man has invented have failed. So we cannot possibly rely on anybody, including the speaker.
So realising what is important, realising that since all these people have failed us, 'led us up the garden path', we have to be entirely utterly responsible for ourselves: responsible for our conduct, responsible for our relationship with each other, responsible to have total integrity. We shall be talking over these things together.
So first, if we may, let us look at the world, because if you don't observe the world carefully we have no criteria by which you judge when we turn inwardly. I hope that is clear. We must understand the world in which we live; that is the yard-stick: how we look at the world; what is our response to what is happening in the world, whether we are committed to any particular from of belief, to a particular system, to any particular institution, or to any particular nation. But if we would understand what is happening one must be free to look, not be biased, not think in terms of Hinduism. But we are facing a global problem; the problem of war, the problem of corruption, the utter lack of integrity. So let us look together, objectively, not personally, not from any conclusion, however palatable, however logical, because if we hold to a particular point of view whether it be Socialist, Communist, Capitalist and so on, we shall not be able to understand, obviously, what actually is going on. I think that is fairly clear. So let us start.
The world has divided itself as the one far west, middle Europe and Asia. Each has its own particular point of view: nationalistic, religious, economic and seeking power, great powers in the West and the East. They are in conflict, preparing militarily for war. When you prepare you must produce; like a good cook who prepares food - ultimately there is a meal. Similarly, each country, separate, committed to its own borders, is accumulating extraordinary implements of war. The cause of war - one of the factors - is nationalism, which is glorified tribalism: nationalism, patriotism, which is totally different from the love of country, love of the earth. It is not the Hindu earth or the Christian earth, it is our earth to live upon it happily. But apparently that has become almost impossible. And one idea, or set of ideas opposing another, theoreticians on both sides supplementing logical events. You know all this. Anybody who reads the newspapers, or listens to radio or television, can observe all this phenomena going on in the world; the innumerable books written on both sides against each other.
And religion has separated man: the Christians, the Catholics, the Protestants and the many, many other sects involved in Christianity. And there is this so-called Hinduism, apparently with three hundred thousand gods: local gods, tribal gods, each against the other, tolerating each other.
And economically each country is concerned with itself. There is great poverty in the world, especially in this country. And anybody who is concerned must naturally be involved in solving the problem of poverty. This poverty throughout the world cannot possibly be solved through nationalism, through separate, economic division: it is a global affair. You will not solve your problem of poverty in this country unless we deal with it globally. But the politicians will not listen to this at all because they are concerned with solving immediate problems. So that is what the world is, which we have created, you, your grandparents and so on and so on. This society in which we live is created by man, by you. And this society has become very dangerous, corrupt, in which there is no morality and so on and so on.
So what is our responsibility with regard to all this? How do we psychologically respond to this present condition? That is, the world is not separate from you; you are the world because we have created this: the separate religions with all their rituals, with the utter meaninglessness of it all. So how do we, each one of us, respond to all this? Do we still remain as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Capitalists, Communists? Or can we have a global interrelationship? That is one of our problems. And do we realise that thought has created all this? Do we realise that thought has created the whole technological world, the astonishing things they are producing: thought is responsible for that. Thought is responsible for the beautiful architecture, the great cathedrals, great temples and mosques. And all the things that are within the temples, within the mosques, within the churches are put together by thought: thought has created the gods, the local gods, or the gods that you have a little further along up the hill. Thought is responsible for the division of people as Hindus, Buddhists and all the rest of it. Thought is responsible and there is no question about it. You can't argue that some other outside agency has created this mess in which we are living. We are saying clearly that thought is solely responsible for all this horror that is going on: in the technological world, the computer, the submarine, the atom bomb, the gods, their rituals, superstitions, dogmas, the priests and so on; thought has put together this whole structure.
So we ought to understand what is thinking, what is thought? Why have we given such extraordinary importance to thought? We have praised the intellectuals, the writers, the theoreticians, the philosophers; why has thought become so utterly important? We live by thought, our actions are based on thought. We project, thought projects the future, thought has created all our problems. Please do listen to all this. You may not agree, but listen, find out, don't resist but enquire, explore. Thought has done most extraordinary things: great surgeons, medicine, communication, rapid transportation; but thought also has created wars and all the instruments of war; thought has divided people. Please look at it carefully. So we have to enquire most seriously why human beings throughout the world have given such importance, such extraordinary vitality to thought. What is thought? What is thinking? Please understand we are not condemning thought but we are examining together the nature of thought; together exploring the beginning of thought, which has done such beneficial activity on one side, destruction on the other. What is thought? What is the beginning, the origin of thought?
Thinking is the beginning of memory; without memory there is no thinking. That is so obvious. Memory is stored, stored up in the brain as knowledge. Knowledge is the outcome of experience: experience, knowledge, memory and the response of memory is thought. Right? Are we meeting each other? Or am I talking to myself? We are together in this. You are not agreeing, we are examining. It is not that the speaker is telling you what thought is, but together we are understanding the nature and the movement of thought. So thought is the outcome of experience, of a thousand million years of experience, vast accumulation of knowledge: scientific, biological, archaeological and so on. It is there in our brain as memory; and from that memory thought comes. So knowledge is always in the past. That is obvious. Are we clear? And the past is our life, projected perhaps into the future. So we are living in the past: all our memories, our experiences, the past meeting the present, modifying itself and proceeding further as the future. So thought is a material process. Are we meeting each other? Or this is impossible. Do you understand, sirs?
Memory is in the brain, the brain contains the memory, and memory is the outcome of experience, knowledge, and knowledge can never be complete about anything and so thought is always incomplete. Thought is not holistic. So our actions, our behaviour, our outlook is always limited, is always partial because we rely on thought; thought guides us and thought is the outcome of knowledge, and knowledge is always incomplete about anything. So our actions are incomplete, our outlook is incomplete. But thought is necessary, knowledge is necessary, otherwise you couldn't go home, otherwise we couldn't speak English, otherwise we wouldn't know how to cook. So knowledge, however limited, we must have. That's clear.
So is there any other kind of knowledge? You are following this? I need knowledge to speak English, or French or Tamil or Telegu or whatever the language is. I need to have knowledge if I am a carpenter, or a scientist - I must have gathered a great deal of information to be a top scientist. But to be a good carpenter I must know the nature of the wood, the tools, I must have great skill with my hands. Therefore knowledge at a certain level is necessary completely. That is, to survive physically we must have knowledge. And if you observe, psychologically, inwardly, the same process continues. That is, we must have knowledge to survive physically; and psychologically, inwardly we think knowledge is necessary. The same movement, which is physical survival, that same movement is carried over psychologically. I hope this is clear. Are we together in this or not? Somebody say, 'Yes' - will you? (laughs) May I go on? Good. At last, somebody!
Psychologically, inwardly, what are we? We are memory, nothing else. We are a mass of collective memory, remembrance of things past. And we are operating, functioning psychologically on memory as the 'me' and the 'you'. Right? So is there knowledge about oneself? Do we know ourselves? Without going to the psychologists, the philosophers who tell us what we are, or going to the sacred books to find out what we are, do we know, or observe, are we aware of what we are? What are we? What are you? As a human being, what are you? I know, you have got a name, a form, a job and so on and so on and so on, outwardly; but inwardly - which always overcomes the outer; what you are inwardly conquers whatever system, whatever ideology, it always overcomes that. So it is important from the beginning of these talks to understand what we are. We are the name, the form, outwardly: inwardly the content of our consciousness is put together by thought. Right? Within my consciousness, and your consciousness, is the belief, the fears, the agonies, the pain, the desperate loneliness, sorrow and all the hurts, wounds, psychologically, that we have; all that is our consciousness.
Our consciousness - both the conscious as well as the unconscious - that consciousness may invent a super consciousness but it is still part of that consciousness. That is, I may think that there is super consciousness beyond my consciousness, a super consciousness which I have to bring down into myself. That super consciousness is still part of my thinking about it, so it is still part of my consciousness. See, sir, what we are doing; how we are deceiving ourselves, how dishonest we are: because we have never realised that thought can invent and live in an illusion of every kind. So our consciousness is the product of thought. I will go into it, you will see it presently. This consciousness is common to all mankind. All mankind has belief, some kind of belief, he may not particularly have your belief but he has belief: it suffers, it's anxious, uncertain, insecure, depressed, lonely, great anxiety and so on. This is common to all mankind, whether they live in America, in Russia, or here or in China. Right? So it is not your consciousness, it is the consciousness of man. Right? Please see the logic of it even. Because wherever you go, from the remotest village to the most sophisticated city in the world, man, a human being, goes through all kinds of travail, all kinds of misery; and that is the common ground on which we all stand. And the consequences of that are that we are not individuals. I know this will be rather difficult for you to accept.
Are you individual? Which means that you are a separate entity, with separate consciousness, with a separate conditioning, as an entity striving to perfect itself. Right? Are you? The word individual means indivisible. That is, individuality is really a human being who has never known fragmentation. Are we meeting this? Don't agree. Look at yourselves, sirs. Do look at yourself. The speaker may put it into words, he may act as a mirror but look at that mirror. See yourself exactly as you are: anxious, uncertain, insecure, inwardly - you may be secure, I hope all of you are secure outwardly - but inwardly you are insecure, uncertain, fearful, anxious, in pain, hoping somebody will clear up your anxieties, all the conflicts that one goes through. This is common to every human being - to your wife, to your husband, to the man that lives in far away countries, this is a common factor for all human beings. So your consciousness is not yours. But we are conditioned through centuries to think we are separate individuals. Religions have encouraged this; education has fostered it; your whole literature is based on this: individual salvation, individual prayers, through whose prayers you will receive. We are conditioned to think, live as separate human beings. We are questioning that. If you are an individual then you have separated yourself from another and so you have created a society based on this division, each one struggling to succeed, each one struggling to reach heaven, or whatever it is. So we are questioning altogether this whole concept that you are an individual. You are not: you are the rest of mankind; you are the world and the world is you. So, you understand the extraordinary truth of this? It shatters all the ideas of individuality.
So the question then is: is it possible to be free utterly from all the content of our consciousness? You understand? To be free of all the hurts that one has received from childhood; to be free of fear; to understand the whole nature of pleasure; to find right relationship with each other. So let's begin to find out if it is possible to be free of the hurts, the wounds, that we have received from childhood. You understand the question? All human beings are hurt psychologically. They are hurt through education when they are compared one boy with another boy, that is a hurt. The whole system of education is based on this, competition, and that inevitably wounds a human being. So can we find out if you are at all aware of your hurts, of your psychological wounds, whether it is possible to be free of them. Because if we are not, one must see the consequences of these hurts. You are following all this? May I ask something?
Look: suppose I am hurt - you understand what the word hurt is? By a word, by comparison, by a gesture and so on, I am hurt. And the consequences of that hurt are that I am protecting myself, build a wall around myself in order not to be hurt more. So fear arises. And as you proceed further, in all our relationships, man, woman, if I am hurt, I bear that hurt, continue with that hurt and it has its own neurotic activities in my relationship with another. So we are asking is it possible to be free of hurts? What is it that is hurt? Please sir. When you say, 'I am hurt', what do your mean by that?
What is it that is hurt? Is it the image you have about yourself? It is, isn't it? The image that you have, either your parents, your society has given you, or you have created an image about yourself and that image gets hurt. Right? We create the image in order to feel secure, in order to feel safe. And that image, that picture of what one is, gets hurt.
The next question is: is it possible to live a daily life in this world without a single image? You understand my question? You understand, sir? As long as I have an image about myself, that I am this, that I am that, or that I should be, that I am not, or I want to be a great success, I can't achieve the top. And that image is being built daily, and that image gets hurt. We are asking: is it possible to live in this world without a single image? It is possible. That is real freedom. That is to be completely free from all conditioning. Because without that total freedom there is no love. And without that love there is no compassion with its intelligence.
So, as we said, seeing what the world is, and that you cannot possibly rely on anyone, your gurus, your leaders, they have all betrayed you, human beings, or probably they have betrayed themselves. So you have to be totally responsible in this chaotic world. And to be responsible one must understand oneself; what you are, not what others tell you what you are. To discover for yourself why you think this, why you have these beliefs, these superstitions, this anxiety. So one has to become sensitive; sensitive to the world, to nature. You know when you have lost your relationship with nature you have lost your relationship with human beings. You understand all this? So that responsibility is not to be avoided; so you have to feel this tremendous responsibility because if you do not, we are going to face catastrophe after catastrophe. The human brain is declining, it is caught in a particular conditioning. We will talk about it further.
It is caught in this conditioning, which is, it is functioning partially. The brain is not functioning wholly, only partially. It is functioning partially because we have limited it by knowledge. As knowledge is never complete, as knowledge will always live within the shadow of ignorance, our conditioning of the brain has become small, narrow. This is a fact if you observe. If you are an engineer and you have spent all your life calculating, you know, as an engineer, your brain is naturally limited. If you are a lawyer, naturally your brain is limited. Your profession conditions your brain. And therefore there is division.
So the enquiry is further, if we have time this evening: what is the capacity of a brain which is acting, functioning holistically, as a whole? You understand my question? Oh, my god! You understand, sir? The scientists are also saying, which the speaker has been saying for many years, that we are only using a very small part of our brain because we are all becoming specialists. That is one side. And also it is functioning on knowledge; that is, experience, knowledge, memory, thought, action; from that action you learn more and come back, that is, in this cycle, it is caught in this cycle. Are you following all this? Sir, observe yourself. You have learnt something through experience; that is recorded in the brain as memory; from that memory there is action; from that action you learn more. So you are caught in this chain of experience, knowledge, memory, thought, action. So it is conditioned to that and therefore it has become limited, narrow. If you observe it yourself you can see this for yourself. And the brain is the centre of all sensory responses. It contains all the responses of the senses. Right? And religions have denied the importance of the senses. Right? You know this: suppress. So as human beings have learnt to use only one sense, or two senses, but not holistically all the senses, therefore your brain becomes narrow, partial and all its activity is partial, therefore there must be conflict. They are discovering too that a human being who has no conflict at all, psychologically as well as outwardly, may not have any kind of disease. Perhaps you will be more interested in that!
So is it possible to live without a single conflict? We are saying, yes, it is possible: not theoretically, not as some ideal, not something as a reward - it is a fact. That is, as long as there is a contradiction within oneself there must be conflict. That is when you say one thing and do another, that is a conflict; when you think one thing and do quite the opposite. Right? So there is this conflict inwardly. All human beings live in conflict; in their relationship with each other, however intimate, there is conflict. And we are asking whether it is possible to live in this world without a shadow of conflict. That is, conflict exists only when we do not understand 'what is' but rather 'what should be'. You understand? That is, we are escaping from 'what is' into 'what should be'. In that escape there is conflict. All escapes from 'what is' must inevitably bring conflict. 'What is' is what is actually taking place in your mind and your heart, not escape from that. We escape from it when we begin to pursue what is not. You understand? 'What is' is the fact, 'what is' is actually what is happening. To understand that why should we have ideals? Why should we have beliefs and all that business? Just to observe 'what is'.
So one begins then to enquire: what is observation, what is it to observe? Have you observed your wife or your husband? Observed. That is, to observe without the word, without all the memories you have built about her or him, to observe. To observe, sir, a tree, one of the most beautiful things on earth, a tree. Have you ever observed it? To observe it without a word, without the word 'tree' - knowing the word is not the thing. Right? You understand this? Sir, the symbol is not reality, the word is not the fact, but to us words have become extraordinarily important: my wife. The word is not the wife, is not the woman, or the man. So we are caught in words. Your religion is nothing but words.
So, sirs, we have observed together what the world is; the world which we have created, the world for which we are responsible. And as nobody in the world is going to help you, nobody, including the speaker, especially the speaker, it behoves then that you as a human being, who is the rest of mankind, that you are totally responsible for what you do: if you are corrupt, end your corruption, suffer for it; if you are dishonest, end that dishonesty because you are responsible for everything that is happening in the world. And mankind is facing a terrible danger. Your grandchildren are going to face it if you are not facing it already. So please understand for yourself how utterly responsible, and when you feel responsible then you have capacity, capacity to act as a human being who has got integrity, means what he says, doesn't repeat what other people have said.
And as we will be talking, going over together the whole human existence with its problems, we have to listen to each other. Listen. We have lost the art of listening. To listen so that you see immediately the false or the true: that means not only hearing with the sensual ear but hearing inwardly. That is why one has to be silent, quiet, to find out. Right sir.