Is it possible to bring about order without the operation of thought?
Is there a way of living completely free from pressure?
2nd Public Talk, Ojai, California
April 02, 1978
I hope you can hear me clearly. May we go on talking about what we were discussing yesterday morning? I hope I may continue with that.
We were saying that any form of pressure on the brain affects our whole way of life. We were also saying that this pressure affects our activities, our attitudes and our character and our way of living. The pressure, economic, social, ethical, and religious pressure invariably distorts, not only our actions but the quality of the brain. And we went into the question of the pressure of language. Language uses us, rather than we use language. The instrument, which is the language, influences our action, our attitudes, thought and so on. We don't use language, language uses us, and therefore language becomes an extraordinary pressure. I do not know if you haven't noticed it in your daily life. When you say, 'My wife', there is already a certain pressure.
And we were saying also that when we use language, words, clearly, without the association connected with that word, either imaginative, romantic, or reactionary, then that word will convey exactly what one means. Therefore communication becomes much easier when we realise that the word is not the thing, that the description is not the described, then language doesn't act or bring about a change in our attitudes and action. We went into that yesterday sufficiently.
And also we said, ideals affect, oppress and act as pressure upon our daily life, and is it possible not to have any ideals but only deal with actually what is, then there is no pressure whatsoever. I do not know if you have thought about it, gone into it since yesterday, and I hope some of you have, then you will find out for yourself what effect ideals bring about: a conflict, a confusion of thought, contradiction, and therefore perpetual struggle between 'what is' and 'what should be'. And we also said, is it possible to live without ideals whatsoever. Which doesn't mean that one becomes 'non-idealistic' - in quotes. On the contrary, one lives with facts, with 'what is', and therefore our action is always accurate, correct, in relation to 'what is'. We talked about that too yesterday.
And then we also went into the question of institutions, how all our life is controlled, shaped, directed by institutions, whether it is democratic, religious, republican, labour or socialist or totalitarian structure. I do not know if you have examined it further for yourself since yesterday, and if you have you will see, you must have found out how institutions control our life, direct our life. Therefore there is no freedom - institution being routine, hierarchical outlook, status, position and controlled by various directors, secretaries, presidents and all the rest of it. So is it possible to live a life without institutions? Which doesn't mean that one leads a sloppy life, a shoddy life, but when one understands the nature and the structure of institutions, has an insight into it, has comprehension in its full depth, then life becomes much more rigorous, much more orderly, and there is a certain quality of freedom. We talked about that yesterday.
And also we talked rather briefly about meditation. You know that word means not only to ponder over, to think over, but also it comes from the root, Sanskrit, as well as Latin and so on, to measure. And the whole western world is based on the Greek idea of measurement, the western world is built on that - right? - which leads to extraordinary technological advancement. Whereas in the east, measure was considered an illusion because to comprehend the immeasurable, the whole, the mind must be free of measurement. We will go into that when we talk more about meditation.
Also if one may point out, we are sharing this thing together, we are examining this thing together. You are not merely listening to a talk, to a series of ideas, or conclusions, because the speaker has no conclusions, no ideas, but merely is stating what actually is, and if it is possible to go beyond. So when we are talking over together it implies that you and I share, partake in what we are examining. It is not the speaker is examining and then you receive, then you become a disciple and I become the authority. I do not wish to become your authority, nor your guru and all the rest of that nonsense. But whereas if we both of us share in our examination then there is no hierarchical attitude at all, both are learning.
So we must go into the question, if I may, of what is learning. What is the actual fact of learning? Learning implies, doesn't it, accumulation of memory, of facts stored up in the brain. All our schools, colleges and universities train us with facts, which are stored up in the brain, which becomes memory, and act skilfully according to that memory, or unskilfully. This is a fact. Right? You go to school to learn mathematics, or geography, or history, register it in the brain, and as you go along to college, university, that registration becomes more and more and more, and then you have all the facts, all the information, and according to that information you get a job, and in that job you act skilfully or not. That's what we generally call learning.
There is also learning by doing. The totalitarian attitude, which is go out, act, then learn. I don't know if you know about all this. Which is both; that is, accumulate facts, learn all about mathematics and so on, accumulate knowledge and act according to that knowledge. The other, the totalitarian other attitude is, go out and act and from there learn. Both are accumulating knowledge. Knowledge then becomes important to act skilfully.
Perhaps there is another way of learning also, which is not either of these two. Are we meeting each other? Please, if I may point out, this is a serious gathering. If you are not serious it is not worth listening, but if you are serious in the sense that you want to live a totally different kind of life, not the life that we are leading, which is constant struggle, battle, violence, antagonism and so on in all our relationships, if one really is committed to find out if there is a different way of living, then one is serious, then you apply your capacities to think clearly, your energies in exploration. And those who are really serious live and those who are not, they do not live. So if one may point out, please, this is not an entertainment, this is not something you play with for a few days, and then drop it. It is not something intellectual, theoretical, problematical, hypothetical, we are dealing with actual daily life. And perhaps some will radically in understanding themselves bring about a different quality of mind. We also said yesterday, each human being, each one of you, if I may point out, represents the whole of mankind. That's an extraordinary thing to realise, because wherever you go, whether to the totalitarian states, Europe, or America, or India or Asia, human beings, the common factor of every human being is that they suffer: agony, despair, loneliness, unhappiness, a great deal of sorrow, fear and so on. So you are actually the representative of all humanity. When you realise it, not verbally, not theoretically, not hypothetically as an ideal, but as an actual fact, then you cease to be an individual. You understand? Individual implies, the meaning of that word, indivisible, not a human being who is broken up, as most human beings are, fragmented, broken up. Such humanity which is broken up is not an individual. So please bear in mind when we are exploring, we are exploring the whole nature of man, including woman of course. And in the exploration you are not only exploring yourself and therefore exploring the whole of humanity. It gives you such depth, width and a great sense of energy. In that there is no despair, depression. I do not know if you have realised all this. Probably some of you have travelled, but we travel for amusement, or to have better food in France, or to see the latest pictures in museums, but you don't look at man, human beings all over the world. If you do then you will see how important it is that your consciousness, which is the consciousness of the whole of mankind, when you realise that there is a certain quality of depth in it.
All right. So we are going to investigate together not only the ideological pressures, the pressure of institutions and language, but also we are going to enquire deeply and in detail if we can, into the pressure of knowledge. May we do that? Because there are various forms of pressure, we are taking one by one as we go along. Because until the mind is free of pressure there is no new way of living: you may join communes, start a new way of cooking and all the rest of it, but that is not freedom from pressure. This requires a great deal of investigation into the whole nature and the movement of pressure. So we are examining together, if I may repeat the word 'together' over and over and over again, there is not the speaker who is examining but together you and the speaker are investigating into this question of pressure, whether it is possible at all to be free of all pressures - the pressure of relationship, the pressure of fear, the pressure of the pursuit of pleasure and the ultimate pressure of god. Right? Really a greater pressure than god is oneself, which is the ultimate pressure. So we are going to examine all this very, very carefully, reasonably, logically, and realise that reason, logic cannot solve these problems. A different quality is needed, which we are going to examine as we go along.
So we are going to enquire into the question of what is knowledge, the nature of knowledge, the movement of knowledge and whether it acts as a pressure, and so on. So please, together. What is the function of knowledge, and what is knowledge? Is knowledge wisdom? Is knowledge the means of the ascent of man? Is knowledge going to free man? Is knowledge going to bring about love? Don't agree, or disagree, we are going to examine. Will knowledge bring about a radical change in our relationship with each other, man, woman? So what place, what importance, what is the use of knowledge? We are going to look into it. Please, don't depend on my investigation because if you depend on the investigation of another, then you are investigating according to the other person's investigation, therefore it won't be your own. If you are going to examine yourself, the pressures, according to some psychologist, however renowned, however famous, then you are merely imitating his concepts, his ideas, his conclusions. Whereas if you examine your own pressures, disregarding what the others say, then what you discover becomes an extraordinarily reality. It doesn't mean you cling to your conclusions, which the philosophers and psychologists do. You then are constantly moving, constantly examining, and you cannot examine if you are frightened, if you say, 'This is not right, this shouldn't be'. Like a scientist, like a good scientist, not the government scientists, but a good scientist, or not the scientist who is part of the institution of a university, if you are good scientists you examine through a microscope 'what is'. In the very observation of that 'what is' the thing is undergoing a change. We will go into that as we go along.
Am I acting as a pressure on you? I feel I am. Because the speaker is intense about all these matters. I mean intense. And one feels very strongly about these matters, and being energetic, asking each one to do now what should be done, what must be done, that may act on you as a pressure, which I do not in any way wish to do. Then it becomes propaganda, worthless.
So we are going to examine together the whole structure of knowledge. Knowledge - as far as one can observe in oneself and in others - knowledge is the outcome of past registrations. Right? The original ape, anthropoid ape, registered danger. You are following this? Like a computer registers on tape, so the original anthropoid ape registered danger, pleasure, fear, the so-called instinctual protection of its young. That registration is the beginning of knowledge. Right? I wonder if you see this. Right? Please don't agree with me, but see it for yourself. When an incident takes place, that incident is registered on the brain, when it's happening. When a word which you do not like to be used against you, that is registered. When somebody flatters you, that is registered. When somebody hurts you, that is registered. When somebody is cruel, that is registered. So the brain is a recording instrument, recording all the incidents that are going on, whether it is conscious or unconscious, whether it is waking hours or sleeping hours. The sleeping hours are the continuation of the waking hours. I wonder - am I going to quickly? Right, sir? I hope not. So knowledge is the accumulation of various experiences, various incidents, accidents, dangers, and so on, registered as memory. Right? That memory is stored up in the brain, in the very cells of it, which is the whole structure of knowledge. Right? And according to that knowledge we react, or act. So knowledge is always in the past. Right, sir? So when we are acting, we are acting from the past. When we say, 'We are living', it is from the past. Or, we say, 'We are living according to the future', which is the past, modified through the present, which becomes the future. All that is based on knowledge, which is the past. So our life is essentially, basically based on the past. So - I must go slowly, I mustn't jump. I want to jump.
So what place has this enormous accumulation of knowledge, knowledge gathered through millions of years, stored up in the brain, instinctual, instinctive and remembrance. So the brain is extraordinarily old, conditioned according to its memories. Right? We are challenging that very conditioning, whether that conditioning is necessary. If it is not necessary then what place has knowledge? You understand all this? So we are asking, our life, our actual daily life is based on the memories of the past, our relationship with each other, man and woman, friends and so on, is based on the past. I must go slowly.
So what is the relationship between thought and knowledge? Do you understand my question? All our activities, all our social, moral, religious, the gods, the pictures, the images, the cathedrals, everything is based on thought. Thought has produced them - the paintings, the culture, the things that are made out of marble, marvellous things, like Michelangelo and so on and so on, they are all based on the movement of thought. Right? Isn't that so? Those who worship Christ, those who regard various gods in India, are created by thought. You may say, 'Well, they lived' - but you thinking about him, that Christ, or that image you have, is self-created and so it is the result of thought. If you say there is god in you, that's created by thought. Or if you say, 'There is nothing but materialism', that's also created by thought. I wonder if you see all this.
Thought has not created nature - the mountains, the rivers, the trees, but man thinking about them makes use of them, like the chair. So thought has created the world in which we actually live. Right? That's obvious. And can thought see the whole movement of life? You understand my question? Perhaps I must explain a little more. Must I?
Let's begin: thought, we said, is the response of memory. Right? Without memory there is no thought. You cannot function radically, or sanely, or logically, or illogically, without thought. Thought has created illusions, which are also reality. You may think that you are god, you may act or think or do according to what you think god is, but yet it is the product of thought. We must be very clear on this point, that everything that we do, the most beautiful architecture, the greatest paintings, the marvellous music, the great scientific inventions, the marvellous, beautiful poems that are written - not modern poems, sorry! - are based on thought. And thought, we said, is the accumulation of knowledge as memory, and according to that memory, responding according to that memory is thought. Right? So thought is fragmented, broken up. I wonder if you see that. This is important, please, this is really important to understand this. A fragment, a broken piece, which is thought, says, 'I will understand the whole universe'. It will understand the universe according to what it has created, but not the actual extraordinary nature of the universe. I wonder if you see this. Please, we must clearly explore this question very, very carefully, that thought in itself is broken up. Why? Because its memory is always limited. Right? It's very narrow, memory cannot contain the whole universe. So memory in itself is limited, therefore thought is limited. And thought means, the movement of thought, means time.
Any movement from here to there, both physically as well as psychologically, implies time. Right? Any movement. Movement means time. So thought is a movement, so it is part of time. So it is limited, it is part of time, therefore it is incomplete. Right? Have I made this clear, sir? Yes? Good! Somebody has got it.
So being limited, being broken up, being part of time, thought is never complete. But it thinks it is complete, so it has created gods, which thought says, 'They are complete'. So whatever - however extensive, however deep, however wonderful - thought is limited, broken up, is based on time, therefore entirely limited. Whatever it creates is limited. So thought is the outcome of knowledge, therefore knowledge is limited, however much you may accumulate as knowledge, it is always limited. So can thought understand itself - please follow this - can thought see itself limited and therefore places itself in its proper place? Am I conveying anything? All right, I'll do it. It's my job to explain.
Now first of all, to learn the art of learning, the art of listening, the art of seeing - the art of seeing, the art of listening, the art of learning. We mean by that word 'art' not the institutionalised idea of art, which is to paint, write poems, you know, all that - and we do not consider those people who live, or paint, that they are real artists, because art means in its root meaning, to put everything in its right place. Right? The meaning of that word 'art' means to give everything its proper place. So if that is clearly understood then has thought its right place? Not that thought puts itself in its right place - please understand this. Do you understand my question? Are you used to this kind of thinking? Are you used to this kind of exchange? I'm afraid not. All right, I'll go into it again.
As we said, learning about art, that is the way of living where everything has its right place, therefore complete order. You understand? If you put everything in your kitchen in its right place there is order, you don't have to chase around looking - which we are doing in the new house but that is irrelevant. If thought puts everything in its right place, then can thought see itself putting itself in its right place, everything in its right place? You understand my question? Can thought put everything in its right place, thought being fragmentary, broken up, can thought put anything in its right place? You understand my question?
Look: we have seen that thought itself is limited. Right? Can that which is limited put anything in its right place? Then the next question is, does thought itself realise that it cannot? Or, thought says, 'I can, tell me how to do it'. You understand the question? Are you moving quickly?
So we are asking: does thought know itself limited, and therefore when there is to be order thought cannot bring about that order. Right? Is this complex, or too subtle? I don't know, I have lost you.
K: Right, if I haven't lost you then we can proceed. Then what brings about order? You understand my question? Whatever thought has created, being limited, being a fragment, broken up, being the past, whatever it does must create disorder. I wonder if you realise this. Whatever it does - all the political promises, all the economists saying, this is the solution, all the philosophers saying, do this, all the psychologists with their extraordinary capacity to analyse - they don't really analyse because they don't know what analysis means, because there is a division between the analyser - I won't go into that for the moment. And whatever thought has done, or is doing: killing animals, whales, dolphins, baby seals, worshipping in a marvellous cathedral, the beauty of the Roman Catholic mass, all that is created by thought. And therefore whatever it has done must create disorder. Right? Do you see that? No, not as an idea, but actually. Look, thought has created nationalities, hasn't it - American, English, German, French, linguistically driven each one in a different direction and so on. So thought has created nationalities. So thought says, 'I will bring nationalities together', united nations, so it is disorder. I wonder if you realise this.
If thought has created disorder, what will bring about order? You understand my question? So man says, 'We cannot do anything about this disorder, god will bring about order'. An external agency, the guru, the priest, somebody will bring about order. The nobler the entity, the imagination, the god, that external agency will bring order, therefore let's pray, let's attend the churches. It is all the movement of thought. I wonder if you see this. So thought, whatever it does, is disorder. If one realises that, sees that, that is, the perception of that is intelligence, isn't it. I wonder if you see that. The perception that thought, whatever it does, has created, and is creating disorder, that very perception is insight, which is intelligence. Right? So that insight brings order. I wonder if you see this. We will go into it.
So we are asking: what is the relationship between knowledge, which is the outcome, which is the past, out of the past comes thought born of memory, stored up in the brain; the brain depends for its security on the past, because memory gives it security, survival - so what relationship has knowledge to order, which must be absolute, not relative? Because the universe is in perfect order, and the scientists are trying to find out what that order is. Then the order they want to find out thought is investigating, therefore the investigation into order will bring further disorder. I wonder if you see all this. Do you? Somebody, please.
K: Not that I want your agreement, or disagreement, do you see it actually? So we are saying, what has knowledge, which has become of such importance, all the scientists are accumulating it and praising it and saying, through knowledge we will ascend more and more and more - what is the relationship between knowledge and order? Do you get it? Or is there no relationship at all?
We are saying order is only possible - complete order inwardly, therefore outwardly - complete order is only possible when thought has realised its limitation and therefore accepts that limitation which has its proper place. Got it? No, please, this is rather a complex question, go into it very slowly. Can that which is limited, broken up, realise itself as broken up? Or thought says, 'I am broken up'. You see the difference? Oh, no. I'll keep at this until you understand this.
We said thought is limited, broken up, part of time, which is the movement of knowledge, therefore utterly, completely limited. And whatever that thought does, being limited, must be continuous disorder. That's an absolute fact, irrevocable. You can see it: they talk about peace and they are preparing for war; they talk about united nations and they are all separate nations, fighting each other, wanting this, that and the other. Look at the division thought has created in religion, the Baptists - I won't go into all that. Thought is really the most mischievous thing in life, the greatest criminal. And what place has that limited thought, what relationship is that to order? Thought cannot bring about order because it is itself limited. Does thought realise that it is limited? Or, thought says, 'I am limited', which is still the movement of thought. Do you see that? So how is it possible for thought to realise that it is limited, without thought saying, 'I am limited'? Therefore thought then says, 'Let me proceed to find out how to break down that limitation'. Which is still thought. Right?
So, we are asking - please listen - the art of listening. To listen implies that your mind is not occupied with your own thoughts, with your own prejudices and you say, 'Yes, I understand it, get on with it', or draw a conclusion. But to listen as you would listen to a small child who is telling you all about his troubles, you don't interrupt him, you don't say, 'That's enough, for goodness sake, I am getting bored', you hold his hand, or cuddle him, put him on your lap and you listen to all the things he has to say; you don't interrupt. In the same way, listen, which means care, attention, affection. If you listen that way then the problem is solved. The problem is this - your problem: realising that thought has created an awful mess of the world, thought says to itself, 'I must bring about order'. The order according to Marx is totalitarianism, probably there is order there; no poverty, there are no flies, they are honest, everybody is drilled, frightened, obeying. That is disorder. And in the western world, the same thing, disorder. So thought, whatever it does, is disorder. That's one point.
Now my next question is: what will bring order? Because without order life becomes a confusion, a conflict, a miserable state. So can there be - please listen - can there be absolute order, not relative order, order depending on the presidents, or your guru, complete order. So thought can, whatever it does, create more, more and more disorder. And one realises intellectually perhaps, or verbally, that there must be order. So is it possible to bring about order without the operation of thought? You get it? You understand the question? Without the movement, the functioning of thought? Because thought itself is confusion. I'll go into it. If you don't mind listen to it.
How have you approached this question? You understand? That is, order and disorder, disorder created by thought. And thought cannot bring about order. Now how do you come to it? What has been your approach to this question? Because on your approach depends the answer. You understand? This is simple, isn't it? If I approach it with fear, with anxiety, with wanting to understand, fight, fight, I won't see the full significance. Therefore I must be very clear, you must be absolutely clear how you approach the question. So we are examining how you are approaching this question: order and disorder. Are you approaching it in order to solve a problem? Therefore you are more concerned with the solution rather than with understanding the problem itself. Or are you approaching it with a desire to bring about order, which is the operation of thought? So please investigate for yourself how you are approaching this problem. Through fear, through expectation that somebody will tell you therefore you will bring about order? Or you don't know, therefore you are groping to find? Has your approach a motive? Because if you have a motive, that motive is going to dictate the answer. Right? I wonder if you see all this.
So one must be very clear how you approach. If you approach it totally freely, freedom, without wanting something out of it, then you can investigate whether thought can bring order, if thought cannot bring order, the very realisation that thought cannot bring about order is intelligence, isn't it. I wonder if you see that. You see that, don't you?
K: That thought, which has created disorder, to see that thought in itself is the mischief maker, that is an extraordinary revelation. That is insight, isn't it. Therefore insight has nothing to do with memory, has nothing to do with thought, nothing to do with the past. So that insight is going to bring order. I wonder if you understand this.
Now just a minute: if you have an insight that institutions, whatever they are, will not resolve our problems, do you realise it logically, rationally? Or you have an insight into it? You understand my question? If you have an insight into it you are free of all nationalities, the feeling of belonging to a particular nation. So in the same way, when you listen to the fact that thought cannot bring about order, that very act of listening is an insight to the fact. That's why it is tremendously important to listen. So that insight, which is totally unrelated to memory, brings order. And that order is the order of the universe, complete, total, irrevocable. It's not order one day and the next day mess.
Have you got some of this? So we will go on with it perhaps as a discussion the day after tomorrow, or next Saturday or Thursday. I hope it will be in the Grove, which will be much nicer. Right. (clapping) Please don't clap. You are clapping for yourself, you are not clapping for me. (clapping and laughter).