Knowledge and envy
Relationship is challenge and response
1st Public Talk, Madras
December 07, 1974
I wonder why you come to listen to me. Is it out of curiosity or you have nothing better to do? Or do you want to find out what the speaker has to say? If you want to find out what he has to say, you have to listen. To listen is an art. The word 'art' means to put everything in its right place, that's the real meaning of the word 'art'. And if you are going to listen this evening to a discourse, and if one may suggest one has to listen not with your own opinions, your prejudices and your conclusions and ideas but rather listen neither agreeing or denying, disagreeing. To listen requires a certain form of communication between the speaker and yourself. Communication implies not only a verbal exchange but also to think together, actually think together and share together not ideas, not words but rather the thing that lies behind the word, to read between the lines, to have an insight which we both share. So listening is not only an art but a responsibility.
And if you are at all serious, not merely intellectually amused but serious in front of a declining and degenerating world, specially in this country then a quality of mind that demands to investigate, to explore, to examine, not merely the description, the verbal picture but rather to investigate together why this country is becoming daily more and more confused, more and more corrupt, a way of life that is becoming mechanical. And when we use the word 'degeneracy' we mean what the dictionary says, an inferior state of mind which is not excellent. And together, if you will this evening, go into this problem because it is very serious why a group of people, a community, living in this country, and this is happening all over the world, and we are not comparing India with the rest of the other countries, but merely taking the country as it is, which is the people as they are, which is yourself, and to find out why, what is the central core of this terrible decay, of this degeneracy, of this mechanical way of life. We have not only personal problems but also we have peripheral issues, like inflation, over-population, economic chaos and so on and so on, they are all peripheral issues. And a serious mind demands and must find an answer why there is this decline both religiously - and that's the first degeneration, there is no religion in this country at all. We are going to talk about it, so don't be shocked. There is a sense of a total unrelated to world events, each one is concerned with his own little problem, with his own survival, with his own security, with his own personal salvation. All this indicates a mind, a heart that is becoming more and more incapable of dealing with the problem as a whole. And we have to find an answer because there is so much suffering, incalculable misery, a despair of which one may not be aware, or conscious, but it is there. We are not exaggerating nor being pessimistic, but merely stating what is going on. Technologically there is extraordinary improvement, things are going so fast but human beings are not keeping up with that rapid growth in technology.
So seeing all this, wars, violence, corruption, a social structure that is totally immoral, division, conflict, suffering and the brutal violence that is spreading throughout the world, seeing all this, one wants to find out, if one is at all really serious, not playing with words, not playing with ideas or speculating about the problem but if one really earnestly enquires into it, which we are going to do, then that enquiry demands on your part an observation which is not prejudged, which is not prejudiced, which is not parochial, which is not Hindu or any other particular race or caste. So to investigate there must be freedom otherwise you cannot investigate. That's obvious. If I want to find out something my mind must be free to enquire, must not be caught in its own prejudices, in its own beliefs and conclusions. And that's the first requirement of any enquiry, of any examination. And I hope together, being free if that's at all possible, that is not being a Hindu with all your ugly tradition, your superstitions, and all the rest of it, and being free to look, to observe, to find out. And I hope we can do this together.
What is the reason of this decay? Not peripheral reasons, not reasons which are superficial, which any economist, socialist or philosopher invents or describes, but rather together face this question, why you in India, living in this country, not comparing India to Europe and America or Russia - this country - why, what has happened? You know this is a question one asks after fifty years of coming to this country every winter, and seeing the decline every year. What is the reason, what has happened to the mind? As we said, please neither agree nor disagree but examine. Which is, examine not the words, the ideas, the speculative inferences but why this has happened. And where do you enquire? Do you enquire after some philosophical assertion, or do you enquire an idealistic formula, or do you enquire what you are, what you have become. Right? That's where the enquiry has to begin, otherwise it has no value, otherwise it becomes merely an amusing entertaining enquiry without any result. So to enquire you have to enquire within yourself why human beings living in this country have allowed themselves to be what they are, what they have become - non-religious, though you may do puja three times a day, go to temples, follow innumerable gurus, read the Gita, Upanishads, those are all extraneous events, what other people have said. And by reading those books you think you are religious, by going to some guru and worshipping his nonsense, his systems, his meditation, you think you have become suddenly extraordinarily religious. Or somebody who does some miracle, and you think by attending those tricks you suddenly have found religion.
So if you observe yourself very seriously, are you religious? The word 'religion' means according to the dictionary, not what you think religion should be, because your opinion of what you think religions should be may be just your own hope, your own wish, your own longing, your own prejudice and therefore it has no validity. Religion means gathering all your energy, both intellectual, physical, psychological, all your energy so that it is totally aware of all its activities, not fragmented but as a whole, a holistic activity. That's what religion means. Are you so religious?
And the next question is: thought plays an extraordinary part, thought has done most extraordinary things technologically, it has constructed the aeroplane, everything, thought has created that, the whole scientific field of knowledge, the whole world of medicine and so on and so on. Thought also has created wars, divided people. Please observe it for yourself, don't agree with me, the speaker has no value at all, he is not doing propaganda. Thought has divided people, thought has separated religions, thought has created the gods which you worship, the saviours, the gurus, the masters, the whole field is the projection of thought, your ramas, sitas, and gurus, you know the whole world of that. So you have created your gods whom you worship. So you are worshipping yourself in a round about way. Are you observing all this? Are you aware that what the speaker is saying is a fact or non-fact? That thought, your thought, your daily thought, not your idealistic thought which is still part of thought, that thought has accumulated tremendous knowledge in one field and that knowledge is operating in that technological world and thought as knowledge is destroying the human beings. I'll explain as we go along.
Have you ever observed yourself, that you are functioning, thinking, acting according to knowledge. Knowledge means experience, accumulated memory, and you are acting, functioning, according to that memory, which has become mechanical. Right? You are following this? And as thought is fragmentary - thought is never whole - all action becomes fragmentary. So knowledge in one field, in one area is absolutely necessary and when mind merely functions on knowledge as most do, then it becomes mechanical and the decline begins. Right? Am I talking Greek? You understand the question? Knowledge to which you give such tremendous importance, is always in the past and part of that knowledge is tradition, and when you are acting, living in that area as you do then the mind must become mechanical. Right? That is, memory is experience and knowledge stored up in the brain and that knowledge is reacting all the time. You can observe it in yourself. And we say that one of the basic reasons for the decline of people in this country is that they are living in an area of mechanical knowledge. And therefore the mind must decline, the mind must degenerate, when you are living according to the knowledge of others, the Gita, the Upanishads, you know, all the books that you read, you are living on the knowledge, or the experience, or the say-so of other people and therefore your life is second-hand. Right? Aren't you surprised, or you just sit there listening to all this? You understand what I am saying? I am not insulting you, I am just pointing out, you are second- hand people, or third-hand people. And when you discover that, not because the speaker tells you but you discover it for yourself, the truth of it, the fact of it, that you are living on knowledge, on tradition, which is a continuity of knowledge. And therefore a civilisation, a culture, a people that live merely on knowledge must inevitably decline.
And to find out a way of living which is non-mechanical, which is not based on knowledge, is the regeneration. That is, in one area knowledge is essential, otherwise you can't go home, otherwise you can't understand English, otherwise you can't recognise your wife or husband. Knowledge in that area is necessary. But when the mind merely lives, nourished by memory, by knowledge of others, specially, then the inevitable decline takes place. So is it possible, please do listen to this for two minutes, if you will - is it possible to live a life where the area of knowledge is sustained and to act in relationship, because life is relationship between you and another, in that relationship no continuity of knowledge from day to day? You understand my question? Because you see I am using the word 'knowledge' in the sense as accumulated experience in human relationship which becomes memory stored up in the brain and according to that memory responds. It's excellent in the field of technology but in the field of relationship between human beings then it becomes a destructive and a mechanical thing, which prevents what one can call love. Right?
I wonder if you are following all this? Are we communicating with each other or not? I think you are used to going to meetings, aren't you, being lectured to, talked at. And here one is saying things which apparently you don't catch, apparently you haven't even thought about all this, you haven't even enquired. Do you understand my question? I am asking very seriously, why you as a human being living in this country are declining, degenerating, why your minds are not fresh, why there is no love at all. And that may be this mechanical activity of the brain, of the mind, of ideas, and the utter lack of what one can call deep affection, compassion. These two factors may be right through the world the essence of this decline. You understand?
Haven't you got a problem of this kind? Isn't it your problem? Or are you merely concerned with over population, inflation, and how to get on with your wife or your husband, get a better job, corruption, you know, all the superficial things, which dominate most people, and if you are enquiring you must go very much deeper, not merely find superficial answers to superficial issues. Aren't you concerned? You understand my questions, my problem? It is not mine, it is your problem, I am putting it to you for you to face and answer. How can human beings live on tradition, which is a mechanical process, on mere knowledge? Which makes the mind mechanical therefore it has no energy.
Leave that for the moment, and look at something else. Have you ever gone into the question of what love is? Or you don't even think about it? Have you gone to find out that extraordinary thing which one calls love, compassion? Is compassion knowledge? Is compassion the cultivation of thought? Is love a mere remembrance of certain incidents, knowledge? You understand my question? You have to answer this. So one asks: is there love in this country? Please, I am not saying it does exist or doesn't exist in Europe or America or Russia, I am asking you who live in this country non-comparatively. Or you have reduced love to sex, pleasure, or it has become duty, responsibility, a thing which is the outcome of a comfortable life, or something which you call devotion. You understand all my questions? Because it may be this factor, that in your heart there is no love, and you are living entirely within the field of knowledge.
Let's go into it a little more. You see when one observes what is going on in the world, the political division, the wars, the Arabs and the Jews and the Russians and the Chinese, and the Americans and the constant strain, and struggle and the brutality, the threat of war, starvation, all that, when you consider all that, not just your little problem, your problem is involved in all this but you have to take the whole thing, the whole thing, not just one fragment of it. Now when you look at all that non-personally, objectively, the chaos, the immense suffering not only personal but the collective suffering of man, what is your answer to this? For God's sake. What do you say? Retreat into some philosophical jargons and slogans? So if you are at all serious you have to find this out, whether human beings, that is you and I, whether we can bring about a total revolution in ourselves psychologically because when you change fundamentally you affect the whole consciousness of the world. You understand sirs? God! You understand this? Look: Lenin, whether you agree with him or not agree with him, has affected the consciousness of the world. Right? Stalin has, Hitler has, and the priests have affected the consciousness of the world by their belief, by their saviours and all the rest of it. Every human being - please look at it for yourself, it's the truth, it's a fact - every human being when there is a fundamental change in himself affects the consciousness of the world because you are the world, the world is you, you are India, geographically as well as psychologically. And when you change not at the superficial level but fundamentally, radically, because you are the world, because the world is you, you affect the consciousness. That's a fact, isn't it? We don't seem to be communicating with each other at all. Haven't the inventors of Rama and Krishna affected your consciousness, everlasting songs about them? Of course it has affected your consciousness. And so if you as a human being transform yourself you affect the consciousness of the rest of the world. It seems so obvious.
And can knowledge transform man? Do you understand my question? Oh God! You have knowledge about so many things, you have read so much, you have philosophies galore, after all philosophy means the love of truth in daily life, not theories, not speculative concepts, it is the living, the love of truth in daily life, which means tremendous honesty. And the love of being honest. So can the human mind, your mind, transform itself through knowledge? Or knowledge has no place in the regeneration of man. Knowledge is mechanical, you can add and take away from knowledge, and when you live in that area as most people do - memory, experience, knowledge - if you live in that area the mind must inevitably become mechanical. That is, in your relationship, in daily relationship between man and woman you function on knowledge, don't you? No? Don't you have an image of her and she has an image of that person, which is, essentially the image is knowledge, and you live in that relationship based on knowledge and therefore there is no freedom. Are we meeting at all? So I am asking you: what place has knowledge in the transformation of man and society? We are saying knowledge has no place because knowledge is mechanical, which I have explained. Then what is the element, what is the core, the root, which is not the product of thought and therefore a factor which is not knowledge? You understand my question? Please do. Look, sir: I want to transform myself because I see what I am, miserable, confused, ugly, brutal, avaricious, hateful, jealous, ambitious, cunning, deceitful, say one thing and do another, double talk, an idealist and that ideal has nothing to do with my daily life, I see all that, this contradiction, this conflict, this struggle from the moment I am born until I die. And I say to myself, how can I change all this? That requires not slackness, laziness, I must find out, not according to some philosopher, not according to the Gita, that doesn't interest me at all because that's rather a bore. I want to find out. What am I to do? Now put yourself in that position, please put yourself in that position and see, ask yourself seriously what are you to do. That is, can the knowledge that you have acquired either through self-knowing, understanding yourself, or the knowledge that you have acquired from others, the knowledge that you have gained through experience, whether this knowledge is going to transform you. You understand? Or a different energy, a different factor is necessary to bring about a transformation.
So we have put this question unconsciously perhaps, then we say, 'Yes, I cannot do it by myself, therefore I need a guru' and the guru is of my choice, who must please me, I don't go to a guru who tells me, 'Get to work'. And I escape into ideas, ideals and so on and never face this. Now since you are here, you are good enough to come this evening to listen, look at it: can your knowledge that you have acquired transform your envy? Take that one factor. Can you totally be free of it? That is, can your knowledge of what it is to be envious and the results of envy, and the cause of envy, you know all that because your minds are very good at analysing, most minds are if they are given certain opportunity, you have that knowledge and will that knowledge transform your envy? Please, look at it, go into it. What will end envy? You know what envy has done in the world, you know the cause of envy, which is pleasure, and so on - we won't go into the cause of it now for the time being. And all that knowledge, because knowledge is time and the mind that seeks cause of envy is caught in time, so I am asking will time solve it? You follow? I am putting the question differently.
And if you are serious and want to find out how to end totally, so that it never comes back again, this problem of envy, because our whole social and religious structure is based on envy, the hierarchical outlook, the one who knows, the one who doesn't know, all that is based essentially on envy, with all its competition, with all its ruthlessness and so on. Now after examining all that, not only verbally, descriptively, and you know that you are envious, can you end that envy through the information you have all about it? You understand my question? For God's sake say, yes, or no. Then what will end it? Determination? Now when you determine to end envy there is a conflict, isn't there. So you may suppress it, you may overcome it, you may escape from it, but it is still there. So knowledge will not open the door so that you are free of envy.
Then the problem is: what will? Please ask yourself. Because envy, with jealousy, is hatred in a different form, and a world that lives on hate, a human being that is nourished by hate cannot bring about a different world, a different culture, a different existence. So it is absolutely necessary - I am taking that as an example - to end envy. Now how is this done? You understand my question at least? May I go on? Right? At least some do.
Now how do you look at envy? Please watch yourself. You know you are envious, don't you, and how do you observe that envy? How do you see it? How do you know it? This is really a very important question. When you say, 'I am envious', is you who says, 'I am envious', different from envy? You are following this? Is the feeling of envy different from the observer of that feeling? You understand my question? If the observer is different from the feeling then there is a division therefore there is a conflict. Right? There is conflict. So wherever there is a division, Arab, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, Christian, non-Christian, wherever there is a division politically, inwardly, psychologically there must be conflict. That's a law, that's the truth. So when you observe envy, is the observer different from the observed? Or they are both the same, the observer is the observed. Do you understand? So when the observer is the observed conflict ceases, doesn't it? And what happens? When conflict ceases between the observer and the observed because the observer is the observed, the thinker is the thought, the experiencer is the experience and so on, when the observer is the observed, when the observer is the envy, therefore there is no division and therefore there is no conflict, therefore what has taken place? Do you want me to tell you? Are you again becoming second-hand? Of course you are. You understand my question?
We live in conflict, we are nourished in conflict, and the conflict comes about when there is division. And I took the feeling which is called envy, and one sees the result, the effect and the cause of that envy, the effect in the world, the effect in oneself, the bitterness, the anger, the jealousy, you know the hatred that is born out of envy, the bitterness, and will knowledge resolve that envy? You may rationalise it and say, 'Yes, we need envy to live in this world otherwise I am destroyed', you know all the reasons, you give false reasons to enjoy your own envy. Now, then you ask, is the observer different from the observed? If he is different there must be conflict, suppression, rationalisation, overcoming it and the battle begins, all that. But the fact is the observer is the observed, the observer is envy itself. Now when you realise that, what has taken place? What has taken place when you have dissipated your energy in conflict, in suppression, in rationalisation, in overcoming, what has happened to that energy when you are not doing that? You have all that energy collected, haven't you? And when you have that energy, complete energy which is not dissipated, then what takes place? You are still waiting for the second-hand mind? Good God! What takes place? Don't theorise, don't say, 'love'. What actually takes place in you? You understand? Before you said you are aware that you are envy and you say, 'How terrible, I must control it, I must suppress it', one must have envy otherwise one can't live in this world, which is rationalisation, and you have done that all your life. And when you realise that the observer is not different from the observed, the observer is the envy, therefore what has happened?
K: Oh, come off it, sir! You are just talking, has it disappeared in you? Second-hand mind in operation! You don't do it and that has been what has happened to this country, they talk and they invent ideas or repeat somebody else, they never go into it to find out. You observe yourself and you will find the answer, it is very simple. When you are not dissipating energy through suppression, overcoming and all the rest of it, you have that tremendous energy to deal with the fact. The fact is envy. You are that envy, envy is not separate from you, your consciousness is its content. I won't go into that now. Your consciousness is made up of its content, you are envy. And you say, 'All right, I am envy' and your whole mind if you are serious is giving all its energy to this question of envy. So what takes place?
Sirs, look what you are doing, you are going to repeat it after me, discuss it, reject it or accept it, or say, yes, somebody else has said the same thing and you think you have understood. That's the tragedy of this country, they have never gone into themselves, they have never found themselves in that reality of knowing what is actually going on. I'll show it to you. When the observer is the observed, that is, the envy is the observer, the 'me' who says, I am envy, that 'me' is envy, that's a fact. Not knowing what to do we invent an outside agency, 'God will resolve this', an analyst will resolve this, somebody else will do all the trip for us and that means you are accepting authority. In spiritual matters there is no authority, including your gurus, your Bhagavad Gita and your Upanishads, nothing. That makes you, if you rely on that, you are second-hand human beings, which you are. Now what takes place? I feel envy, that's a fact. How do I know that it is envy? Please follow this a little bit. How do I know that it is envy? Because I have previous memory of that feeling. So instinctively the previous experience recognises envy, and that recognition strengthens the envy. Right? Do you understand what I am saying? That is your previous knowledge, your knowledge of envy recognises the present envy, therefore it says, yes, I know all about it, and then it accepts it and goes on. Look, you see what the mind has done, when it recognises that envy it is memory that is operating, which is knowledge and therefore it cannot deal with the present feeling with a past memory. It only strengthens that feeling.
So the problem then is, can the mind, can that feeling be observed without any recognition? You follow? Which means not bringing your previous knowledge into it. Therefore the previous knowledge is the observer. And so you create a division. Now when there is no division, when you see all this, you have abundance of energy. Then that fact of envy can be dealt with instantly, it's gone. It is only the lazy, inattentive mind that knows the cause, the effect and goes on. But the attentive mind, which means the mind that has seen the whole nature and the structure of envy and therefore has gathered that energy and can deal with that fact, the fact being the observer is the observed, the observer is envy, therefore there is no movement at all. Have you learnt it by heart?
And when you realise this then the question arises: is there a way of living - please listen - is there a way of living daily life without a single conflict? Not as an idea, not as a slogan, not something you repeat and so on, but to find out for yourself a way of living in which there isn't a shadow of struggle, except in the technological field which you carry over into the psychological world. So I am asking you: in the realisation that the observer is the observed, that is, the 'me' that says, 'I am envy', that 'me' is envy itself. Then there is no movement away from it, because you can't move away from it, you are it. Therefore you have all that energy, that energy dissipates the fact of envy. Have you understood? Have an insight into it, not my explanation of it.
So is conflict part of affection, part of love? We have to find an answer to this, you as a human being, individually as well as collectively - you are collective, you are not individual, sorry, individuality means a non-fragmented human being - you are the collective; now you have to find an answer how to live a life without a single conflict. And you will find it when you understand this whole problem of the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience, because the experience is the experiencer. You understand this? Because after all you are seeking experience, aren't you? When you go to your guru, aren't you seeking experience? You want experience and how do you know that experience unless you recognise it? Therefore the experiencer is the experience. So the mind finds then there is no questing after experience.
So a mind that lives mechanically in the field of knowledge, technologically, such a mind does not necessarily deteriorate; but a mind that lives in the field of psychological knowledge, the knowledge of experience, either your own or of another, the accumulated tradition or the tradition of a day, such a mind living in the field of its own particular knowledge brings about its own decay, which is what is happening all through the world, and especially in this country because you have never gone into yourself, and said, 'Look, I have to find an answer to all these problems', not through books, and through teachers and through others. And this requires energy. And you have abundance of energy when you want to do something, you have plenty of energy to earn money, to go to the office day after day, but if you applied that same energy, that same intensity to go into yourself and find out how to live a life without a single shadow of conflict, then you will affect the whole consciousness of the world. Right, sirs.