Learning and desire
The brain can function excellently only in order
3rd Public Talk, Bombay
January 20, 1980
I hope you can all hear. Can everybody hear?
May we go on with what we were talking about yesterday and on Wednesday? I think it is rather important to understand the full meaning of the word 'together'. We have created this society together. The society in which we live, the politics, the religions, the books, the gurus, the whole so-called civilisation has been created by each one of us; not only by us, by our forefathers, by all the past generations. And together we can bring about a change in society, no one person can do it. People have tried it, various so-called political leaders and conquerors, and they have always failed because they were the leaders, the authorities, the supreme rulers and people had to accept, submit, acquiesce to their domination. And if you are at all serious and concerned with the whole growth of man, that is, the human mind, his brain, his emotions, and the freedom from sorrow, pain, anxiety and all the innumerable struggles and violence and all that, each one has to change. I think this is important to understand when we are talking over together, that 'together' means coming together, being concerned, being deeply committed, not to some ideology, not to some concepts, or to some scriptures and so on, but be concerned very deeply to the understanding of not only the world outside us which we have brought about, but also the whole movement of our own existence, because that is the beginning.
And we were talking the other day about freedom, which we have so misused, which we have so destroyed the full beauty of that word by permissiveness, by doing each one what he likes, not being responsible and that freedom in which is implied love, consideration, care, attention, all that is implied in that word 'freedom', not, to do what each one of us wants to do, because each one of us is the result of a million years, and if we don't understand this enormous complex structure of our mind, and brain with all its senses, emotions, cravings, without that deep perception, understanding, we cannot possibly bring about a different world, a different structure of human existence.
And please bear in mind, if I may remind you again that we are together in this, that the speaker is not delivering a talk, a lecture, but we are together moving, enquiring, learning. One is using the word 'learn', which is to accumulate knowledge as it is understood, college, school and all the rest of it, acquiring various forms of skills which will help one to have a livelihood and acquire knowledge which can be used skilfully and so on. That is, we have developed the brain to acquire knowledge to survive, through instruction, through experience, through various forms of knowledge, just to survive and that is generally called learning. That is to acquire information on various subjects, and one chooses a career and for the rest of one's life follow that career, whether it be a scientist, philosopher, engineer or even a sannyasi. Sorry, there are so many of you in front of me! And there is a different kind of learning, a learning which is not merely accumulation of memory, knowledge, but learning through observation, observing which we have neglected altogether. We have cultivated a certain part of the brain to acquire knowledge, act skilfully or unskilfully according to that knowledge, to survive, and therefore that cultivation of memory is a very narrow, limiting process. It is so obvious.
And we are asking, or trying to find out if there is not a different kind of learning which is the employment of the total mind, the activity of the whole process and the nature of the mind. You are following all this, I hope. Please let us be clear that we are not trying to entertain you. This is not a gathering where you can be intellectually stimulated, or stimulated in any form. This is a gathering of, I hope, serious people who are concerned with the outer and the inner life. And is there a way of learning apart from the usual acquisition of knowledge through books, through teachers, learning special subjects and so on, which is perhaps necessary; but is there a learning which is not mere repetition, mere mechanical process of a brain that is being trained along a particular line, but a learning that is beyond experience? I am going to go into it a little bit, because I think it is important to understand this. Because as we were talking yesterday about order, the origin of that word is to begin, begin the enquiry into the very source, into the very beginning of life, not the biological life, which all scientists will explain fully, but beyond all that. Right? Are we following anything? We are meeting each other? I hope so.
There is a learning through observation, which is much more fundamental, much more active; it is not mechanical, it is not repetitive. If you observe, most of our minds and brains have become mechanical: repeating, if it be a mantra, if it be a scientist, if it be whatever. It has become mechanical because we have trained it to be mechanical. Right? And we are asking, is there a learning which doesn't reduce the mind, the brain to a machine ticking over like a dynamo, producing the same results day after day, month after month, year after year till you die. So is there a learning which is not conducive to the process of routine which ultimately leads to boredom? You are following all this, right, sir? We have used the eyes, the optic nerves, the eyes, to only read books, we have never used our eyes to see what is actually happening around us. Right? That is, we have never learned to observe: to observe nature, to observe your friend, your wife, your girl, boy, whatever it is, to observe. In that observation, the nature of observation is directed by the observer. Right? Please follow this a little bit, it is not complicated, I will make it as simple, as clear as possible. But we have to come together, that is, we are walking together as two friends, perhaps who like each other, who have certain affection, care, attention for each other, so please listen, pay attention to what is being said, if you care to. If not, it's all right too.
Our observation is directed by the observer. The observer is the accumulation of knowledge as experience, and memory - the past. Right? If you observe your wife, the colour of the dress and so on and so on, it is already being experienced, stored, remembered, and that observer is the accumulation of these remembrances and when you observe, this whole momentum of the past rushes into action. You must have noticed this. Right? May I go on? And thus you never observe; the past impinges on the mind and perception then is directed by what has been. Now to observe without the observer is to learn action without the momentum of time. Now I will go into it. It's all right. You see, I am not used to explaining, I want to run. We will go together, patience.
You see sir, man has tried to find the way of action which is not always crowded with the past. When the past interferes with action it becomes routine. Right? Whether it is sexual, whether it is any kind of action when the past, which is the very essence of the observer, shadows action, then in that action there is division as the observer and the thing observed. Right? This is obvious. So when there is this division between the observer and the observed there must be conflict. Right? Which brings about the question, I don't know if it is the right moment to ask, the whole question of duality. You are following this? That is, I have to explain it. All right.
There is the observer and the observed, which we all know. The observer is the past, the accumulated knowledge, the accumulated experience, memories, remembrances, associations and so on; the verbal structure in which the past lives. Right? And so there is this division. This division brings invariably conflict, either conflict, suppression, evasion, trying to go beyond it and so on. Right? Now is there an observation without the observer? Can you look, perceive, observe the trees, the mountains, the hills, the bus, your neighbour, your wife, your girl friend, or whatever it is, to observe without all the recollections, the remembrance, the association rushing into your observation? You understand my question? Then in that observation without the observer there is instant perception and action which is learning, which is not routine. I don't know if you follow all this. Will you, please, as we are talking, do it. That is, you see the speaker sitting on the platform, unfortunately, can you observe not only the physical appearance, but observe the whole story which is yourself? Right? Are you following all this? Observe without his reputation, whatever you have imagined about him, putting all that aside completely, observe so that your mind and your senses are highly active in that observation. I wonder if you can do it. You pass the sea every day: the waters, the movement of the waters, light on the waters, the horizon, if it is not a smoggy day, the beauty of water, the immense horizon, the meeting of the earth and the sea, can you look at that without the observer saying, it is the sea, how I like it, I don't like it - just to observe with all your senses fully active? Then there is a learning in which the repetitive process of memory doesn't operate. Please, this is very serious because it implies whether the mind, the brain can observe without registering.
Our brains have been programmed - you know the word 'programme', like a computer: you see something, it is registered, remembered and held and so there is always a process of registration going on. Right? You must know this. Now we are asking, can this registration, when it is necessary, yes, but is there a possibility of not registering anything that is observed which might bring about a psychological centre from which to act? I wonder if you get it. No, I understand it, sir, you don't understand. I have to go into it.
Our brains are registering all the time. That is a fact. Your knowledge, your experiences, all the rest of it, it is registering and so the brain is never quiet, never still. I will go into part of meditation, which we will go into presently, not perhaps today, but another day. And we are asking when there is this constant registration then the brain becomes mechanical. Then it is repetitive. Then it is never free. Obviously. So we are asking, is there a way of living in daily life in which what is necessary is registered and what is not psychologically necessary not registered? You are following all this? See it sir, move, use your brains. Let us go. Say for example, please this is - I don't like to talk in examples, but we will take an example: psychologically, inwardly you are wounded. You understand? You are hurt, hurt from childhood by your brothers, by your father, by your parents, in school, by the teacher, by the educator and so on, gradually as you grow older and older, you are getting more and more hurt. Hurt, wounded and you build a wall around yourself not to be hurt any more. So there is a resistance towards life. You are following all this? Now is it possible not to register any hurt at all? You understand my question? You call me a fool, an idiot, any name you like and immediately the response is dictated by the image that I have about myself. Right? That image gets hurt which is the 'me'. Now a way of living in which there is no image and therefore no hurt, which means never to register anything that is psychological. Do it sir, as you are talking, find out, see what tremendous implications in that are involved - to have no image about oneself. And therefore there is no possibility of ever somebody treading on it. Now to hear that, hear it fully, understand it verbally, see the actual fact, see the fact immediately and dissolve it. You understand my question? That is learning. Have I made this clear or shall I go over it again?
Sir, look, I'll take another - most human beings throughout the world are violent in some form or another: sexually, in their life, hating somebody, disliking somebody, angry, competitive, and so on and so on, all this is violence; imitation is violence; conformity is violence. That's a fact, human beings are. And man has invented the non-fact, which is non-violence. Now let us forget the non-fact - perhaps you cannot because you have been trained in this idea of non-violence, which is nonsense - the actual fact is violence and to deal with that is more important than to become non-violent which is a non-fact. You are following all this? Now, to observe the whole movement of violence, to observe it in oneself, which is, to see the whole nature of violence, including the cause of it and see it immediately and dissolve it. That is action without time. You have got it? The moment you allow time, you have postponed it and during that interval between now and the ending of it, you do all kinds of mischievous things. So to prevent the continuity of a hurt or a violence is to act immediately, which is, not to allow the brain to register violence in time. You have got it? Will you do it? If you don't, it becomes just a lot of words.
So we are saying there is a way of learning which is not mechanical, which does not make the brain routine and therefore it gets sluggish, bored, and being bored it tries to escape through many forms of entertainment, including religion. May I take a breather?
We were saying, order means the enquiry into the beginning, I am going to go slowly. The beginning which is the source of all energy. Now please listen carefully, I am not talking about god. God is merely an invention of man. Sorry, if you are all godly people. It is just the invention of thought to explain all the confusion, the misery, the inequality, the injustice, the stupidity of man. God is the process of thought which has not been able to solve its own problems. I am not talking about that at all. We are asking a totally different kind of question outside the experience of man, beyond knowledge. As we explained yesterday, knowledge brings order, but it is always, because knowledge is surrounded by ignorance, it is always bringing about disorder. We explained it very carefully yesterday. Now we are asking something entirely different: the source of all order, not the order created by thought, not the order created by knowledge, experience, memory, and all that, that's all trivial, whether the order created by thought of Marx, Mao, or any politician, that is a very, very limited and perhaps destructive order. But we are talking of a beginning which one has to go into to find out the source of all energy. Please forget about kundalini, forget all the mantras and all the tricks that man has invented to find an energy which is limitless, endless, indestructive. We have tried every form of enquiry. But you see we are enquiring with the instrument of the mind which is thought and therefore we can never find out. You've understood?
To go into this very carefully and deeply, one must begin to understand or rather begin to enquire into the very nature of the senses, you understand, the senses: the taste, the smell, the seeing, the hearing, touching and so on, because we are enquiring not that which is beyond all knowledge and thought which is the source of energy, but we are enquiring into the nature of desire. Because if one doesn't understand that very clearly, the nature and the movement of desire, if that is not absolutely clear, which doesn't mean domination of desire, control of desire, please listen to all these words, not the domination, control or exercise will over desire, but the nature of desire, the origin of desire. When one understands that, perhaps if you would intellectually, but much more deeply, actually, then you will find out for yourself wherever there is a movement of desire, the origin of that tremendous energy can never be discovered. You are following? I am going to explain sir. I am so tired of explanation. Your minds aren't quick enough to grasp it.
First see, sirs and ladies, how mankind has lived upon desire: sexual, desire which propels man to the highest position in society, desire to find god, if there is, of course that is nonsense, desire to find illumination, what you call self-realisation, whatever that may mean, desire to conform, the desire to accept, the desire to be competitive, the desire to have a better house, better car, nicer looking wife or husband, desire which is burning in all people, even in the sanyasis. So unless you understand it, see the nature of it and go into it very deeply - if there is any movement of desire, the source of energy can never come into being. You have understood?
So we are enquiring first into what is desire, not the object of desire, which varies according to every person, but the very movement of desire. We have cultivated one or two senses to dominate other senses. Right? You must have noticed that. Either your taste or your perception with your eyes and so on. One or two senses dominate and usurp or give or neglect other senses. Now we are saying that when the whole, all the senses are highly awakened, not one or two, then there is no centre from which desire arises. No, please you don't agree with me. You don't understand this. Don't nod your head and say, yes, I understand it. Go into it with me. First of all perhaps you have never done it. If you can observe the waters, the restless sea, the wine-coloured sea, the Greeks called it - if you can observe it with all your senses - can you do it? No. Because you have never done it. But if you look at the sea, the tree, the skies, the moon, the young slip of a moon, the beauty of it, with your eyes, with your heart, with your nerves, with your senses fully. In that you will see there is no centre from which you are observing. Therefore there is no centre from which desire arises.
We are going to examine what is the movement of desire. I am just pointing out something very radical, if you will go into it for yourself, which is, when the whole activity of the whole senses are in full operation, then there is no centre from which you are observing. Haven't you noticed any of this? Sir, look, when you see a mountain with the snow, the Himalayas or any other mountains, the Alps: the grandeur, the majesty, the absolute serenity, the solidity, the sense of immense depth to it, the outline of the line against the blue sky - when you observe that, what takes place? The majesty of the mountain drives out all your senses? Haven't you noticed it? You are struck by the enormity of it. When you are struck by the enormity of it 'you' are absent. Right? You are following all this? The enormity of something drives away your self-centred state because the enormity has absorbed you. Right? It is like a boy, a child: give him a good toy, he stops being mischievous, restless, the toy has taken him over completely. Remove the toy, he is back to himself. You are following all this? Which is, any great event, any great accident, any great mountain, sea, drives away the centre which is your base, and in that state there is no centre from which you are moving; you are all that. You don't know about it. You will go into it, do it and you will find out; that is part of meditation if you want to know, if you go into it very deeply, that's part of it.
Now we are asking, what is desire. What is the nature of it? Why man has always yielded to it and why most religions, organised religions with their priests, sanyasis, with their monks and so on have said, suppress desire: don't look at a woman, don't look at anything that might stir up desire. You sanyasis must know this. Now we are enquiring into the nature of desire. Have you ever gone into it? Have you ever said, what is desire? That is, you must be committed to find out, not just say, well, tell me, and I will accept it or not accept it, which is just a verbal communication which means nothing. But if you say, I must find out totally, completely, so that the mind isn't a slave to desire. You understand? When you observe anything, that very observation brings about a sensation. Right? When you see a tree, when you see a beautiful car, a woman, a man, a child, the seeing is the beginning of sensation. Right? Then there is contact: seeing, contact, sensation. Then what takes place? Examine it closely, please, watch yourself. You see something pleasant, a nice house, a nice garden, a nice man, or a woman, who is nice looking, has a sense of beauty - beauty can only go with integrity, not just the face. Seeing, contact, sensation, then where does desire come into being? You understand my question? Where is the origin, the beginning of desire? Not in this: the seeing, the contact, the sensation, it is no desire. But when does desire begin to assert itself? It begins when thought - go slowly, I am going very slowly - when thought creates the image of you sitting in the car and driving it. Right? That is, perception, contact, sensation. That's healthy. That is normal, that is, all your senses are active. But thought says, how nice it would be if I had that car, or that woman or that man or a refrigerator, nice house or whatever it is, then thought creates the image and then the pursuit of that image is desire. You've got it? You have understood this? Do it sir, find out, put your blood into it to find out, not accept what I am saying.
So that controlling desire is to increase desire. The controller is desire too. Right? Because he says, I will control my desire in order to have greater desire. So if one understands this very deeply that the moment, the second that thought creates the image of possessing a house, having a lovely garden, then that is the beginning of these calamitous, multiple desires. So is there attention so that the interference of thought doesn't come in? You have got it? Go into it so that seeing, contact, sensation, then there is no problem, there is no question of controlling, not controlling and all the tortures human beings go through. Now if that is clearly understood, not intellectually, but actually, so the mind is free of desire - of necessary things of course, I desire clothes, shelter, food, I am not talking of those. But desire, psychological desires, that complicate life. This complication of life with all its problems, prevents freedom. So desire which begins the moment thought creates the image of possession or non-possession, then you have all the problems involved with desire. That is, to be so attentive at the moment of seeing, contact, sensation. So your mind then becomes extraordinarily active. Oh, you don't - do it, sirs. Which is, now the mind is crippled of problems. Right? Sexual problems, religious problems, economic problems, and so on and so on, we are inundated by problems. A mind that has no problem, you understand sir, that is freedom and there is such a mind. Which is, to learn, to observe and immediate action so that there is no time interval at all.
Now just listen. Most of you are greedy, perhaps most of you, not all of you, some of you, worship money. Right? Is that right? You all worship money, would it be right if I said that? Some of you. So money is your god and you do anything for money, cheat, avoid taxes, you know, all the tricks you play, and can you see the value of money, the value, it has value, otherwise you couldn't be sitting here, to see the value of money and not give it psychological importance. You are following? And if you give it psychological importance, to end it immediately. So the mind has never a problem. Oh, you don't see it. So when you understand desire completely, that is, desire is will. Right? We exercise will, will is the essence of desire, obviously.
Now desire, will and the continuity of time. You understand this? When you say, I will do it, that is allowing time. Between now and when you do it there are other incidents taking place in that interval and thus bringing more problems. But when you see your greed, your anger, your envy, your anxiety, to observe it and end it instantly, immediately so that your action is complete. And action is complete only when you don't allow time. You see that way, sirs, you bring about a different mind, a different brain, a brain that is so perceptive, active, which has no problems and therefore you can then enquire what is the origin of all things, if there is an energy that is limitless, but you must act without leaving a mark on the sands of time. You understand? Oh, come on. So that is it. The beginning, if you discover the beginning, that is the ending. You understand?
So you have heard all these talks, many times perhaps, some of you and perhaps some of you have heard it for the first time, you may say at the end of them, you haven't told us what to do, you haven't told us a system which we can follow. Now if you observe yourself you will see that your training, your education has been what other people have told you to do. In all the realms, when you are learning engineering, other experts in mathematics, pressure, strain, have told you what to do, what to think and you are used to that. That is your habit. That is why the gurus flourish, because they'll tell you what to do and you like that; it is mechanical, easy, comfortable, but you never discover for yourself. You understand the importance of it? Which means we are always depending on others to tell us what to do. Please don't. That way you become second-hand or third-hand human beings; whereas if you say, I am going to find out, I am going to enquire, I will give my life to find out how to live rightly, what it means to love, what it means to be totally, completely intelligent, all that does not depend on another. Please realise this. Because we are so dependent: dependent on governments, we are dependent on postmen - that's quite right; dependent on the telephone - quite right, but to depend on another human being, depend on books, depend to be told how to live, what to do, you are destroying yourself because in that there is no freedom. Truth can come and flourish only when there is total complete freedom.
So please, we are not instructing you what to do. We are not disseminating systems. That is all too childish. But we are together, together, and I mean together, we are walking together on a very complex road and one must be free to walk. And in that walking one discovers the enormity of existence - not the problems of existence - the immensity of life, the immensity and the beauty of living.