Listening, learning and dying
Truth comes when there is total order
5th Public Talk, Madras
December 25, 1976
What shall we talk about? I'd like to talk about a great many things this evening. About the art of listening and the art of learning and the art of seeing. The art of listening, the art of seeing and the art of learning. We have been talking about, the last few times that we have met here, about responsibility which lies in communication with each other. This is not just a talk or a lecture or something that the speaker has to say or forced to say in order to make you be occupied with something or other. We are sharing this talk together. We are exploring together, finding out for ourselves, though the speaker uses certain words, to find out for ourselves about ourselves: what we are, what we think, how we behave, why human beings are what they are - corrupt, self-centred, superstitious, innumerable gods, specially in this country. Why human beings resort to violence. Why there is in this country - when I say in this country, I am not comparing this country with the other countries. When the speaker is there he talks about the country there, so don't you compare it - why there is so little, in this country, love? This country is full of theories, so much knowledge about things which they don't know about. They know a great deal about the Gita, the Upanishads and all the rest of it. But it is all second-hand.
So, what we are talking about this evening and other evenings is first, the importance of communication, that we should share together, partake a journey into a very complex problem of our human existence. And also we were saying that wherever one goes throughout the world one observes that there is sorrow, that there is confusion, corruption, that there are great fears both physiological as well as psychological fears and this constant pursuit of pleasure. This is prevailing throughout the world. Every human being goes through this. So, basically you are the world. You are not Indians, you are like the rest of the humanity who are tortured, anxious, may have no jobs, poor, frightened of death, frightened of tomorrow, what might happen, grief, pain, great psychological wounds that never seem to heal. So you are the world and the world is you. That's what we began our talks with and one must realise the truth of it, not merely the verbal statement of it, but the actual fact of it. Though we may think that we are special individuals, we are like the rest of the world. Only perhaps you have different clothes, different outside trimmings, in the peripheral coloration, but deep down, in ourselves, there is this enormous complex confusion, sorrow, fear and all the rest of that.
So our consciousness is the consciousness of the world, of humanity. That we went into in many of the talks which we have had here, both in the dialogues we had in the hall and with the philosophers for the past few days. So, we were first considering together - please bear in mind that we are together, that I am not talking to myself or you are listening to a lecture agreeing or disagreeing. We are taking a journey. Either you can walk very fast or step by step or altogether get lost. And I hope we won't get lost and I hope we won't go too slowly, because we are going to talk over many things this afternoon.
We were talking about relationship in which there is constant strain, the great lack of true relationship, which we have talked about very thoroughly the other day. That is, in relationship we have built images or pictures about each other and the relationship is between these two pictures, these two images, not actual relationship and therefore there is no actual love in that relationship. We went into that. And also we went into the question how human beings hurt each other psychologically and all its consequences when there is fear, when there is this sense of dependency and attachment. Can there be love in attachment? When you depend on another and call that love - I am talking psychologically. You may depend on another for a job, for money, for post and so on. That's quite a different matter - but when you are attached to a person, it is really attached to the image of that person, how can there be love? You will agree there cannot be and you will shake your head in great solemnity but you will carry on as usual. This is the calamity of this country. They agree theoretically, analytically, explain everything in their terminology, they are very good at it. But to live daily, actually in daily life, those theories, those speculative ideas and all the books, the sacred books you have read have no relationship to your daily, actual life. Therefore you are not religious people at all. You are superstitious people.
We said there can be no compassion if you do not fully understand the nature of suffering, what suffering is. And if you escape from that suffering either through drugs, through various forms of calculated, unconscious escapes, escaping into theories, into beliefs, into every kind of amusement, including the religious amusement, when you go to temples it's an amusement, it has nothing to do with actual religion. So, it's only when we understand the nature and the depth of suffering, and not escape, but actually remain with that suffering, hold it in your hand as you'd hold a flower, as you'd hold a child with care, then out of that comes passion which is compassion. Will you do all that? No, I am afraid you won't. You will agree, you will get sentimental, romantic about all this, but to live a daily life day after day, not to get hurt, not to be afraid, to be free of that, to understand the nature and the structure of pleasure, which is very complex, which we talked about. And to be free of suffering, which is an enormous burden because humanity has borne this suffering for millennia upon millennia. They have all kinds of explanations for it. In Hinduism they have plenty of explanation for suffering, but the explanations are not the reality, not the actuality. The word is not the thing.
So, to learn - now I am going to talk about, the art of seeing, listening. Art means to put everything in its right place. That is, to listen, the art of listening is to listen to what is being said - please, do it as we are talking about it - to listen without comparing what is being said with what already you know, but if you compare what you listen to, then you are distorting it. You have already accepted the old and you just put the new into the old bottle. So if you can listen without comparing, without translating it into your particular dialect, but actually listen to the words, to the meaning, to the significance? Can you listen without saying 'The Gita says that' or the Upanishads or some other book says that? Absolutely listening, which is very difficult for most people, because they have never learnt the art of listening to those crows, not to resist, but to listen with your heart, to listen to the words, the meaning of words and the significance behind the word and thereby have an insight into what is being said. Insight, not that you intellectually understand or verbally comprehend what is being said, because truth is something that lies in very simple words, it's not the word, but beyond the word. So, if you know the art of listening.
Then there is the art of seeing. We never see anything but through the picture which we have created about it. You understand? When you look at a tree, you don't look at a tree. You look through the word, you have an image about the tree and through that image you look. Or when you look at a person - very good, you are sitting there, you are looking at me, you are looking at me, at the speaker through the image you have built about him, don't you? Through the reputation, through the knowledge that you have heard about him or read what he has said. So you are looking at him through the image. But if you have no image, if you have no conclusions about the speaker, then you are observing actually 'what is', not the name and the form, but behind that, what actually is. That is the art of listening, seeing, observing.
Then there is the art of learning. You know, it is a great problem - learning. That is, we learn in school, college and university, we learn, store up knowledge and act from that knowledge. Right? Skilfully or not skilfully. You store up knowledge as a mathematician, biologist or a physicist and then proceed. So, if you want to be an engineer you learn about stresses and strain, mathematics and having accumulated knowledge you proceed. That's one form of learning. The other is to go out and act and learn. That is what the communist proposes, Mao and the others: go out into the farm, learn through action. Now, both are the same. You understand? Because they both act from acquiring knowledge, having acquired knowledge act. You understand this? Learning and acting, acting and learning. That is, both imply cultivation of memory. Please follow this a little bit. Very interesting if you go into it. Both imply the cultivation of knowledge, acquiring knowledge to act. And so gradually, as you observe, the brain becomes mechanical. It has accumulated knowledge, meets the present, modifies that knowledge and goes on. It's always acting in the field of knowledge which is in the field which is known. The knowledge is the past, having acquired learning, then acting, acting and learning - both imply the cultivation of knowledge. Right? And that is, human beings live in the past. Knowledge is always in the past. I don't know if you have observed your own life. You will see how almost practically everything is from the past - the remembrances, the hurts, the insults, the tradition, which is almost destroying this country.
So, there is another kind of learning which is much more difficult. We'll go into it a little bit. That is, both the learnings - of learning, acting, acting and learning, both imply the cultivation of knowledge which is from the past, therefore the past. That past meets the present, modifies itself and goes on. Right? This is what our life is, our daily life. Now, we are talking, the speaker is talking about something entirely different. When you see - listen carefully - when you see what the effect of this knowledge does, that is, makes the brain mechanical, living always in a very, very small, limited field of knowledge. Right? When you see that, its effect of it, which is mechanical action, mechanical way of living, mechanical way of relationship, saying yes, there is God, there is no God, there must be God - you follow? - it's all mechanical and the rituals, the traditions, all mechanical - as long - if you see the effects of knowledge on the brain, when you have an insight into that - you understand? - insight into it, you act from insight, not from knowledge. Have you understood something? Have you got something? Not quite.
You understand, knowledge is necessary, isn't it? That is, when you go to the office or factory or do anything you must have knowledge. You have knowledge how to drive a car; when you speak English, you have knowledge; when you ride a bicycle it's the habit, then the knowledge, the balance and so on. So, we are always acting from knowledge and therefore it becomes more and more, life becomes more and more mechanical. Haven't you noticed it? If you are at all aware of what is happening around you and in yourself, you are bound to notice it. So, is there another way of acting without the accumulation of knowledge? You understand? Which is to have an insight into the effect of knowledge. I wonder if you all understand this. Have you understood something? We'll proceed.
So there is the art of listening, the art of observing - the tree, the birds and yourself, not in the mirror only, but observing what you are, what you think without any distortion. That is, to observe what actually is, not what it should be. The 'what should be' is non-observation. That's merely non-existent. 'What is', to observe exactly 'what is' is the art of observing. And learning, as we pointed out, is to see the effect of knowledge and have an insight into it. When you have an insight into it, there is a totally different kind of action, not from learning, there is instant action. So, we can go into that, perhaps some other time.
And also we ought to talk over together a very complex problem: of time and death. All right? Time and death. You know, there is time when you go from here to your home, you must have time, distance. There must be time when you catch a bus, when you catch a train. To move from here to there, both physically as well as psychologically, you must have time. So there is time chronologically - yesterday, today and tomorrow by the watch. Are you listening? Does this all interest you? I hope you are interested. I hope you are a little bit serious. You must be fairly serious, because you have taken the trouble to come here and sit. So sustain that seriousness to the very end if you can. So there is this time: time to get from here to there, and time is necessary to change 'what is' - you think it is necessary, time - 'what is' into 'what should be'. Right? That is, violence, one is violent, you need time to achieve a state of non-violence. Right? Oh, yes, come on, that's very simple. You have an ideal, haven't you? All of you? Have you? I am afraid you have. You people are so silent when it comes to facts. You have ideals. Those ideals are projected, are an escape from 'what is'. Right? Actually an escape. You are violent and you have an ideal of non-violence; the non-violence is not a fact. What is fact, the actual, 'what is' is violence - 'what is'. Not knowing how to deal with 'what is' or being lazy or indolent to understand 'what is', thought has created the fictitious ideal, that there is God, that one must be noble, one must be - you follow? - all the blah that goes on. And so to change 'what is' into 'what should be', according to you, the ideal, you need time. So that the chronological time by the watch and the psychological time; you can't avoid the physical time. That is the watch, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Now, we are going to find out if the psychological time which man has created, which he calls evolution, gradually to change 'what is' and go beyond it. And you have very carefully invented time. Which is, I am this, I will become that. Physically one can understand. There is the baby who grows tall. That is, when you want to learn a technique, you don't know it, you put a lot of effort into learning a technique and you get a job and you become the manager or super manager or the governor or some blasted thing or other. So there is that. Then there is the psychological time which you must understand very carefully, because we are going to destroy that time, because it is fictitious.
So, as long as you are thinking of becoming, you have time, psychologically. That is, time means movement. Please, follow this carefully. Time means movement. Movement is thought. Right? Thought is measure and movement and time. Thought is movement, measure and time. And living, as we do, there is a continuity, isn't there? A continuity and the end of continuity which we call death. Right? You are living now and you are quite young. I hope you are not old. Some of us are old, grey hair, white hair. You are young, you postpone death another fifty years or if you are old, another ten years, please, five years. So, what one is afraid of is the breaking of continuity, which is time. You understand carefully? That time is going to be broken anyhow, whatever you do, whatever the doctors do or the scientists do, there is going to be a time when you are going to pop off, die, which is the ending of this continuity, which is time.
So, what is important - please listen - what is important is not what happens after death but what happens before death. You have understood? You are always enquiring what happens after death, but you never enquire what is happening before. You understand what I am saying? So, we are going to enquire what happens before and then we are also going to enquire what happens after - if you can enquire into it. One can, I'll show you presently. You are following all this? Apparently this interests you, doesn't it? Because you have all got death at your door, whether you are young or old. So there is that enormous fear of ending this continuity at any moment or further off, put it off as far as possible.
So what is happening before death? Which is, what is happening in life, which you call living? Right? Will you face what is happening before death? Which is what we are going to examine now, because on that depends what happens after. Actually, not karma, reincarnation and all that stuff. There may be or may not be, that's totally irrelevant. What is relevant is what happens during this continuity which we call living. Have you understood? Right? So what is happening in this continuity? So what is your life daily? Right? Which you call living - school, college, university, getting a job, getting married, settling down and raising hell! A miserable, bourgeois, middle-class - I can't say what kind of life that you lead. You know it very well. Whether you are intellectual, professorial, scientific, you know, whatever business and so on, politicians; that's your life. Right? Before: constant struggle, pain, ambitious, frustrations, unhappiness, quarrels - face all this - confusion - right? - and misery. That is your consciousness. That is, what we call consciousness has its continuity and when there is death that consciousness, whose content is put together by thought, comes to an end. The brain not having enough oxygen withers, dies, the cells perish. The cells - please listen - hold memory. Memory is experience, knowledge and the brain holds this. So, thought is a material process as time, measure and movement, continuity. Right? Got it? Don't learn it from me. I am not your guru. It would be an abhorrence to me to be your guru. Guru implies authority, following, all that - that human beings when they follow lose their dignity. It's only when there is freedom that you become a human being, a real human being, not second-hand human beings.
So, our consciousness, the content of it, is put together by thought. So the content makes the consciousness and consciousness is its content, which is the movement of time, of thought. Have you understood? This is the continuity before death. Right? Why have we made life into this hideous mess? You understand my question? Why, why do we live like this - spend fifty, sixty years in a job? Why? You will say 'Yes, I have to support my family, I must have money' and so on, you know. And why should we suffer, why should we have fears, all that? If you don't end all that, though the brain loses its capacity, withers away, memory, that stream of consciousness which is not yours, which is of humanity - you understand? - it's not your consciousness, it's the consciousness of all human beings in the world. You are following all this? You don't quite. I die. I have lived a hideous life. Personally I haven't, I am taking that. I have lived, like every human being, a hideous life, never knowing what love is, never seeing the beauty. You understand? Beauty. To you beauty is having a nice face and curly hair, whatever it is, straight nose. That's so superficial. That you must have, if you have a nice face you must be better. But that's not beauty. Beauty is when you are not; when you, with all your problems and all your mischief and all your fears and anxieties are not, then there is beauty. And that's why in this country there is so little beauty in your life. There is the beautiful sky of an evening, the extraordinary beauty of morning, the beauty of trees, which you haven't created.
So, either one dies and one's consciousness with all its travail, with all its discord, all its disturbances, disorder, is the common factor of every human being. Right? Whether you live here, or Russia or China or go to America - they have their own other additives - but this is the basic factor. This entity dies, who has lived in confusion, uncertainty, misery. He dies. But that consciousness which is common to all of us goes on. Got it? You understand? Those of you who believe tremendously in reincarnation, hope for the next life because this life means nothing to you; you don't know how to change this life and you hope to change it next life - which is all rot, nonsense. If you can't change it now, you will never change it. Change doesn't need, doesn't require time. Which is, change, radical change can take place, as I said, when there is insight. You understand? I have used the word 'insight' previously, that is, with regard to learning. When you have an insight into the whole movement of our consciousness, which is the movement of disorder, when that disorder ends, there is no continuity at all. Continuity as we know it, is disorder. You are following all this?
So, here I am, here is a human being. You, you are sitting here and I am sitting there. You are here and I want to know what it means to die. Have you ever asked that question? Have you? Or are you all too frightened? Not pretension, no hypocrisy. I want to know exactly what it means to die while living, which means - I mustn't go into that for the moment. How am I to find out? I know the body will die. Right? That's inevitable because we live such a stupid life, our taste dictates. So we have lost the intelligence of the body. You understand? If you have observed, if you are sensitive, the body has its own intelligence. When we destroy that intelligence then the body gets all kinds of diseases, pains and so on - which is not for the moment, we won't go into it.
So, I want to know what it means to die. Ask that question yourself, sitting there and ask it. What does it mean to die? The end of everything that you have known, right? Your attachments, your bank account, if you have a bank account, you can't take it with you; you lose your job, you lose your wife, children, everything comes to an end. Right? Now, can you end everything now? - your attachments - you understand? - end your pooja, your gods, your rituals, your knowledge, your attachments and all the sacred learning in the Vedas, in the Upanishads, all that comes to an end. Right? So can you die to all that now? You understand what I am saying? You follow? Take one thing: can you die voluntarily to your attachments without any effort? That's what is going to happen when you die. You don't argue with death and say please give me two more days. Can you end your attachment now, today? That's it! Because you are afraid to be lonely, you are afraid what might happen if you free yourself from attachment and so on. So, fear dictates. Now, can you end fear? We went into it the other day.
So, death means the end. Living, not the living kind you are living which is turmoil, confusion, ugliness, superstition, misery; to end all that psychologically, can you do it? You understand what I am talking about, sir? You are not going to do yoga when death comes. You are going to lose all your capacities psychologically. So, can you die everyday to everything except technological knowledge? You understand? You are going to die to your beliefs when you die. You understand? Oh, yes, you understand, but you won't do it. You prefer confusion, destruction, violence, ugliness, superstition to something that will be so immense, because death is an immense factor, not something to be frightened of when you invite it. That means not to be attached. And the desire, to end desire. You understand? That's what is going to happen when you die.
So find out how to live a life daily, understanding the full implications of what desire is. We said what desire is, we have explained it very carefully. Desire is sensation, sensation of touching, feeling, sensation plus thought is desire. Desire with its image, desire creates the image. I like that - you follow? I like that car, I'd like to have it and so on. So can you die, understand, to that desire? No, you won't. See what you are! So your life is this before death. Right? This is your life, isn't it, actually if you are honest, if you really look into yourself. You don't have to look very deeply. That's your life. Can you end it? Not commit suicide. That would be too silly. But to end fear, to attachments, to end your loneliness, to your pooja, can you end your pooja, your God? You won't. That's your tradition, that's your habit, you live in that circle. So you become mechanical and you prefer to live this kind of life, a tortured, miserable, confused life, and not find out what happens when you die now. You understand? What happens then? Whatever the speaker may say will be a description, won't it? It won't be the actual, it'll be a description. It will be, the actual is not the word. So, but you are going to catch the word and the description, not the actual. You understand what I am saying? So the word and the description become tremendously important.
What happens to a man that is living daily with death, ending every minute what you acquire; your emotion, your anger, your jealousy, your greed, your ambition, your desires, the sexual pleasures, everyday, every minute, end it, not by compulsion, not by control. Death says all that's no good to control but I am there always. So, can you end it and what happens when you end it? Do you want me to go into it? Eh? Do you? Why? Find out why you ask that. Because if you don't do it, you will live on description - you follow? - which you are doing now, which means you are living on words. That's why your heart is empty. You understand? There is no love if you are carried by words and descriptions. And also what happens if I don't end. You understand? That's what's going to happen to you if you don't end. Right? You are not going to end. You will listen, you will see the reason of it, you will say 'Quite right, I wish I could do it, how marvellous to end everything' but you won't do it.
Now what happens if you don't end it? You follow what I mean? That is, if you don't die everyday to everything that you have acquired psychologically, what happens to that human being? Right? That's what you are asking, isn't it? What happens to me if I can't do all this, and I can't do it because it is so very difficult. I haven't got the energy. Right? You have got plenty of energy when you want to do something. If you want to earn money you have got plenty of energy, to go day after day to the office, busy, cheating people, all kinds of things going on. Right? So, please follow. What happens to a human being whose consciousness is the consciousness of the world, what happens to that human being? There is this vast consciousness, isn't there? That goes on. That is like a vast stream, like a vast river that goes on endlessly, from the beginning to the end, endlessly. Please, understand this. You understand what I am saying? Your consciousness is the consciousness of every human being, modified, changed a little bit, but basically it is your consciousness is the consciousness of the world, of another human being. That stream of suffering, pain, anxiety, travail, sorrow, all that goes on. Doesn't it? When that manifests itself - please listen carefully - when that manifests itself into matter, as it were, that is into a human being, that human being has a name and a form and calls himself an individual, but he is still suffering, pain, anxiety, fear, agony. That stream goes on endlessly. Right? And the manifestation of that human being - the manifestation of that stream is the human being with a name, with a form and he thinks I'm an individual. See it? Do you understand it? Even verbally? That's all you will, unless you go into it very deeply.
So, what happens to a man, to a human being, when he lives constantly with death, which is the unknown? You really want to know? I'll tell you: nothing! Because there is no becoming. There is an end to becoming. 'The becoming' is the time which thought has invented, the ideal, all that. So, there is no becoming, which means the whole structure of the 'me' is not. Then what take place? You understand? The 'me' paints on a vast canvas and tries, pretends it's making tremendous designs, tremendous figures, tremendous, you know, activity on the canvas of this enormous canvas. That canvas is always empty and human beings try to paint on it. Right? Or rather, thought tries to paint on it. And when it doesn't there is total emptiness. And in that emptiness there is vast energy whose energy is operating in daily life, only it is very limited. You understand? So that energy is without motive and without an end. Don't translate it into a god, into your Brahman and the books and all the rest of it. Then you are off. But if you actually end your attachment you will know what it means. That there is in that an extraordinary sense of compassion with its intelligence. Understand this, not in terms of your books, you should throw away all your sacred books, and find out for yourself, never quote a book. Then you will know the enormity of something that is immeasurable. Thought cannot go to it. You understand? Because thought is limited, fragmented, broken up, because it's a movement of time, memory, but thought says 'I will try to find that out' and it has never. It has written books about it and the silly people read it and pretend to discuss on that level. But if you wipe all that out, to die to all that, then you will find out. Then you don't have to find out, you are not there. You don't experience it because there is no experiencer. There is only that, the nameless. And that has relationship to you only through compassion. You understand? Only through compassion and love, otherwise that has no relationship with you.