Living with death and life together
Why has man after thousands of years not found peace?
6th Public Talk, Saanen
July 19, 1984
May we continue with what we were talking about the day before yesterday? This is the last talk.
We have been talking about the whole problem of existence, the various aspects of our daily life. We talked about relationship, we talked about fear, pleasure and the endless suffering of man, and whether there is any possibility of being totally free of fear. We went into that very carefully. And also we talked about knowledge, how important it is to have knowledge which is gathered through experience, stored, as knowledge, and memory in the brain, out of which comes thought, which naturally then is limited. We went into all that during the last five talks. And as this is the last talk we ought to talk over together why the brain is always occupied.
We were asking why our brain, which has evolved through a long period of time, forty five to fifty thousand years, during all that long duration of time the brain has apparently been occupied, never quiet, endless series of occupation, associations, one thought leading to another thought, this endless chain. We have accepted it as natural, as part of our daily life. We are going together to question this. As we said, one hopes you will not mind the thing being repeated, we are not doing any kind of propaganda, propagate any kind of belief, faith, or some philosophy. But rather you and the speaker are going together into the investigation of our daily life. (Noise of planes) - I am afraid we will have to wait for a little while. Let the aeroplanes have their fun!
We have talked about a great many things. We are together going into very complex problems this morning: why human beings have not been able to live at peace within themselves and so peace with the world. Why our daily life is in such confusion, conflict and misery and sometimes joy, why is it, after all these thousands of years, man has not found the tranquillity, a sense of quietness, peace? All this requires a great deal of intelligence, to live at peace with one another and also within oneself, and so with the neighbour, or with one's own intimate relationships. We have not been able to find out why we have not lived at peace. We have talked about it, why human beings are always in conflict, whether that conflict can end, not only outwardly, wars, divisions of nationalities, divisions of religion, divisions, linguistic differences, semantic differences and the various qualities of the brain which breaks up everything into categories and so on. Is it possible, living in this modern world, with all the complexity of it, having to earn a livelihood from nine o'clock until five o'clock, spending one's whole life in an office, in a laboratory or in a factory, or ploughing the fields, and at the end of it all there is death. (Noise of planes) I am afraid we will have to wait. That one ends, the other begins!
We are going to enquire into all this together, as we have done, one hopes, during the last five talks. We are going to enquire together why human beings not only are not capable of living at peace with themselves and with the world, but also why human beings from childhood get hurt, psychologically wounded. This question is very important because that affects our whole life from childhood, through school, through college, university, or at home with other boys and girls that the whole process of living engenders, brings about various forms of psychological hurts which act as a shock to the brain, and so we become neurotic. And whether it is possible to live without a single hurt. When one is hurt it not only emphasises the whole self-centred activity but also it breeds fear. When one is hurt one builds a wall, a structure, a barrier between yourself and another. And so gradually one withdraws, one becomes isolated with all its problems of identification and so on. I wonder - one wonders if one is aware of the hurts we have. And if one is, apparently we never end it, there is no ending of hurts completely. What is it that is being hurt? Please, as we said, we are together investigating this problem. Together. The speaker may point out or verbalise or act as a mirror in which one sees oneself, and so the speaker is not a guru, you are not his followers. There is no personality cult - which are all horrible things. So together we are looking at this question. It is your question. It is not a question the speaker is imposing on you. Every human being gets hurt psychologically, wounded. And one carries it throughout life. One never sees the danger, the disastrous results. And is it possible to end all hurts, and never to be hurt again? What is it that is hurt? When you say, 'I am hurt' - what is that 'I', what is that quality of the entity that gets hurt? Right? We are together? Are we understanding each other?
Suppose I am hurt, why am I hurt? What is the entity, the structure, that gets hurt? And we call it, 'I am hurt'. What is that 'I'? Is it not the various incidents, experiences, the memories, that have created an image about oneself? Please look at it carefully and not reject what one is saying, though one must have doubt, have scepticism, questioning, not accepting anything that the speaker is saying, one must have the quality of doubt. Therefore we are asking: what is it that is hurt? Is it the image that you have about yourself? That image has been put together by various impressions, pressures, it is like a computer programmed. And that image gets hurt - right? And so we say, 'I am hurt'.
Can one - this is the question - can one live a life, daily life, not some romantic, ideological, sentimental life but actually in our daily life live without a single image about ourselves? It is only when there is that image, then that image, that picture that has been put together by thought and that gets hurt. When someone says, flatters or insults or praises and so on, why does the brain record? You understand my question? Is it too difficult? No, no it is very simple. Is it possible not to record? Psychologically, of course you must have a recording process going on when you are driving a car, or so many physical things that one does, there you must have a machine that is constantly recording. And in the psyche, the whole nature of the 'me', need there be any recording in that world? You understand? So is it possible not to record? We are going to find that out, if you are interested. Even if you are not interested, it doesn't matter. Because we have never asked of ourselves, or demanded, whether there is a possibility of being totally free, not only from a particular aspect of life - from our sorrow, from our anxiety, from our loneliness and so on, that is only very superficial - freedom to go where you like, to choose any particular job you want but to be entirely free, totally. It is only when the brain is not recording, except in the physical world. In the psychological world, in the world of inside the skin, not to record; that requires tremendous attention, awareness - which we are going to talk about presently.
And we ought to talk over together a very complex problem which mankind has faced for thousands upon thousands of years. Though it is a beautiful morning full of light and splendour, the beauty of the hills and the dark shadows of the valley, we ought to talk over this question, which is not morbid, which is death. Right? This is part of our life, as anxiety, loneliness, fear and all the toil and turmoil and conflict of life, death is also part of our life. Whether one is very young, enjoying life, or middle aged or old aged, this is a problem which each human being has to face. We are all going to die, that is certain, that is one thing that is absolute. So we are going to enquire together into the complexity of what it means to die. You don't mind discussing this? All right? If you don't like it, lump it! (Laughter).
Why is it that human beings are so frightened of death? Why is it that human beings have put death as far away as possible from their life? Why is it that death seems to appear such a terrible thing? Books have been written by doctors and others, how to die happily. I saw - one saw a title of that book, it is quite well known in America, 'How To Die with Grace', with happiness, relaxed. (Laughter)
So we are going to talk over together this question. Have you ever enquired into what it is to end? What is the significance of ending something? Ending, not a continuity, you understand? We are used to, or have been conditioned to a continuity - right? To continue. What does that mean, to continue? A long duration of continuous memory - right? Continuous attachment to a place, to a person, to an idea. Has one ever experimented completely ending with an ideal? - and not, what will happen if I end? You understand? You have understood? The question of ending is very important to understand. Ending a habit, both biological or psychological habits. If you end then you will ask, 'What is there more?' Which means you are still thinking in terms of continuity - right? If I end anger, or selfishness, what is there? Right? So our brain is always looking to something else if I end. Bien? And we have never therefore, ended anything completely. Understood?
Can we go on? So if one understands the nature of ending, and the urge, the desire, to continue, when there is the desire to continue, then there is the fear of ending - right? If one understands the ending and therefore no continuity, then there is no fear. You understand all this? Are we thinking together? Actually thinking together, not accepting what the speaker is saying, that is not important. But putting our minds, brains, together. Not your brain and my brain, but the quality of brain that thinks, the quality of brain that says, 'I must go and enquire, find out.' The quality of brain that doubts, questions, asks, then we are together. Then our brains are meeting each other, therefore communication between each other becomes very easy, simple. Right? Are we doing this? Half and half. And that is where our difficulty lies. Some people here - I am not being disrespectful to them - they have listened to all this for years, probably bored, knowing what he is going to say. They have become accustomed to the words. But have they really... are we together learning? Not memorising - see the difference? We memorise, we are educated to memorise, so as to be able to use skilfully our knowledge. We memorise lessons - French, Russian, whatever language - we memorise various historical processes, we memorise scientific facts - right? We accumulate knowledge to act skilfully in any field. But learning is a movement that is like a river that is flowing, never static. Knowledge is static because you are adding more and more and more. Learning is like a great river that has got tremendous volume behind it, moving swiftly, rapidly, nothing stands in its way. That is the act of learning. So are we learning together? Or our brains have been programmed like a computer. It is rather interesting to talk about the computers. You don't mind?
They are doing the most extraordinary things in the world of computers. The speaker has discussed with many of them, so called top ones. And those computers can almost do anything that the human thought has done. They have been programmed by top mathematicians, biologists, scientists, engineers, taking any particular subject and a professor who is top in his profession giving a programme - right? You know all about this. Our brain has been programmed too. You are programmed after two thousand years to call yourself a Christian, belief - right? The Hindus, perhaps three to five thousand years, have been programmed to believe - you know the whole process. And the Islamic world too, programmed - you understand? And the computer is being programmed, ultra mechanical intelligence, it is called. And it can almost outthink man, more rapidly. They have discovered in America a chip that holds a million memories. And so what is going to happen to man, to your brain? You understand my question? If a mechanical thing can outdo man, except in certain realms - I won't go into all that, you can study it - what is going to happen to man, to you, to your children, to your grandchildren, what is going to happen to them? When the mechanical intelligence can outstrip man, in certain ways, it can build cars through robots, there is going to be certain unemployment and so on and so on and so on. Then what will happen to the human brain that has been active - you understand? Active in doing certain things, carpentry, mathematics, putting machinery together and so on, which computer and a robot can do all that - you are following all this? - what is going to happen to our brains? We asked this question to computer experts. Their reply is, 'We don't care. We don't know.' And that doesn't matter. What their interest is, is inventing. Getting more and more. The computers do all kinds of things.
Please do listen, seriously listen, it is not a joke, a game we are playing. Either the entertainment industry - sports and so on and so on and so on, including religion, which is all entertainment industry - either the brain is going to be caught in that - if you have noticed how entertainment is growing more and more and more, the children want to be entertained - either the brain is going to be caught in that, everlastingly seeking entertainment, or it is going to turn inwardly, not selfishly, not in the world of self-centredness, that is a very small affair, but going much more deeply. The brain has extraordinary capacity, as is shown in the technological world, and that same brain can watch and go very, very deeply, and that depth is infinite. So you are faced with this.
So let's come back. What is death? As we said, if we understand deeply the meaning of ending and the nature of continuity, which all of us want because we think in continuity there is safety, security - right? Right sirs? Being identified with a country, having roots in a certain place, or attached to some symbol, ideal and so on, which is a series of continuities. Hoping to find in that security, and so we cling to continuity. And that very continuity is bringing about great disaster because it is bringing wars - right? We cling to democracy - whatever that may mean - and also there is the whole group of Russian totalitarian states, we are the managers of human beings, we control them - right? Dictatorship and all the rest of the horrors that are going on. So where is security? Do you understand the question? We have sought security in the family, in the wife, in the husband, in the community and so on and so on, in nation, inter-nation, but there has been no security for man. As civilisation grows more and more complex there is going to be less and less security. And continuity gives us the hope that we shall have security. Where does security lie? Is there any security at all?
And when we are seeking security, which is in continuity, then there must be real fear of death, which is the ending - right? The Asiatic world has - specially India which has expanded all over Asia, psychologically and religiously - they have invented the word reincarnation. That is, a series of continuities - right? I shall die this life, but next life. And so next life and after next life - you follow? Until human beings reach that highest principle or highest state. So that is a very comforting idea of continuity. Right? You follow all this? But we never ask for ourselves: what is ending, actually ending? And one is frightened of that too. To end, for example, completely, psychologically, all attachment. Because we are attached to so many things - to people, to ideas, to knowledge, to concepts, to various forms of idealism, to money, to our knowledge and memories, or to our experience. 'Oh, I have had a marvellous spiritual experience' - I hold on to that. Right? So we are attached to so many things. And death comes along and says, 'My friend you can't be attached to anything' - right? You are going, you are leaving everything behind you - right? Your family, your ideas, your knowledge, all your vanities of knowledge, position, power, all that you are leaving. That is ending. And that is what we are frightened of. That is what we call death. The terrible ending, not knowing what happens afterwards. If you knew what happens afterwards you continue - right? So our brain is so cunning, so subtle that it must know before it does anything. It must know if I end what is there. I can't live in vacuity. I can't live in a state of nothing, nothingness. Right?
So that is why it is very important to understand the nature of continuity and the quality of total ending without the movement of a future. So death says, 'Don't be attached to anything, psychologically, first.' Then you will find out physically how not to be attached. If you said to your wife or your husband, 'Darling I am no longer attached to you,' probably she would throw a brick at you, or you would run. See the importance, please it sounds funny, and it is rather funny, why we are so attached, we are never letting go. So the question is: can you live freely, that means no attachment, and ending every day every form of holding on, clutching to something. Which means can you live a life everyday living with ending, which is death? You understand my question? Have you ever tried it, actually, not theoretically? Which means you have no roots anywhere, you are not identified with anything - your country, your family - psychologically we are talking about - so that the brain is constantly empty, not chattering. You understand? Because we are wasting our energy through all these series of conflicts. And where there is fear, that is the epitome of waste. That is the summation of waste. And we need energy, tremendous energy. As you have tremendous energy when you want to earn money, when you want to become famous, when your sexual appetites demand, you have got tremendous energy. But apparently where that tremendous energy is necessary in the psychological world there that energy is wasted by fear, conflict, confusion, you know, all the rest of it.
So we are asking: is it possible to live, daily life, not some romantic, ideological, Utopian nonsense, but actually in our daily existence, living with death and life together? You don't see the beauty of it. You don't see the nature of its extraordinary quality. But if you go into it deeply one comes upon such depth.
Now we ought to talk over together: what is religion. All civilisations, the birth of a new civilisation has been the outcome of religion. Not what the priests have made of the religion, not the religions which are organised with property, with money, with authority, hierarchical authority, with temples, mosques, churches, that is not religion. That is all great activity of thought - right? Please examine it, don't reject it. All the rituals have been put together by thought - right? All the dress, fancy dress, it is all put together by thought. All the cathedrals have been put together by thought. And the symbols, the original sin, the saviour, all that is the result of people who have thought it all out. They may say it is direct revelation. All revelation is translated by thought. So religions, as they are now, are the activity, directed in one direction, with one purpose. Not only to help man, not only to control man, which means woman and so on, not only to civilise man but also in their attempt to do all that they have also created wars - right? Religious wars of a hundred years and so on. All religions are at war with each other - right? Have you noticed all this? You must have. You are all so-called civilised people, you have read all this, they are at war. A whole group of the Western world believing in one thing, dogma, rituals and the whole of Asia with their Buddhism and Hinduism, and Islamic world. All that is not religion, obviously. Because it is based on thought, thought is memory, memory is knowledge, knowledge is the outcome of experience. And therefore thought is always limited, as knowledge will always be limited.
So then what is religion? Right? Is there that religious quality of the brain that doesn't belong to any guru, to any sect, to any recognised, orthodox, well-established religions, so that all that is put aside completely? Which means that there is no fear to find out, there is no sense of the background which holds you back. So what is the religious mind, brain? You understand? What is the quality of a brain that has evolved through millennia upon millennia, please listen to all this, if you are interested, because it is your life, a brain that has evolved through time, and through the long ages there have been so many religions. Always the priests at the top because at one time the priests were the only people that were able to write and read, they were the councillors, they were the wise men, and they gradually assumed authority - you know, the good game! And so what is that brain that has the quality of that religious - we are going to define the word 'religion' presently - that brain that has this quality? We are going to find out together.
The word 'religion' etymologically is not definite. We say this because we looked at various dictionaries, the origin of the word. There they say there is no conclusion of the etymological meaning of that word. They say it is a form of binding, binding to your concept of the highest, binding yourself to that. Even that they are doubtful. So the etymological meaning, the origin of that word, is not established, so we can play with that word. So we are going to find out together what is religion. Because we have reached a certain stage of evolution: technologically we are tremendously advancing, there is no limit that. And psychologically we have just scratched the surface. And if the brain, which has got such infinite capacity, if that brain is caught in programmes - you understand? - like a computer is caught in programmes, as a British, a Hindu, and all the rest of the silly nonsense, they cannot possibly then enquire into the most extraordinary thing in life.
And this is where meditation comes in. You understand? Not how to meditate. The very word 'how' means a system, a practice, tell me what to do, I'll practise it day after day, day after day, sit in a certain position, breathe in a certain way - you know all the tricks. Don't you know all that? I am sure some of you have played with all that. The gurus from that unfortunate country called India come over here and tell you all about meditation and you lap it up, because you are so gullible, which means you have no doubt, question.
So we are going to find out together what is meditation. Which is in relation to what is religion and in relation to the whole of existence, our daily existence. You understand? Daily existence which is a turmoil, etc. and so on, and death, freedom, and the brain that has got such extraordinary capacity, infinite capacity. And when we ask what is meditation, it is not asking for a system, for a method, because if you practise a system, a method, that becomes mechanical, you are caught in that system, in that method. See the logic of it. For God's sake see the truth of it, so that you are never caught in a system. Because the brain is demanding not only security - you understand? - it must have security, both physical and psychological, complete security otherwise it can't function clearly, objectively, passionately - right? So what is meditation?
The word 'meditation' means to ponder over, to think things over. That is the dictionary meaning. And also it means measure, both in Sanskrit and etymologically, to measure. Right? That is what the meaning of that word is. The technological world can only exist when there is measurement - right? Centimetres, metres, inches, foot and so on, which is measurement. If that measurement is not possible, if there is no measurement, technology cannot move. That is fairly clear. Psychologically, inwardly, we also have measurement - I am this, I will be that. That is to measure. Which means also to compare to what is to what should be. Can one live - please put your minds to this to find out - can one live without measurement? Right? Ask that question, without comparing yourself with anything. Comparison implies future - right? And we went into the question of time. Time is the past - I will repeat it again. Time is the past, and that past is now, you are there. All you are now is the past. And the future is what you are now. Clear? If you are jealous today, you will be jealous tomorrow. That is a fact. Or a thousand tomorrows. Or many years. Unless you change now you will be jealous tomorrow - right? So time is contained in the now - the past, the future and the present. This is important really to understand the depth of it, not merely the words of it. To understand the nature of time. And measurement means time. Comparison means time. So if you are always comparing yourself with something or other you are projecting what should be - right? And that what should be is from the present. therefore the future is now. I have talked about it enough. One has gone into this very deeply at other talks.
So when the brain has no comparison, it doesn't compare at all - just listen to it - when there is no comparison it is what is now - right? You understand? It is what it is now. And to remain with what is now and not have a single movement in any direction - you understand?
So meditation is to understand the depth of time, and as we have laid the foundation from the very beginning of our talks, which is to deal with daily life, where there must be total order. Not disorder, we talked about it the other day. That is, you have to bring about order in your house, not only in the physical house, but the house in which you live inwardly, complete order, which means no fear. It is fear that creates disorder, attachment creates disorder. I have built something, I am attached to that. I have invented something, it is mine. So the brain, having established order, a sense of total freedom from self centred activity, it is much more difficult to have, it has to be gone into it, which we did, all along. The talks are to point out our self centred activity and therefore that activity is limited and very small.
So meditation, when there is order, it becomes extraordinarily quiet. And to observe, to perceive something totally, is not possible when there is confusion. So the brain can perceive something totally when it is absolutely quiet. Are we doing this? Our brain is never quiet, as we said at the beginning of the talk, it is always chattering, it is always occupied with something or other. And so the brain becomes mechanical, limited, creates friction with itself, and so there is never the quality of absolute tranquillity and silence. When you look at those mountains and those clouds, your brain must be quiet to appreciate the beauty of it, but if you are chattering all the time, talking, talking, talking, never looking, then you do not see the full depth of the beauty of a mountain, or the cloud with an evening light on it. So logically and sanely the brain needs absolute quietness.
Then what is creation and what is invention? You understand? Religion is this creation, not invention. Invention is the accumulated thought in which there is a gap and then something new is discovered, but it is still within the realm of thought - right? I do not know if you have - the speaker has discussed this matter with scientists and specialists and so on. What is creation? Not only creation of a baby from the cells and all the rest of it, but much more beyond all that. What is creation? Not who created - you understand? If you say it is god, then it is finished - your god and my god and the Muslim god and the Hindu god and your own particular pet god. That is an easy way of explanation and most people are satisfied with it. But if you shake away all that, slough it off, then what is creation? Is it born of knowledge? If it is born of knowledge it is not creation because knowledge is limited - right? Because we are adding more and more and more knowledge. Where there is more there is limitation. Right? Which will be measurement - the more, the better, is a measurement. So where there is knowledge there is invention. And creation is not related to knowledge. Therefore all the paintings of the world that they think are great creations are the activity of thought directed in different directions - great artist, great poetry, marvellous music, it is all the activity of thought and so on - I don't have to go into all that.
So creation, that is religion. You understand? A mind - a brain that has knowledge where it is necessary, in the physical world, writing, talking, driving and so on, and knowledge has no place in the psychological world, because knowledge is limited and therefore creating division, conflict and all the rest of it. When you say, 'I know my wife', you have already destroyed your wife. You understand that? Aren't you shocked by this? Because then your relationship with another is based on knowledge, which is thought, and thought is not love. All your desires, appetites, sensations are thought and therefore it is not love. Where there is love there is compassion. Compassion cannot come into being when there is no total freedom. If I am attached to my culture, to my tradition, to my religion as a Hindu, it is just a - and talk about compassion, it is childish. Where there is compassion there is intelligence. That's it. And that intelligence is supreme, it is not yours, or the speakers, or somebody else's, it is intelligence. And in that intelligence there is absolute security. And nowhere else. And so religion, meditation is free of knowledge, and therefore the religious brain is creating, is in a state of creation. Do you understand all this? Even logically, intellectually, see this. If you really understand it, it is something that will totally revolutionise your daily life. We will be the beginning of a new religion, which is nothing to do with present religions. That is creation. Sorry. The talk is over. May I get up? (Clapping) Please clap for yourself. (Laughter)