Looking at the whole content of consciousness
Our consciousness is the common ground on which all humanity stands
2nd Public Talk, Brockwood Park
August 30, 1981
I think there are better things to photograph than the speaker.
One has to go over a little bit what we have been talking about yesterday. Perhaps there are some new people and if you don't mind if we go briefly over what we talked about last time that we met here. We are not doing any kind of propaganda nor trying to persuade you to think in a particular direction nor asking you to join anything, but seeing what the world is, the terrible mess it is in, we ought, if we are at all serious, look at the actualities objectively, with clarity, without any personal prejudice.
And we were saying thought has been responsible for the great calamities of the world, and also thought has been responsible for the good things of life, like surgery, communication and so on. Thought has done great harm both in the world of technology and in the world of religion. Thought has invented the tank, the submarine, thought also invented the computer; it is being programmed and will outstrip man in his thought. And also it has created, invented all the religions in the world, and the content of those temples right throughout the world. And there is nothing sacred about thought, but yet what thought has invented, thought assumes that it is sacred and then begins to worship that which it has created as being sacred. So thought is worshipping itself. It is a form of self-illusion and self-worship. And we were saying yesterday that thought is not, can never be complete, whole, because thought is based on knowledge, experience, memory. Without memory, without knowledge there could be no thought; we would be in a state of amnesia. And thought, being partial and therefore never complete, never whole, whatever it creates must be partial, limited, and whatever it concedes as the supreme, as the immortal, as the timeless, must also be limited. And thought has created all our problems both outwardly and inwardly. Psychologically we have a great many problems, problems of relationship, problems of fear, pleasure and the enormous burden of sorrow, not only the personal but also the global sorrow of mankind. And where there is sorrow there cannot be love or compassion, which has its own intelligence.
And we were saying yesterday that we must, if we can, think together about the whole problem of existence. Not according to the speaker or to your own particular point of view but observing what the world is, that we human beings have created it and we together have to totally transform it. It is not the problem of one person. It is the problem or the issue for all of us. We cannot possibly escape from it.
And we were saying too that our consciousness, which is our very structure and nature of our being, is the common ground on which all humanity stands. We said yesterday that wherever you go, whatever climate, whatever the environment, totalitarian or democratic, man suffers, man has carried the burden of fear, is everlastingly pursuing pleasure. And there is a great deal of uncertainty, anxiety, confusion. This is common to all mankind whether they are brown, white, pink or yellow or black, this is the common ground on which we all stand. This is logical, rational, sane, this is so obvious. But we are unwilling to face that which is obvious, true, because we are all thinking in terms of individuality, separate entities, separate human beings. But when one observes psychologically, closely, one sees that our consciousness of each one of us is similar to the consciousness of the rest of mankind. Where mankind suffers, mankind goes through a great many travails, anxieties, depressions, loneliness, confusion, misery, like each one of us. So we are the rest of humanity. Either you reject that entirely and say we are all individuals, inseparable, or that may be an illusion in which we have been educated both religiously, socially, morally. Or you observe actually, without any prejudice, without any conclusion, the actuality of the common ground on which every human being stands. When and if you perceive that in its entirety, not only intellectually but deep down in one's heart, then our problem is not individual salvation or individual problems but the problem of humanity, which is you, and so we move away from the particular little problems to a much greater problem.
What is the future of mankind when the computer takes over all our thinking, as it will, learns much quicker than we can, correct itself and create better machines than the first one that has been put together by man and so on? Of course the computer cannot love, cannot look at the stars, the beauty of an evening, but the computer can work out human problems much quicker, and so what happens to man? This is not a question put by the speaker only but it is being put by all the so-called specialists who are involved in the computer business.
So, our consciousness with all its content, the beliefs, the dogmas, the experiences, the rituals, the democratic, the totalitarian, the symbols which we worship, which have been created by thought, the fears, the pleasures, the pain, the loneliness, the anxiety, sorrow, the content is the content of our consciousness is all that. I don't think anybody can dispute that. It stands any kind of argument.
So, either, as we pointed out yesterday, we pursue entertainment for the rest of our lives and the future generations - football, religious entertainments and all that - or move totally in a different level. That is to know oneself most profoundly. Not according to any psychiatrist, not according to any philosopher, but to discover actually what we are, see actually all the complexities of our nature; and either go in that direction, or in the other. That is the problem in front of humanity. That is the crisis. Not the financial, not the political, not the crisis of war, but what man, you and the rest of us, in what direction shall we go, what is the future for us? Apart from the nuclear bomb and all the rest of it are we serious enough to face this challenge, the crisis that is? Either we turn into understanding ourselves most profoundly, or live a very, very superficial life, entertainment of various kinds. And to understand ourselves is one of the most difficult problems. It is easy to understand the whole movement of entertainment, the industry, that is fairly simple. But to understand ourselves not according to anybody - Freud, Jung or the latest psychologist - but putting aside all those to look at ourselves. Can we look at ourselves actually as we are?
In all of us there is the urge to become, to be somebody both outwardly as well as inwardly. Outwardly it is obvious - the worship of success. And inwardly there is always this movement to be something more than what one is because we don't know what one is first but we are always eager to be more than what we are. The more or the better is the enemy of the good. So, to understand ourselves, to look at ourselves, which is to be aware of all the content of our consciousness, is that possible? I hope we are thinking together. Please, the speaker is not giving a talk, a lecture, a sermon, which would be horrible, but we are thinking together. And that may be one of the most difficult things too, because we never we are so concerned with our own thinking that we cannot co-operate in thinking together about the same thing. To look at it not from any particular point of view, to look at it freely - that seems to be one of the most difficult things to do. So can we look at ourselves freely, actually what is going on, without any motive, distortion or direction? Is that possible?
As we have said, the content of our consciousness is put there by thought - the gods we believe in, the invented symbols by thought, all the fears, the enormous sense of loneliness, the violence - this whole content is you and I. Can we look at that content as a whole, or must we look at it bit by bit - fear, pleasure, pain, grief, loneliness, sorrow, love, death, meditation, and so on, so on, so on. That is, our brain being our brain which is now functioning partially, that part is looking at the content of all the consciousness. Right? That content can be perceived through relationship. That is the mirror in which the content of our consciousness can be observed. That relationship between one another, intimate or otherwise, in that mirror you can see your reactions of fear, possessiveness, domination, violence, sexually and otherwise; all the reactions and the responses in that relationship are revealed if one observes it, if one is aware of it. Are those reactions to be examined one by one? That would take an enormous time, perhaps a whole life, and that would be impossible. Or can one perceive the totality of it at one glance? You understand my question?
Are we thinking together? Are you merely listening to the speaker? Please don't, then it is worthless, then it has no meaning, you are just merely hearing a lot of words and ideas, but if we are thinking together, observing together the whole structure of a human being - his existence, his reactions, his pains, his suffering - then we can together walk the same path, the same direction, the same movement. So please, we are thinking together. You are not merely listening to the speaker though he may act as a mirror for the time being. That mirror can be broken at any time, it's not worth that mirror isn't worth keeping. But that mirror is merely in which you can see what actually is going on.
So the question is: the content of our consciousness makes up the consciousness. In that consciousness are all these things, all the things put together by thought, even the ultimate principle, all the gods, all the saviours, is all put there by thought, conditioned by two thousand years of propaganda of Christianity or perhaps four, five thousand years the propaganda, tradition of India and so on.
So can we look together at the question, say for example, of fear? Or look directly, simply, at our relationship with each other. Let's begin with that because that is much closer. Wherever one lives one is related, it doesn't matter to what - to nature, to another person. What is that relationship? Not the problems that are inherent in relationship, not the problems, but what is relationship? We are enquiring not into the resolution of problems in relationship, but rather enquiring together into the question of what is the truth about relationship. Is it merely sensory, sexual? Is it merely a companionship, depending on each other, exploiting each other, trying to dominate each other, possess each other? Or is it much deeper? Please, you are asking these questions, I am not asking only. So we have to enquire very closely and deeply what is relationship. Because human relationship has created this society, the social order or disorder. Our relationship to each other is the outcome, is the giving birth to society. Society as it is now is based on aggression, violence, competition, hierarchical structure, and is our relationship similar to that? - greed, envy, jealousy and so on.
So, first one has to enquire very deeply into what is relationship. Is it merely a pursuit of pleasure or the expression of one's desire, or is there basically, deeply love? So can love exist with desire? Or with pleasure? Or if they exist love is not. So one has to go into this very carefully to discover for ourselves, if we are at all aware, serious and all that, whether it is possible to live a life in which relationship doesn't become a conflict. We partially talked about it yesterday. We said our relationship is now based on two separate individuals, two parallel lines like a railway, that they never meet. Perhaps they meet sexually but otherwise each pursues his own direction. And that relationship becomes distorted. In that relationship there is an enormous amount of conflict, misery, confusion, escaping from that relationship to another kind of relationship. In the new relationship the same thing exists and so we carry on.
So, the deep cause of this division is thinking that each one is separate, obviously. I am separate from my wife. I must fulfil in my way, and she must fulfil in her way. She must climb the ladder of success socially and I may not want to climb the ladder of success socially but I want to climb the ladder of spirituality. So there is conflict between us because each person wants his way. Each one is so consumed with his own selfish point of view. Is that the deep root cause of conflict in our relationship? And if it is, is it possible to totally wipe away this separate feeling? You are following all this? Is that possible? And it may be possible if we begin to understand the nature of ourselves, the structure of myself. What is myself? You understand? We are going into it. What am I? A name, a form - right? - certain physical structure - apart from that I am the result of thousands of years. Right? My brain has evolved through time accumulating a great deal of experience, knowledge, both inherited and acquired, genetically, which involved time, and the conditioning in which I have been born - Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, hot climate, hot food, cold climate, not tasty food and so on, so on. Sorry! (Laughter)
Also the religious conditioning - the superstition, the worship of symbols, not the actual, but the worship of symbols, the image created by thought, or by thought, by hand, the beliefs, the dogmas, the rituals, you know - all that I am. My education, my ambition, the whole structure of me is not only the influence of the environment, the cultural, but also the so-called spiritual, religious. And the religious conditioning is merely carrying on old tradition of belief, dogma, rituals, repeating certain meaningless words, so I am all that. That is what I am. That is what each one of us is, only different environment, basically the same. And my brain is operating only partially. Please, this is really important to understand if you want to go into it deeply. My brain is functioning partially, because knowledge is partial. Knowledge can never be complete about anything, even about the most complex technology it is not complete, there is always something new taking place. And the accumulated knowledge of experience is very limited. So knowledge always goes with ignorance. So the brain is trained in knowledge and continues to live in ignorance - they are both functioning. I hope you are all Are we And so the brain is functioning partially because it is based on knowledge, and so whatever it does must be partial, and therefore its action must be partial, and when the action is partial there must be regrets, pain, anxiety, worry, lonely - all that follows. And the partial activity of the brain has broken up life - the business life, the religious life, the family life, the spiritual life, the technological - you follow? - it has broken it up, because the brain itself is partial, it is not operating as a whole. Right? Is this somewhat clear between us? Right. So relationship when based on thought, which it is now, because it is partial there is division and therefore conflict.
The next question is: can the brain function as a whole? Right? Is that possible? Because we have been trained for thousands of years to only function partially. And we must understand together the partial effects in our life - fear as separate from pleasure, pleasure separate from pain, pain separate from sorrow, and so on. Or can we look at the whole movement of existence as a whole? I hope we are understanding. May we continue along these lines?
We are saying it is possible. It is not a trick, nothing to be learnt from the speaker, not a new school to be started - you know, guru and all that nonsense - but one can discover this thing for oneself. Therefore you are then free from everybody, you don't depend on anybody. And we are going to go into that. That is, to find out for ourselves whether it is possible, though the brain has been for thousands of years only active partially, whether it is possible for the brain to function as a whole. Then it would have tremendous energy. Right? Not to do mischief but to live a life which is whole, unbroken and therefore a life that is good. Let's find out if it is possible.
First let's take out of the content of our consciousness, fear. We talked about relationship; let's talk together, talk about together, fear. You may not have fear sitting there now. I hope not. But our background, our daily life, either one is conscious of the various factors of fear or one neglects it, accepts it, and carries on. That is, one has become accustomed to fear and therefore the brain naturally becomes dull. When one becomes accustomed to anything it becomes a routine, it is not active. Any specialised career, though it is partially active the rest of it is inactive. So one of the factors of our life is fear - fear, so many forms of fear - fear of tremendous loneliness, fear of death, fear of darkness, fear of a dozen things. But can we look at fear as a whole? Not my particular form of fear, my loneliness, but the fear, both hidden and obvious, can one find out, discover or observe the whole movement of fear? Right? Is that possible first of all? Can one observe holistically, if I can use that word which science is accepting that word, holistically, can we look at ourselves as a whole? Which is, take fear and look at it as a whole. That is, the cause of fear. When you discover the cause there is an end to a cause, surely. If I discover that I have cancer which is causing pain, then it can either be eliminated or I die.
So one has to discover for oneself, not be taught, not learn from somebody, but the root of fear. What is the root of fear? Is it time? Time being the past, meeting the present, and modifying itself in the future. The movement from yesterday to today and tomorrow - that is time. Is the root cause of fear time? The fear tomorrow I may not exist. Fear of not being successful. Fear of being this and wanting that, and the wanting that and not being able to achieve that, and so on. So we are asking is fear a matter of time? Just wait, find out. Fear is also a movement of thought. Right? I have had pain last week and I might have pain again next week - there is the element of time. Thought which says, 'I have had pain', the memory of it, and that memory continues to next week and says, 'Be careful, don't have pain again' - there is fear. So is fear, the root of fear time and thought? Or time is thought? They are not two separate movements; time is thought. Right?
Are you getting bored with all this? It is a nice day, you can go out. So time is movement from last week, today and tomorrow. Thought also is a movement born of the knowledge of pain of last week and not wanting it again next week. So time is thought. And so time-thought is the root of fear. Not how to stop time or thought, but we are observing the cause of fear, not what to do about the cause. If you act to eliminate the cause - please follow this - if you wish to eliminate the cause then you are still caught in time. You may not be able to do it, then you search or ask somebody to help you and you are caught back again. You follow all this? Right?
That is, sir, let me explain again. I want to find out the root of fear, not trim the branches of fear but the very root of fear, the cause of all my fear of loneliness, despair, fear of another, fear of being hurt. And I am hurt from childhood, from the other boys, parents, school, college, I am being hurt all the time. I am hurt because the cause is that I have an image about myself. The image which my parents have given me, society has given me, and the image which I have built myself, about myself. So when I say I am hurt, the image which I have created for myself, which is me, the image is trampled upon and it gets hurt. And the consequences of that hurt is to resist, build a wall round oneself, becoming more and more lonely, avoiding - you know all that business. So gradually I withdraw with all the neurotic symptoms. So I want to find out if it is possible to eliminate the root of to first find out the root and what to do about the cause. Right? Is my motive to be free of the cause because it brings fear? Therefore I say my motive is to be free of it. When there is a motive that very motive becomes the fear. I wonder if you understand this. Are you following? All right. You look all puzzled; I will explain.
I have discovered for myself the root of fear: time, thought. That is the cause, basic cause, irrefutable. And my natural instinct is to be free of the cause so that I will be free from fear. A marvellous thing to be free from fear. So the motive colours the cause. Or the motive directs in what direction the cause will dissolve. I wonder if you are following. Right? No? Gosh, we need to explain every darn thing, isn't it
What is a motive? The meaning of that word is movement. The movement is my desire to be free of the cause. Right? My desire which says, 'I must be free of that in order to be free from all pain of fear'. What is my desire? What is desire? You follow? I started out with fear, by examining what is the root of fear I have discovered the root of fear which is thought, time, and my motive is to be free of it, which is my desire, my will, to be free of it. So I have to enquire into what is desire, which says I must be free of it. The desire itself may be fear, desire itself may be the cause. So I have to examine very closely what is desire. Which you are doing together, please, I am not examining, you are just listening - together we are examining, exploring, investigating, looking into the nature and the movement of fear of desire.
What is desire? Is it a sensation? Is it a sensation transformed by thought, with the image of being free from the cause? You are following this? Is this too much of a thing for you in the morning? That is, I have a sensation, the sensation is fear. Right? It is a sensation - unpleasant, narrowing, ugly thing - and I have found the cause of it, and desire says get rid of the cause, because the cause is a part of sensation, and desire is also part of sensation. Right? And that sensation is manifests itself by thought with the image of being free from the cause. Right? Is this too much? Look, all right, let's make it much simpler.
First I have a sensation that I must be free of the cause of fear. That is a sensation. The sensation which awakens the thought, being free of the cause. That is, I see something pleasant, the perception, the seeing causing sensation, then contact, then thought creating the image me having that blue shirt, or blue dress or whatever it is - you follow? - that is the movement. First perception, sensation, contact, touch, then thought says, 'How nice I would look with that blue shirt' - or with that pink dress. So desire is a movement of sensation, then thought creating the image. From that moment desire is born. Is that clear? So, then desire itself becomes the cause of fear. Right? Are you seeing this? I have traced the cause of fear to the basic cause. Then desire says I must be free of it. That desire is the image of me being free. That image is going to be hurt. Right? So I am back to fear. I wonder if you see it? Right? Can I go on?
So, this is the whole movement of fear. Any action the partial brain takes with regard to it is still within the framework of fear. I wonder if you realise this. Right? That is, to have an insight into the nature of fear. That very insight dissolves fear. Then you might ask what is insight? Shall I go on with all this? You are very patient, on a hot day.
You see what we are trying to find out is whether the whole of the brain can operate, not the partial brain. Because if the whole brain can operate the things which the limited brain has created disappear. The part disappears in the whole. You understand? So I have to discover, we have to find out whether it is at all possible for the whole brain to operate. Then whatever the part has created is dissolved. The part doesn't exist because it is whole. Right? And insight is the perception, is the action of the whole because it is not based on time, it is not based on knowledge, on remembrance, but instant perception of the truth of fear. That is to open up the whole brain to act. Am I conveying something about this?
That is, sir, look, we are operating now, our whole action is based on knowledge - experience, knowledge, memory, thought, action - right? - that is how we operate - experience, knowledge, memory stored in the brain, thought, action, and from that action we learn more and repeat the pattern. That is simple enough. Right? This is what is actually taking place all the time. Learning more, slowly or quickly, acting, and from that action learn more. This is the cycle in which thought is operating. And in this operation we have all the problems: linguistic, social, religious and so on. Right? And insight is not an action based on memory, on experience, knowledge, memory, thought, action. It is free of all that. Surely you must have had occasions when you see something immediately, instantly understand something, and from that deep understanding you act. It has happened to all of us, either partially as in the case of poets, artists, scientists, or with the really religious people, with the deep profound religious people, not the orthodox religion, they have a tremendous insight and the clarity of the whole thing is clear, is made clear. We will go into it as we go along.
One of the factors of this content of consciousness is the pursuit of pleasure, different from fear. We avoid fear, run away from fear, cover it up and pursue pleasure, sexually, in ten different ways - pleasure of reputation, pleasure of talking to you - which I haven't got, thank god! (laughter) - and so on, so on, so on. So what is pleasure? Why does man cling to pleasure, pursue pleasure? From time immemorial pleasure has been one of the principles that man has pursued - in the name of god, in the name of peace, in the name of - ten different ways. What is pleasure? Why this insistence on pleasure, both externally and inwardly? Is pleasure a memory? A remembrance of something in the past which gave you a delight; at the moment of perception the delight, and then the remembrance of it, and pursuing the remembrance not the fact. Right? That is, pleasure, is it a remembrance? Pleasure as a future. Is there pleasure in the future, which is hope, and so on? So please examine, let's look together, this factor that human beings have been pursuing for thousands of years, in the name of god, in the name of nations, every form of pleasure, why have we pursued pleasure? Always avoiding fear and pursuing this. Or are they both related to each other?
What is pleasure? You look at a sunset, with all the glory of a sunset, the beauty of it, the radiance, the extraordinary light on the clouds, at that moment you have forgotten yourself and you are looking at this sunset. It is recorded, that delight, and you pursue the record, not the actuality of the sunset. Right? This is what happens. You may have had sexual pleasure, then the remembrance of it and the pursuit of it - or different forms of pleasure, you know, I won't go into all that. It is fairly simple. So is pleasure a remembrance? So is pleasure a thought? So is pleasure time? Of course it is. So thought, time, is the movement of fear as well as pleasure. I wish you would see this. Not from me, see it for yourself, you see the extraordinary reality of it: that thought and time have been the factors of pleasure, pain and fear. And is love thought and time?
Now we have associated love with pleasure, with all the problems involved in it - jealousy, anxiety, possessiveness, dependency, all that. So one has to understand, go into this whole question of what is love. One can go into it verbally but the word is not the fact, the feeling, the depth of it, the beauty of it, the vitality of it. So, if love is not desire - right? - and is not pleasure, then what is it? Does it come into being only when the self is not? The self is time and thought. I wonder if you are following all this. 'Me' is time and thought, and as long as that exists the other cannot possibly exist. Love cannot exist with selfishness. Selfishness may take different forms, cover it all up with kid gloves and roseate colour, but it is still selfishness. That is the 'me' and the 'you'. As long as that element exists in one's heart obviously the other cannot exist. You may talk about the love of god, the love of Jesus, love of Buddha and so on, but that is all empty words.
So, is love the awakening of the whole of the brain? You understand? We have been carefully going into this. That is, we started out with relationship, the various forms of hurts, the image about oneself, and that image gets hurt, flattered and so relationship always remains separate, two railway lines never meeting. And fear is time-thought, as pleasure. Is love time-thought, a remembrance? And time-thought has put together the whole structure of myself psychologically, as well as genetically. And where that structure as the self exists, love cannot possibly exist, obviously.
Then you ask, one might ask what am I to do? I see this fact, I logically agree. I see the sanity of what you are saying but I am still terribly self-centred and I still love my wife. So what am I to do? Right? That is the obvious rather limited question. When you put that question, what am I to do, what is the reason of that question, cause of it? Either you are asking somebody else to tell you what to do, which of course there are thousands of people who will help you what to do; or you are asking that question to find out what not to do. You understand? If you ask what to do, it is simple enough, they will tell you - meditate, sit like this, breathe like that, levitate, pay so much (laughter) - you follow? - and all the rest of it. But you see, if you ask what one realises that whatever you do is still selfish. Right? You understand? If I say, 'I must get rid of myself', it is still the movement of the self. If you realise that then you don't do a thing. That is total negation of action. What is total negation of action, is action. You understand? I wonder if you see that. Right.