Meditation is action without choice or will
There is no freedom without knowing yourself totally
4th Public Talk, New Delhi
November 19, 1972
I suppose you are all waiting for me to speak. We said that we were going to talk this evening about meditation. As it is a very serious subject and demands attention and it is a subject which really should be talked over together, not in a crowd, not with so many people but with oneself, because we have to go into things that demands passion, great attention, energy and a mind that is really religious. We are using the word 'religious' not in the orthodox sense as belonging to some organised belief, church, following somebody, but we are using that word to find out for ourselves the truth in daily life, which is after all the meaning of that word 'philosophy', the love of truth, not the truth in abstraction, something that is to be lived daily, in our everyday existence.
And this evening, if we can, we will go into all that and find out for ourselves what it means to meditate. First of all, in the very laying of the foundation of our everyday behaviour in truth is part of meditation. In our daily life of behaviour and relationship, to live a life that is really homogeneous, harmonious and total, without any contradiction. And the living of that life, every day of our life, is part of this extraordinary thing called meditation. And without laying the foundation deeply, a foundation that can never be shaken by any outward or inward movement, by any outward catastrophe or inward crisis, to lay such a foundation in our daily existence of action and relationship is part of meditation.
You know, you are all listening and unfortunately I am talking. I wish you would sit here and I would sit there, then you would be discovering for yourself in great depth what is meditation. Because no one can teach you what it is; no book, no guru, not a single soul in the world can teach you what meditation is. But in talking over together and sharing that which is indescribable, in that we shall begin to uncover for ourselves the beauty, the extraordinary thing that comes out of meditation. But to go into that very deeply one must find out how to live a life, daily life, not a life in abstraction, not a life in speculation, not a life in acceptance of the authority of another, but the daily life of pain, suffering, agony, fear - in that to find out for ourselves the truth.
There are two things, it seems to me, that are very important to understand: choice and will. Because all our life, our daily life is based on these two principles: choice, discernment, choosing between this and that, between the false and the true, the unessential, the essential, the important and unimportant, and the whole structure of will, the will to do, the determination, the assertive pursuit. These two principles one has to go into and really understand it, not verbally, but actually. Why do we choose at all? Because in choice there is always conflict, haven't you noticed it? Choice implies duality, between this and that. And is there duality? Or there is only the fact and not its opposite. A great many books and philosophies and ideas have been written about and talked about this question of duality and the conflict between the two dualities. Now, I question whether there is duality at all or only 'what is'. And it is only when we do not know how to deal, how to go beyond 'what is' then we hope by having its opposite we might use the opposite to overcome 'what is'. Bene? You are following all this?
That is, when there is violence its opposite is non-violence, peace, a state of mind in which there is no violence at all. The fact is violence, 'what is' is violence. The other, the ideal of a mind that has no violence is non-existent, is an abstraction and therefore has no validity. What has validity, the fact, 'what is' is violence. And if the mind knows how to go beyond it then the opposite doesn't exist at all. You are following? So, conflict comes totally to an end. Because we are caught in the opposites - the like and the dislike, love and hate, jealousy and non-jealousy, this whole corridor of opposites. And the opposites always bring conflict - I would like to do that but I have no will to do it; I would like to act this way but I can't. So, one must clearly see this fact that there is only 'what is' and not its opposite. There is only violence, the ideal is fiction invented or supported by tradition, speculation and abstraction. It has no truth but what has truth is 'what is'. When you see that very clearly there is no choice. So, a mind that is not clear, always chooses, a mind that's confused will inevitably choose. But a mind that sees very clearly, there is no choice at all. So, clarity is not the opposite of 'what is'. The understanding of 'what is' and going beyond it brings clarity.
Please, don't let me talk to myself. That's no fun at all. I can do it in my room. But we are doing it together, sharing it. And I really mean sharing it, because the world is in such a mess, so much corruption, such deceit, dishonesty, there must be deep psychological revolution. And when one feels the urgency of it, very urgency brings about a sharing together. So please, we are sharing this thing together as we go along now, not tomorrow, not when you go home but now as we are sitting there, talking over together this question of what is action. Then in the investigation of it we are journeying together. You know, when we do things together there is great vitality, there is great sense of unity, there is great beauty in doing things together, which is really co-operation, not round an idea or round a leader or an ideal but together in understanding this whole problem of existence which is very complex. And because of its very complexity one must come to it with simplicity.
So, where there is choice there must be confusion. A mind that is, that sees very clearly has no choice, it acts. It is the mind that chooses that doesn't act. The choice, the action out of that choice must lead inevitably to confusion. If I know clearly what to do there is no duality in that. I see it very clearly. And how is a mind that does not see clearly, that lives in disorder, how is it to extricate itself out of this disorder, out of this confusion - you are following all this? - because order can only come when we understand disorder. Right? Not a blue-print and the acceptance of a pattern of what is order. Look sirs, we live in disorder, our minds are confused, contradictory, elated and depressed, unhappy, anxious and all the rest of it. That is disorder. And we do not know how to bring order in that, therefore, we externalise order, a design, a plan, a pattern of order and try to live according to that order. Whereas, if you are aware of the disorder, how disorder arises, see the complexity of disorder, then out of that disorder comes order without planning, without contriving, imagining. Is this clear?
So, what is disorder, that's our only concern and in the understanding of that the extraordinary mathematical sense of order comes. Why is there disorder in our life? I wonder if you have ever asked that question of yourself. Disorder implies conflict, doesn't it? You know, a neurotic is not in conflict. You understand? The man who is unbalanced, who identifies himself completely with an idea, he has no conflict, he has no disorder, he is that. Whereas the man who is not, who is fairly balanced - and I am afraid we are, most of us are neurotic - we are fairly balanced, to such a man there is choice - what to do, there is this contradictory, opposing desire. And that brings confusion. And our education, the way we live, all the fears, all that is disorder. Can the mind observe this disorder in our life, not try to change disorder, because if you change, try to change disorder you are producing more disorder. Whereas, if you observe disorder, just to be attentive without any plan, without any coercion, without any desire to change it, then in that very understanding, in that very observation of that confusion comes order because your mind is looking at disorder with no choice, it's only looking at 'what is'. Therefore looking at 'what is' the mind can go beyond it. It is only when you have its opposite that conflict begins. You understand all this? We are going together in this? We are moving together? Right.
So, when you see choice, when you have to choose, you are choosing out of confusion, out of disorder. And choice implies duality and duality is an escape from 'what is'. And if you remain with 'what is', look at 'what is' without its opposite, and to look at that you need energy. Right? Look: when you have an opposite the pursuit of the opposite is wastage of energy. I must - you are attached to some person, to some idea, to some belief, to some tradition and being attached and not being able to go beyond it, fighting attachment, you think you will be free of attachment by the pursuit of non-attachment. Therefore, you have a conflict there - you are attached and you are pursuing non-attachment. That is disorder, that is waste of energy. Whereas if you observed attachment, then because you are not escaping you have the energy to look, you have all that energy to go beyond 'what is'. You are following this? Sir, this is very important, because we spend our days and our nights and our years in conflict, in struggle. And is there a way of living a life in which there is not a breath of struggle, conflict? Which doesn't mean you vegetate or go to sleep but in which there is not a sense at any time of conflict, confusion, disorder.
So, if that is very clear, that to go beyond 'what is', you need all the energy which is dissipated in the conflict of the opposite. Don't repeat it after me, don't learn that as a slogan. The other day somebody came to see me and he said, 'I have learnt now that thought divides'. You understand? He had just learnt it! So don't learn the slogan and don't repeat it, see the truth of it. To see the truth of it you must have a mind that is willing, eager, passionate to find out whether it is possible to live a life without a sense of conflict at any time. That is the way to live in peace.
The other factor is, by which we live, is the activity of will. You will see presently that choice and will go together. To us 'will', that is to do, 'I will' and 'I must not' is a form of resistance. And where there is resistance there must be conflict. Right? If you are a traditionalist, as you are - most of you are - what is being said you will instinctively oppose, because you are conditioned to accept duality, you are conditioned to function with will. And when you hear a person saying will is resistance, will is conflict, will brings about disorder, you will instinctively resist it. You will ask, is it possible to live a life without will? You understand my question? And we are going to show you that it is possible to live without will. Because when you exercise will that is the summation of desire. 'Will' is the essence of desire. 'I will do it', 'it must be done', or 'I will not do it'. Both the positive assertion and the negative denial is a form of will. And all our action is based on that. I will succeed in this world, I must be noble - you know, all the things that are involved in the action of will.
Have you ever watched the operation of will in yourself? And have you ever gone into this question: what is the necessity of will at all? When you see something very clearly is there an action of will? Do you understand my question? Look sir, will as act is a pattern of conformity, conformity to a pattern, to an ideal, to a dictum. So, when you understand the whole structure of conformity, then is there an act of will at all? When you see something very clearly, when you see danger, physical danger, you act - don't you? - instantly, there is no act of will there, your nervous response is immediate. Right? Now, is there an action in which will doesn't exist at all? Will is time. I will do that, it demands time and therefore will is not action in the present, it is always in the future. So, will implies contradiction. Right?
So, meditation in daily life is acting, is action in which there is neither choice nor will, because you see things very clearly. Right? Now, what does it mean to see clearly? How to observe yourself or a cloud or your neighbour clearly, not only visually but with clarity of a mind that is unconfused, with clarity of mind that has no shadow? Now, how does - not 'how', sorry, I withdraw that word. Is a mind capable of looking clearly without distortion? Distortion exists where there are images, in relationship or in action. Right? I am related to you and I have an image about you. That image prevents me from looking at you. I have knowledge, experience of what you have said to me or done to me. That knowledge, that opinion, that prejudice prevents seeing clearly. Right? You understand this statement? Opinion, conclusion, concept, knowledge prevents, in relationship, seeing the fact. What is important in this is to see clearly. When that becomes tremendously urgent then opinion, conclusion, judgement is put aside, then you are looking. You've got it? You understand, sir? Are we travelling together?
Look: you have opinions - haven't you? - judgements, knowledge, both technological knowledge and knowledge in relationship, memory in relationship, with that memory you look, with the conclusions you have, with the images you have you look and therefore you don't see clearly. When the urgency to see clearly, the intensity, the passion, the demand to see clearly, then opinion, judgement, conclusions have no place. Right? You see the truth of it. You understand? That you cannot see clearly where there is an observer who is the past. And to look without the observer, the observer is 'the me': me, my opinion, my hurts, my longings, my ambitions, my, oh! all my petty little demands. When that is dominant, when that is overflowing, there is no clarity in perception.
So, can you look at your neighbour, at your intimate relationship with another without any conclusion, without any image? Now, you hear that and you say that it is quite right, that is true. Then you will exercise will to achieve that. Whereas we are saying don't exercise will at all but just observe. That is, you have opinions, just observe your opinions, watch it and by watching it, not rationalising it, not justifying it, just watching it, then you will see that opinions do not matter at all. Therefore you are able to look clearly. You have understood what it means to look clearly. It is to look, observe without imagination, without contrivance of thought, without 'the me' everlastingly operating in observation. So, behaviour in daily life is the love of truth and action which is not based on choice and will. Is that clear? That I have explained. That is the foundation. If that doesn't exist in your life, do what you will, follow all the gurus, all the systems, stand on your head or I don't know, whatever you do, you will never know what meditation is. You will be playing around with words, with tricks, deceiving yourself. That is, you must lay the foundation of behaviour in relationship. And knowledge is essential, not in relationship but in carrying out certain functions. You have understood all this? Right.
Then let's proceed to find out what is meditation, to go beyond. First of all, let's find out what it is not. You know, when you see the false as false that is the truth. You have understood it? You have understood what I have just now said? I am just trying to find out what I said. Yes, I've got it. When you see false as the false that is the truth. You see the beauty of it, sir? When you see the truth in the false that is the truth. When you lie, when you deceive, when you are dishonest, corrupt, see that and that is the truth. So, to find out what it is not, what is the false in meditation then we will know the truth of mediation. You've understood? Through negation come to the positive, not the other way round. Control in any form is not meditation. Control your thought, control your body, control your instincts, control, suppress, is not meditation. Control implies a controller. The controller is the person who says, I must shape my thought. You are following this? I must suppress various thoughts or pursue one thought. Where there is division between the controller and the controlled there must be conflict. Right? Have you not noticed when you want to control what conflicts you go through? And all your tradition says you must control your thoughts, be the master of your thought. The master is another thought, another fragment of thought which has assumed the authority over the other. See that? So, any form of control denies sensitivity, intelligence which is demanded in meditation.
Look, sir, austerity, you know what that word means, don't you? The meaning of that word is ash. You know the ashes left by the fire? Most of us try to be austere, that is, live a very simple life if you are religious person. Simplicity means crudeness, rough, indifference, callousness, because you are being tremendously austere. Austerity is the product of will. You have seen the monks all over the world who are pretending to be austere and their lives are ashes, empty, dull, they haven't got the breath of beauty or love. So, control has no place in the religious mind, because control implies suppression, control implies conformity, control implies authority. Where there is authority, conformity and therefore with all its attendant fears, the mind is not a religious mind and therefore such a mind does not know what meditation is.
So, can you live - please listen to this - can you live your daily life without any control, never controlling your sexual appetites, never controlling your thought, your desires, your ambitions, can you live? And you can only do that when you see clearly the implications of pleasure in sex, when you see clearly the position of authority then - and imitation, naturally - then you will see you can live a life that is so clear, sensitive and intelligent. It is the unintelligent, uneducated that controls, it's like sitting on a lid. We said that control is not in the movement of meditation. So, we can put that aside completely. Then method, a system, a practice is not meditation. System, practice, method, implies conformity to the pattern set by somebody who says he knows what meditation is. And when he says he knows what meditation is he does not know. Beware of the man who says 'I know' - right? He has lost all sense of humility. And when a man says 'I know' he has ceased to learn.
Enlightenment isn't an end, fixed. It's a timeless movement in love. Oh! You don't know anything about all this! You know, that is the greatest sorrow in the world that one wants to convey something tremendous with one's heart and mind and you don't receive it. And that is a great sorrow, not on the part of the speaker, on the part of yourself. Method, system, pattern, following, obedience, implies conformity and a thing to be achieved as a fixed end, something permanent over there, which means time. Is enlightenment, wisdom, the clarity of truth, is it a matter of time? Or it is there for you to see? And your eyes are clouded when you are pursuing methods, systems, all the rest of that nonsense that goes on in this country and it is being now imported into other countries - mantra yoga and you know. So, meditation is not control, meditation is not practice, meditation is not the practice of attention or awareness.
Now, what is meditation if all that is not, then what is meditation? You understand? I hope you have gone into it, not just verbally accept all this, gone into it with your heart, with your passion, with your interest. Then what is meditation? You know, when the mind is absolutely still, not contrived, not disciplined, not as a result of endless practice, struggle, conflict, pain and endless sorrow - that is not silence, that is silence of an idea which has no validity at all. So, a mind that has put aside all that is false which man has put together, all the illusions, myths which man has cultivated in his despair, in his fear, in his pursuit of pleasure, when you have put aside all that because you see the falseness of it and therefore the truth of it, then you can proceed to find out what is meditation. Because you can see very clearly that thought is never new. Thought can never bring freedom, because thought itself is the response of the past, memory, experience, knowledge. So, thought is time.
Can the mind and the brain cells themselves which have been the product of time as evolution, can the brain cells themselves and the total mind, that is the body, the movement of desire, the movement, you know, all that, the whole thing be completely still? And it can only be still when you have understood the value of thought, its importance and its unimportance. Without understanding the structure and nature of thought you will not come upon this silence naturally, easily. Because silence is necessary: when you look at a cloud and the beauty of the light in that cloud, if your mind is chattering, wandering, speculating, verbalising, it cannot see the beauty of that cloud - you understand, sir? The mind must be quiet. And it will be quiet when you have denied or put aside control, authority - you follow? - all those things which man has put together in order to find truth or enlightenment which are all the fabrications of a mind and therefore of time. And to find that which is of no time, of no measure, which is not nameable, the mind must be completely quiet. That means the brain, can that brain - please follow this little bit - can the brain which has demanded, which demands absolute security - otherwise it can't function freely, effectively. It's only a mind that is completely secure, brain cells are completely secure, that can operate without friction. The brain cells which contain memory, which hold memory and the response according to that memory is thought, thought can invent security - you understand? - a belief, a nation, an ideal, a guru - that security which thought has invented is insecure, because it involves fear, pleasure, time. You are following all this?
When you see that, then there is security in observation and learning which is the act of intelligence. In intelligence there is complete, total security. And that intelligence comes when you have observed all those things which are not, which are unintelligent. You've got it? Even get it verbally, please. Do you understand? If you haven't got it deeply, just listen to the words of it. So there is security in total intelligence. That intelligence is not yours of mine. It is intelligence. And in that there is security. Therefore the brain cells become quiet. You understand? Because it's capable of observing that which is false and because it has seen that which is false there is intelligence, in that there is security. So, the mind becomes naturally, easily, sweetly, without any effort becomes extraordinarily quiet. And in that stillness of mind there is no time. It is not a question of, can the mind sustain or maintain or continue in that silence. That is the desire of thought which wants to pursue that silence as pleasure. Therefore that silence, in that silence there is no experiencer, no observer but only that quality of complete and total silence. In that silence the door is open. And what lies beyond the door is indescribable, it cannot be put into words. All that you can do is actually come to the door and open it. It's your responsibility as a human being. And the whole of this is meditation: the absolute quietness of the body, the absolute quietness of a mind that is totally religious, in which there is not a spark of violence, conflict. Violence exists where there is will. When you have understood all this, when you have lived the daily life of all this, then you'll come to that door and you will open it and discover. Open that door, what lies beyond is indescribable.
Questioner: May I ask you a question, please? Sir, may I ask you a question, please? When you say the state of complete thoughtlessness or the mind being completely silent, do you mean one has to trace it at all the levels of consciousness and become one with universal mind or consciousness? Is that what you mean by complete consciousness? The second part of the question is
K: Just a minute, madam, don't let there be a second and first part, because I have to translate or repeat what you have said. So be brief.
Q: You might be able to answer better...
K: I can't hear, madam.
K: Beg your pardon?
K: Now I wonder - just listen to this, please, just listen to this. Somebody is going to ask a question. Quite right, please ask the question. Just a minute. Was your mind silent? Have you time in that silence to ask a question? Was your mind completely still and see the beauty of that stillness? If it doesn't happen now, you can't go home and let it happen. Yes, madam?
Q: Sir, when you say the state of complete thoughtlessness or being completely silent, do you mean one has to transcend it at all the levels of consciousness and then reach this? Is it the same as enlightenment? Is it the same as universal mind?
K: Oh! oh! oh! Now, we are lost! Madam, I don't know what the universal mind is. You have an idea about universal mind and that's why you say is it the same as the universal mind. Right?
Q: Now when I say universal mind I mean a person ... and such a person when kept under hypnosis can describe what Cleopatra did.
K: Oh my Lord! Under hypnosis certain questions are answered. Are you being hypnotised? Look sir, the lady asks a question which is: apart from the universal mind and hypnosis and all that thing one has learnt from books and perhaps she may be a hypnotic person, hypnotised person, apart from all that, can the mind empty itself of all its content, the contents that lie at various depths, can that totally be emptied? Isn't that one of your questions?
Q: Yes but tracing at all levels.
K: That's right. And the other part of the question is, do you know any person that has realised this.
K: Lovely, isn't it! I'll answer that question. Can the mind investigate - and investigating means trace it out, in tracing out learn. Learning is different from accumulation. You are following all this? Learning and accumulation are two different things: accumulation of knowledge and learning are not the same things. You must understand this very clearly. When you learn a language you are accumulating words of that language, verbs and all the rest of it. When you are learning how to run a car, you drive it and have experience and therefore knowledge. When you want to do, when you are learning about computers you go into it and learn, acquire knowledge. Right? But when you are learning about yourself - please listen to this - when you are learning about yourself and acquire knowledge about yourself then with that knowledge you look further into yourself. Therefore you are looking at yourself with the past accumulation and therefore you are not learning about yourself which is constantly changing. You've got it? You see the difference between learning and accumulating knowledge? Accumulation of knowledge is essential when you want to do anything. But to learn about yourself totally any accumulation will prevent further enquiry. Enquiry means freedom to look, freedom to observe, freedom to trace out. Right? Now, we are enquiring into this question whether the mind can empty itself of all its content at many layers, at its very depth, conscious as well as unconscious. Right? Is the question clear? Is that the question, madam? Yes.
Q: Sir, in one of your talks...
K: Sir, that lady asked a question, sir and I am just repeating, explaining that question. It has not been - we haven't gone into it. My Lord! We are so occupied with our own questions we won't listen to somebody else. And you are learning about yourself! You understand, sir? You are learning about yourself and yet you won't listen to another.
You see, this question implies a great many things: conscious mind, the unconscious mind, the many layers which hold various experiences, layers that have inherited experience, knowledge, layers that contain the racial inheritance and so on, so on, so on. Can all that be emptied out? Not through analysis, because analysis, as we explained, paralysis through analysis - right? If that is clear we don't have to go into the question of analysis. Then what is the mind to do or not to do with its content? You have understood? If analysis, introspection, examination, all that involves time, all that involves division and therefore conflict, if all that is not, all that is false and therefore the true, then what is a mind to do? How will the mind awaken all the layers, see them without time? You have understood my question? Now, to find that out, your mind which observes, must be without time. Right? It is as simple as that. If your mind is looking with a time element then you cannot possibly expose the total content. But if the mind is free of this quality of time as the investigator, the observer, the past and so on, if that mind is very clear and timeless, then - please listen - then there is no need to explore, the mind is its content and therefore free of its content. You have got it?
The other question is: do you know anybody who has got this? Right? Right madam?
Q: Yes, sir.
K: Why do you ask? Why do you ask? What is important is not if somebody has got it, whether you have got it. Right?
Q: That is just to have a yardstick to see how far I am compared to the most enlightened.
K: Oh! How silly we are! After all these talks, talking about how far you are in your advancement, to measure yourself against somebody whom you think has achieved. And all the time the speaker says don't measure, don't compare, don't imitate. Sir, when the truth is there it is incomparable, it is not yours or mine and the truth is 'what is' and to go beyond it. To see that you are comparing yourself against what you think of a person who you suppose has achieved or come upon this enlightenment, whatever that may mean, and to see the truth of it, how false this is. And when you see the truth of that you no longer measure yourself against somebody.
Q: Sir, the only way I know to find out, as I do not know...
K: Yes, I understand madam. The lady says, I only ask questions because I don't know. Is that right?
K: Right. Why don't you remain not knowing? What is it you want to know? Do please pay attention. What is it you want to know? All of you want to know, what is it you want to know?
Q: Excuse me, what is that which you are telling us?
K: What, sir?
Q: What is that which you are telling us?
K: What are you telling us, that question. I give up. Sir, sir, just a minute. What is it you want to know? How to live?
Q: How to look.
K: I have been talking, I have been explaining for the last hour.
Q: Yes, sir. That is why we came here.
Q: I came here to know how to look.
K: Sir, sir, don't. What is it you want to know? Have you ever asked yourself what is it you want to know? Whether there is life hereafter, whether God exists, whether you will be noble - what is it you want to know in life? Why this craving for knowing? Do answer it yourself, sirs. What is it you want to know?
Q: How to get rid of yourself.
K: How to get rid of yourself. Ah? How to get rid of yourself? You want to know? Very simple. Don't think about yourself.
K: Sir I have been all through that. Look sir, a free mind uses knowledge but it's always free, empty. A mind that is full, a mind that is ridden by beliefs, fears, that mind that is always comparing itself with somebody is not a free mind. When the mind is free there is nothing to know, except how to live, how to function in a world of functions. Right, sirs.