Meditation is the understanding and end of knowledge
6th Public Talk, Bombay
February 08, 1981
This is the last talk. We began the series of these talks enquiring into the salvaging of society; the society in which we live, the society which man has created in his relationship with each other and whether that society, which is man's relationship with man, can ever be transformed, can be salvaged. And we enquired into the nature of that society. That society is the product of human relationship; that society is the consciousness of man. Consciousness is the society. And we went into that question whether that society which has apparently begun from the immemorial days of man's existence can ever be changed, transformed into a peaceful society, a society in which we can live with honour, not rooted in dishonour. I hope you understand. Whether we can live without exploiting each other, and that society apparently has never been able to be transformed. Man has tried every kind of way to bring about a different society: the Communists have tried it, the Socialists, the Capitalists, the totalitarians have every kind of method to transform that society, and apparently that society has never been able to be changed, because man himself has not been able to be changed. That is, man in his relationship with another has not been able to be changed. And that society, which is an abstraction, is now being changed, not by man but by machines, not by any form of endeavour, political, religious, economic and so on. It has been changed by machine which man has invented. It is called the computer. I won't go into all that.
But one should realise what that computer can do. It is the product of thought and whatever thought can do, the computer can do. It can learn, it can correct itself, it can think out problems, and introduce new problems. With the computer, the robot is changing industry. The Japanese are already doing it: introducing the computer and the robot to create cars and so on and so on. So the computer is artificial intelligence; it can learn, it can correct itself, it can write out, compose music and so on and so on. So the computer, the machine invented by man, is changing society. It is changing the structure of outward human existence. Whether you know about it or you are not conversant with it, perhaps it is of very little importance, but it is taking place, it is happening. So then what is man then? This is an important question you have to ask. If the machine can do everything that thought can do - it can invent gurus, rituals, belief in god, it can write poems, it can beat a grand master in chess and so on.
I don't think many of us realise what a dangerous state we are in, that man is now becoming more and more helpless, man is becoming a danger to man through the machine. These are facts, not the speaker's invention. This machine, the computer is going to change the structure of society. We have talked a great deal about it, perhaps in India, in this part of the world, that is not known, the danger man is facing, the crisis in his consciousness. As we said consciousness is the content. The content makes consciousness. What you think, what you believe, what your concepts are, ideals, your anger, jealousy, your beliefs in god, your acceptance of gurus and their rituals and there absurdities, all that is part of consciousness. This consciousness is the consciousness of all human beings, not your consciousness, it is the consciousness of all human beings wherever they live. If you examine it a little bit closely, objectively, you will find wherever you live, whether in this part of the world or in the East, Far East, or in the West, man suffers, goes through various forms of anxieties, uncertainties, obeying, accepting, imitating, conforming. This is psychologically, what man is. So you as a human being are the rest of mankind. This is a fact. We think we are individuals - we are not - and therefore we seek individual salvation. There is no individual salvation at all. It is only the salvation of the consciousness of man, of which you are. We have talked about that a great deal.
We also talked about order. In our life there is so much disorder. That disorder is brought about by conflict in our relationship with each other. We all believe in something or other which contradicts other people's beliefs. We are all some form of nationalists, sectarians and that again brings conflict. We live in constant conflict, struggle with each other. We belong to a certain community professing peace, but in that too there is hierarchical existence, the one who knows, the other who doesn't. This is the tradition, this is the whole way of living. So our consciousness, with its agonies, beliefs, sorrows, pleasures, is the consciousness of mankind. Mankind goes through every form wherever they live: sorrow, pain, uncertainty, confusion, utter misery, loneliness, despair, every form of neuroticism. This is the human consciousness of which we are.
This consciousness is the product of thought. Thought has put together all our existence both inwardly and outwardly. It has created marvellous architecture, great temples and the things that are in the temples, the marvellous mosques, the cathedrals and all the things that are in the cathedrals, in the mosques: the rituals, the dogmas, the beliefs, all are the product of thought. So there is nothing sacred that thought has produced. Thought itself is not sacred, but the thing that thought has produced, we worship, we follow. Please understand this very carefully. And thought has brought about disorder, disorder in our private life, and disorder outwardly. This disorder cannot be brought into order by any government, by any religion, by any guru because they are all based on thought. And thought is a material process because it is based on knowledge, experience, stored in the brain as memory and the response of that memory is thought. So whatever thought has produced, whatever it has written, whatever it has said - that there is the timeless, the eternal, nothing that thought has produced is sacred; and we worship that which is the product of thought - in a temple, in a guru.
One of the strange things in this country is, personal worship. It is the most undignified, inhuman thing to do, to worship another human being. And thought has created disorder. That disorder is brought about in our personal relationship, which is based on image, about which we talked a great deal. The relationship between each other, man or woman and so on, is based on the image making. If you have observed yourself, you will see that you have an image about your wife, or your husband, or your guru and that image is produced, manufactured, put together by thought and so our relationship is not actual but a relationship between two images and so there is - must be - everlasting conflict. We went into that considerably. Perhaps those of you who are here for the first time may not understand it quickly and deeply, but you can see this obvious fact that you have an image about yourself, what you should be, what you are, what you might be, all put together by thought; and thought has built the image about each other and that image has no relationship except between another image. So we are saying thought itself, which has created disorder, is disorder. Thought itself is disorder and so it cannot possibly bring about order.
So we are going to go into that question because meditation is the understanding of knowledge, not sitting repeating some phrase, following a system which somebody has laid down, whether it is Buddhist meditation or Tibetan or Zen, or your favourite guru putting out his particular form of meditation. It is not meditation because it is all based on thought. Unless one understands this very deeply that it's the nature of thought, because it is the outcome of knowledge. Please follow this, it is the outcome of knowledge and knowledge is never, never complete. So thought is never complete and its action then must inevitably be incomplete and therefore conflict. As we said we are thinking together. The speaker is not laying down any law. He has no authority. He is not a guru. He has no followers, because the follower destroys the guru and the guru destroys the follower. And we are enquiring into the nature of knowledge. And meditation is the ending of knowledge. Our consciousness is the custodian of knowledge.
Please let us think together about all this. Don't accept what the speaker is saying. He may sit a little higher on a platform, that is merely for convenience. A little height doesn't give him any authority. But if we could, for a change, co-operate together in our thinking. We are walking along a path, a road, not my road, or your road, or the guru's road, we are human beings, and we are walking together, investigating together, thinking together. And so please, don't go to sleep. We are together examining what is meditation, not how to meditate, which then becomes mechanical, which then becomes a repetitive, meaningless illusion. But meditation is the way we live, meditation is part of our daily life, not that meditation is something separate but an actual activity in our daily life, and our daily life is based on knowledge, on memory, on remembrance. Which is, our life is based on the past, the past experiences, the past knowledge, the past incidents and all the remembrance of all that. So our life, our daily existence is based on knowledge. Knowledge, both the scientific and psychological, the inward knowledge and the vast technological knowledge which has been accumulating with such rapidity within the last fifty years or so. So knowledge is the basis of our life. That knowledge is acquired through experience which then is stored up in the brain and memory and thought and action. It is a fact that we are always operating from the past which is the known, meeting the present, which then is modified, the past then is modified and then goes on in the future. So our action is based on knowledge: how to speak a language, is based on knowledge: how to drive a car; how to put things together. And also - that is outwardly - inwardly it is based on knowledge which is our relationship with each other, which is the image you have built about your wife, husband and so on.
So meditation is the understanding of knowledge and the ending of knowledge. As we said, our consciousness is the storehouse of knowledge: knowledge of fear, knowledge of pleasure, knowledge of all the travail, the labour, of anxiety, jealousy, envy, the immense sorrow that mankind carries, the despairing loneliness, and all those entertaining activities through which we escape from the actual facts of life. So all that consciousness is the storehouse of knowledge. You are the self and the self is the essence of knowledge.
So meditation is the enquiry - free, sceptical enquiry - into the whole field of knowledge which is our consciousness. To enquire freely, you must have doubt. Doubt is an extraordinary factor that cleanses the mind: to doubt your guru, to doubt the tradition, to question your relationship, never accepting any psychological authority. So doubt, which gives freedom. It's like leading a dog on a leash, if you keep the dog all the time on a leash, the dog is never free to enjoy itself. So one must know the art of the whole movement of doubt, when to let it go, and when to hold it back. So we are asking, we are saying, we are enquiring together, please, together which means exercise your brains to enquire into what is meditation.
As long as we function in the field of knowledge, which we do, we are acting, functioning, living in the field of knowledge and as long as we are doing that our brains become mechanical. It becomes routine like going to the office from 9 o'clock in the morning and coming back home at 5 o'clock or 6 o'clock or whatever it is. This repetition, this constant mechanical way of living is essentially knowledge. I hope, one hopes that we are moving together.
So our consciousness is the storehouse of knowledge. We know we are afraid; we know we are lonely; we know we have great sorrow; we know we are depressed, anxious, uncertain, unhappy, trying to fulfil, trying to become, trying to get something all the time, all that is the movement of knowledge. So we are saying, asking whether knowledge can come to an end, not the scientific knowledge, not the knowledge of driving a car, speaking a language, writing a letter, all the technological, physical knowledge, we are not talking about that, that must go on, that is inevitable, but we are talking about the psychological knowledge which always overcomes, distorts the technological knowledge. That is, technology has invented the most extraordinary instruments of war, and the psychological world is divided into nationalities, into various socialist, communist, capitalist and so on. The inward always overcomes the outer, unless there is order inwardly outwardly there will be disorder, there will be wars and so on. So it becomes very urgent, imminent that we understand the whole psychological world of which man is and that psychological world is the world of knowledge.
Knowledge means time. Are we following each other in all this? Time of which we talked about the other day, there are three types of time - the biological time, the psychological time, the time by the watch; that is chronological time, time as psychologically - I will become, I will be, if I am not, if I am angry, I will be less angry tomorrow, all that implies psychological time and there is the biological time in the genes in which time is involved - the growth from childhood to manhood. So time is, psychological time - is knowledge. To know myself requires time. To know myself, which is, the self is put together by thought. This is obvious, isn't it? Thought has put together the structure, the psychological structure of the 'me', the self: through education, through the past knowledge and so on. This nature of 'me', you, as the self, the self is knowledge, and that knowledge requires time, and to know oneself, we say that we need time. So time is knowledge, knowledge is thought. So time is thought and we think the ending of knowledge, the ending of any fear, the ending of acquisitiveness, attachment needs time. We are saying time must have a stop, which is, thought must have a stop and that is meditation. To enquire, not follow any system, but enquiry, which means freedom, freedom to enquire and you can only have that freedom if you begin to doubt, question, not accept any spiritual authority. Where there is authority in the world of the spirit, it is not spiritual, it destroys the spirit of man.
So together we are going to enquire whether this enormous field of knowledge which man has acquired, which is our consciousness, whether that consciousness can ever come to an end as knowledge. Are we following each other, all this? Or is all this very strange, or probably you are not used to this kind of enquiry, probably you are all used to being told what to do: guided, led, following a leader like so many sheep. So probably you are not free to enquire because if you begin to enquire, you awaken all fears in you which you have submerged by accepting authority. So there must be freedom to enquire; and that freedom begins only when you are questioning, doubting, asking, never accepting, but always searching, asking, demanding. And that is why we are doing it now.
So we are saying, please don't accept a thing that the speaker is saying. Follow his reason which is logical, go into it step by step and all the subtleties that are involved in this. Your mind, your brain, has to be quick enough to follow, not drugged - drugged by a belief, drugged by following somebody. This demands, please, that you be a light to yourself, not the light of another, light which comes through enquiry. And religion is sceptical enquiry. Religion is that. Religion isn't all the circus that goes on in the world - the puja, the rituals, the worship of idols, worship of symbols in the Christian world and so on. That is not religion. That is just amusement. What is religion, is sceptical enquiry into the whole of our existence, which is our consciousness. Our consciousness is made up of its content. The content is your belief, your dogma, your rituals, your jealousies, your anxieties, your nationalities, your favourite guru and so on and so on. All that is your consciousness and that is the essence of knowledge. Now we are asking, please, together, I am not asking, please let us ask together, whether that whole field of knowledge in which we have lived, in which there is conflict, in which there is never peace, in which there is never a sense of light, always strife, struggle, escape from reality. All that we are going to enquire into, which is knowledge, whether that knowledge can come to an end. That is meditation. Because just see the reason, the logic of it. You may intellectually, if you are intellectual, or inclined to think intellectually see the reason of this. First verbally understand, that's the communication through words, then exercise our brains to be logical, objective, not personal.
Then we can enquire into what is religion. Is that which is going on, is that religion? Putting on various clothes and various types of rituals in which there is fear, superstition, worship of personalities, worship of symbols - is that religion? Obviously it is not. So if you discard all that, discard it absolutely so that there are no illusions, but only facing facts, facts being that which is actually happening in our daily life, those are facts, and that which is happening is from the movement of thought which has put together our consciousness. So we are asking something, whether thought, except in the technological world, which is based on knowledge, whether thought can come to an end. Thought, as we said, is operating always in the field of knowledge and when it is operating in that field it must be mechanical - and our brains have become mechanical: following systems, obeying, imitating, conforming, repeating, repeating, repeating in different forms. You may leave America to come back to this country and join some Ashrama and think you are totally new, you are not. It is the same problem that exists for each one of us.
So how do we begin to enquire into the nature of religion? Because man throughout millennia upon millennia has sought something beyond himself, something, that which is not born of knowledge, something timeless, something most holy, sacred. Man has always sought that because he realises life is a flux, life is constant change, life is uncertainty, sorrow, misery. So he says there must be something beyond all this chaos, and in his search he is trapped by the priest, by the guru, by some clever individual who has a certain philosophy. So he gets lost, he gets caught up in these things and thus he never finds that which is beyond time, beyond thought, beyond all measure. And meditation, which is part of the enquiry into what is religion, that enquiry is the ending of knowledge. You hear that statement, probably you have heard it many times in your books or somebody tells you this: the ending of time, the ending of thought, the ending of knowledge. Is that possible? Please enquire with me.
Is it possible for the brain which has been accustomed, trained, conditioned to function within the field of knowledge? Is it possible for that brain to break through that, through that conditioning? And there is a whole group who say, it is not possible, that is just imaginary. So they say as man is conditioned, conditioned within the field of knowledge, naturally - as man is conditioned, let us improve the conditioning ecologically, socially, morally, and so on, but remain in that conditioning. Which means remain in the prison and beautify the prison, make it more convenient for him to live in that prison. There is a whole school of philosophy of all that. Then there are the so-called religious people who have their belief in something which is non-existent: their gods, their rituals are all invented by thought. So thought, that which is created by thought, is not sacred. Though you may worship the image, that image is not sacred. You have made it sacred by your thought and thought is a material process. If you realise all this then you put aside all the religious nonsense, including your gurus with their authority. Then we can proceed to enquire, proceed to enquire with a free mind, a mind that is not clogged, clogged by fear, by the pursuit of pleasure, not clogged by desire, which we went into very carefully the other day, what is the nature of desire. And before we can meditate, there must be freedom from fear, otherwise that creates illusion. You may sit in a corner or repeat some mantra or follow some system, prostrate to some person, which is the most undignified, unworthy of a human being to prostrate to another, all that must be totally set aside, which means there must be no attachment whatsoever to anything because then your mind, your brain is free and it's only in freedom you can find truth.
So meditation can only begin with the ending of fear. If you are afraid psychologically, inwardly, fear, because you want security, permanency and so on, we have discussed all that. I won't go into now. If there is fear your meditation is utterly meaningless. If there is any kind of conformity, meditation has no meaning.
So there must be order in our relationship, not conflict. There must be the ending of sorrow, not only the personal sorrow, but the sorrow of mankind, and the understanding of what love is. Love as we pointed out yesterday and other days, is not desire, is not pleasure, though we have translated it in the modern world into sexual pleasure, the pleasure of possession, the pleasure of being attached to something. All such forms of pleasure must end. And as love is the very root of meditation, without that love which means no jealousy, in which there is no attachment, in which there is not a breath of hatred, and when there is that compassion, with its intelligence, without that, laying the foundation of all that, whatever you meditate, whatever you do, you may sit by the hour in a room meditating, it has no value. So one has to lay the foundation, then you can proceed to find out what is knowledge and the ending of knowledge.
Also one has to understand the whole movement of concentration. From childhood we are trained through schools, colleges and universities to concentrate. I hope you are following all this. Are you all asleep or am I talking to waking people? Which is, you are exercising your capacity to think, to be logical, to observe, to listen, to learn. One hopes that you are so awake, not to some imaginary awakeness but actually listening. Concentration. What is concentration? If you have gone into it, if you have examined it, what does it mean to concentrate, that is, to concentrate your energy on a particular thing, on a particular image, a picture, a word, and that concentration is to exclude every other thought. You see this. When you are trying to concentrate, you are building a resistance to every movement of other thought than this one thought. Right? So in that concentration there is struggle, there is effort because your thought keeps on wandering all over the place, and thought tries to pull it back. You know all this. So concentration is a form of resistance.
Attention is something entirely different. When you attend, if you ever do, when you give attention it means to give all your energy not to a particular thing but gathering all your energy to attend, that is, are you now, if one may ask, attending or merely listening to a lot of words, getting emotional about those words, denying the meaning of those words because you believe in something or are you attending completely, listening with all your heart, with all your brain, with all your senses? If you are so completely attending there is nothing more. That is meditation. That state of brain in which there is no centre from which you are attending; whereas concentration is always from a point to another point; whereas attention is a state of the brain or the mind in which there is no point as the 'me' attending. Now if you so listen, then you will find for yourself the mind becomes, the brain becomes astonishingly quiet. Please don't be hypnotised by the speaker or stimulated by the speaker because you have to be a light to yourself. And as we said, if you listen not only to what the speaker is saying but to listen to your wife, to your husband, to listen to your leader, to your teacher, to your guru, listen completely, then out of that listening you find what is true, and what is false, because in that listening there is no acceptance, in that listening there is not the one who knows and the other who does not know. There is only that acute activity of listening which is total attention.
When there is that total attention, which is, the brain becomes absolutely quiet, the brain has its own movement, not the movement of thought. I hope you see the difference. The brain must be in movement, it is its nature, but the movement that thought has created in the brain, that movement comes to an end. Therefore the brain, which has its own natural activity, that may go on, but that brain has the capacity when there is this complete attention to become utterly quiet. That is, silence which thought can produce and there is silence which has nothing to do whatsoever with the activity of thought. You can make your brain completely still by thought, controlling thought. That is, the controller is thought, he is put together by thought, and that controller says, I am going to control thought. He is playing a game with himself. So there is a silence which is not the silence of thought trying to become silent. There must be that silence. That is the ending of knowledge, that is the emptying of the content of consciousness which is the self, the 'me', my ego, my self, the ending of that self which is the essence of selfishness, which is the essence of desire, which is the essence of trying to become something - all that must end. And that ends when the mind, the brain has understood logically, reasonably, sanely the activity of knowledge, which is the activity of the self with all its pleasures and agonies, miseries, confusion, uncertainties, sorrow, that self can never know what love is. And in that silence, if you have gone that far, there is something beyond words, beyond all thought which time has not touched, which is the origin of all things. God is the invention of man but this is not god, which is the invention of man. This is the origin of all things and therefore the most sacred, most holy, timeless. These are just words, but if you live without fear, if you have understood knowledge, you have gone beyond sorrow, therefore you have this quality of love and compassion with its intelligence, and having laid the foundation then meditation is something marvellous, something that thought can never understand. Then only there is that which is timeless, most holy.
It's finished, sirs.