Observing the content of consciousness
Can the brain be free of all pressure?
2nd Public Talk, Madras
December 25, 1977
I wonder why you are all here. I really do wonder. Because we are talking about some things which are very, very serious, which demands not only your capacity to think clearly, but it demands that you give your life to it, your heart, your brain, your whole outlook on life. Unless one is very, very serious, in the right sense of that word, one really doesn't live a life at all. One becomes rather flippant. Flippancy has its own place, but when you are all here, so many of you, one wonders how serious you are. And we accept things as they are - politically perhaps a little more, slightly revolutionary politically, economically we hope things will stabilise themselves. And spiritually - if I may use that word, which is rather an ugly word, because it has been so misused - spiritually, morally when one looks around, there is so much hypocrisy, so much playing a double game, saying one thing and doing something entirely different. The modern century, 20th century is technologically, tremendously advanced and you are advancing with it, technologically, but at the same time you go to the temples, do puja, do all those absurd things that have no meaning at all. So we kind of play a game, I don't know with whom, but we are playing a kind of game. So one wonders how serious, how tremendously honest one is; not honest to some ideal, to some concept, to some theory, but an integrity, an integrity that is inviolable, that does not change according to circumstances.
So I ask, and you must also ask yourself, why one is here. I know why the speaker is here. He feels, as he has travelled all over the world for the last fifty years and more, that human beings change very little, psychologically. There is a vast technological revolution going on, of which we have no concept whatsoever. But there is tremendous technological advancement, which may, if we are not very alert and careful - might destroy us. And being technologically advanced, morally, ethically, deep down in our hearts, we remain as we are - slight modifications here and there, going from one guru, perhaps to another guru, doing all kinds of absurd things, hoping by some miracle they will bring about a moral, ethical, a deep, profound religious transformation. That is why we are asking how serious one is, because we are talking, or rather communicating with each other, about something that demands that you give great attention, care, affection, love.
We were talking about what it is to live a religious life, that is the basis of all these conversations, dialogues, meetings here, whether it is possible for human beings like you and a million others, whether it is possible to free oneself from all conditioning and not belong to any group, any sect, any particular religion, because all religions have lost their meaning. And to come upon, or to investigate a way of life, which is neither Hindu, Buddhist, American, Christian, Communist, but a way of life that is profoundly, deeply religious, and so it affects all activities, all our thinking, all our ways of life. That is what we are concerned with. And if you are serious, and I hope you are, deeply, not superficially, then we can go on with what we were talking about yesterday. If I may I will repeat, somewhat briefly, what we talked about yesterday evening.
We were saying that each human being, you, represent all humanity, psychologically. You may have fair skin, dark skin, black, be educated, have jobs but basically, deeply, you are like other human beings - in sorrow, in misery, in confusion, frightened to face the unknown, death and so on. This is the common factor of all of us. So you, as a human being, are the representative of all humanity, which is an absolute, irrevocable fact. And so you are the world and the world is you. And if there is a fundamental transformation in the whole structure and nature of consciousness, in those who are willing to listen and learn, then it affects the whole of mankind. Which is again a fact. I do not know if you have not noticed how one person affects the rest of mankind. He may be evil and such a person does affect the rest of mankind like Hitler, Stalin, and all the ugly people that have lived in the world brutally, we are all affected by them, as we are affected somewhat by the good.
So what we are trying to do here in these talks and discussions is to communicate with each other and find out for ourselves whether it is at all possible to bring about deep psychological revolution. Mankind has tried various kinds of institutions and organisations to change man. Communism has been one of them, Capitalism, Socialism, various forms of organisations and institutions, through compulsion, through tyranny, through reward and punishment. But none of them has solved the question of poverty, peace, war. We need a totally different kind of mind to solve the poverty of this country; not a political solution or economic adjustments and so on, but a totally different kind of mind which is a global mind, not a Hindu mind or a Christian mind, or a Communist mind, a mind that understands the whole implications of man, the totality of man, not his mere biological existence, but the psychological understanding of himself, the totality of the man, totality of a human being. That requires a different kind of mind and it is only such a mind that is going to solve all our economic, and social and political problems, not new theories, new way, new communism, or eurocommunism and all the rest of it.
So we are going to talk over together what we said yesterday. That is, the brain - your brain - is under constant pressure, the pressure of tradition, the pressure of education, the pressure that exists in relationship, between man and woman; the pressure - economic, social, environmental pressure. Every form of pressure does affect the brain. You can watch this for yourself. If you have watched yourself, you can see any pressure - and we have been subjected to innumerable pressures, whole religious pressures - does distort, deform the mind, the brain, and so the whole of consciousness. That is - I'm going into it. Let's talk it over together - that is the brain, consciousness and the mind: it is really one movement, not three separate activities going on. That is the brain registers, cultivates memory, from that memory there is response as thought, and thought has put together innumerable factors psychologically, which becomes our consciousness. And the mind is the part of that. So, the totality of human existence, human beings, that is what we are talking about, not merely consciousness, not merely the activity of the brain, not merely the separate thing called mind. It is all one unit, separated for convenience but actually one movement of the pressure of thought. Please don't agree with what the speaker is saying. That would be really too bad. Then we destroy our relationship. Then we can't commune with each other, we can't have a conversation, a dialogue together. I am only sitting on a platform because it is convenient for you to see the speaker and for the speaker to see you. But that little height doesn't give him any authority, and I really mean it.
So, together, and I mean together, we are going to investigate into this problem of how to bring about a fundamental revolution in the psyche. That's the basis of our conversation. And we must communicate, we must use ordinary language, no special language, ordinary daily usage of English. Perhaps some of your speak French, or Italian, then that's a different matter, but we are speaking English so that you and I understand that language, probably you all speak English.
So we are investigating together into this question whether the brain which has been so damaged through pressure, through the pressure of propaganda, environmental pressure, religious pressure, economic pressure, the pressure of all the gurus that exist in the world telling you what to do, what not to do, how to meditate, what not to meditate, and all the absurd things that are going on, levitation. All that is pouring great pressure on your brain. One may be conscious or unconscious of it. Now we are trying together to bring it into the open, to bring about an awareness of these pressures. Right? Are we meeting each other? Because to me this is very, very important - to have a brain, and therefore a consciousness, which is not contaminated by time, not perverted or deformed through various disciplines, various relationships between human beings and so on.
So we are going to enquire together into this question. Enquiry, investigation implies there is no investigator, only investigation. Right? Please understand this. If you as a Hindu, or a something or other, with that examine, your examination will be coloured by your prejudice, by your lust. So we are only investigating, there is no investigator. I hope you understand this question. Do you? You are not investigating, there is only you and I examining. You know, a first-class scientist, a really good scientist, not one of those people who are employed by the government, but really a first-class scientist is concerned with observation, not whether he has got a Nobel prize, or this or that, but he is just concerned to observe through the microscope, see what is actually going on. We must be like that because we are investigating into something that demands a mind that is free to look, a mind that is only concerned with what it sees; not tell what it sees what it should be. You understand? Right. So, there is only investigation and not an investigator. So we move from there.
We said yesterday one must learn the art of observation. I am not teaching you, you are not my disciples, I am not your guru, which would be terrible, most destructive. But together we are looking. Is it possible to observe without prejudice? Go into it yourself. To observe the tree, your wife or your girlfriend, your neighbour, and so yourself, without any prejudice, without any conclusion? Please listen to this, do it as we are talking because we are investigating together, we are walking together. We are walking together on the same road, with the same speed, with the same intensity. So, to learn the art of observation implies that which is observing is free, free from all your Hinduism, otherwise, what you see will be distorted by your conclusion, by your belief, by your ideas. That is logic, reason, that is sanity. If I want to look at you, to understand you, I mustn't have all my prejudices. So in the same way, to observe without any form of previous conclusion. Can you do it? Without any prejudice, without any hope for a conclusion. You understand? To come to it fresh, otherwise you can't see. This is simple, isn't it? So logical, so reasonable, so sane.
So if you can do that, then we can examine the content of consciousness - you understand? - the content, the various things that thought has cultivated and put together which becomes consciousness. Right? The word 'conscious' means to be conscious of, to be aware of, to understand, to have an outlook that is whole. So first let's be clear on this point. That is, consciousness is made up of its content. Right? Your consciousness is made up of your belief, your prejudices, your opinions, whether you are Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Communist, Socialist, left, right or centrist and so on. And also it is made up of your fears, your beliefs, your daily rituals, the pleasures, both sexual, sensory and other forms of pleasure; and also sorrow, the fear of death and living in a world of illusion. All the gods are all illusions put together by thought. So all that is your consciousness. Right? Don't agree with me, just see the fact of it. That is, if you are a lawyer, you have spent years and years and years of studying law and so on, so that is part of your consciousness. If you are an engineer, that is part of your consciousness. If you follow somebody, that's part of your consciousness. So the content makes consciousness. Right? If you had no content, if you had no fear, if you had no sorrow, if you had no belief, no sectarian, narrow outlook, if you had none of these things, what is your consciousness? Have you a consciousness, if the whole content is emptied? You may have a totally different kind of outlook, different kind of dimension of consciousness, but what is actual is what is its content. Right? Do we see this together? Do you? No? Not quite. All right. I'll have to go into it again.
When you examine your being, your self, yourself what you are, what are you? You understand my question? What are you? A name, a form, tall, short, this or that, physiologically. Psychologically all the things that culture, education, environment, the parents - all that you are, aren't you? Your belief in Christianity, belief and so on, so on, all that is what you are. Right? But you may think that there is in you some supreme light. But that is still part of your thinking. Right? So you are the result of the past, the result of time, the result of all the prejudices, hopes, fears, anxieties, all that you are. So your consciousness is all that. You are not separate from your consciousness. You are that. Is this clear now? Somewhat because we can go very deeply into it, but at least let's understand each other verbally.
So we are concerned with the observation of the content of your consciousness. Right? The content. Can you observe the content? One of the contents is violence. Human beings are by nature violent. That may be the result of the evolution, from the animal and so on and so on, the result of all that is that you are violent. Now we are going to observe violence - observe it because is it possible to change violence without bringing about another pressure on the brain? You follow? That is, the pressure on the brain is one form of violence - right? - violence in the sense get angry, hate people, jealous. And violence also physical violence. That has been the result - if you want to go very deeply into this question of violence - that has been the result of self-centred activity. Right? When you are thinking about yourself, when you are concerned about yourself, your advancement spiritually, your advancement economically and so on, so on, you are so deeply concerned about yourself, aren't you? Right? Aren't you? Don't be ashamed of it, it is an ordinary fact. Now this self-centred activity brings about a resistance, pushes everybody away from yourself. Right? May we proceed? So from that results, when you are completely enclosed, and being tremendously concerned about yourself, any response from the outside to break up that enclosure is an act of violence. Right? Do you understand this? I won't go into the deeper causes of it, which is, violence comes into being when there is conformity, violence comes into being when you are imitative, when there is comparison. All these are attributive factors of violence. I can go on and analyse it much more, but that's good enough. Now, can you observe that violence without putting another pressure on the brain? You follow what I am saying? I wonder if you understand what I am saying.
Look sir, one is violent. The tradition has said: control it - right? - suppress it, analyse it, take time over it. All these factors have been a kind of pressure on the brain, to control violence or practise non-violence, which is, of course, sheer nonsense. So the tradition has said, control. Let's keep to that one word for the moment. And the brain has been pressurised to control, trained, educated, it lives in the culture which says: control. So that is a pressure, isn't it? Be clear on this point. That's a form of pressure on the brain.
Now, if you observe the violence and try to bring about a change in it, that is another form of pressure. You understand now, you are understanding what I am saying? So to observe violence without any pressure, which is without control, without suppression, without running away from it? To run away from it is to practise, or cultivate non-violence because that is another escape from the fact. So can you observe - please, this is very important for you to understand - can you observe without any pressure of the tradition, without any pressure of what you would like, or dislike, just to observe? Then, if you so observe what is actually going on, then that very observation transforms what is being observed without any pressure. I wonder if you get this. Are you following? No, no, do it, not verbal agreement. Any child can play that kind of game. To see your violence, to be aware of it. And the response to that is the whole activity of your educated tradition - say, I must control it, I must change it, I mustn't be violent, or excuse your violence, justify it, and so on and so on, so on. So you are acting according to a brain that has been under the pressure of tradition, and therefore you respond naturally by suppressing it, controlling. Right? We are saying, observe without any pressure - right? - the pressure being your tradition, your hoping to go beyond violence because that's one of your religious conditionings and so on, so on, so on. Just to observe.
Let me put it very, very simply - do you understand what I am talking about, some of you? To look without the movement of thought. Can you do it? Try it. Just play with it. To observe the tree, the moon, the stars, the clear beautiful nights - to observe without naming it, without saying 'What a beautiful evening!' because the moment you have said 'what a beautiful evening', the beauty has stopped. The moment you verbalise, you have moved into a different realm altogether. It is necessary to communicate it if you want to say to your friend what a lovely evening, but to observe the sunset without a single movement of word or thought. Please, I'll keep at this till you really understand this thing.
Then we can examine the content of your consciousness, one by one. Because unless there is radical transformation, man will go on the same way as he has gone on for the last millennia. So how do you observe? How do you observe your girl-friend or your wife or your husband? Have you ever asked that question? If you are married, or if you have a girlfriend, have you ever asked that question, how you look at them? Right, sir, can we go into it? Do it together. How do you observe a human being? Do you observe him, or her, without the previous conclusions, understandings, recognition? Do you understand what I am saying? Can you look at your girlfriend, or wife - please do it - without saying, 'My wife'? Or associating that woman, or that man, with all the things you have gathered - your sexual pleasures, the images of all that, the pictures, the excitement, all the sexual responses. Do you look at her, that way, or him, that way? Go on, look at it. Or do you look at her or him with the images, pictures that you have built about her or him? Come on, sirs, do watch it. Do you? So what happens? When you are looking at another, however intimate it may be, you are looking with the images, conclusions, ideas, that you have built about her or him. So, what is your relationship with that person then? Come on, sir, this is your life, this is what is happening in India. For god's sake, wake up! Because if you have this picture, cultivated through time, through days, through months, through years, you are then living in a world of images, and therefore you lose all human contact. Right? Therefore there is no love in that. Right? You are living in a world which is over, which is past with all the images, sexual pleasures and so on, so on, so on, and you have no actual contact with that human being. You understand?
So, that is what has happened, when you observe another. Therefore you have no direct relationship with another. You understand? Look, you are all sitting there and you are watching me. Why? Answer it yourself, why? Because you have accepted a reputation about this man - right? - you have read something about him, you have found out how he lives and what he thinks and what he has done, this that, and ten different things. So, you have a picture of this man's talking. Right? So you are really not looking at the man, but at the pictures you have created about the man. Right? Oh, be honest, for god's sake. So is that love? So what happens? Can you observe - please follow this - can you observe your wife or your girlfriend, or your wife and so on, can you observe without any picture? Can you? You understand what I mean by picture, so I won't go into it. Can you observe as though you are meeting something for the first time? That is, the brain has got used to you, to each other. Right? You understand? So you never look at anybody as though you are meeting him for the first time. Then there is immediate contact, immediate relationship. Now, can you observe this phenomenon without the movement of thought? Can you observe the speaker without all the things that you have built round him? Which doesn't mean that you become indifferent, callous, or impolite. You observe something much deeper than the word. Now can you observe your violence without the pressure of tradition - control, or justifying it, just to observe it without any movement of thought. Then you will see, if you do that, that the thing that you are observing undergoes a radical change. I have discussed this point with some of the scientists, they have agreed that when you so observe in the scientific world, they see that which they are observing through the microscope is changing all the time. You understand, sir? Now. Then if you can do that, then the brain is releasing itself from all the pressures. It is no longer functioning in tradition. Right? Are you doing it? Therefore one has to go into this question, as we did yesterday - the nature of thinking.
What is the origin of thought? Right, sirs? I am asking you a question. You think a great deal, you read a great deal. And I am asking you a very simple question, which is, the question is simple but to go into it demands a great deal of enquiry. Now what is the origin of thinking? And can you observe the arising of thought? These two things are very important to understand. You can observe the arising of anger, can't you? Can't you? No? Come on, sirs. You can see the movement of anger coming up, the response. In the same way, can you observe the arising of thought and the origin of thought? Because all our life is spent in thinking. Right? That's obvious. Whatever you do demands thinking. But we have never asked, what is the beginning of it; and not only what is the beginning of it, but also the arising of thought, as the arising of anger. Right? Because you have to answer this question, because that may solve a great many problems. The origin of thought is the beginning of remembrance. Right? Just listen to it, don't agree to it, just listen to it. You may never have given your thought to it, or enquired. The origin of thinking - the very first man - is when he had an incident, painful or pleasurable, and that has been registered in the brain. That is the origin of thought. Do you see this? It doesn't need that you read lots of books and go to lots of gurus and philosophers, it is very simple when you observe yourself. You had an incident say a few days ago, that incident is registered in the brain, and that the response of that registration which is memory and thought begins. Right? Is this simple, clear? There's nothing to agree to, it's a fact. Don't make a lot of ado about it. It's a very simple fact.
Now, the next question is: can you observe, after registering, the arising of thought? You register pain. You have been to a dentist, and he has hurt you, and that hurt has been registered. Now can you observe the arising of the memory of that pain, now? You follow what I am saying? You have had pain, you have been to the dentist a week ago, and he has hurt you, and it has been registered, and can you observe the fear of that pain arising, the fear that it might come back, can you see the arising of that fear? Can you? This is important to understand because the arising of thought, when there is an awareness of it, there is only thought, not the thinker who is thinking about the thought. This is a little bit difficult. Right? It's half past six.
Traditionally we are used to the idea that the thinker, the experiencer, the analyser is different from the analysed, the thought, the experience. Right? Please understand this, give your attention to it. I hope you aren't too tired, are you? So there is the thinker and the thought. The thinker says, I'll control thought, I'll change thought, I will bring about a different way of thinking. So there is a division between the thinker and the thought. Right? Now how has this division arisen, and is it a reality? This is what we are used to: the thinker and the thought, the experiencer and the experience. Now why has this division existed, who has brought it about and is it an actuality?
Now first, is there a thinker if there is no thought? Go on, sir, answer this thing. If you don't think, there is no thinker. So the thought has made the thinker. Right? Because thought has said, the thinker is more permanent than me. Right? Because thought sees itself as being impermanent, changing, moving. But the thinker, which thought has put together, becomes a permanent entity, because in that permanency there is security. You are following all this? Right? There is this whole idea in this world that there is something superior - atman, god, anything you like - in each one. This is what you are all brought up on, aren't you. And that thing has been put there by thought obviously. So thought recognising itself as being impermanent, in a flux, creates a thinker who says, I know I am permanent, I am the past, I have got a tremendous accumulation of knowledge and I will tell what thought should do. Are you following all this? Isn't that what you are actually doing?
Say, when you meditate - so-called traditional meditation - you are always trying to control thought. Do please be simple and acknowledge this. You are always trying to control thought, aren't you? Who is the controller? Do you say some divine entity? The higher self? The higher monkey? You never even question it, you never even find out, you accept it. So the controller, which is me, you, then tries to control thought and the battle is on - fighting, fighting, fighting for the rest of your life to control thought. But if you see the fact, the fact, the actual, that thought is the thinker, and the thinker is the thought, then the whole relationship changes. Right? You understand this? Right?
Look: I am greedy, suppose. I am greedy. Traditionally, culturally, I have been educated to say you must not be greedy. I am just saying that very lightly. You must not be greedy. My background, my culture, religion, says don't be greedy, but I am greedy. So there is a contradiction going on all the time inside me. Right? I am greedy and yet I am trying not to be greedy. So the entity, the thinker, who says, 'I must control greed' - is the controller different from greed itself? Oh my god! Are you following all this? So they are both the same, aren't they? So what kind of game are you playing? So you are never free of greed, you are always battling with greed.
So if one learns the art of observation, the observer is the observed. Right? This is, of course we don't see that. Is anger different from you? At the moment of anger there is no you, is there? There is just this reaction called anger. Right? A second later you say, I have been angry. So the 'I' is supposed to be different from anger. Right? Oh, come on! Whereas if you see you are anger, not that you are different from anger, then if you can observe that movement, that you are not different from the thing you are observing, the observer is the observed. If you can see the truth of that, conflict comes to an end. You understand?
Because as I said, our tradition has said: control, suppress, run away and the brain has been pressurised to this conditioning, so, it is damaged. So it is always responding according to the pattern, the pattern which has been brought about through pressure. Now if you do the same thing again, you are increasing the pressure, whereas if you recognise the pressure, see what it has done and therefore observe without any pressure, that which is observed undergoes a fundamental change. At least intellectually understand this. That's good enough for the time being. But if you really go into it very deeply and see this thing, then you will see that you can bring about a fundamental change without any effort. Effort implies pressure, and we are so used to change under pressure - the pressure may be reward and punishment. So, we are saying, in learning the art of observation, you will find there is no pressure and therefore no effort, and therefore the thing that is observed, like violence, undergoes fundamental change. It has transformed itself totally. Right?
Is that enough for this evening? Right, sirs.