Our relationships create society
1st Public Talk, Bombay
January 24, 1981
If I may, I would like to point out that this is not an entertainment, either intellectual or emotional. We are going to talk over together a great many things during these six talks and it is not a speech by the speaker but rather that we are going to think together - not what to think, but how to think. That is, together we are going to examine very carefully, investigate together with considerable interest, dedication and together explore what is happening in the world and what is happening in this country, and together, with scepticism investigate why human beings throughout the world, and specially in this country, in this part of the world, have become so corrupt - lack of integrity and no sense of co-operation and we are together sceptically going to investigate into what is religion. Because religion from the ancient of days has played an immense part in life; it has guided man; it has helped man to bear with life, with all the travails of everyday work, everyday misery, confusion, sorrow, fear. But religion right throughout the ages has been controlled by the priests, by those who say we know, we will tell you what to do, we will tell you what gods to worship. And as you have probably observed, organised religions whether it be Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism have utterly failed. They have become a mass of superstition, rituals, utterly meaningless. But we are going to investigate together into what is the nature of religion; what is the mind or the brain that comprehends the true non-sectarian, non-theoretical, non-believing, state of mind.
That is what we are going to investigate together throughout the talks. Because without finding out what is the nature of religion we cannot possibly create a new civilisation, a new culture. Culture is not mere pursuit of tradition. It is not merely following certain edicts, certain sanctions, certain beliefs, which are utterly meaningless. But together, and the speaker means together, you and the speaker are going together to investigate with scepticism, never accepting any belief, any theory, any ideological principles. So please bear in mind throughout these talks that we are working together and if you are serious we will go very far into the exploration but if you merely want to be amused, curious, not exercising your brain, but merely sitting there to be talked at, then I am afraid it will be rather a waste of time on your part. But if you are serious, and the conditions throughout the world demand that you be serious. So bearing all that in mind we will talk over together.
First of all, what has happened to man; why man has become so corrupt, so utterly lacking integrity, no sense of co-operation. We will go into these three words very carefully. That is, why you, as a human being, have become corrupt - not corrupt financially, that is a very small affair, the bribing that goes on even to get little things, to get a ticket on the train you have to bribe, that is a result. We mean by corruption a brain that is merely becoming mechanical, that is totally unaware what is happening globally; a brain that is becoming more and more self-centred, more and more selfish, it may pretend to join various sectarian groups, follow various gurus, go to temples or mosques or churches, but if you examine our daily life there is a great deal of fragmented action. That is corruption. When action becomes fragmented, when action is not whole then there is corruption. We will go into it much further a little later.
And also when there is lack of integrity, say one thing and do another. Here we are all theoretical, we all believe in some ideal, some form of theory, some kind of ultimate something or other which has nothing whatsoever to do with our daily life. We think and act totally differently. You must be aware of all this. And why is it that there is no spirit of co-operation, not with your family, but the feeling that as we have created this society, the society in which we live, that society can only be changed when we are all working together, not for a theory, not for a country, not for some authority or a principle and so on, but the feeling that we human beings have created this ugly monstrous society, utterly immoral, ruthless and we seem to be utterly incapable of working together to bring about a radical change in society. Why? You understand?
I hope the speaker is making the point very clear: why we human beings have become so utterly careless, brutal, thoughtless, following some stupid tradition, utterly meaningless. What has happened to man? Please ask this question of yourselves, because you, as a human being, is like the rest of the world. You suffer, you go through great loneliness, there is fear, anxiety, ambition, cruelty, you are only interested in money, power, position, this is the common ground of all human beings, whether they live in America, Europe, Russia, China or here. This is a fact, that we are basically similar psychologically. You may be tall, you may have a different name, you may have a bank account, fair, dark, but psychologically, inwardly we are the same, similar to all other human beings. Right? This is a fact. Therefore you are not an individual. Now that will take a lot of investigation because we have been trained, conditioned, to use a modern phrase, wired, programmed to believe that each one of us is an individual, separate, with his own particular soul or whatever that thing is called, and this has been throughout history emphasised by the priest, by religion, through education, to maintain an illusion that you are a separate human being from the rest of mankind. But if you examine very, very carefully the psychological state of man, which is the inward process: the ambition, the envy, the cruelty, the self-centred activity, the enormous suffering, that is the common ground of all human beings. That is an absolute fact, irrefutable.
So you are the entire humanity. Therefore there is no such thing as an individual. Therefore there is no individual salvation at all. Though religions, established religions, the Christian world, the Hindu world and perhaps there is slightly modified in Buddhism and Islam, this idea, this concept, this belief that you are an individual separate from all the rest of mankind and so each one is striving after his own security, his own happiness, his own salvation. But there is no such thing as an individual. Please, we will go into it together, don't accept what the speaker is saying, question it, be sceptical and find out for yourself that you, living in this country, are like the rest of mankind. You suffer, so do the Americans, so do the Europeans, the Africans and so on. You are lonely, desperately anxious, uncertain, insecure, envious, competitive, this is the common thing psychologically for all mankind. Right, you are following all this? So you may have a different name, you may be tall, fair, dark, but inwardly, which is the psychological structure, is common to all mankind, therefore you are mankind. Right? Please don't accept this. See the truth of it for yourself. That means your brain is accustomed through centuries to think that you are a separate human being. Right? All your religions say so. You act as though you are an individual.
So there is the individual and the community, there is the individual and society, and so there is conflict between the individual, community, society, the family. In that there is constant conflict, a battle going on all day long. This is a fact. But the actual psychological reality is that the common ground, the common factor of all human beings is: psychologically we are more or less the same.
So in listening to these talks if you are going to listen at all, we are not pursuing individual salvation. On the contrary we are trying to find out, we are going to investigate together what does it mean to have a common ground upon which we all stand and whether the mind, your brain is capable of totally disassociating itself from this concept of the individual, and so capable of taking a global outlook, not a provincial sectarian, narrow outlook, which is the individual outlook, as it is now, but when you see the fact, the truth that you are not an individual then perhaps we will have a global outlook. Therefore our relationship utterly changes to each other.
Society is an abstraction. I hope you understand all this. I hope I am not insulting you, the speaker is not insulting you, if he asks if you speak English, that we are in communication with each other verbally, intellectually, seeing the same thing together, not you see something different from the speaker. It doesn't mean that we disagree or agree, but see the same thing together through investigation and exploring sceptically, never accepting a thing the speaker or anyone says so that your brain becomes extraordinarily active to discover the way of living which is entirely different from what we are doing now.
So as we said, man has tried to change society. There have been revolutions, various thinkers throughout the ages tried to change society, the communists have tried it, the various socialists have tried it, and governments have tried it, whether it be the socialists, the fascists, the communists and so on. Society has not been changed. Right? That is, in that society there are wars, sectarian wrangles. That society is utterly immoral; there is no justice; there is immense corruption, and that society man has tried in every way to change. Right? This is historical fact, and that society has not been changed. So we are going to find out why.
Society is an abstraction. You understand the word? An abstraction is not a reality, what is reality is relationship between man and man. The relationship between man and man has created this, which we call society. Man is violent; man is self-centred; man is seeking pleasure, frightened, insecure, in himself he is corrupt and in his relationship whether it be intimate or not, this way of relationship has created this so-called society. That is clear, obviously. But we always tried to change society, not change man who creates the society in which he lives. Please, this is logic, simple, clear. And the socialists, communists, capitalists and so on and so on have always tried to change this amorphous, abstract thing called society. But never tackled the problem of relationship between man and man. Right? Now can that be changed? That is the whole point. Can your relationship with another, intimate, sexual, pleasure-seeking, this idea that you are separate from another and therefore battle between each other, can all that psychological structure be transformed? You understand all this? Are we together in this? Or are you just merely following verbal structure? The speaker is not a reformer, a social reformer. He is essentially a religious man. He doesn't belong to any society, to any group of religious cantankerous believing types; he doesn't belong to any country; he has no belief, has no ideal, but only facing what is going on and seeing if that is possible radically to change. If you, as the audience, are serious enough to go into this let us walk together, knowing that individual salvation which is promised throughout all this structure of religions, has no meaning. The speaker is not offering personal salvation. We are trying to - the speaker is saying that there is an ending to sorrow; there is an ending to conflict between man and man and so a new kind of society can be born out of that. Are you all interested in this?
Who has created the social structure, the psychological, the nature of psychology, the 'me' who is essentially the psychological structure, who has made it? You are following this? We are asking, who is responsible for the actual state of the present world? God certainly has not created this present world, present structure of society with wars, with appalling cruelty, with self-centred action, competition - certainly god, if you believe in that kind of stuff, has not created this society, but man, you, have created god in your image. You are frightened, you want comfort, you want security, a sense of stability, so you have created an idea, a concept, called god, whom you worship. You understand the irony of it? The absurdity of it? God has been created by man. You may say what is the origin of all this? Origin of the nature, the universe, the beginning of all this: who is responsible? And most of us, most of you rather, believe in something which is comforting. Whereas to find out what is the origin of all this, the origin of a river which begins very slowly with a few trickles of water, the source, and then gathers strength as it goes down the hills, mountains, the valleys till it reaches with enormous volume of water, the sea, what is the origin of all this? Man has always tried to find out, and they are still finding out, the origin, through telescopes, going to the moon, Saturn, all the Western world is enquiring into all this - the origin. And to find that out if you are serious, not just accepting some printed book, if you are serious it requires enormous enquiry and energy; it requires a brain that is extraordinarily active, a brain that is not tethered to any problem. A brain that is full of problems can never solve any problem. It is only the brain that is free of problems can solve problems. And to find out - not as an individual - find out the truth of the origin one must understand the nature of meditation, the ending of all conflict. Then only, and more, one can find out the origin, the ground from which all this begins can be seen - which we will go into later.
But who has created the psychological structure? You understand?
The structure which is called the 'me', the you', 'we' and 'they', who is responsible for this? The agony, the anxiety, the enormous suffering of mankind, not only personal sorrow with all its tears, depression, anxiety and loneliness, but also who has created this extraordinary world of technology which is advancing at an incredible speed? Who has created this inward feeling, this inward sense of despair, anxiety, sorrow? You understand all this? Who has created it? If you say it is god, he must be a rather strange god. If you say it is karma, past life, which means again you believe, you are stuck in the idea of individuality which is non-existent, so if you begin to question, investigate sceptically, never accepting any authority: the Gita, the Upanishads, the Bible, the Koran and all the rest of it, you have a brain that is free to look.
So we are asking, the psychological structure and also the technological world, who has been responsible for these two states; the technological world in which we are living: the computer, the robot, the extraordinarily quick communication, the surgery, the medicine; and the inward state: the greed, the envy, the hatred, the brutality, the violence. These two co-exist together and who is responsible for all this? Please ask yourself. Surely thought is responsible. Right? Thought. Thought has created the technological world. Thought has concentrated great energy to go to the moon; thought has created the rapid communication; thought has created the computer with the robot - we will talk about it a little later, in a minute. So thought has created the technological world. Thought has created the pictures, the paintings, the poems, the language which we speak. Thought has created the marvellous architecture - perhaps not in Bombay - the great cathedrals, marvellous mosques, the great temples of India, the sculpture, thought has done all that. Thought has also created war. It has divided people as the Hindus and the Muslims. I hope you are following all this. This division into nationality, which is poison, thought has created it. The Muslim with his belief, with his dogmas, with his perpetual repetition of something or other, as the Hindu with his conditioning, with his repetition of the Gita and you know all that stuff, so they are both being programmed. Both have been conditioned. Perhaps the Islamic world for the last, nearly two thousand years, but the Hindus perhaps three to five thousand years. They have been conditioned that way. So thought has created the world outside of us, the technological world, not nature. Thought has not created the tree, thank god. Thought has not created that marvellous animal, the tiger, the gazelle, the river, the ocean, the heavens. But thought has created our psychological world with its fear, anxiety, searching everlastingly security - it is a fact. When you go to the temple, the temple has been built by thought, and the thing that is inside the temple is put together by thought, the rituals are created by thought, and all the things that the priest says is created by thought. Right? That is a fact. You might like to say that is sacred, because it has been handed down from generation after generation, but it is still the movement of thought. Thought is not sacred. Thought is a material process. Now, this is where our difficulty comes. Thought is a movement - right? - a movement in time.
I will go into it, you will see for yourself. Thought is the result or the response of memory. Memory is stored up in the brain, memory is knowledge, knowledge is experience. So experience - please, just listen to it - experience, knowledge, memory, action, from that action you learn which becomes more knowledge. So man, the brain is caught in this process: experience, knowledge, memory, thought, action. This is the process in which we all live. Right? There is nothing illogical about this. So thought has created the technological world and thought has created the psychological world, the world of 'me': my wife, my husband, my daughter, my ambition, my greed, my envy, my loneliness, the despair, the sexual appetite, all that is brought about by thought. There is no denial of this - it would be absurd to deny it. The guru that you have created is the result of your thought. So you follow what your thought has created. See the absurdity of it all, the immaturity, the childishness of all this. I know it is obvious that you will listen but you will go on in your way because that is the most convenient, irrational, thoughtless way and if that is comforting, which indicates that you really don't care what happens in the world, you really don't have any affection, love for mankind, all that you are concerned with is your own little comfort. Right?
But if you want to go into this very deeply one has to enquire into relationship which thought has established. That relationship has created the society in which we live, a society which is so utterly contradictory: a group of people make enormous money, the others living in poverty, war, the butchery that is going on, all the rest of it. So to bring about a radical change in society, and that society is an abstraction of a relationship between man and man; it is your relationship with another that has created this monstrous world. I wonder if one realises this. Not accept it as an idea but the truth of it, the inwardness of it, how dangerous everything is becoming in the world. You understand? Over-population, division of nationalities, communal divisions, all that is going on in the world. This problem cannot be solved by any politician, by no scientist, by no bureaucracy, and no guru will ever solve this problem. And it is only you as a human being who is the entire humanity, if you see that, it is an extraordinarily vital thing because when you are living just for yourself as an individual that is the most destructive thing because in that there must be everlasting conflict, but if you actually, not as a theory, not as an idea, but see the truth that you are psychologically the entire world, entire human being, then you see what happens. It gives you enormous vitality and strength. But the conditioning is so strong, it has been going on for thousands of years, that you are a separate human being, your religion, your books, and everything says that, and if you accept it and live with it you are going to be everlastingly unhappy, everlastingly in conflict.
So come to the point: why human beings do not change. This is an important question. Why you who live in conflict, misery, confusion, uncertainty, quarrelling with your wife, with your husband, with all that is going on in the family, why you accept it, live with it, why? You understand my question? Is it because we are so accustomed to a particular pattern of thought, or a particular pattern of living that we are incapable of breaking that pattern. You understand my question? Please. Is it laziness, is it fear of the unknown, accepting 'what is' rather than moving out of 'what is'? Is it our brains have become so dull because of our education - you are all BA's, and MA's, and PhD's, and all the rest of it, is our education conditioning you to become an engineer for the rest of your life so that you are incapable of thinking of anything else except building bridges, railways, or if you are a biologist or a philosopher, is our education destroying humanity? Please, sir, enquire into all this, for god's sake. And what will change man, which is, what will change your relationship with another? You understand? That is the basic question. We are all concerned with the changing of society, the ugliness, the brutality, the horror that is going on and we never ask or demand why each one of us doesn't change, change in our relationship.
So what is our relationship? Right? What is your relationship with your wife, with your sister, with your daughter, with your husband, whatever it is? What is your relationship? Go on, sirs. Is that relationship based on egotistic pursuit, each one wanting his own particular way? You understand all this? So we have to enquire very carefully and of course sceptically, what is relationship. If we don't understand relationship we will never bring about the necessary revolution in society.
So what is relationship? Are we ever related to each other at all? You may have a wife or a girl friend, which is the modern fancy. You may have a husband or you may have several girls or several ladies but what is the basis of that relationship? Is it merely pleasure, sexual, is it merely a sense of comfort, convenience, social contract? Please sir enquire into all this. Do we dare to look into that relationship? Are we frightened to look into it? You understand my question? Are we frightened to look into our relationship - wife, daughter, girl friend, husband, the whole structure of relationship in the family? Here in India the family matters enormously. So shouldn't we find out for ourselves what is the truth of relationship. So let us enquire together, please don't accept what the speaker is saying. That would be too absurd, that would have no validity. It will have no significance in your life if you merely say, yes, somebody said that. But if you look into it, if you go into this question of relationship and to observe it without any direction, without any motive, just observe it, what is it? First look at what actually is going on. Is it pleasure, sexual, or pleasure of companionship, pleasure of having someone with whom you can talk, bully, quarrel with, or worship, adore? You understand all this? As we came down from the house we are living in there is an advertisement there, 'Body Beautiful' - do you understand all this? In that relationship, is there any love, or that word, that feeling is totally absent? And in this relationship with another you have an image of the other and she has an image about you. Right? The relationship is between these two images which thought has created. Right? I wonder if you see all this for yourself. I may have a wife or a husband. We have lived with each other for a number of years and I have built an image about her: sexual image, the image of comfort, encouragement; somebody on whom I can rely; who will bear my children, and she has an image about me. I am not married, don't worry. Thank god! You laugh, but you don't see the tragedy of all this.
So what is your actual relationship? You have none. Right? You may have a house and a wife, children. You go to the office every day from nine o'clock to five or six o'clock for the next fifty years, come home, bed, quarrels, no time for anything except for money; if you are seeking power, position, status, that is your life - conflict, and you call that relationship. Right? Don't agree. See the fact and see if that image- building can stop. You understand? Because most of us live with images, about ourselves and about others. The image of the politician, the image of the scientist, the image of the guru, the images made by the mind, and by the hand. We live with images. The images become all important, right? Not living.
So the question is whether the machinery that creates the image can come to an end. You follow what I am saying? Please come with me. We are taking the journey together. You are not being hypnotised by the speaker. So please, don't go to sleep. We are together walking the road, a very tortuous road, very complex road, with many turns, dangerous roads and together we have to understand a way of living that may be totally different, therefore a society that is different and that society can only be different if you as a human being are different. It is a simple equation. So can we live without a single image? You have an image about yourself as a lawyer, as an engineer, as a saint, as a guru, as a follower, you have an image about yourself. Why? Is there security in that image? Because our mind, our brain is always searching for security, and there is security in a concept, in a belief, it thinks there is security - till somebody comes around and shakes it.
So is there security in the image that you have built about yourself? Because there is no security in a living thing, in a moving thing, active, but there is security, at least we think, in the image which we have created. You know, we think there is tremendous security in knowledge. Right? If you are a professor, if you are a teacher, if you are a guru, if you are some kind of careerist, you have certain knowledge, that knowledge gives you a job, a skill, and in that you think there is great security. You have never questioned what is knowledge - knowledge apart from technological knowledge. Knowledge is invariably incomplete. You cannot have complete knowledge about anything. That is a fact. So knowledge is always in the shadow of ignorance. Just swallow that! It is always within the shadow of ignorance. So any action born out of that knowledge must be incomplete. Therefore, being incomplete it must invariably bring conflict. So the knowledge which we have about another in our relationship is incomplete, and therefore in that knowledge which is the image which you have about another, any action must bring about conflict. This is obvious. So is there a relationship which is not based on knowledge? That is, I know you as my wife, I have lived with you for twenty years and I know all about you - which is nonsense of course. But the knowledge I have is the image about her which thought has built. You understand all this?
So we are asking: is the machinery which is the movement of thought in relationship which creates the image and therefore division, where there is division there must be conflict, between you and the Muslim, between so-called India and Pakistan, the Arab and the Jew, the socialist, the communist, the catholic, the Hindu, and all that trivial nonsense, there must be conflict. So is it possible to end conflict in relationship? Right? Good sirs, enquire into it with me. The complete ending of conflict. Let us enquire into it, why humanity, you, human being, who is the rest of mankind, why you live in conflict in your relationship. Conflict must exist where there is division. Right? That is the law and if you see the fact that you are not an individual, but the rest of mankind, including your wife with whom you have looked at her face for the last twenty years, got bored, you know all that. Can that conflict end? That is, why does thought enter into relationship? You see the point? Thought invariably divides, thought invariably creates the image: you and the other. Why does thought enter into relationship? Which means is thought love? Is thought desire; is thought pleasure in relationship?
So we are asking why thought enters into relationship at all.
Please, sir, go into it, enquire into it. Is not thought dividing us, you a Hindu, I a Muslim, I a communist, you a socialist? You know all that stuff. And specially in our relationship, why should thought enter at all? Please ask this question, not superficially, not merely verbally or an abstract idea which you are going to examine, but if you say why should thought, in my relationship with you, enter? What place has thought apart from the technological world? You understand my question? In the technological world I need thought to build a computer, to build a robot, to build anything, a chair, to plant a good tree, I need thought. To learn a language I need thought. But why should thought enter into our relationship? Is it because, please look at it, look at it, is it because it has created the image about you as one has the image about oneself and that image becomes more important than actual relationship. You follow, you understand? So is it that we like to live in illusion and not with actuality? Is actuality so unpleasant that we are unwilling to look at it? So if you can look at your relationship, your daily relationship with your wife, with your boss, with your servant, if you have a servant, to look at all that relationship. In that relationship you as a self-centred entity become all important and therefore there must inevitably be conflict. And can thought itself realise that whatever it adds in relationship - not in buying furniture and all that - when you look at your wife, at your husband, to look and not let the word 'interfere' - the word is the thought. You understand? The word is the symbol. When you say, my wife, see what you have done. The word has become important. Right? In that word there is this whole structure of possession, domination, attachment and where there is attachment there must be corruption.
Sir, you listen to all this, does that listening bring about an abstraction called an idea, or in the very act of listening you see the truth of it? Which is actually going on in your brain? Seeing the actual truth or listening and making an abstraction of it into an idea and therefore the idea becomes all important, not the fact, which is what is going on. Are you actually observing what is the fact and can you - this is, if I may point out, this is important - can you remain without any movement of thought with the fact? You understand what I'm saying? Look, I have created an image about myself: myself sitting on the platform with a large audience, with a reputation, the world blah, blah, written books, praised, insulted, all that. So I have created an image about myself, if I have, and that image can be trodden on, can be hurt; somebody will come along and tell me, my dear chap, your audience is very small compared to somebody else, etc., etc., I get hurt because the image is hurt. If I have no image about myself at all, which is a fact for me, nobody can tread on it. Therefore a relationship with such a person is not based on thought. Therefore there is a relationship entirely of a different kind. But that is about the speaker, that is not important. What is important is you in your relationship - can you see the fact and remain with the fact? Not find excuses, justifying it, suppressing it, running away from it, but actually remain with the fact that your image is the factor that brings conflict with another.
Then if you do so remain solidly, without any movement, then that energy which has been dissipated through suppression, and so on that energy dissolves the fact. Do it and test it out, and you will see then that you have a totally different kind of relationship with another. Therefore a different society in which this terrible concept of an individual with his pursuit, his shoddy ambition and all the rest of it comes to an end. You live totally differently. That means you live with love. I am afraid in this country or in other countries that word has lost its meaning. Without that beauty of love, relationship becomes a horror. Right, sirs.