Realising the nature of thought
2nd Public Talk, Bombay
January 25, 1981
May we continue with where we left off yesterday evening? We were talking about the importance of bringing about a real change in society. We said that society is made by human beings and it is only human beings can change that society in which we live. The society which has become so corrupt, a great deal of injustice, where there is inequality and all the rest of it is brought about by human beings in their relationship with each other and that relationship becomes very important if we are going to discover a new way of living in this world. We talked about relationship. That relationship is essentially based on image which we create about each other, and the thought is perpetually creating various types of images; not only has one an image about oneself, but also images about others. Thought, we said yesterday afternoon, has created the temple and the things that are contained in the temple. Thought has created the church and the things thereof and so on. And as thought is based upon knowledge, experience, memory and action, and thought is always limited, always fragmentary because knowledge can never be complete. And we said, knowledge always goes with ignorance. And whether it is possible to live in this world, whether we are intimately related or not, without a single image about ourselves, about another.
And we went into the question of thought. And I think it is very important to understand the whole nature and structure of thought because thought has created all the things with which we live. Thought is the essence of our existence. Thought translates our emotions, our sensory responses; thought has created the technological world and the world in which the psyche, you, live. Thought has been responsible for creating god. Thought has been responsible for the searching for illumination, enlightenment. Thought has been responsible for wars, for all the appalling cruelties that are going on in the world. Thought has been responsible for the technological development that is going on so rapidly. And also thought is responsible for the psychological structure which is the 'me': my problems, my ambition, my superstitions, my fears, the pursuit of pleasure, the sorrow and the everlasting search of man to find something beyond time, if there is something eternal, something everlasting which thought tries to capture either through theory, imagination or various forms of suppositions. Thought has been responsible for ideals. Thought has created the communist world, the so-called democratic world, the capitalist world, the socialist world and so on.
I think we should realise the nature of thought because thought is the basis of our life. And if we do not really go into the question: what is thinking, why thought has become the major instrument of our existence, our existence is the becoming and not becoming, the achievement both physiologically and psychologically, the becoming as a movement to achieve that which we desire, thought is pursuing all the time, moving from one experience to another, and thought in every direction of our life plays a major part. This is an obvious, irrefutable fact. And thought is born of experience, knowledge from that experience, that knowledge is stored up in the brain, in the book written down; in the word, that knowledge is memory and from memory there arises thought and action. This is the process in which we live. There is nothing sacred about thought and there is nothing sacred about whatever thought has made. That which is written in the Gita, the Upanishads, the Bible, the Koran, and so on, they are all the result of thought, and what is written can be made sacred by thought and thought is inevitably fragmentary because knowledge can never be complete about anything.
So one has to find out in our daily existence what is right action. As we said yesterday afternoon, or rather in the evening, that we are walking together; that we are thinking together. You are not merely listening to a talk by some preacher, and I happen to be a preacher. And we are together exploring the nature of thought, whether thought can ever end, what is its place in life, what is its position with regard to relationship and where is this thought leading us. I don't know if you are aware of what thought is doing in the world, in the technological world. Probably in India, in this country, you are not aware of it because we are so concerned with our own particular little problems, with our own salvation, with our own happiness, with our own jobs. So we have made this extraordinary vast life into a small narrow groove in which we think we exist. And as most of us have problems of various kinds: problem of not having a job, problem of having too much money, problem of not being a hypocrite, problem of trying to find a way to that which is sublime, problem of meditations, problem if you are loved or not loved, problems of divorce, problems of loneliness, despair, suffering, fear, these are the problems that each one of us has to deal with. But we are rather negligent, we don't seem to care to resolve these problems so that our mind, our brain is free from all burden. We don't seem to have sufficient energy psychologically to free ourselves from this tremendous weight of tradition, the tradition which is to put up with fear, to admit, accept sorrow, to continue in our conflicts both personal and collective. We seem to have not enough vitality, enough perception to be free.
As we said, let us walk together. Let us examine together this problem why the brain, you, as a human being, are not free, that is if you want to be. Perhaps most of us do not want to be free from problems. Why we put up with problems, day after day, year after year. Please investigate it together. Because it is only a mind, a brain that is free from problems can solve problems. That is fact. But a brain, you, crowded with problems, of various kinds, are incapable of solving problems. So you put up with them. You accept them and when the mind, the brain is crowded with problems, as most people are, then it slowly withers, it slowly destroys itself. So what is a problem? Look at your own problem if you have any, and I hope you haven't got any, which would be a god-send, but if you have, you must have - what is a problem? What is the motive, what is the cause of a problem? You understand my question? If you are afraid of death, which is a problem for a great many people, why has man, you, not solved that problem? You have solved it in one way which is, next life, that you will reincarnate next life for a better position, for more money, for greater happiness, for more something or other, which implies that if you are going to be born next life, that you must behave correctly now. But though we believe in this kind of pleasant theory, we live as we do - careless, indifferent, without any love, putting up with all kinds of horror.
So if that is a problem, as with most of us it is, why doesn't our mind, brain which is capable of solving problems - the brain is capable of solving technological problems of any kind - but apparently that very same brain which tackles very, very complex technological problems and resolves them, is incapable of solving our daily problems. I wonder if you have ever asked, why. Why as we live in conflict in our relationship, why we have not solved that problem. Why we are perpetually seeking either an escape or are so attached to a person or to an idea, to a concept, that we cling to it with all the consequences of it. As we pointed out yesterday, attachment is corruption. Do you accept all this? You are listening to what the speaker is saying and therefore you must be listening either attentively or casually, but you are listening and the speaker says attachment is corruption. Don't you ask why? Why do you say that? What right have you to say it? Who gives you the authority to say it? You can examine that statement for yourself. When you are attached to an idea, to a concept, and another is attached to another particular concept, to another ideal, you must invariably be in conflict. When you are attached to a person however pleasant, however necessary, the consequences of that attachment are jealousy, anxiety, fear and so on. You know the consequences of attachment, which is corruption. And why is it, though you listen, that you are not free of attachment? When there is attachment is there love? Or attachment totally denies love? Because when you are attached there is fear, jealousy, anxiety, possessiveness - all that exists when there is attachment.
So one asks, why we human beings, though seeing a danger, physical danger we act instantly, but psychological dangers we avoid.
We don't even know them as danger. Take a very simple example: nationalism is a poison. When I say that you ought to throw a stone at me. Nationalism brings wars, one of the causes of wars is nationalism. You know that, any intelligent man knows it, he is aware of it and yet clings to nationalism. You may not, one or two may not, but the vast majority do, encouraged by the politicians. So we are asking, examining, we are walking together on the same road, perhaps holding hands, not leading each other, but walking together in companionship, in friendship, why human beings, that is you, have all these problems. A problem demands that it should be solved. And it must be solved immediately because if you do not solve the problem, psychological problem, immediately, what takes place in the human brain with you as an entity? If you have a problem you carry it with you day after day, month after month, year after year with the result that inevitably your brain becomes dull. You can't help it. You lose sensitivity. Your senses become dull, atrophied. So can you solve the problem, your own problem, whatever it be, immediately? Which means our brain which is the centre of thought, thought has created the problem. Right? I wonder if you see that.
The problem of conflict is created by thought, conflict between two human beings because each one wants his own particular way, each one is so ambitious, greedy, envy, and all the rest of it. Each one wants his own fulfilment and therefore conflict is inevitable in relationship. And to end that problem of conflict in relationship one has to look at it, one has to be aware of it, not escape from it. Look at it so as to see all the consequences of it and when you are diligently aware how the problem arises, the cause of it, it is all very clear. But we are afraid that if we have no problem what happens, that is, if we are not occupied all the time with something or other: with meditation, with god, with your wife, with your sexual problems, with earning money, all the time being occupied, there is no space in the mind and space is necessary; space means silence; space means energy. But our brain refuses to act differently so we carry on with the problems. And as we said, thought is the very source of our existence. Now, modern science with its vast technology is taking over what thought has done, can do. Please listen to this - if you are interested.
Thought has created the social world and the psychological world. And the computers - perhaps you have heard about it, some of you - can do exactly everything that thought can do. Do you realise the sequence of that? The computer can learn, can correct itself, and from that correction learn further. So the computer can do what thought can do. The computer will say, I believe in god, because it has been programmed that way; the expert can tell the computer what to say, as we human beings have been programmed, as we human beings have been wired, which is to say I am a Hindu, I am a Buddhist, I believe in god. And the computer being programmed like us can say exactly what you are saying. I wonder if you realise the consequences of this. You understand, sirs? Modern technology has taken over your brain. Right? It is happening sir, it is not the invention of the speaker. We have talked to several computer experts and they are very clear that all that thought can do the computer can do. And with the computer, the robot, which is computer plus the robot can do the mechanical work in a factory. It can produce cars without the help of man. So what becomes of man? You understand my question?
What becomes of you, when what you think, what you feel, what you have, all that thought, the machine can do. You understand this? The seriousness of this? We have to meet a tremendous crisis. Perhaps not in India because here perhaps we are thirty, forty years behind. But this is a problem that is facing mankind. That the machine, invented by thought takes all the activity of thought and leaves man what? What has he then? Do you understand all this sirs? It can be told how to meditate, and it will tell you how to meditate - it becomes your guru. No, no, don't laugh, this is much too serious, I don't think you realise what is happening. It will give you a new mantras. It will take over all the activity of thought which you have, and where is man then? Either he pursues pleasure, entertainment - please listen to this if you care to, because this is much too serious, you don't know what you are facing. If the computer and the robot take the place of man, what is man then? Either he pursues entertainment, football, television, all the circus that goes on in the name of religion, which is another form of entertainment, or he turns inward. You have that choice in front of you, it is coming; that is your challenge. Whether you are going to pursue entertainment invented by thought through computers, robots, and your life then becomes totally empty. You understand? So either you turn to the psychological search inward or pursue pleasure which is entertainment, sexual, all that.
So this is facing you as a human being. So if you are concerned and therefore accept this challenge, which is, you, as a human being, who have lived on thought, whose activity is based on thought, who has thought which has denied love; and thought has made the computer and you, as a human being, have been deprived of all the things that thought has done. So you have to either turn inward or pursue pleasure, entertainment. And if you are inclined to be entertained for the rest of your life then what happens to your brain? You understand all this, sirs? I wonder if you do. It will either wither, slowly decay, because the computer is doing everything that thought can do. Or you turn and look at the psychological structure of yourself and that psychological structure is consciousness. Consciousness is common to all mankind; it is not your consciousness.
It is not individual consciousness. We went into that yesterday. There is no individual though all your scriptures, all your training, education, your religion has emphasised that you are an individual, that you must seek your own salvation. But you are not an individual. You are like the rest of mankind: suffering, lonely, despair, anxiety, fear. This is common to all mankind. And when one sees the truth of this, then there is no individual, you are the rest of the world, you are the rest of mankind. In that there is great beauty, great strength, great vitality, but your brain refuses to accept such truth because you are so programmed, so conditioned to think that you are an individual, and your salvation is through search, exert and all that for yourself, whereas the fact is psychologically you are mankind. Your consciousness is the consciousness of mankind. Consciousness is made up of its content. Right? Your belief, your pleasures, your fears, your anxieties, your superstitions, your belief, the beliefs may vary, but it is belief, your desires, your disorder, all that is your consciousness which is common to all mankind - mankind whether he lives next door to you, he is also very lonely, he is uncertain, he is confused like you; he is all the time seeking security like you, security in relationship, security in his job, security in a projected concept. He is thinking like you.
So please realise the truth of this, that you are not an individual. There is no salvation for the individual, there is only salvation for man, for a human being which you are, the entire human being, not just you as an individual. You understand this?
So as the computer and the robot are taking over the activities of thought we have only these two choices: either pursuing pleasure, entertainment, or entering into the whole psychological world and see how far, how deeply one can go into it. So, if we can take the journey together, we will walk together into the world which are the senses, sensory perceptions, desire, will, fear, pleasure, sorrow, that is the psychological world in which we live, and together let us explore it and find out how deeply, and how far we can go into it. That is the only choice you have. Please realise this, either entertainment of various kinds or this entering into the psychological world which is the whole movement inwardly projected by thought, the 'me', my desires, my pursuits, my ambition, the competition, the vanity, the hypocrisy, the habits we fall into, sexual, drink, various kinds of habits, all that is the psychological world in which we live and without understanding that you are inevitably caught in the world of entertainment.
So if this is very clear we can go together very far and find out if there is something beyond all time, beyond sorrow, if there is something sacred, not that sacred which thought has made, but something utterly untouched by thought. If your mind, your brain is capable, let us walk together.
First our senses, sensual activity has created the world of the psyche. You understand this? The touch, the seeing, the hearing, and translating all that in terms of pleasure, reward, or pain. You understand this, obviously. So psychologically we are programmed to reward and punishment. So one must examine what great part the senses, the sensory perceptions, hearing, all that plays in our daily life. That is, let us go into the question of desire which is part of our nature, part of us, the constant urge, desiring for something all the time, more, more, more. You understand? Desire, which has tremendous vitality, however painful it is, there is this constant movement of desire. Desire may change, the objects, I may desire for a car, or a woman, or to have knowledge, or heaven or desire for illumination, enlightenment, which is still desire, desire for a drink, desire for power, position. So one must understand, go into this question of desire, not the object of desire, you may wish to have a better house; you may want a better job, if you have money you want power, if you have power you want more power and power in any form, whether the power of the guru, the politician or your power over your wife, or your neighbour, or your husband, is evil, is destructive. So we must go into this question of desire.
Please, you are not listening to me. We are working together. We are treading the same path. As we human beings have created this society, we human beings must understand that we are working together to change society. You can't change society by yourself, no government, no politician, no scientist, but you and I, we together, we can change. That is our responsibility. And let us go together and investigate the nature of desire. Why man has been a slave to desire. Why man has said, desire is wrong, you must suppress it as the monks, as the sanyasis, as the religious people have tried in every way to suppress desire. We are not saying you must suppress it or express it. We are trying to examine what is desire. When you understand it then you will see that desire plays very little part in life, something else comes into being. So let us together go into this question.
You see what desire has done to man? Desire plus thought has made man an instrument of violence, has made man into a cruel human being. Fifty million whales have been killed. You don't know anything, you don't care either. They are slaughtering thousands of animals, they have killed thousands and millions of human beings for ideas, for belief, for the desire to dominate, the totalitarian world with their leaders have killed millions and millions because of their desire for power, for position. So please apply your minds, your brains to examine what is desire. Not that we are propagating suppression or the aggressive pursuit of desire, but we are examining it together. Together, I am not telling you and you accept it and then say, well, I agree or disagree. But together let us find out. Because desire plays an immense part in your life: desire for sex, desire for power, desire for a drink, desire to have money, position, all the rest of it. What is desire? What is the nature and the structure of desire? Please let us think together about it. Look at it. When you see something beautiful, something in the window of a shop, a dress, a shirt, when you see that in the window, what takes place? You understand my question? What takes place when you see an object which gives you, or you think will give you pleasure? What takes place? You see, the shirt, or the dress or the sari, or whatever it is in the window, you see it, then you go inside and touch it. Which is, seeing, touching, contact, from that contact, sensation. Right? This takes place. Seeing, that is visual perception, then physical contact, then sensation. Right? This is the movement. Then what happens? Thought comes in and says, how nice it would be if I have that blue shirt. Right? Thought creates the image of you in that blue shirt or sari or whatever it is. You are following this? This happens. If you look at it very closely this is the process. Seeing, contact, sensation, then thought creating the image and from that desire is born. Right? Do you see this? Right, sir? Somebody help me out. This is the natural process. So desire is born only when thought creates the image of you in the car, you in the shirt, you in the sari or dress. You understand? This happens. This is the movement of desire.
Now the question is, if you go further into it, it's natural to see, to touch - sensation - then why should thought come in and create the image? You are following this? Why? When thought creates the image of you in that, all our problems arise. You see this? That is, I see one of the ministers go in a big car and I would like to be like the minister - not me - somebody says, I have reached enlightenment, I am a mystic, and you want to be like him. Which is, watch it, you see the guru or the politician or the priest or the executive chief boss and you watch, see them, their pleasure, their money, you know all that and you want the same thing. That is, you see, you may not touch it actually, but you have the sensation what it is to be like them. So the image is created by thought, you sitting in the big car driving, and everybody saluting you. Right? That is desire.
So the question then arises, can thought not create the image? You understand my question? Please this is important if you want to go into the question of this enormous energy which is called desire. Desire has created havoc in the world. And if we don't understand it very deeply we will be caught, our psyche will be caught in the net of its very, very complex activity. The desire to become, this is what we all want, to become; if you are a clerk, you want to become a manager, if you are a manager you want to be the executive, if you are a priest you want to become the archbishop, the same thing - to become something all the time is the movement of desire.
So we are asking, you are asking rather, can thought with its creating image not interfere with sensation? That is - let me put the question differently: have you ever observed the sea, the mountain, the marvel of a tree, have you ever observed it or you have only observed it partially? You have never observed the sea, the mountain, the marvellous tree with all your senses alert. Have you ever watched anything like that? Is this Greek to you? When you watch, when there is an observation with all your senses there is no centre as the 'me'. That 'me' is created the moment when there is partial perception. You understand? Sir, this is one of the most difficult things to communicate to an audience that are not sensitive, to an audience that have never looked at anything. Have you ever looked actually at a tree, or come nearer, have you ever looked at your wife or husband completely? That is, without the image that you have created about her or him, that is, to observe a person entirely with all your attention, which means with all your senses. Have you ever done it? No, I am afraid you haven't, which demands that you be sensitive, alert, aware.
So where there is desire with its imagination, that desire creates a centre as the 'me', the 'me', separate from you, the 'me' with my ambitions, and so on and so on, and you with your ambitions and so on. So in our relationship desire plays havoc. Desire is not love. Please see this. Understand with your heart not with your petty little minds: desire is not love; pleasure is not love; thought is not love. And a life without love is a corrupt life. Then you will say, how am I to get love, how am I to practise, do something in order to have love. You understand what it means? We are always thinking of getting something, which is desire: tell us, show us the way of love, and we will follow, which means you are not walking with the speaker, you are not investigating with the speaker, we are not walking together to find out the nature of desire, the nature of love, the nature of conflict, the problems which exist in our daily life, because without freedom from all problems there is no love and without love life is completely meaningless and empty. Right sirs.