Reality and truth
Is it possible for the stream of selfishness to end?
1st Public Talk, Saanen
July 13, 1975
I suppose one must talk. There are not only personal problems, and the world in which we live is becoming more and more dangerous for all living things. And it seems to me that very few of us are able to meet the challenge completely and totally, and during these talks here we are going, if we can, in detail into the many problems. These problems are not separate, they are interrelated; if one wishes to solve one's own personal problems apart from the problem of existence as a whole, I am afraid we shall not be able to find the correct answer.
So we must, if we may, consider the whole structure of our society and civilisation in which we live. We are not only concerned with the economic, social problems, political, as well as all the problems that we have to face every day: livelihood, the enormous amount of suffering that's going on in the world, the deterioration of human morality, his behaviour, the problems of fear, pleasure and the very complex problem of not only individual suffering, but the suffering of humanity.
And then there is the problem of death, love and if there is any truth or all the realities we have to face are so enormous that we have neither the time, the inclination or the energy to find out for ourselves if there is, or if there is not, a truth which when grasped or understood or related that truth will perhaps absolve all our problems. This is what we are going to talk over together during these three or four weeks. So it is not a diversion, an entertainment, something that you listen to for an hour and forget all about it afterwards, but it is something that we have to consider very seriously, give our minds and heart to understand the extraordinary complex problem of our existence.
I do not know how serious you are, or how curious you are, with what intention you come and listen to these talks; if these talks have any relationship to your life, to your daily existence or you are merely seeking something that is pleasurable for an hour or entertaining intellectually and then go away without actually understanding what is being said and related to our daily life. So in communicating with each other, that is, not only verbally, and also there is non-verbal communication which demands a great deal of earnestness, a great deal of not only intellectual capacity; that is, to be awake and to find out for ourselves what is true and what is false. And so on a lovely morning we have to spend, not only the understanding of words, because each will interpret a meaning or give a meaning to the word, but we have to meet each other at a level that is serious, that demands your attention, your care, your affection.
And so, at the first talk or the first gathering of this meeting, we have to look into this question, why man, human being has not changed at all. Why he lives in a society so corrupt, so utterly meaningless, why he allows himself to be dominated by the politicians all over the world, a world that is becoming more and more authoritarian, totalitarian, neo-Communist, Fascist, or the old pattern of Communism. Why we allow ourselves to perpetuate wars, why we allow ourselves to live an isolated life in a territory divided against other territories, into nationalities and the constant struggle of livelihood, instability, insecurity and the threat that is becoming more and more violent right through the world. I think most of us realise this - at least if you have given some thought, if you are aware of the world events, most of us are concerned, at least those who are really serious, and we wonder what can be done. Either we can escape from all that into some neurotic, imaginative area and cultivate that area through various communes, utopian ideals and so on, or come to it with various conclusions: the Capitalist, the Communist, the neo-Communism, Fascism or Socialism, or come to it with certain strong beliefs - God or no God, personal salvation, personal enjoyment, being concerned only with ourselves and with nothing else, or we can come to it, that is, the world as it is with all the misery, the conflict, the suffering, the inequality, the injustice, the perpetual threat of war - one power against the other and so on. We can come to all that with a totally different kind of energy. And this morning, if I may, I would like to talk about that.
We need a totally different kind of energy to comprehend. The word 'comprehend' means to take hold totally, comprehend this vast thing that we call living, come to it with a quality of energy that will not only understand it - act upon it and go beyond it.
So this morning, if I can, I'd like to go into this question of meeting this enormous complex thing called living, existence, with an energy that is whole, non-fragmented, not broken up. And to find that energy, to come upon that energy, that is the problem. Is this fairly clear? We have exercised a great deal of energy to create this society, we have exercised a great deal of thought to bring about a religious order which is disorder, a discipline that has become mechanical, an energy which has produced an extraordinary technological advancement, an energy created by thought that has fragmented the world. So we first have to look at that energy - the energy that thought has created. Right?
If one observes intellectually as well as non-intellectually, not sentimentally, not romantically, not imaginatively but actually - the word 'actual' means, what is actual, what is taking place now. Thought has created this society, this culture, this religion whether it is Christianity, Hinduism or any other form of religion. Thought has been responsible for this. I do not think anybody will disagree with that. And thought in its activity, in its movement has created the energy of reality. Right?
One has to differentiate between reality and truth. And that's what we are going to do. I hope you understand all this. Personally one has spent a great deal of time about this matter; not only has one gone through this with various scientists and psychotherapists, analysts, to find out if there is an energy which is not the energy of thought, because the energy of thought, being in itself fragmentary, because thought is fragmentary, must inevitably create a structure - social, economic, religious - essentially fragmentary. So that which thought has created, which thought has brought about, which thought has manipulated, structured, is the world of reality. Please, one must understand this. Whatever you do is based on thought, whatever you imagine, whatever you work for, whatever you try to bring about - a change in yourself or in the outer world - is essentially the energy of the movement of thought.
And that movement of thought has created tremendous problems which is obvious both in the world of religion, in the world of economics, in the world of social relationship. And we are trying to solve our problems, our human problems - not technological problems - our human problems in the area, or in the field which thought has created, in the field of reality. Are we meeting each other?
We have got religious problems - whether there is God or no God, whether Christianity is superior to other religions, whether there is the only Saviour and there is no other - you know. The paraphernalia of rituals, dogmatism, superstition - all that is the work of thought. And in the world of economics it is the same, and in our social relationship with each other the movement of thought, being in itself fragmentary, has isolated each one of us into a self-centred human being - his success, his stability and so on. That is the field of thought which is the reality. And we are trying to find all our solutions in that field through the exercise of thought. This is clear. We say: separate religions destroy man, obviously. And this separation has come about through thought: thought trying to find security in a world in which there is no security, in a world it has projected as heaven - this is all the movement of thought. And economically each country is trying to solve its own problem unrelated to the rest of the world. Again the operation of isolation which has been brought about through the fragmentation of thought. This is obvious. And in our human relationship, if you observe, thought first of all creates, because it is fragmentary the self-centred movement as the 'me' and the importance of the 'me'. Right? This is the movement of thought which has created extraordinary problems and in that area we are trying to solve our problems. Clear? Is this somewhat clear? Please don't let me talk to myself.
And we say, the speaker says: you will not be able to solve any of your problems in that area, in the area of reality which thought has created. And the speaker says, you must find a totally different kind of energy which is not the energy of conflict, of separateness, of division, the energy of the movement of thought.
Are we communicating with each other? Please, this is dreadfully serious, if I am not explaining clearly, stop me. Because I'll go into it So if you don't understand me, stop me because I am dreadfully serious about this. Please listen, listen, because it is a very complex thing that we are going into. Because all our life is shaped by thought. And thought, which is time, which is measure, and its movement is always limited. Right? Thought can imagine that there is truth, that there is something beyond itself and project from its limitedness something extensive, not limited at all. But it is still the movement of thought. Right? I can imagine that there is a heaven, that there will be a perfect society, I can imagine or project from my despair, from my loneliness, from my sorrow, from my anxiety, from my grief, from my struggle, a heaven, a God in which there is complete security, complete certainty, no suffering - but it is still the movement of thought.
So thought is the response of memory as experience and knowledge, so we are always operating in the field of knowledge. Right? Oh, come on! And knowledge has not changed man. We have had thousands of wars, millions of human beings have suffered, cried, and we still carry on! The knowledge of war has not taught us anything, except how to kill better, on a vaster scale. Knowledge has not changed man; we accept division into nationalities, we accept that division though it will inevitably bring about conflict with each other, we have accepted the injustice, the cruelty which thought has brought about through knowledge. We are destroying species of animals. Fifty million whales have been killed from the beginning of this century. Everything man touches brings about destruction. So knowledge which is the response of memory thought which is the response of memory, experience, knowledge has not changed man, though it has created an extraordinary technological world.
So the problem then is: what will change man? You have understood? If you say: knowledge can change man - you have to be actual, not theoretical. That is, the actuality of change through knowledge as an instrument which will bring about a different human behaviour, radically. Radically not superficially, not certain peripheral action on the outside. We are talking about the radical change of man through knowledge. And if you observe, that knowledge has not radically, basically fundamentally brought about a revolution, psychological revolution in man. He may be a little more kind, a little more clever, a little more tolerant, a little more this or that - but fundamentally he has not changed. He is still greedy, envious, competitive, aggressive, violent, suffering endlessly. So if knowledge has not changed man, then what will? You understand the question?
Look, this is not a thing that you are going to understand in a couple of minutes however clearly, objectively it is put. We have to have the capacity to investigate, not just to accept words. Words are meaningless. So you have to give your mind, your capacity, your energy to find out. We say: the world of reality is the movement of thought and all the things that thought has created - the Gurus with their system, with their meditation, with their systems, with their philosophies are all the activity of thought and through thought there is no solution. It is not how to stop thought, but to find out if there is an energy which is not the energy of thought. Right?
So what is the relationship - please listen to this - what is the relationship between reality - you understand what I mean by reality - that is, the reality which thought has brought about, the reality which thought has created, the actual. The actual being, not only what is rational, sane, but also what is irrational, what is insane - both are realities. The man who believes in God or in a perfect state or something or other, he has thought it out, projected, come to a conclusion however irrational, however neurotic, it is a reality, as well as the man who thinks clearly, rationally and acts according to that rationality - is a reality. Both are realities - the irrational, the neurotic, the insane, the crooked as well as the man who acts according to a pattern, a rational pattern. Both are realities - the neurotic and the non-neurotic, because they are both brought about by the movement of thought as time, as measure. I wonder if you understand all this? This is the world you live in, we live in. And out of this world we create a different world, a different philosophy, born out of this world. Out of the world of reality we create a world of thought which is called philosophical, intellectual, godly, spiritual and all the rest of it. Right?
So then I ask myself, as you must too, if thought is not going to resolve fundamentally our problem, then what will? You understand this question? Not theoretically, not as an idea, something put forward to you and you accept it and say, 'Yes!' But something that you yourself actually see, of which you are aware.
So the problem is: are you aware the movement of thought as time, as measure and all the things thought has created, the real and the unreal? Are you aware of this? Or, are you aware - please listen - are you aware of the description which the speaker has given? You understand? Aware of the description, aware of the words but not the actuality of this reality of thought. Right? Which is it? Please, this has to be clearly, definitely understood before we go any further, because then it is a waste of time. Am I aware of the reality of all the movement of thought - what it has created in the field of technology, what it has brought about in the psychological field and in the so-called spiritual field? Am I aware of the actual, or of the picture? You understand? Have you understood what I'm - I hope I am making myself clear. Am I aware of the description or the described? Am I aware of the word or the thing which the word represents? Because the word, the description, is not the thing. So which is it I am aware of? If I am aware of the word, the description, then it becomes terribly superficial. It has no meaning. But if I am aware, not of the description, not of the word, but the actual thing, the actuality, then my relationship to it is entirely different. You follow this?
So which is it I am honestly, seriously aware of - the word or the thing? The word 'door' is not the door. The explanation is not the explained. So, am I aware of the door or of the word? If I am aware of the real, the actual, then what is my relationship to the actual? You understand my question? Are you really serious about all this? Or are you just playing with me or with words? On a Sunday morning you have nothing else to do and so you go and listen to that poor chap and perhaps he will tell you how to live, which I am afraid - dogs barking So don't let's play games! I don't want to play games with you, so please, equally have the respect not to play games with me. The word 'respect' means, to look again. You understand? To look again. When you don't look that is disrespect, when you casually listen and go away, that is disrespect. But if you have respect, then you listen, you try to find out, and it is a mutual respect. I want to tell you something, if you are not interested don't bother. And if you are interested give that respect, which is to look again, consider again, watch again.
So what is it that you are aware of? The conclusion, the abstraction or the actual? If I am aware of the actual - not the description, not the word, the word may help me to understand the actual, but the perception of the actual is entirely different from the understanding through the word. Have you understood this? Right, sir? Thank god, somebody does! So I am aware of the movement of thought and all the things that it has created - both irrational and rational, insane, idiotic, superstitious, destructive and thought that has put together various things. I am aware of it. Then what is my relationship in that awareness to that thing which I have seen as actual? You understand the problem?
Is this getting too much? I'll repeat it again. I am aware of the actual, not of the abstraction or the conclusion - that has no reality. What has reality is what actually is. Right? Which is: I am aware of the whole movement of thought - technologically, personally, collectively, in the field of economics, religion, in relationship with each other. That is the actual reality. I am aware of that. Now in that awareness is there a division between me and the thing which I observe? You understand this?
I want to find out when I am actually aware of the movement of thought, is that thought different from the observer, or the observer is itself the thought? Because if this is not clear, I will live everlastingly in conflict which is the movement of thought again, isn't it? I wonder if you see this? See, is the thinker different from the thought? Is the entity who is aware of the actual - the actual being that which thought has created, neurotic as well as non-neurotic - is that different from the man who is observing it, or, the division is non-existent and therefore the observer is the observed, the thinker is the thought and therefore division ceases. Therefore I am aware totally, there is a total awareness. Not, I am aware of something. Is this clear?
K: Let me explain. All right, I am glad. I observe the mountain. I am aware of the mountain, the beauty, the majesty, the extraordinary line against the blue sky, the beauty of that thing. Is the observer different from the observed - the mountain? Obviously he is. He is not the mountain. That is clear, isn't it? If he was the mountain he would be rather strange, he would be fit for an asylum. That's one point. I observe you. Is the observer different from you? Obviously. You are taller, shorter, clever, more beautiful, more intelligent, more awake, capable of deep investigation and therefore you are different from me who is not bright, who is not clear. That's an actuality. You are different. Am I different through comparison? Please listen to all this, don't jump at one or two words, go into it. Am I different because I compare myself with you who are this and that and that - therefore I am different, through comparison am I different? You are taller, I am shorter, you are fair-skinned, I am not, you are bright, you are suffering, all the rest of it. So by comparing myself with you I become stupid - I am less clever than you, which is the movement of thought as measurement. You understand this? Therefore am I dull if there is no comparison? I may be something entirely different - but I am dull only in comparing myself with you. So I am not you - but is my thinking, my desire, my anger, my suffering different from me who is observing, who is looking? You follow the point? Obviously not. So I am anger, so I am jealous, I am envious - not I am something which is called envy. I am that! So the observer divides himself from the observed, psychologically, not outside, not mountain, you and the tree - all that. Psychologically thought has divided itself as the thinker and the thought. He has divided himself because that is part of the tradition, part of education, part of his conditioning to always divide himself, and you as something separate from me.
So I realise, there is a realisation in this total awareness that the thinker is the thought and therefore what takes place? You understand my question? Before, I separated myself from anger and I did something about that anger - controlled it, rationalised it, say, 'Why shouldn't I be angry?', 'It is immoral to be angry, I must control it, I must overcome it, must suppress it' - I did something about it, because it was separate from me. Please, understand this, move with me - not verbally but actually. And when there is the realisation there is no separateness from anger, from myself, then the energy is totally different. You understand? Before, I dissipated energy - there is the dissipation of energy in division. Now, when there is complete awareness of anger and no division as the 'me' being angry then there is an energy which dissipates anger. You've got this? Please, get this!
So there is no struggle, no conflict. There is conflict between the Arab and the Jew or the Communist - you follow? - because they are divided. And if there is no division there is no conflict. But human beings won't accept that, because they are being trained, educated to call themselves Arabs and Israelis and Communists, you know - Christian, non-Christian, you and I - and all the rest of it.
So from this arises the question: if thought is not capable of resolving the problems which thought has created, which is, knowledge cannot change man - right? - as it has been proved. Knowledge being the whole movement of thought as time and measure - as that cannot change man, what will? Right? Now what is your position - not my position, not my description. How do you stand in relation to that? If you are completely aware and have given your attention to the problem that thought cannot solve our problems - not theoretically, actually - then what will you do? Just a minute, let me What is your action? What is your what will you do with it? Go off to a Yogi, run off to a monastery, form a Utopia, a Commune, become a monk, join some Order? If you do none of these things which are all movements of thought, then what will you do? Wait, let the fruit ripen! You have never faced this problem, therefore let the problem mature in your mind. Not take time - actually look at it, therefore give your attention to it.
Now, there is a difference between awareness and attention. May I go on? In attention there is no border, there is no centre from which you are aware, from which you are attentive. I do not know if you have not noticed. I'll show it to you.
You are listening now, aren't you? I hope so. That is, listening means the art of listening. The art of listening is to put everything in its right place. The word 'art' means that - to put everything where it belongs. Now if you are listening, if you are listening from a conclusion, from a centre, from an opinion, from a prejudice, from previous knowledge, from a centre that is comparing what you already know, then you are not listening. Whereas if you are listening attentively there is no centre from which you are listening, therefore there is complete attention. Right? And there is much more beyond attention, which we won't go into now, for the moment. So if you are completely attentive, have given your total attention to the problem of the thought as knowledge and try to change through knowledge and you totally realise that there can be no radical transformation of man through knowledge, then you have a totally different question you can put, which I am going to put presently. I am totally aware that thought has created extraordinary things - the beauty of the drawings of an architect, the beauty of the silver-smith, the beauty of a picture - the thing hands created by thought. And also thought has created the atomic bomb, the marvellous machinery to kill others on a vast extensive scale. And also see thought has divided man against man - not as an idea but as an actuality, in my blood. Also see when I am completely attentive that thought in comparing myself with you - I am less or I am more - and so can thought be without measurement, or thought is endlessly measuring? Or am I attentive to the in that attention there is no division between me and the response: I am that response. So I am totally completely aware of the irrationality of thought and the rationality of thought and the reality of both. So I am totally aware, attentive to reality, to that field I call reality in which all of us live and try to solve our problems, from the highest politician to the highest orthodox organised religious leader - the Communist, the Socialist - everybody is in that - the artist and the non-artist, the layman and so on.
So realising that, seeing completely that, then what will change man, what will change me? - radically, most profoundly, so that I am something entirely different - not the difference which thought has projected. I must find out - not 'find out' - I see reality, then what is truth? You understand? If I live entirely in reality, then there is no truth. I wonder if you understand? But if I realise the whole movement of reality, which is thought, then I must inevitably ask, 'What is truth?' Is there a truth? You understand? We say truth is something that is totally unrelated to thought - please this is don't accept this most dangerous thing what I am saying to you. This is what man has always said: 'God is truth'. But his truth is the invention of thought, his God is the invention of thought. We are saying quite a different thing altogether. Unless you realise completely the total movement of thought and its activity, its creativeness, its rationality and irrationality - which is still reality - see the whole of that, then only you can ask the question: what is truth? But to ask, living in that, 'What is truth?' - you can invent it. You have got this?
K: No, no, no sir, you have misunderstood altogether. I have said: am I totally aware of the movement of thought as knowledge and its activity, what it has created - all the mischief - totally aware of that?
K: Please, wait, listen to it. Don't let me go back to something I have repeated ten times. I said: if I am living in the world of reality psychologically, knowing the irrationality of thought and rationality of thought - both are realities, then only I say I can ask the question: is there something beyond the limit of this? I cannot ask that question if I have not understood that - then I can invent it. Then what I think will be truth, God or whatever you like to call it, will be neurotic, irrational. And all our Gods, all our churches are irrational.
That being so, then I say to myself: What is truth? Is there such thing at all? I know what is the reality, the complexity of reality in which I have to act - not just talk about it. I have to live there, rationally, sanely, wholly, with order and so on, so on, so on. All that has nothing to do, or may have to do, with truth. So I have to find out. To find out there must be no projection of thought. So thought realises its limitation. When you realise you cannot do something, it is finished. I cannot physically go to the moon. I may imagine that I can go to the moon.
So when the mind realises the limitation, the narrowness, the finiteness of thought, then only it can ask the question: what is truth? Is this clear? I do not accept truth given by philosophers - that's their game. Philosophy means love of truth, not love of thought. So there is no authority - Plato, Socrates, Buddha, but Christianity has not gone into that very deeply. They have played with words and symbols, made a parody of suffering and all the rest of it. So the mind rejects all that, because that is all in the field of reality. Therefore my mind is clear: the limitations of reality, the operations and the movement in the field of that reality as thought. Right?
Then, what is truth? Has it any relationship with reality? Please this is don't agree or disagree, you have got to sweat your blood into this thing, you've got to give your heart to this, not just accept some silly thing. You have to have the capacity to investigate, not the capacity which time cultivates, like learning a technique; but this capacity comes when you are really, deeply concerned, when it is a matter of life and death - you understand? - to find out. Then one can ask: is there any relationship between reality and truth? If there is no relationship between truth and reality then what value has truth? Value! That is: how can truth be used in the field of reality? Listen to the words, because our mind says: what is the good of something if I can't use it? Our minds are trained to be - what? - to be utilitarian, to be to work in the field, in market places. If truth cannot have any value in the field of reality, it is not truth. Therefore we are always concerned with the utilitarian use of truth in that field: because I suffer, if truth can't help me, what's the good of truth?
So I must understand clearly that suffering, pleasure, fear and all that is in the world of reality as thought - my suffering, my fears, everything there. Therefore truth has no relationship to reality. No relationship! I can only say that with complete sincerity, complete authenticity, when I have understood totally the reality. I wonder if I have made this clear? Therefore
Q: What is not clear is what you mean by truth.
K: I don't know what I mean by truth. I know exactly what reality is. When the mind has clearly seen that and is no longer caught in that, then I can find out. Wait, wait. So I must go back to reality. I must understand suffering - you understand, sir? - I must go beyond suffering. The mind must go beyond fear and understand the whole movement of pleasure, the thing called love in the field of reality, the thing called death, and what is meditation, is that in the field of reality? Or the understanding of reality and moving away from that is meditation? I must go into all this till I have completely understood this, lived it, not just talked about it - then only can I find out. Then I can say: truth is no relationship to reality. Then truth has its own energy which is going to transform reality, which is my conditioning, which is my psychological fundamental change.
Q: You cannot say that truth has no relationship to reality without playing with words, you can say there is no truth.
K: I am coming to that, sir. First I'll explain carefully - I cannot understand or explain or comprehend - the word 'comprehend' means hold totally the whole thing - what truth is. I don't know. It may not exist or it may exist - it may not be able one may not be able to put it into words, or able to put it into words - unless I comprehend the totality of thought and its movement, I have no right to ask, what that is. So we must go back and understand the whole field of reality. That is our daily conversation for the next three weeks.
Is that enough? It's time, I think.