Religion and meditation 3
Why has the brain got caught in the narrow circle of the self?
6th Public Talk, Saanen
July 21, 1983
I think it is cooler this morning, isn't it? This is the last talk. There will be question and answer meetings on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
I think one can ask what is religion only when we have established order in our lives. We live in disorder,: confused, uncertain, driven by various desires. And we generally muddle along in our disorder. And that disorder has its own order - railways run more or less in the West on time; aeroplanes leave on time; telephones can get to the other side of the world directly. But not in the Asiatic countries - trains are about seven or eight hours late, or a whole day late, nobody pays attention; it is part of the daily life. So there is order in disorder in this world, but unless there is total order, not out of disorder, and that can only come about when there is freedom from fear, from all the hurts that one receives from childhood, the wounds, psychological as well as physical wounds, and the understanding and the meaning and the pursuit of pleasure, the becoming, and the ending of sorrow, then only, where there is freedom and order, then one can really ask: what is religion?
If one asks, what is religion when we live a disorderly, scatter-brained life, then we will invent, as we have done, various religions, various established religions of orthodoxy, religions based on books, like the Christian and the Islamic world, and whereas in India there are about three thousand or more... three hundred thousand - I beg your pardon, gods there. That's much more fun than having one god, then you can play with them all. One day you can choose one god that pleases you, next week another and so on, you can go the whole round for two or three years choosing your own gods. All that is called religion: established, orthodox, based on faith, and those religions, whether it is Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or the Islamic world have nothing to do with our daily life. They are a make-believe world, a romantic world, a sentimental, imaginative, superficially comforting world - which we all know. And out of that chaotic disorder we somehow create, or bring about, a religion that is very comforting which has no validity in daily life, which has no fundamental meaning but one goes to it like you go to some kind of entertainment and sensation, and the repetition of constant rituals, the incense - you know all that.
So the speaker generally puts at the end of the talks religion and meditation because, after all these five talks that we have had here together, we have understood the whole structure and the business of life, and perhaps some of us, deeply, are free of fear and no longer carrying with us the various psychological wounds. And also have understood the futility of pursuing pleasure. And perhaps some have grasped the significance of suffering and the ending of suffering, and thereby have that extraordinary thing called love and compassion. Then when there is order in our life, not induced by thought - thought can never bring about order - but only perception of the fact and nothing else. And out of that order, which means having a clear, unprejudiced, unbiased brain, then only, it seems, that we can ask: what is religion? You understand? I hope one has made this clear.
Because if one is afraid, and to escape from that fear - however deep, however superficial, if one is aware of it - if there is fear you can invent anything you like, most comforting, satisfying and so on, which most of us do. And that invention, that imaginative structure of something superior, is born out of fear and therefore is nothing whatsoever to do with religion, a religious brain.
So we are together this morning going to investigate what is religion. And also in that investigation we are going to discover what is meditation, not meditation as something outside of our daily life. That again becomes extraordinarily superficial. Or you may think by having the right kind of meditation, then that meditation will affect our daily life. You understand? But whereas meditation is something extraordinarily important if one understands the significance of meditation, not the practice and all the silly nonsense that goes on, but the deep significance of it, which we are going to talk over together this morning. All right? Is this clear so far? - so that we can go on together. Not that the speaker goes on talking, you just sleepily follow him, but together, take the responsibility together to find out what is religion, what place it has in daily life, and in the process of that, discover for ourselves what is the depth and the beauty of meditation, for ourselves, not be told. Because you have now various gurus bringing their latest systems of meditation and for a certain coin, you pay and then you learn, which seems so absurd, it becomes a business affair.
Before we go into this question of religion and meditation we ought to understand, if one may point out, what is listening. Do we, each one of us, listen, hear what we say to each other? Or you are talking, you want to tell me something and I want to tell you something. What you want to tell me becomes much more important than what I want to tell you, so there is this battle going on - you understand? You want to say - you are talking to yourself most of the time - and another comes along and wants to tell you something. You haven't the time or the inclination or the intention to listen and so you never listen to the other chap. And so there is this constant deafness, a sense of space in deafness, so that we never listen to each other. There is not only the hearing with the ear but also listening to the meaning of the word, the significance of the word, and also to the sound of the word - the sound, which is very important. When there is sound there is space. You understand? Otherwise there is no sound. Unless you have space then only in that space sound can take place. So the art of listening, if one may point out most respectfully, is not only hearing with the ear but also listening to the sound of the word. The word has a sound and to listen to that sound there must be space. But whereas if you listen all the time translating what is being said into your own prejudices and your own pleasurable or unpleasurable process, then you are not listening at all. Is this clear? Can we this morning attempt to listen not only to what the speaker is saying but also listen to your own reaction to what is being said - not correct your reaction to conform to what is being said? So there is this process going on: the speaker is saying something which you are listening to, and also you are listening to your reactions to what is being said, and give space to the sound that your own reactions are and also to what is being said. You understand? It means a tremendous attention, not just getting into a kind of trance and go off, listen, and say, 'That's a marvellous speech' and you know, and 'It was very nice that morning, it was a very good speech, and it is this, it is that, I was glad I was there, he told me a lot of things which I had not thought about', (laughter) and all that nonsense. But whereas if you listen, and in that listening there is a miracle. The miracle is that you are so completely with the fact of what is being said and listening to that, and listening also to your own responses. It is a simultaneous process - you understand? You listen to what is being said and your reaction to what is being said, which is instantaneous, and then listen to the whole sound of it, which means having space. You understand? So you are giving your whole attention to listening. Am I making this clear? This is an art, not to be learnt by going to a college, passing some degrees that you have learnt listening but to listen to everything; to that river going by, to the birds, to the aeroplane, to your wife or to your husband - which is much more difficult because you have got used to each other, you know almost what she is going say. And she knows very well what you are going to say, after ten days, after ten years. (laughter) So you have shut your hearing altogether - you understand?
Here we are asking something entirely different, to learn, not tomorrow, now as we are sitting there to learn the art of listening. That is, to listen, to be aware of your own responses and allowing space to the sound of your own beat, and to listen - it is a total process, not separate, but a unitary movement of listening. Have you got this? This is art. This is an art that demands your highest attention. Because when you so attend there is no listener, there is only this fact, or the reality of the fact, or the falseness of the fact, is seen - right? I hope we are doing it, this morning, because we are going to go into something very, very complex, And unless of course you want to go off into some romantic trance, it is all right, but if you really want to probe into the nature of a brain that is religious and a meditative brain, you have to listen very, very attentively to everything (Noise of aeroplane)... to that aeroplane so that there is no difference between that noise and the noise the speaker is making and the noise you are making. You understand? It is like a tremendous river moving. So please don't go to sleep this morning, or go off into a kind of imaginative, romantic trance.
We are investigating what is religion. Is it the structure of thought? Or is it beyond thought? You understand? As we have been saying throughout these talks, which both of us have understood, that thought which is always based on experience and knowledge and memory, is very limited. That is clear. And anything that is projected, put together by thought, is always limited. The various religions of the world have been put together by thought. One can say it is a divine revelation straight from the horse's mouth - I hope you understand that phrase, an English phrase which means you have got it directly from the highest. And that to be conveyed is put into thought and you put it down on paper, whether that paper be two thousand years old or five thousand years old, it is still the activity of thought - right? And all the rigmarole, all the words, the rituals - you follow? - the whole structure of religious movement, is based on thought. You can sanctify what thought has created and then worship that, as most of us do, calling it religious, which only shows how the brain is caught in the process of illusions. If we are clear on that point and we are trying to find out what is religion which is not put together by the limited thought - right? When you accept your guru and do all the things he says, it is very, very limited - right? He may talk about illumination, and leading you to truth and all that, it is still the activity of thought. And we thinking about it, we say, 'That is quite right, let's all follow that.' You have seen all this. I wonder if you do!
So one cannot belong to any guru, to any system, to any method - right? Because they are all the product of thought. I wonder - right? You agree? No. (laughter) You are too committed and therefore you will never understand that thing which is really a tremendous activity of the religious brain. Now to examine that which is beyond thought - you understand? - not thought examining, that is the difficulty. I see personally that the activity of thought is limited, entirely, in any direction, whether it is in the technological world, in the world of the computer and so on, or psychologically it is thought, with all its activity, is limited, and therefore there must be conflict. That is understood. And when that is understood what is the instrument that can probe into something that is not the activity of thought? Is that possible? You understand the question? Carefully please, we are working together, put all your brains into this. Thought can investigate its own activity, its own limitation, its own process of putting things together, destroying that and creating something else. Thought in its own confusion can bring about a certain order, but that order too is limited order - right? Therefore it is not supreme order. Order means the whole business of existence.
So the word perhaps 'to probe' is wrong, to investigate is wrong - right? Because you cannot investigate into something which is beyond thought. You understand? You can write books about it and get a lot of kick out of it. But you can play that kind of game everlastingly. Theologians and the excited people do all this kind of stuff. But to understand whether it is possible to observe without any movement of thought - to observe. Observe that tree, to listen to that stream, which is part of observation naturally, without any interference of the word - the tree, the river - to observe without any movement of the past remembrance entering into your observation, which requires complete freedom from the past as the observer, and just to observe. You understand this? Are we understanding each other in this? Let's go into it a little more.
When we look, at your wife, or at your husband, your friend or a train passing by, the train, the wife, the husband, the tree have all a particular name. The name is associated with memory, which is time - right? Memory can only take place during the interval of the incident and the remembrance, which is time. Right? So can you look, listen, observe, without the whole movement of thought, which is time? Right? Can you do it? Please listen to this. Don't say it is not possible. Or say, 'Yes, let's get it'. One has to observe. One has to see actually how you look at a tree, at that cloud in the morning lit by the morning sun, full of depth and beauty and light, and tremendous activity, to look at that without the word 'cloud'. That is fairly easy because it is nothing to do with us - right? You can look at the tree without the word - or the train, or the river. But the word 'river' is not that river, it is river, all the rivers in the world. Right? But if you associate river with one particular river you never then can understand the whole movement of rivers. Right? Ah, you don't, you are missing an awful lot.
So can you observe without the word? Which means to observe without all the remembrances and associations that word implies, contains. Can you look at your wife, or your girl-friend, or your husband without the word 'wife', without all the remembrances that word contains, see the - you understand? - the importance of this so that you look at her or him, or the river as though for the first time? You know when you wake up in the morning and you look out of your window and see these mountains and the valleys and the trees, and the green fields, and the chalets spotted all over the valley, it is an astonishing sight when you look at it as though you were just born. Which means to observe without any bias - right? To observe without any conclusion, prejudice. Will you do that as we are talking? And you cannot do this if you are half awake. This demands again not attention, see what is implied and therefore you do it easily. If I look at my wife from all the images, incidents, memories and hurts and all that, I never look at her. I am always looking at her from the images, past memories, through that I look. You are all... some of you are married, or have girlfriends, haven't you? Look at it. Look at your wife or your husband - careful, careful, not in front of me please! - can you look as though for the first time without all the images, memories and all that nonsense?
So we are going to observe the nature of a religious brain, which is not contaminated by thought. This demands your greatest attention - right? Which means you are totally free, completely free from any commitment - right? To your guru, to your church, to your ideas, to your past tradition, completely free of that to observe. Right? When you so observe, what has taken place in the very nature of the brain? You understand my question? Please understand the question first, before we go into it. I have always looked at the tree, at the river, at the sky, at the beauty of a cloud, my wife, my children, my husband, my daughter and so on and so on, always with a remembrance, with an image. That is my conditioning. And you come along and tell me: look without the word, without the image - right? - without all the past remembrances. And I say I can't do it. First immediate response is, I can't do it. Which means you are not actually listening to what the man is saying - right? Your response is so instantaneous and you say, 'I can't do it'. Now, to be aware, to be attentive to say , 'I can't do it', which is a form of resistance because you are committed to your particular rubbish of a guru, or to some form of religious doctrine, so you are afraid to let go, therefore your immediate response is 'I can't do it' So pay attention to that, right? 'I can't do it' and also listen to what the other man is saying - right? That to observe there must be complete freedom of the word, the content of the word, and listen to both. So, this movement - you follow? - the resistance and the listening, wanting to listen, and you cannot listen if you are resisting, and be aware, don't move from that, don't say, 'I must understand' - just watch it, so that you bring about total attention - right? Are you doing this, some of you? I hope you are sitting comfortably and paying attention to what is being said so that you can observe, there can be observation without the movement of thought - right? Clear? Are you doing it? Or it is just another theory, another wanting to do something like meditation and say 'Tell me how to do it', 'What is the method, what is the system?'. That is all rather childish. Right? Can we go on from there?
That is, pure observation without the movement of the self - right? The word is the self - right? The word, the remembrances, the accumulated hurts, fears, anxieties, pain, sorrow, and all the travail of human existence is the self, which is my consciousness - right? And when you observe, all that is gone. All that doesn't enter in that observation. There is no 'me' observing. Right? Then in that observation in daily life there is perfect order. There is no contradiction. Contradiction is disorder, and that very contradiction with its disorder has its own peculiar limited order. Clear? We are not going off into a trance, are we?
So let's proceed. Then we can ask: what is meditation? The word, the etymological meaning of 'religion', they have not made it very clear. Look up various dictionaries, they haven't been able to trace the beginning of that word. They have given various meanings at different times, but generally it means to gather. Gather all your energy. I am putting this, not the dictionary says that. So what is meditation? Not how to meditate. When you ask 'how' there is somebody to tell you what to do. Right? If you don't ask 'how' and say what is meditation, then you have to exert your own capacity, your own experience, however limited, you have to think - right? And you say, 'Tell me what is meditation, I'll go off into some kind of silly dream.' The word 'meditation' means to ponder over, to think over, to be concerned with. And also it means, the root meaning, 'to measure', both in Sanskrit, Latin, Greek and so on, and in English, 'to measure'. Not only to ponder over, think over, to be concerned, to be dedicated - not to something, but the spirit of dedication - you understand? And to understand the meaning of that word 'measure'. We live by measure. Measure is time, isn't it? I measure myself, what I am now, and what I should be. That is a measurement. I hope you are listening. Not trying to go off into some kind of meditation. I hope you are listening to find out for yourself, for nobody, nobody can teach you what meditation is, however long-bearded the gentleman is, or whatever strange garments he may wear. But to find out for yourself and stand by what you find out for yourself and not depend on anybody.
So for that one must understand very carefully the meaning of that word, which means to measure, basically. What does that imply? From the ancient Greeks to modern times, measurement in engineering is essential - right? The whole technological world of the West, Northern West rather, is based on measurement - right? You cannot possibly put together a bridge without measurement, or build a marvellous hundred story high building without measurement. And also inwardly we are always measuring: I have been, I will be - right? I am this, I have been this, I must be that - right? Which is not only measurement but comparison. Measurement is comparison. You are tall, I am short. Or, I am tall, you are short. I am light and you are brown - you follow? - measurement. So to understand the meaning of measurement and the two words 'better' and 'more' - to understand those two words and never use those two words, 'better' and 'more' inwardly - you understand all this? Are you doing it now as we are talking together? You have understood the meaning of that word meditation. To consider together - I won't go into more of it - to consider together, not I consider and I'm right, but together consider. That means you and I are willing to let go our own prejudices, and consider. And also it means to think over together. And to see the depth of the word 'measure' - right? We have touched it briefly. I can go into it much more, I don't want to go into details. But to see the meaning of that.
So when the mind is... when the brain is free of measurement - you understand? Becoming is a measurement. So for the brain to be free of measurement - you understand what has happened when you are free, when the brain is free of measurement, the very brain cells which have been used to measurement, conditioned by measurement, have suddenly awakened to the truth, to the fact that measurement is destructive psychologically, therefore the very brain cells have undergone a mutation. Get it? I wonder if you understand this.
May I repeat that if you are not clear? One's brain has been accustomed to go in a certain direction - right? Let us say our brains have been accustomed to going North, North East, and you think that is the only way to whatever there is at the end of it. What is at the end of it is what you invent, naturally. But you come along and tell me that direction, North East, will lead you nowhere. I resist. I say, 'No, you are wrong. All the tradition, all the great writers, all the great saints, and bla, bla, bla, say you are wrong.' Which means you really haven't investigated but you are quoting somebody else. Right? Which means you are resisting. So the man says to me, 'Don't resist, listen to what I am saying, listen to what you are thinking, what your reaction is, and also to what I am saying.' So listen to both. And to listen to both you must give attention, which means space. Right?
So to find out whether you can live, a daily life, not at moments of peculiar meditation, but to find out if you can live a daily life without measurement. You understand what the implication of that is? Never to use the word 'better', the 'more', I am the more, I am better than I was yesterday. Silly nonsense! I am less angry. I have disciplined myself a little more today. You understand? This is what we are all doing in various categories. So to live a life without any sense of measurement - that is meditation. To think together - right? - to ponder together. To be concerned together. Together to have no measurement - you understand sir? - except of course, when you buy a suit or when you buy a car, you have the better, you have to look at various models and so on.
So meditation implies a sense of deep understanding of that very word, and the very understanding, the perception, the insight into that word is the action which is to end measurement, psychological measurement. You understand? Are we doing this? Or you are just playing with this? First of all, don't we measure? - if we are honest with ourselves aren't we measuring always? Obviously. I was poor, now I am rich. I have understood now, I have not understood before. Right? Which is such nonsense. Because you didn't pay attention at the beginning, now you are being forced to pay attention. Do you follow ? And so on. To live a daily life without comparison, psychologically without measurement. Right? Which means the brain cells, which have been accustomed to all their life to measure, have suddenly ended measurement, therefore there is a mutation in the brain cells - right? You may not do it but see the fact. The logical, intellectual fact. It is like, your brain is mechanical, obviously, there is no question about it. Responding to various programmes, various propaganda and so on, one's brain has become mechanical, routine, go to the office from 9.30 until 5.0 or 9.0 to 5.0 to the office, and so on and so on. So your brain, its cells, have been conditioned. And to break that conditioning instantly, not through evolution, time, is to listen to something that is totally new. That is, no measurement, psychologically. Therefore when you see without any resistance to that fact then that very perception brings about a radical change in the very structure of the cells - you understand?
So, now let's move from there. What further is meditation? We have understood the meaning of that word together: concern, ponder, think over, look together - right? And to understand the meaning of that word measure, never to say 'I am short', 'I am tall', 'I am dull', 'You are more clever' and so on. And when you do that, you are what you are, from there you can move - right? If I am constantly imitating you because you are clever, I am imitating, that is not cleverness, because I am dull in comparison. If I don't compare at all with you who are clever, I am what I am. I don't call myself then dull. I am what I am. From there I can begin. But if I am always pursuing you I have nowhere to begin. I am pursuing you. You understand?
So what is next in meditation? We have understood the nature of attention, complete listening - right? To listen there must be space and there must be sound in that space. And we are saying is there something sacred, something holy, something... is there, we are not saying there is, or there is not... is there something never touched by thought? Not that I have reached something beyond thought, that is silly nonsense. Is there something that is beyond thought? Which is not matter. You understand? Thought is a material process. I don't have to go into all that, we have gone into it. So anything that is put together by thought is limited and therefore it isn't complete, it isn't the whole. Right? So is there something that is so completely out of this world of thought? You understand the question? We are enquiring together. The speaker is not saying that there is, or that there is not. We are enquiring, giving your attention, listening, which means what? All the activity of thought has ended - right? Except in the world, physical world, I have to do certain things - right? I have to go from here to there, I have to write a letter, I have to drive a car, I have to eat, I have to cook, I have to wash dishes, all kinds of things. There I have to use thought, however limited thought, however thought be routine there. But inwardly, that is psychologically, there can be no further activity unless thought has completely come to an end. Right? Obviously. You understand the question? To observe anything beyond thought, thought must come to an end. Not how to end thought, what is the method to end thought, which is concentration, control, who is the controller - you follow? The conflict of control. All that childish, immature stuff.
So to enquire, to have further insight, to observe if there is something beyond, not put together by thought, thought must completely end; the very necessity to find out ends thought. You have understood? I want to climb a certain mountain, the Jungfrau - I can't, but suppose I can - I have to train, I have to work, day after day climbing more and more and more - right? I have to put all my energy into that - right? So the necessity to find out if there is something more than thought, that very necessity creates the energy which then ends thought. You have understood this?
The importance of ending thought to observe further, that very importance brings about the ending of thought. It is as simple as that. Don't complicate it. You understand? Are we clear on this matter? If I have to swim I have to learn. The intention to swim is stronger than the fear of swimming.
So this is important because thought, which is limited, the limitation there has its own space. Right? You understand? Its own order. When there is the cessation of the activity of the limited thought then there is space - right? Space not only in the brain, space. Not the space that the self creates round itself but the space that has no limit. You understand? When thought discovers for itself its limitation and sees that its limitation is creating havoc in the world then that very observation brings thought to an end because you want - you follow? - to discover something new. That is sir, a man who has been accustomed, trained to engineering and the understanding of the internal combustion machine, which is the piston, he has worked at it for years. And he says, 'I want to discover something more than that.' So he has to put all that aside to see something new - right? If he carries all that with him all the time he can't see anything new. You understand? That is how the jet engine was discovered. The man who discovered it understood completely the internal combustion machinery, that is, the piston and all the rest of it, the propeller, and he said there must be something more. He was watching, waiting, listening. And he came upon something new. You understand what I'm saying? Similarly - it doesn't matter if we have five minutes longer, does it? Similarly I see - one sees thought is limited. And whatever it does will always be limited. Obviously. Because in its very nature it is conditioned, therefore limited. And it cannot go further through using that machinery. Therefore it says, 'If I have the urge to go further, the machinery must come to an end'. Obviously. Then the ending of thought begins. You understand? Then there is space, and silence. That is, meditation is the understanding of the word, the meaning of measurement, and the ending of measurement psychologically, which is to become. The ending of that and the seeing the limited thought - thought is everlastingly limited. It may think of the limitless but it is still born of the limit. So it comes to an end. So the brain, which has been chattering along, muddled, limited, has suddenly become silent, without any compulsion, without any discipline, because it sees the fact, the truth of it. And the fact and the truth, as we pointed out the other day, is beyond time. And so thought comes to an end.
Then there is that sense of absolute silence in the brain. All the movement of thought has ended. It has ended but can be brought into activity when there is necessity in the physical world - you understand? It is quiet. It is silent. And where there is silence there must be space, immense space because there is no self from which - you understand? - the self has its own limited space, you when you are thinking about yourself, it is limited and it creates its own little space - right? But when the self is not, which is the activity of thought is not, then there is vast silence in the brain because it is now free from all its conditioning. And where there is space and silence it is only then something new, which is untouched by time, thought, can be. That may be the most holy, the most sacred - may be. You cannot give it a name. It is perhaps the unnameable. And when there is that then there is intelligence and compassion and love.
So life is not fragmented. It is a whole unitary process moving, living.
And we never talked about death. We haven't time. We are not going to begin with that now. We have talked about it sufficiently at other times. But death is as important as life, as living. They go together. Living means dying, which means living is all the trouble - right? Pain, anxiety, to end that, is dying. So it is like two rivers moving together, tremendous volume behind it of water. And all this from the very beginning of these talks till now is part of meditation because we have gone into the human nature, and to bring about a radical mutation in that. And nobody can do it except you yourself. Finished. May I get up?