Religion and meditation
There is insight when thought is absent
7th Public Talk Saanen
July 30, 1972
I believe this is the last of the talks but on Wednesday we have dialogues for a whole week, if you can stand it.
We have talked about so many things during the last six talks; and I would like this morning, if I may, to talk over with you the question of religion, what is meditation, and try to come upon something which may be not visionary, not visions, experiences, but an actual dimension which thought possibly cannot enter.
I do not know if you have not noticed that most of our lives are rather boring, tiresome, has very little meaning by itself. We try to give meaning, intellectual meaning to our existence but that too has very little meaning. And we try to enrich our lives by studying or enquiring into witchcraft - which I believe is the fashion now - into occultism, which is as old as the hills, and not very, very serious either, and various forms of distractions. Because our own lives, as they are lived, are rather narrow, a repetitious existence, tiresome, fearful, anxious and so on. So when we talk about religion it becomes an escape rather than an actuality. And if we could this morning share together in the enquiry of what is actually religion, a religious life, a religious mind, a religious way of existence.
Obviously all the organised religions with their beliefs and dogmas, with their priests, with their structure which thought has put together - if we could put all that aside, because in themselves they have no validity, except what man has invented, except a few have experienced and assert that this is so or that is not so.
What is a religious mind? What is a religious way of living? I think we should go into this, because it's a vital question, as love, as death, sorrow, and human relationship - it is as important, perhaps, if not more important, than all these, to find out for oneself what it is to live a life which is truly and deeply religious. The word 'religion' means - I looked it up the other day in the dictionary - and it says, 'tie together'. And the word 'yoga' - perhaps you know that word, do you, most of you? - also means joined together, like two oxen are yoked. So religion in the ordinary dictionary meaning, and yoga, imply the same thing, that is, bring together, tie together, yoke the higher part to the lower part, the spirit and matter, and so on.
First of all, that implies division. When you say bring together, join together, tie together, implies that there is a division in existence. Why is it that we have divided life into a religious and non-religious life, spirit and matter, the higher and the lower - why is there such fragmentation in our existence? There is the mind, the heart and the body. And this division has existed throughout the ages. They don't treat it as a whole. They treat it as a thing that is divided and must be brought together. That implies, the bringing together implies, doesn't it, an outside agency or an agency in yourself. Please follow this a little bit, if you're interested in it. And we are sharing this together. It implies an outside agency that will bring the divided, fragmented existence together, through a religious activity, through yoga, through meditation, through various forms of exercises, control, and so on.
Now is there such a division? Or thought has divided existence, life, as separate from the higher state of thought. Thought obviously has invented the higher state. No? The soul, the Hindus call it the atman, and so on. Thought has brought about this. Thought is responsible for this division. And, not being able to bring this together, not being able to bring about a total harmony, it then invents a superior entity which is going to integrate the various fragments. Now that integrating factor is called god, outside agency, or your own will and so on.
One can see that one needs a total harmony, that is, a harmony between the mind, the intellect - the capacity to reason logically, sanely, and the heart, which is to have compassion, love, kindliness, consideration, and the physical, with all its complexities. One can see there must be a harmony. Then only the total existence can function healthily.
And we're asking: is religion that is based on belief, on an insight of the few who have established a church, organised priesthood and so on, is this structure, or can this structure, bring about harmony in you? Or it has nothing whatsoever to do with belief? You are following all this? It has nothing whatsoever to do with any saviour, with any guru, with any sense of an outside agency, or an inward effort to bring about harmony. Am I making myself clear? You look rather puzzled, don't you? All right, I'll put it this way.
For myself I see that the mind, with the brain, can function only when there is complete harmony inside - total harmony, not fragmentary harmony. Now how is this to be brought about? I don't know how, but people say, religions say, authority asserts, that there must be an agency outside of you - god, whatever name you like to give to it. And if you could concentrate on that, give your life to that, believe in that, perhaps you can bring about this extraordinary quality of harmony - they don't put it this way, I'm putting it that way.
Now belief is conceived by thought; belief is the result of thought and fear. I see that, therefore I reject totally all belief, and therefore all authority. There's no guru, no teacher, no saviour, nobody outside that can bring about this extraordinary state of harmony. And I realise harmony is not integration of the various fragments. To bring about integration, that is, to put together the various broken parts, implies there must be an entity who, through act of will, or desire, or urgency, can bring this integration about. That is again a fragmentation. You're following all this? So I reject that too. You understand? I reject belief, I reject authority, the whole structure of a religious organisation based on authority - all that goes. Then how am I, how is the mind to bring about this harmony, because I see that it is essential to be healthy, to have tremendous energy, and to have a mind that is extraordinarily clear? Right? Are you following all this?
Is harmony a thing to be cultivated? Cultivation implies time, doesn't it? I need time to cultivate a plant. So I say I need time to cultivate this harmony, either through various forms of exercise. You're following all this? Give your mind to it a little bit. Please share this together with me - either through various forms of exercises, mental, physical, or through control. Or set a course and follow that course, which is the action of will. I see that the mind, the brain, and the heart, and the physical entity can function beautifully, easily, smoothly, when there is complete sense of the whole, in which there is no division. I see that very clearly. First I see it perhaps intellectually, verbally, and I realise that has no value. Then how does the mind bring this about? Does this question mean anything to you? Because this is the religious life, not the belief in gods or disbelief in god or have your own experience of various attitudes, various visions, experiences - to me that is not a religious life. So I have got to be very clear, I have to find out what it means to live a religious life. Because I feel, if that can be brought about, or comes into being, then my action at any level will always be harmonious, non-contradictory.
So my mind has rejected the whole structure of belief, which is based on fear and therefore illusion. You're sharing this with me, please - we are walking together, thinking together, creating together, and therefore establishing between ourselves right communication. And therefore I reject also, completely, any authority, because it is still outside of myself, it is still the act of thought which seeks guidance from another. So that brings about a division, and hence a conflict - what I should do according to what another says, and try to conform to the pattern set by another. Therefore that brings about a conflict, and therefore disharmony. You are following all this?
Then, I ask myself, will any act of desire, which is will, bring this about? Because will plays a great part in our life. Will is based on choice, on decision - I will do this and I will not do that. Will, that is, the concentration of desire, plays an extraordinary part in our life. Haven't you noticed it? I must do this, I must not do that, I will follow this. And this constant decision is part of our existence. And I see, where there is the act of will there must be division, and therefore conflict. And where there is conflict there can be no harmony. So is there a way of living without the action of will? As I said, will comes into being when there is choice. And choice exists when there is confusion. And you do not choose, you do not decide, when you see things very clearly. Then you act, which is not the action of will.
So I am asking myself: why is it my mind cannot see clearly, all the time, not on vague, uncertain occasions - all the time function clearly? Why do you think your mind doesn't function clearly? First of all, it's confused. It's confused because our conditioning, which is the past, meets the present and is not capable of understanding the present, and life being so uncertain, people asserting, the authorities asserting so many things - work for this, don't work for that, this is true, this is false, there are a dozen gurus telling you what to do - and we're caught in all that.
And also confusion exists because we want clarity - you understand? - we want clarity, we want to reach the other shore where we think there is clarity. So we are always making life, which is this shore, into a problem, because I want to get over there, where I think I'm going to be perfectly happy, sitting next to god, or entering in Nirvana or liberation or whatever it is. So the other shore makes the problem. And that is one of the causes of confusion. I wonder if you follow all this?
So I have an insight, there is an insight into this question of the action of will. Have you got that insight, as we are talking? Therefore there is no conflict in the mind, it acts when there is insight - action is insight, not the action of will, or belief, or fear, or greed. You follow? The insight that comes when you observe very closely this pattern of existence established by will. When you have an insight into that your action is entirely different, and therefore non-contradictory, and hence that insight brings harmony. You are following this? I have no insight because I live in the past. Your life is the past, isn't it? Your remembrances, your imaginations, your contriving, is based on the past. So our life is the past, which through the present, modified, becomes the future. So as long as you live in the past, there must be a contradiction, and hence conflict. You are following all this?
So, harmony comes into being when you have insight into all this. Now, you know, we are educated to control. Right? Aren't you? To control ourselves. Or, having been educated in the structure of control, you discard all that and go to the extreme, which is happening also. And control implies, again division - right? - the controller and the thing controlled. The controller says, 'This must happen, I must do this, I must not get angry, I must be this' - all that. So there is a controller and the thing he's trying to control, and hence a division. Is the controller different from the thing he's controlling? Or both are the same? Of course both are the same. And not being able to go beyond the thing controlled, thought invents a controller, and hopes thereby to go beyond the thing which he is trying to control. Do you get all this? I am angry, and I say, I must not be angry. That is, instantly there is a division. But the entity that says, 'I must not be angry' is part of anger, otherwise you couldn't recognise it as anger. Therefore the controller is the controlled. When I have an insight into that, that is, the division that exists when there is an act of will through control, in that division there must be strife, when I have an insight into that there comes a totally different kind of action which is not controlled or without any restraint. Right?
Is this all becoming too much? Can we go on? Anyhow this is the last talk, so. Now see what my mind has done - I have an insight into belief, I have an insight into will, I have an insight into control, authority, measurement. Do you follow? And that is our social, educational, religious structure. That is our cultural background, religious, ethical, moral, social - that's based on that. And, having an insight into that, there is the cessation of all that. Right? When I see something false, when there is a perception of something dangerous, it is dropped, you run away from it. So, the false, the untrue creates disharmony.
Then mind wants to find out if there is something more than mere thought and its structure. Man throughout the ages has sought this. He has enquired into the known and is always adding more and more into the field of the known - more knowledge, more technology, better means of communication, pollution, you know all that is going on is within the field of the known, including your gods, your saviours, your masters, your gurus, your enlightenment - it's all within the field of the known which is the function of thought. Right?
Are we communicating with each other? So thought is measurement - right? - because to measure according to the known, according to the memory, according to knowledge, experience. So they say, people say, 'You must meditate to find out if there is something beyond the known'. Are you following all this? So they say, 'Control, control your thought, discipline you thought, become aware of your thought,' so they are still dealing with thought - control by thought, discipline by thought. And through thought they hope to find the thing that is not measurable. Right? And also they say, you must stop thinking, kill the mind. You are following all this? Now we're going to find out.
As I said, we were going to talk this morning about religion, meditation, and to come upon something, if it is possible, which is not measurable, which is totally a different dimension. We talked somewhat about religion. Now we are going to find out what it means to meditate. I don't know what it means to you. If you had never heard that word, if you had never heard any of the gurus telling you how to meditate, it would be much better, because then we can, both of us together, investigate it, not knowing. But if you know what it is already, then it becomes a burden, a block. Right?
So I want to find out what it means to a mind that is capable of meditation. The dictionary meaning of that word is 'to ponder over, to be concerned with, to have an intellectual, an emotional grasp,' and so on. That is the dictionary meaning.
And there is the meaning which all the religions have given to it, in different ways - contemplation, in the west, and meditation in the east. And, being a human, I want to find out, because I don't belong to the east or the west, I'm neither a Zen follower nor Krishnamurti follower. I don't know, and I've no authority because I've no guru, thank God! So I want to find out what it means to meditate. But I can see one thing very clearly, that as long as thought is functioning, it must function according to the past and project itself into the future - from the known to the known - I see that very clearly. As long as thought is in operation, nothing new can take place. Right? Be clear on this. Because thought is based on the past, thought is the reaction of memory, thought is the outcome of the knowledge, of the experience, which is my background. So thought is the old, thought can never bring about freedom, because it is not in itself free. I see that very clearly, nobody has to convince me of it.
So I see, the mind has a perception, as long as there is the movement of thought it is living in the old, and it is incapable of perceiving something totally new. Right? Please don't be convinced by me, by the speaker - observe it for yourself. Thought has invented the whole structure of the religious way of life - monks, nuns, rituals, priests, the authority of the priest - the whole structure. And what they say is still within the pattern of thought, therefore I have an insight into the whole process of thinking, and the illusions that it can create.
So I see this, that there must be the emptying of the known. Right? That is, thought must function at one level, because otherwise I can't do anything, but if we are to enquire and come upon this something, if there is something, which is immeasurable, thought must be completely still - right? - then only I can see something new. The seeing of something new is creation - not my painting, writing a book or doing some silly thing, because that is still within the pattern of the known, within the pattern of thought, which has imagination, contrivance, remembrance. So I see the mind must be completely quiet - right? - not that it must be made quiet - then who is the entity that is going to make it quiet? That entity is the desire that wishes to have a mind that is quiet, and therefore there is a division in that and hence conflict, and therefore disharmony. So how is the mind to be absolutely quiet, which means the brain-cells themselves? Brain-cells hold the memories, and these memories, if they are healthy, will react healthily. If they are not healthy, neurotic action takes place, or one is caught in illusions.
So the brain must be quiet, but active when demanded. You're following all this? So I have a problem - not my problem - there is this problem, which is to have a very quiet, extraordinarily subtle mind, pliable, quick, sensitive, and free of the known, and yet function in the field of the known. The two must go together all the time, otherwise there is disharmony. So how is this to happen? I can see very clearly, one can see very clearly that memory, knowledge, experience is necessary, absolutely necessary, otherwise you couldn't talk, you couldn't - you know, its absolutely necessary. But it becomes a danger when thought, in its desire to be secure, uses knowledge for its own self-centred activity. So one must be aware of that.
Now how is the mind to be quiet - is there a system, a method? Now look at it. If there is a system established by you or by another, a system being a method, a practice, the daily practising of that system to make the mind quiet. Now who is the entity that is practising the system? You're following all this? That entity is thought which says, 'If I could practise this method, this system, then I will have a quiet mind, and it must be a marvellous state. I want to experience that state'. So thought invents its own system or accepts another system, other's system, in order to experience something totally new, in which thought can take pleasure. So that becomes a problem. So the mind has to find out why there is this constant demand for experience. You're following all this? Why do you want experience, any kind of experience? Either you have it directly or indirectly by reading novels or books or watching television. Why do you want experience? Have you ever gone into the question of it? There is sexual experience, there is the experience of so many kinds - why does the mind demand it? Because you're bored with every day experiences - it becomes a routine, a mechanical thing. And you want to experience something that is non-mechanical. Right? And you set about it through a mechanical means, which is thought. Right? So through a mechanical means you hope to experience something which is non-mechanical. And if you do experience it, then it becomes mechanical because thought has invented that experience. So the mind says, I don't want any experience because I see its value - I need experience when acquiring knowledge in the everyday life. The more I have experience in putting machinery together, the more I can bring about a way of living which will be mechanical. Right?
So the mind says, any demand for experience, high or low, noble or ignoble, is still part of thought which wants to experience something in which it can take pleasure. You don't want to experience ugly things, painful things, you only want to experience pleasurable things. And god of course is the ultimate pleasure. Right? So the mind sees that, therefore it is no longer asking for any kind of experience, therefore no illusion. The moment the mind wants to experience something great, it can invent that greatness, it can invent something which it calls enlightenment. But if there is a cessation of all experience, then what is the state of the mind that doesn't demand experience? You need experience to keep you awake. I don't know if you're following all this. But the mind, having insight into all this, doesn't need an experience to keep it awake, it is awake.
Now we're asking, can the mind and the brain be completely still? And you want to know if it is still, don't you? I want to know if my mind is still. And there is a gadget in America which they use and they call it Alpha Meditation - that will tell you by electronic measurement that your mind is still. You know, Americans are good at gadgetry. And it's called Alpha Meditation. Right? I can be silly, stupid, dull within, illogical in daily existence, and I attach this instrument with wires to my head, and it tells me when I'm quiet.
So Zen, all these forms of meditation, mantra yoga, you know, the repetition of words - all those are means of knowing for oneself that your mind is quiet. Right? Can you know your mind is quiet? Please, do think it out. If you know your mind is quiet, then there is no quietness because you are observing the mind that you think is quiet. Right? So you cannot experience a mind that is quiet - see the beauty of it, sir. Anymore than you can experience happiness, anymore than you can experience joy. The moment you say, 'I am joyous', it's gone. Or the moment you say, 'How happy I am!' it's no longer happiness. So the mind, when it is quiet, has no observer. Are you learning all this? Because you can learn when you are happy, not when you make a problem of it. And the problems only exist when you want to have a quiet mind. But when you're happy and want to learn what it means to have a quiet mind; learn, then you find out a quiet mind comes into being when there is no observer, when there is no experiencer, thinker. But you say, 'How am I to stop the thinker from acting?' You can't stop it, but you can learn the whole nature and the workings and the movement of thought, learn about it. And when you learn, the other comes into being. You understand all this?
So when the brain and the mind and the body are absolutely quiet, that is, when there is no entity that is measuring all the time, comparing - 'I have had this experience yesterday and I'd like to have it more, or I would like to have further experience,' which is all measurement.
And this quietness implies space, doesn't it? Have you noticed in yourself how little space one has, both outwardly and inwardly? When you live in a city, in a small flat surrounded by all other flats, across the street another set of flats, living in a small, enclosed space, outwardly, you want to break things, don't you? That's part of our violence. There's not only heredity of violence derived from the animal which is aggressive, which we are, but this living in towns, enclosed, with very, very little space outwardly - you can take a holiday once a year for three weeks. My God, what a way of living! And therefore your whole body revolts - this constant going to the office, forty years of your life, all enclosed, in close contact with each other. And a strange thing - have you ever noticed of an evening when the birds are sitting on the telephone wire - have you noticed it? - they have space between them, regular space, which they demand, which they must have. But we don't want space, we want to be close together, because we are frightened to be alone. There is that.
Then emotionally we have no space either, because emotionally we are attached - I must be with that person, I can't bear to be alone, I must have companionship, I must be occupied. So inwardly and outwardly we have very little space, and therefore we become more and more violent, or escape from this altogether - through sectarian attitudes, through various religious organisations, following all the bearded gurus and so on and on and on. Escapes.
And space is an extension in which there are objects and no objects. Right? You are following this? Now for most of us, our minds are filled with things - things. Things are also thought, not only furniture and books and knowledge but thought is matter, thing. So inwardly we have very little space. And in that little space there is the movement of occupation, self-centred occupation, or put it outside and still occupation, from the centre.
So the mind, which is absolutely quiet, has space without any object in it. The moment there is an object, that object creates space around itself, and therefore there is no space. You understand this? The moment when there is, in my mind, in one's mind, an object, a chair, a belief, fear, the persistent demand for pleasure - objects - then each object creates its own little space round itself. And we try to expand these little spaces, hoping to capture the great space. I wonder if you are meeting all this. So the mind that is completely quiet has space in which there is no object, and therefore an attention, not about something, or attention towards something, simply a state of attention. And if you notice, when there is attention there is extraordinary space. It is only when there is no attention the object becomes important. So attention is not a matter of cultivation, going to a school to learn how to be attentive, going to Japan or India or some Himalayan town and learn to be attentive, which is all so manifestly silly, but attention is this extraordinary sense of space. And that cannot exist when the mind is not completely quiet. And this quietness is total harmony.
Then the mind is not dissipating energy. You're following all this? Now we dissipate energy - in quarrels, in gossip, in fighting each other - you follow? - oh, in dozens of ways. And we need tremendous energy to transform 'what is' - 'what is', is my anger, your anger, your ambition, your greed, your envy, the desire for power, position, prestige - the 'what is'. To go beyond 'what is', you need tremendous energy. But you have no energy if you are battling with 'what is'.
So life is a movement in harmony when there is this energy that has gone beyond 'what is'. Because attention is the concentration of total energy. And all this is meditation. And one asks: is there something beyond all thought, something which is not measurable, not nameable, that no words can describe - is there something like that? How are you going to find out? Will you accept what another says? Will you put your faith in the words of another? Or in the experience of another? Because if you put your faith in another you know what happens to you? You are destroyed, because the other fellow becomes all-important. So as you cannot put your faith in anything or in anybody, there is freedom. And when there is freedom, the mind, which has relied for its energy through struggle, through conflict, through the pursuit of pleasure, the mind itself becomes extraordinarily full of energy, without any outward stimuli. Only in that state there is something which is not measurable and which is not nameable; and nobody can convey it to you. Right.
Do you want to ask any questions?
Questioner: How does one go about finding what one loves to do, instead of just accepting an adequate job?
K: As things are now arranged politically, economically, with all the social injustices, you can't find a job that you love. Right? That is, if you are an artist you say, 'I love what I am doing'. (Noise of train) There is that train again. If you are an artist you might love your painting, or writing a poem, or shaping the marble, the clay. But you depend for your livelihood on another, you have to sell your pictures, your poems. So you have to accept what others have to say, whether your poem is good of not, to be published or not, or saleable or not. So you depend on society.
And if you become a monk, you also depend. So as things are, as the society, the culture, the economic structure of the world is, as it is, how will you find out, and how will you, if you really love what you want to do, how will you be able to live? Or, is that the question? The questioner says, 'I want to find a job which I really love,' Is that the question? Or will you accept any job because you are not emotionally and psychologically dependent on the job? That is, through a job you are seeking a status - most of us are. We don't want to remain cooks, we want to become the chef, because the chef has a status. We don't want to be merely a priest, we want to become bishops, and then archbishops and finally the Pope, because that has immense prestige. So what most of us are concerned is not with function but with status. Now if you can remove from your mind the status, not seek it at all, then you accept what job you can, don't you? And then that job becomes interesting. I don't know if you follow all this - somebody disagrees with all this. Yes sir.
Q: It’s more complicated.
K: I know it's much more complicated. (laughter) Because I'm married, I have children, I want more money, cars, position, oh, you know the responsibility of having a family in the modern world. It becomes terribly complicated. How will you answer the problem of each one? I may want a very simple job, I don't care, I really don't care whether I'm a cook or a gardener or a Prime Minister - I'm not, thank God! (laughter) I really don't care, because I'm not seeking status, therefore I'm only concerned with good functioning. Another may want a good position, he is driven by ambition, he's always competing, aggressive, and being aggressive he has his own problems, and so on and on and on. Now how will you answer this question, please listen to this, that will answer every variety of human being, who wants a job? And for every job there are about three thousand people after it. You understand?
I was told the other day, somebody advertised for a cook, and BA's and MA's came to offer themselves as cooks. Now how will you answer this question, that will be acceptable, true to each one? Then it won't be complex, will it? We're going to find out - I haven't thought about this before, enquired into it, we're going to enquire into it together - that will answer every human being. Does he seek a job according to his temperament? According to his character, according to the demands of the society - society demands that there be more engineers or more scientists, or more artists - more artists because you have a better position then you are more respected, like in Russia, you have special, you know, houses and special facilities.
Now are you dependent on your temperament in seeking a job, that is, according to your character. Please listen to this. We're enquiring, I'm not laying down the law, I'm not the Delphic Oracle - we're enquiring. So am I seeking a job according to my temperament, which is, 'I love that job'. And my temperament, my character is the outcome of my conditioning. So according to my conditioning and character, according to that, the job is decided. Or my conditioning expresses itself in peculiar idiosyncrasies - the artist, the scientist, this or that. Shall I seek a job according to my idiosyncrasies, which means, according to my conditioning? You are following all this? The conditioning is the result of the society I live in, and that society says, 'Prestige, status, is most important, not the function'. And so my conditioning says, 'I must be at the top of my profession'. - the prestige.
So shall I, being brought up in the culture in which I have lived, follow the dictates of the culture, dependent on temperament and idiosyncrasy, or - what shall I do? Go on, sir, what shall I do? So I ask myself, what is a human being to do who is very, very serious, living in this society, with all the complexity of it - perhaps you see more of the complexity and I may not - but it is complex, what shall a human being do? You understand? Knowing all this, knowing what is relationship, in which there is no image - we went into that - knowing that knowledge is necessary, having an insight into the whole process of thinking; what it means to lead a religious life, what it means to live religious, meditation - knowing, observing all this, what shall he do? Just go and seek a job which he loves, dictated by his character, temperament, idiosyncrasy, conditioning? Or when he realises the whole, when the thing is laid out - you know, all the things we have discussed, talked about - very clearly laid out, what will he do? Please look at it. What will he do? (Pause)
Can I leave that question with you or do you want the speaker to answer it? Look, sir, what will you do? You, who have listened for the last fortnight - we have discussed, gone into the question of psychological revolution, and that's the only revolution, not violence. We discussed, went together, shared together the whole question of relationship; we talked about knowledge and the necessity and the importance of knowledge, and at the same time, freedom from the known, the two together living, moving together. We discussed, we have talked over religion, authority, love, death. And a mind that is so marvellously clear, lives in a different dimension and so on - we've discussed all this. What shall I do, after hearing all this? What's my job after hearing all this? Well, sir, what do you say? You want me to tell you? My job is what I am doing - you understand? To teach, to learn, to bring about a different human being - that's my job. If you have listened carefully right from the beginning, that will be your job. And if you don't love that job, don't do it.