Religion, authority and meditation
Freedom from authority is necessary to find truth
4th Public Talk Ojai, California
April 20, 1975
We have been talking about so many different problems, but the main issue is the transformation of the human mind, for it is the human mind that has created the confusion, the misery, the brutality of society in which we live. And this morning we should really talk about what is religion. We have talked about death, love, fear, pleasure, relationship, so many things. And I think it is right that we should this morning, for it is the last talk, talk over together this question which has really been one of the major concerns of mankind, what is religion. What place has it in life, in daily life, whether it is an illusion, a delusion. That is, holding on to something in spite of rational explanation, rational thinking. Or is it an hallucination - the content of that word called religion? There are the religions of India, and they are coming to this country, wave after wave. There are the religions of the Muslim, the Hindu, Buddhists and the Christians, they all have said, and believe, those who follow them, that there is god, and the nameless one, the infinite. And man has believed in them, has put his faith in them, and has killed people for their faith, for their belief. There have been wars, religious wars, specially I think among the Christians. And the Muslims have also had great wars; perhaps only the Buddhist and the Hindu have not indulged in that kind of brutality. And the ancient people from India, and the Egyptians, have all believed that there is a supreme being, an ultimate principle. But it is all based on authority, on hope, belief in something, a faith according to one's inclinations and tendencies and the culture in which one lives. That has been the pattern right throughout the world. Belief, faith and the authority of a book, of the priest, of the disciple, the followers and so on.
So it would be right and proper to find out for ourselves what is the meaning, the depth of that word. And to find out for ourselves, not according to any authority, belief or faith, if there is something that is really sacred, which thought has not put together. If there is something or not, that is beyond time, beyond belief, beyond all the concepts that man has put together in his search for that something which is called the eternal. And I think it would be worthwhile if we could this morning, go into this question which involves the question of seeking, meditation, and the peculiar spiritual authority that has exercised such influence on man's mind.
And as we have been saying during all these talks, that we are sharing this thing together, partaking of it. Not merely listening to some kind of rational or irrational explanation but going into it, facing the thing as is, and going beyond, if we can.
First of all, authority in so-called spiritual matters is really non-spiritual. I think that must be clear and must be understood deeply. There is no authority in man's endeavour to find out if there is that ultimate truth - the authority of a priest, of all the religions based on hearsay, on propaganda, on conditioning the mind to believe in certain saviours, masters and so on - because one has to be a light to oneself and you cannot possibly light your light from another. And we are going to go into that briefly. Unfortunately gurus are invading this country. The word 'guru' which is almost adopted in the European language and in English, the word 'guru', the root meaning of that means 'weight', 'heavy', 'weight'. And also it means, 'one who dispels ignorance'. And also it means, 'one who points'. And it has got several meanings like that: one who dispels ignorance, one who takes away your burden, doesn't impose his burden onto you, but takes away your burden. You understand? But the gurus generally in this country that have invaded, and the Americans have become so gullible, they generally impose their weight, their conditioning, their ignorance, their beliefs, their tradition. And changing from one conditioning to another is still the lack of freedom. And here in this country, and as well as in India, this acceptance of authority of the guru has become a fashion. And you are practising various methods and systems that they have brought over here. And if you are not satisfied with them then you trot off to India, or to Japan, trying to find a guru originally for yourself down there. That is, you deny freedom, freedom to find out for yourself. And that means the total denial of all religious spiritual authority - total denial. Otherwise you can't be free to enquire, to examine. Politically, democracy, so-called democracy, allows you to be free, not under tyranny, but you have accepted the tyranny of the gurus, of the priests, of the authority, of tradition. And we are saying that a mind, a religious mind that is trying to find out what religion is, the truth, if there is an ultimate reality, ultimate truth, must be totally free from all authority. Because we want, we are confused, uncertain, unhappy, and these people promise all these things - happiness. And so we are only too eager to follow. That is one point.
Then what needs there be to have any belief in something you do not know or are aware or cognisant or conscious? So there must be freedom, complete freedom from all belief. Because belief conditions the mind. If you live in India, if you are brought up in that tradition as a Hindu, you have certain beliefs, superstitions, certain knowledge and so on, you are there conditioned. And if you are born in this country or in Europe, you are conditioned according to your propaganda, churches, and all the rest of it. So a mind that is concerned with the understanding and to come upon that immensity, there must be freedom from belief: freedom from authority, freedom from belief. And if you would know that thing that man has sought and asserted, you must go into the problem of what it is that you are seeking.
If one may ask, why are you here? Why are you all sitting there and listening to the speaker? What for? As an entertainment? As something that you can get from listening to the person that is speaking? What is it that one is seeking? And what is implied in that word 'search'? And I think it is very important to go into this because we are all saying we are seeking truth, love, etc., and so on and on and on. And if one actually asks what it is that one is seeking, how can you seek truth if your mind is not in order? You understand my question? Putting what belongs in its right place is order. And when the mind is confused, uncertain, groping, unclear, wanting security, wanting something or other, that very desire, that very uncertainty must inevitably create illusion, or a delusion to which you cling to. So one must go into this question very carefully: what is it that human beings are seeking, you and I? Is it that we want to be happy? Because we are so unhappy, miserable, in conflict, uncertain, neurotic, and so we say, 'Please tell us how to be happy'. 'Please tell us' - I hope you are not asking me, you are asking the others - 'Please tell us how to live a life in which there is happiness' - is that what you are seeking? Is happiness the opposite of unhappiness? You have understood my question? If one is unhappy, miserable, living in great pain and anxiety and suffering, you want the opposite of that - clarity, a sense of freedom, happiness, order. Is that what you are seeking? And is the opposite - please listen to it carefully - is the opposite something totally different from its own opposite? You understand? Or the opposite has its root in its own opposite? Man has invented the opposite. Not that there is no dark and light, woman and man, and all that, but psychologically, inwardly, the opposite which we want, which we seek, is the projection of 'what is'. Right? I am unhappy - if I am - and I want happiness. That is all I know. Caught in this unhappiness the reaction is to have the other, happiness. That which I want is born out of what is actually going on. Right? So the opposite has its root in what actually is. So the opposite has no meaning. So what has meaning is 'what is'. And I do not know how to face 'what is', therefore I invent the opposite. If I know what to do with actually what is gong on, then the opposite doesn't exist. Are you following all this? Please, it's your life, not my life. So please give your attention, if you care to.
So the understanding of 'what is' is far more important than the pursuit of 'what should be', or the opposite of 'what is'. Why are we unhappy, miserable, quarrelling, violent, and all the rest of it, why are we like this? That is 'what is'. If I know how to transform 'what is' then the whole problem is solved. Then I don't have to follow anybody. Then I am a light to myself. So is it possible to solve 'what is' without wasting our energy in the battle of the opposites? Do you understand my question? Are we following each other? It is possible only when you have total energy, which is not wasted in conflict. You understand? I am unhappy. I am in a sense of great anxiety. That is 'what is'. To go away from that is a wasting of energy. Right? So to understand actually 'what is' I must have all the energy that I have. Then I can go beyond it. Is this understood?
And order is necessary in life. Order, as we said, is to put what belongs in the right place. Putting order - order means putting everything in its right place. But we don't know what the right place is. We only know disorder. Right? You grant that?
K: No? Politically there is disorder. Religiously there is disorder.
Q: Not quite, not always.
K: There is disorder now. (laughter and clapping) Don't waste your time clapping, please.
Q: It is a point of view.
K: We will ask that question later on, sir. There is disorder now - wars - aren't you in disorder yourself, now, in daily life? Now that is what is the fact, that is what is going on. And we want order which we think is the opposite of that. That is, we establish a pattern of order out of disorder. Right? We are disorderly in our conduct, in our thinking, in our behaviour, in our outlook and so on and so on. And we think order is a blueprint of the opposite of 'what is'. Then in bringing about that order as a blueprint there is conflict, always. That is the contributory factor of disorder. Where there is conflict there is disorder, nationally, politically, religiously, in every direction. So there is disorder. That is a fact. Now can you observe, be aware of that disorder? Not try to change it, not try to transform it, not try to suppress it, not say, 'I must have order out of it' - just be totally aware of that disorder in your life. Then you will see out of that disorder comes order, which is not the opposite.
So freedom from authority is absolutely necessary to find out, or to come upon if there is, or if there is not, the ultimate reality - truth, not reality. And no belief of any kind, which implies no fear because belief exists where there is fear, where there is despair. And there must be order. These three things. Then we can proceed to find out. That means freedom. So then we will ask: what is meditation? You are interested in that, aren't you? What is meditation? Why should one meditate at all? Is meditation something totally unrelated to daily living? Is meditation something you practise? Is meditation something that somebody says, 'Meditate and you will get this' - whether it is transcendental meditation or the meditation of a particular system, and so on, the Zen meditation and all that. A system, a practice, a goal, an end to be achieved. Right? This is what you call meditation. And to achieve that end you follow a system of daily practice. You know what happens when you practise something over and over and over again? You become mechanical, your mind becomes dull, insensitive. Obviously. Isn't it so?
Q: You become very proficient.
K: I beg your pardon?
Q: You become very proficient if you practise.
K: Wait a minute, sir, let me finish what I have to say. So we think meditation is a process by which we can attain understanding, enlightenment, something beyond man's thought. This is generally what we mean by meditation. Right? Have you practised meditation, any of you? No? You have. What for? And you have practised it, learning to control thought. Right? And you have never gone into the question: who is the controller? Right? Who is the controller that is controlling thought? Is the controller different from the controlled? Or the controller is the controlled? You are following all this? So first you divide the controller and the controlled. Right? First you divide it, and the controller then controls, tries to hold thought in a particular direction. But the thought that wanders off, is that different from the entity which is trying to control that particular thought that is going off? Have you understood my question? Are they not both the same, which is, thought?
So meditation is to understand the proper place, or where thought belongs. You have understood? Without control. Have you ever tried to live a daily life without a single control? You haven't. And when you go into this problem of meditation, you have to understand why man has developed this sense of controlling everything - controlling his thoughts, his desires, his pursuits - why? And that is called - part of it - concentration. Right? You know what happens when you concentrate? You are building a wall of resistance - aren't you? - within which you say, 'I must concentrate on that', and therefore push everything else aside. Which is to exercise will, to hold thought in a particular direction. And will is the expression, the essence of desire. And in concentration there is conflict going on. Your thought wanders off, all over the place, and you bring it back; keep up this game. So you have never asked why thought should be controlled at all. The mind chatters endlessly. And to find out what part, or the right place for thought, not controlling thought, it's right place. You are following all this? Then if you have an insight, if you see where thought belongs then there is no problem of control of thought. You have understood?
And as there's been no system, no practice, no control of thought, then you have to find out what it means to be attentive. What does it mean to attend? You see attention means, if you have gone into it very deeply, as we are going into it, if we can, attention implies an observation without the centre. You have understood? The centre as the 'me', as my desire, my fulfilment, my anxiety. When you are attending, which means giving your nerves, your eyes, your ears, everything you have, that total energy, in that attention there is no centre as 'me'. You see that? Now, just experiment with what is being said. Are you attending now? That is, are you listening completely? Listening which means not interpreting, not translating, not trying to understand what he is saying, but the act of total listening. If you are, there is only that sense of hearing without a single movement of thought.
So this thing, you can't go to a school to learn it. Right? You can't go to a college, or to a school, or to a university to become sensitive, can you? I suppose you do. You find out in your daily life whether you are sensitive or not by observing, by seeing how you react to people. All that in daily life, not learn and then what you lean from another is insensitivity, nothing else. So this attention is necessary, and that is part of meditation. Meditation implies also a mind that is totally quiet, not enforced quietness, because in that then there is conflict, isn't there? The mind is chattering, thinking, listening, you know, going on, and you have heard, or see for yourself a mind that is completely still, can really observe. Right? If you want to look at those mountains, with their shadow, with their light, with their beauty and their depth, then you look, totally. And your mind goes off, and that is inattention, but when you want to see something totally, completely, your mind naturally becomes quiet, doesn't it? So a mind that is enquiring into something that is not put together by thought, there must be this total attention, and therefore complete silence, quietness. And most of us find it terribly difficult because physically we are never quiet, we are always doing something with our hands, with our feet, with our eyes. You follow? There is always something happening. We are never aware of our own body. If you are then you will find that it has its own intelligence, not dictated by taste, by the tongue, by the imposed artificial desire for tobacco - you know, drink and drugs and all the rest of it. So a mind that is enquiring into reality, into truth has to be totally free from authority, from all belief. That is complete order. And a mind that is still. You listen to this, and you want to get that silence. Right? You won't. You can't get it. And it is necessary for a mind to be quiet, because it is only then that it can regenerate itself. You understand? Are you following all this? Not a mind that is endlessly chattering, endlessly analysing, endlessly enquiring, then it is wasting its energy, but a mind that is completely still regenerates itself.
And from this problem arises another thing; which is: what is sleep? You understand? You are following all this? I wonder! You know - let me put it this way. The content of consciousness - you understand what the content of consciousness is - your consciousness has its content. Right? American, Indian, big, small, conflict, desires, attachments, identifications, 'me' and 'not me', fears, the whole and more, all that is the content of your consciousness. Right? Isn't it? That's simple. Now that content makes up the consciousness. Without that content the consciousness as we know doesn't exist. Are you also working as hard as we are working? Or are you just playing with words? Because meditation is this, it's part of this. The emptying of that content totally, not adding more to the content, which you are doing now.
So one has to go into this question of dreams, sleep, and the unconscious. Right? I wonder if you are interested in all this, are you? Have you ever asked why you dream at all? Not according to some psychologist, and analysts, and all the rest, why do you dream? If you overeat you have certain kinds of dreams. If you are terribly interested in sex you have that kind of dream. If you are actively attached and actively interested in your daily life in a certain pattern, then it is a continuation of the daily life. Are you following this? So dreams are the continuation of your daily life in a symbolic or pictorial way. You are the continuation of your daily life when you sleep. And so the mind, the brain, is constantly active. You are following this? During the day it is active, consciously or unconsciously, endlessly active, and when you sleep that same activity goes on, modified, symbolic and pictures, it is the same pattern being repeated. And when there is order during the day - you understand, order in your relationship, order in your behaviour, order in your thinking, which we have gone into, what we mean by order, putting everything in its right place, what belongs to its right place, in your relationship, and so on and so on, which we have talked a great deal about. Then if there is, in your daily life, there is order then the brain has not to work hard to bring about order. Because a brain can only function in order efficiently, not in disorder. And when you have order during the day, therefore there is order when you sleep, then out of that there is a regeneration, instead of degenerating it is generating.
So, all this is implied in meditation. Not just sitting quietly, taking certain postures, breathing in a certain way. That is all childish. And in this is also involved yoga. Right? Again, unfortunately you have brought that word to this country. The word 'yoga' means 'union', 'a bridge' between - listen to this carefully - union between the lower and the higher, union between the self and the supreme being, or the ultimate principle. And to reach that ultimate principle there must be a curriculum, a group of studies, all that is implied in that word 'yoga'. Certain exercises, certain studies, certain discipline in order to bring about union between what you are and that which is the supreme being, or the ultimate principle. You have understood? Now see what is involved in this, which you all practise, some of you practise yoga. That is, physical exercise. I do it too every morning for the last forty years, for an hour a day, that is irrelevant. Don't do it because I say so. But I am pointing out to you the meaning of that word, and what are the implications of that word. Union between you, the self and the supreme being. So there is a division between you and the supreme bring. Right? And who is the entity that is bringing about union? You understand this? So first you divide, as the supreme being and the self, which is not the supreme being, then you invent a method to bring about a union. See the absurdity of it! Which is, the supreme being is an invention of thought, as long as there is this division. And thought is a material process, as we have gone into that question, there is nothing sublime about thought. It is the response of memory, knowledge, experience. And that invents a supreme being, an ultimate principle. You follow? And then you try to bring about a union, a bridge, between yourself and that. And to cross that bridge you practise. But you don't see for yourself clearly that where there is division there must be conflict - the black and the white, the Jew and the Arab, the Hindu and the Muslim, the communist and the capitalist, there must be conflict. If you see the truth of that then yoga means doing physical exercise.
And as we said, meditation is to have a completely still mind. And it can only be still naturally, not cultivated stillness, not practised stillness, then if you practise stillness it is death, it is no longer stillness. Then you have to come upon, because you cannot have stillness of mind if there is no compassion. Do you understand? So we have to go into the whole question of what love is, as we did the other day. Love, is it pleasure? Is it desire? Can a man who is ambitious love? Can a man who is competitive love? Can a man or a woman love when he is self-centred, concerned about himself? Or love is when the self is not. You understand all these problems? When I am not, me, with all my problems, with my ambitions, with my greed, with my envy, with my desire to fulfil, to become something, or imagine that I am a great man, as long as I am concerned about myself love cannot exist. So without that complete compassion, that means no killing animals for my food, all that is implied. So out of that comes complete stillness of mind, because my mind has put everything in its right place, put everything where it belongs, so it establishes right relationship between man and woman, between each other, a relationship that is not based on images, memories, hurts. And then out of that comes complete attention and silence.
And what is that silence? What takes place in that silence? Can it be verbalised? You are following all this? Suppose you have that exquisite, that extraordinary sense of the beauty of silence, that silence which is not a gap when there is no noise. You understand? There is a silence when there is no noise, but that is not silence. It is like having peace between two wars, that is not peace. You are following all this? So what takes place when the mind is completely and totally silent? There is no movement of thought as time, there is no movement of thought as measurement.
Now I am going to say something that perhaps you won't like at all, because you are all very respectable people. You are very respectable people. When that silence takes place there is space and absolutely nothing. There is space and absolutely nothing. See why it is important, because it is important to be nothing. You understand? You understand, sirs, what I am saying? Because you are all somebodies. You all want to be something. Either professionally, or you have delusions of grandeur, you want to achieve something, become something, realise something, fulfil. You follow? Which is all respectability. And here we are saying in that total silence, there is nothing, you are nothing. If you are something there is no silence. There is noise and when there is noise you cannot hear or see. And when there is nothing there is complete stability. Do you understand? It is only when the mind is nothing, in that there is complete security, complete stability. Are you following all this? Sorry, you won't understand.
So then only the mind can find out if there is, or if there is not, something that is nameless, something that is beyond time. All this is meditation. So one has to live a life daily in which relationship with another has no conflict in it, because all relationship is life. If you do not know how to have a relationship with another without conflict then life becomes distorted, ugly, painful, unreal. All this is meditation. It is only then one comes upon that which is timeless.
Perhaps it would be unwise now to ask questions.