Religion, death and meditation
Why does the mind live in time?
4th Public Talk, Brockwood Park
September 07, 1980
This is the last talk. We have been talking about so many things, about the very complexity of life, and whether one can disentangle all the confusion and have a clear mind, so that our actions are precise, accurate, without any regrets, without wounding another or being wounded. We also talked about relationship, that all life is a movement in relationship, and that relationship is destroyed when we have an image of each other, and that image separates people. And also we talked about discontent, order. And as this is the last talk, I think we ought to talk over together what is religion, and what is meditation, and - sorry to bring such a subject as death in a lovely morning. We ought to consider together all these problems: death, what is religion, and what is the meaning of meditation.
First of all, if we may point out again, this is not an entertainment, intellectual or otherwise, romantic, stimulating your emotions or imaginations, but rather a gathering of serious people who are concerned with the transformation of themselves and therefore of society. That is the real meaning of these talks and gatherings, that as we have created this unfortunate, shocking society, and it is we who have created it, past generations and we are adding to that, we have been talking over together whether it is possible to transform our whole attitudes and values and activities so that perhaps we can bring about a different society altogether. We have gone into all this pretty carefully. And also I think we ought to go into these other matters, like death, meditation and what is religion.
I think they are all connected together. And also one would like to point out that there is no Eastern thinking, or Western thinking. There is only thinking, not of the East nor of the West. Thinking. And thinking can take a particular channel, a particular direction, following some specialist, religious or economic, but it is still thought, therefore there is no actual division between the East and the West, nor South and North. Though the North has all the technological capacity - they should not be divided as East and West, but only North and South. The more South you go, as at present, the less technological evolution. But whereas in the North there is much more. So there is only thinking. It is not East or West. I think we ought to be very clear on this matter. The Eastern world has its own particular philosophy, its own religion, its own superstitions, idiosyncrasies and rubbish. As the West also has its own superstitions, idiosyncrasies and a lot of rubbish. They are both the same, East and West, and North and South.
So we are, as we pointed out together, we are thinking over these problems together. Not only thinking together, but going beyond that. Because the intellect has a certain value, its capacity is to discern, evaluate, distinguish, calculate, design, remember. That is the intellect. And if the intellect predominates our life then that brings about imbalance. And if our emotions dominate that also brings about imbalance. So we must be very clear from the very beginning of these talks and the ending of these talks that we are not concerned with a particular sect, religion, a form of meditation and so on. We are concerned with the investigation of these matters and together find the truth of these. Truth is not yours or mine. It has no path to it. When there is a path to it, it is not truth. So if you don't mind we are repeating again that we are talking over together as two friends who are deeply concerned, not only of what is happening in the world but also what is taking place inwardly. The outward is the reflection of the inner. There is a constant interrelationship between the two. It is really one movement. And that movement has brought about such confusion in the world, such misery, anxiety, uncertainty, total insecurity. And we are now, together, you and I, we will investigate into the nature of what is religion.
The word 'religion', the root of it, has not been established. I think from observing and looking into various dictionaries, it really means gathering together all energy to find out the truth. I think that is what it means, after looking at various French, English, Italian dictionaries. It implies also diligence and negligence. A mind must be utterly diligent to find out what is truth. And if there is any kind of negligence it is a distraction and a wastage of energy. We are not stating this, it is a fact. Where the mind is dissipating itself in all the trivialities: in gossip, in getting hurt and wounding others, violence, caught up in its own self-centred activity, all that is negligence. Whereas a religious mind demands diligence to be precise, to be accurate, objectively and inwardly, so that there is no illusion, no deception, total integrity. That is what can be called a mind that is religious. But religion as it exists is not religion at all. All the propaganda, the images in the West, and the images in the East, you know, the whole rituals, the whole dressing up and all that business, has nothing whatsoever to do with religion. You may disagree with this. If you are a devout Christian, a practising Catholic, probably you will even not listen. And when the speaker goes to India he tells them the same thing, that their religion, their superstition, their images, all the nonsensical meaningless rituals have nothing to do whatsoever with truth. And many of them have said, 'You should be burnt,' (laughter) 'or sent to a concentration camp'. Probably, if you were living in the Middle Ages you would be: tortured, called a heretic, burnt in the name of god, peace and all the rest of it. In India they are a little more absorbing. They say you are part of all this, but it is not meant for you, for us, you go away.
So what we are saying is: a mind that is religious does not belong to any society, any nationality, has no belief, but such a mind has exercised the quality of doubt so that it questions, doesn't accept, doesn't obey the edicts of any religious organisation, sect, gurus. So the mind is utterly free so that it can observe without the observer, which we talked about yesterday and in the previous talks. And our minds have been so conditioned, so captivated, enslaved by all the priests in the world - that is their business. It began with the Egyptians, four thousand five hundred BC, the priests were the directors, the people who knew, they were the interpreters of god and man, they were the middlemen - the retail experts! (Laughter) And that has been continued till now - in India, Asia, in the West. And our minds after two thousand years or five thousand years, have been conditioned to that, that we cannot as human beings find truth for ourselves, somebody must lead us to it, somebody must point out the way because our own minds are incapable of it. That has been the song of three thousand, five thousands years.
So if one sets aside all that, that there is no saviour, no guru, no sect, no group can lead you to it - is it possible to have such a mind? We are talking over together as one human being to another human being. As we said the other day, and we are repeating it again, if you don't mind, that we are the rest of mankind, because each one of us goes through all kinds of anxieties, troubles, sorrows, fears, insecurity and it is the same with every human being right through the world. One may live in a more affluent society but inwardly, psychologically there is the same uncertainty, depression, disintegration, anxiety as in the West, as in the East. It is exactly the same, or similar. So we are humanity.
And so when we are talking about religion, we are concerned with a mind that is religious, not a particular religious mind. If it is a particular religious mind it is not a religious mind. I hope you are meeting this. Religion, as we said, implies a mind that is free from negligence - neglecting the whole movement of learning. Not learning from books only but learning the movement of oneself, the movement of thought, what it does, its consequences, learning about attachment, its consequences, learning. Not learning about something, but the quality of a mind that is learning, not merely accumulating knowledge but moving without a particular direction - the quality of learning. I hope you understand all this. And that learning brings about its own discipline. Discipline means to learn, not to follow, not to imitate, not to conform, not to compare, but to learn about comparison, about imitation, about conformity. Such a mind is a diligent mind, learning about the actual so-called religions of the world. If you understand one religion of which you are, you understand the whole of the world's religions, you don't have to read all the books about various religions, or go through comparative religious studies. If you know how the human mind works then you have understood the whole religious structure and their rituals and their nonsense.
And why has man always talked about religion? From the ancient Egyptians and before them, religion has played an extraordinary part in life - why? Is it that we are seeking happiness, peace, an end which will not be destructive, secure, peaceful, and demanding that and not finding it in life, not finding all that in our daily life, we project. Thought projects something that is enduring, something that is eternal, something that cannot be corrupted, something beyond all imagination, all thought. One projects that as opposite of our own condition and then worships that. This is what has happened, if you have observed, not only now but throughout history. Man wants to escape from himself because he lives in a constant, bitter anxiety, struggle, pain. And he wants to find something beyond all that. So he lives in a world of make-belief. This is a fact, and that is not a fact. Can we be free of the non-fact and live with facts, and transform the facts? You understand what I am saying? Please let's move together, we have got a lot to talk together this morning.
Which means, a mind that has no escape. After all, the rituals, all that goes on in the name of religion, has actually nothing whatsoever to do with our daily life, and therefore it is an escape from this daily torture. It may not be torture, it may be a conflict, may be pain, may be anxiety. So a mind that escapes from what actually is going on is not a religious mind. That is not a dogmatic statement. It is logical, sane, rational. And if it isn't actual religion, believing something, we commit ourselves to some form, or follow somebody who has clever interpretations and we commit ourselves to that. So the mind is never free to observe itself. And all such escapes, all such commitments, is negligence. It is not a dogmatic statement. So don't brush it aside as being dogmatic. We are investigating the very complex process of living. And if we do not understand that, if we are not free of our sorrow, of our pain, of our anxiety, of our depression, of our neurosis, to find what truth is becomes an illusion, meaningless. What we have to do first is to clear the decks, as it were. Lay the foundation in our life, in our daily life so that there is not a shadow of conflict, which we talked about the other day.
So we are saying, together we are investigating, and seeing, can such a mind come about? Not through will, because that is again meaningless. Not through compulsion, not through reward or punishment. We have tried all that. And we are still where we are! So if we are serious, and life demands that we be serious, circumstances demand that we be serious. The world, which is destroying itself through nationalism, division and so on, seeing all that, merely verbally discussing, arguing has very little value, but if we are serious to find out whether the human mind, human condition can be changed, radically, then such a mind must inevitably enquire, not only into various parts of life but the whole structure of life, the whole pattern of living.
And, as we said, one of the factors of this is death. We have banished religion from our life. We have banished death from our life. Right? We have postponed it. Why do we do this? Why do we, human minds, banish the actual demand for truth? Not live in illusions, but why have we - religiously, I am talking about - banished the demand that we live a tremendously diligent life? Why? You understand my question? Because probably most of us want an easy way. We are probably very lazy. We never make supreme demand of ourselves. We are always satisfied with the little things of life, not respond to a great challenge. And also we have banished death from our life - why? Is not death part of life? Whether we are young or old, diseased or senile - rather interesting to find out why human beings become senile. I don't know if you are interested in that. (Laughter) No, seriously I am talking. Why human beings become senile. You understand my question? Why? As one grows older senility begins slowly. We forget, we repeat, we become either rather childish or join one of the recognised religious organisations - which is also senility. (Laughter) No, please, please don't laugh. This is not a laughing matter. This is what is happening in the world. And the tragedy of it.
So if your mother, if your husband, if your son, if your daughter, is already beginning to be senile, you wouldn't laugh, you would cry. And we are asking, as a side issue, why human beings become senile? Look at it, sir. What is senility? The brain cells wear themselves out. Right? This is a fact. By constant effort, constant struggle, this everlasting desire to become something, the inward stress, inward strain, which must inevitably affect the brain. Right? Must, logically. And also senility comes inevitably when there is such division, a great gulf between business, family, religion, and entertainment. You understand? This division, which is schizophrenic. I wonder if you realise all this!
So this constant struggle to be, or to become and then not to become, which is the same thing, to become, must inevitably wear out the cells of the brain faster than they can renew themselves - you understand this? And the brain has the capacity to renew itself. We talked about the other day, having an insight - you remember? Perhaps some of you were here. That is, sir, to have an insight into the whole question of religion. What is religion? Not all the rituals, and all that circus that goes on, but why human beings have sought from time beyond measure, why human beings have sought some kind of otherness, to have an insight into that - not through logic, not through reason, not through knowledge, not through accumulation of argument, and opinion opposing another opinion, but to find the truth of it, which is to have an insight into the whole demand of man wanting something beyond. You are following all this? That insight, as we said, brings about a mutation in the brain cells. I have discussed this with several other scientists, some of them agree, so perhaps you will too.
So can the mind keep young, never grow senile? You understand my question? After all innocence means not to hurt and not to be hurt. The meaning of that word is that: not to hurt and not to be hurt. Such a mind which has never been hurt - you follow all this? - such a mind can never become senile. You understand? And that requires a great diligence of learning about itself.
So, as we were saying - to come back from senility (laughs): why have we banished death from our life? Which means: why have we, why have our minds got caught in time? - you understand? Please this is not intellectual fireworks. This is enquiring into our complex life. Time is by the day, yesterday, today and tomorrow, twenty four hours. But also there is time which is inward. Right? Psychological time. Right, we are following this? Why - we are asking - why human mind is caught in psychological time? Are you following all this? Please we are talking over together. I am not talking to myself. We are asking: why has the mind been crippled by yesterday's memories, regrets, attachments - and strangely attachments are always in the past - I won't go into it now. By yesterday, a thousand yesterdays, today, modified itself and the future, which is time movement. This movement is time, psychologically. Right? We are asking: why is the mind caught in that, which is time? Right? That is, hope - you understand? - hope plays an important part in our life. 'I hope to become' 'I hope to meet you tomorrow' - psychologically. 'I will meet you tomorrow', but I have already projected my desire to meet you and create a hope out of that. You understand all that?
So we are saying: why does the mind live in time? It has evolved in time. Right? To have the present mind that we have it has evolved through millennia, thousands of years. And that is normal, healthy, obvious. But we are asking: why psychologically, inwardly time has become so important? You understand my question? You are asking yourself, please. Is it because we are always avoiding 'what is' in order to become something else? Do you understand what I am saying? Moving from this to that. Psychologically I am this, but I should not be this but that. Psychologically I am unhappy but I must be happy. Right? The 'must', or 'will', or 'shall be' is the movement of time. I wonder if you are following. Please, it's your life. So the mind is caught in time because it is always moving away from this, from 'what is'. Right? It will change in time - 'I will be good, give me time', which is like developing a muscle. Right? Your muscle may be not sufficiently strong but if you keep on doing something to strengthen it, it will become strong. With the same mentality we say, 'I am this, I will be that, so give me time.'. Right? And shall 'what is' be changed through time? You understand my question? I am anxious, I have great anxiety. Can that anxiety be changed through time? You understand my question? That is, will I become, or be in a state where I have no anxiety? See what I have done. I have anxiety, I have projected a state of not being anxious, and to arrive at that state I must have time. But I never say can this anxiety I have be changed immediately. You understand my question? And not allow time. Are you following this? See what happens. I am anxious. I hope to be not anxious. There is a time interval, a lag. In that lag of time all other activities are going on, other pressures, negligence. You understand? So anxiety is never solved. I don't know if you are following all this.
I think I will come to a state when I have no anxiety, so I am struggling, struggling, struggling. It is like a man who is violent, has invented non-violence, in that time interval he is violent, so he never reaches non-violence. I wonder if you understand all this! Right?
So the question is then: can 'what is' be transformed immediately? Which means never allowing time to interfere. Are you coming together? Listen to this, you will find out, it is really simple. If we apply our mind we can solve anything, as has been done, they have been to the moon, built marvellous submarines, incredible things they have done. Here, psychologically we are so reluctant, so incapable, or have made ourselves incapable. So if you do not allow time, or never think in terms of time, then the fact is not. Right? I wonder if you see that. Because we allow time the fact becomes important. If there is no time it is resolved. Suppose I die this second, there is no problem. You understand what I am saying? When I allow time I am afraid of death. I wonder if you understand all this. But if I live without time, which is an extraordinary thing if you go into it, psychologically, never. Time means accumulation. Right? Time means remembrance, time means accumulating knowledge about oneself, all that involves time. But when there is no time at all, psychologically, there is nothing - you follow? You are capturing something? Are you understanding something? Please, come on.
So we are saying, rather thinking together, because we have allowed time as a factor to intervene between living and dying, fear arises. Right? So unless you understand the nature of living, and therefore the nature of dying, which can be found in the living - you understand? Are you meeting me? No. That is, sir, death is the ending, isn't it? The ending. The ending of my possessions, my wife, my children, my house, my bank account - specially bank account. (Laughter) The ending of something. In that ending there is no argument. Right? I don't say to death, 'Please, hold on a minute' (Laughter). So where there is ending, a beginning. You follow? I wonder if you I will go into it.
When I, suppose I, the speaker, when the speaker ends attachment, completely - you understand? - not to persons, to ideas - the whole process of attachment, with all the consequences of attachment, when there is an ending to it, there is a totally different state of mind. Right? Isn't there? I have been attached to my furniture - and that attachment has been a burden and with the ending of that burden there is freedom. Right? So ending is more important than beginning. Right? So can I, living, end? End my anxiety, my fears - you follow? - end, not the bank account, because that is too risky! (Laughter) No, no, I mean that. We are not going to end the bank account. I am not talking of that. Ending psychologically. You understand? Ending my uncertainty. When I am confused, to end it, not say, 'I must find out why I am confused, what is the cause of confusion, and I must be free from confusion' - all that is time. That is negligence. I wonder if you follow this? Whereas diligence is to be aware of the whole movement of time and to end anxiety immediately. Therefore there is no accumulation psychologically as knowledge. Right?
Now, death is ending. Right? Ending of everything. I know what you will say afterwards: 'What about reincarnation?' I know all that. We will come to it, if we have time. I am not avoiding it. If I say I don't know, I'll say I don't know. I don't play hypocrisy with all this. Death is an ending and I am living. Right? We are living, active, business, all the rest of it. Can we psychologically end everything? You understand what I am saying? Can you end your attachment instantly, immediately, your anger, your violence, your greed, your this and that, end while living? Therefore then living is dying. You understand? Not living and ultimately die. I wonder if you follow this. Living means the dying otherwise you are not alive. And most of us are frightened of dying because we have never been able to live properly, we have never lived. You understand? But we have lived in conflict, in struggle, in pain, in anxiety - you know all the rest of it. So we call that living. Living is not all that. Right? So if all that can be ended then there is living. So you are then living and dying - you follow? They go together, like a flower with perfume, the perfume is not away from the flower, it is there.
And this is actual ending of senility, if you want to go into it very deeply, so your mind never gets old. A machine with internal combustion, a machine, like a car, is always wearing itself out because of friction. Right? But when there is no friction whatsoever the mind keeps - you follow? But it is not your mind, it is the human mind. I wonder if you understand this. Because you, your mind is the result of a million years, your mind is the mind of the Indian, of the Chinese, Russian, the other human beings, because they go through similar pain, anxiety, sorrow, pleasures, occasional joys and occasional love. So our brain, our mind is the mind of humanity. If you can understand that one real fact then we will live without any division which is causing such disaster in the world.
Now with regard to reincarnation, what is it that reincarnates? You understand? That is, I am living, I shall die and I hope next life I will have an opportunity to live in a bigger house. (Laughter) No, no, please, no. Or a better life, more money, this or that or the other. Now what is it that continues? You understand my question? Please, this you have to think it out together carefully. I have lived fifty years, thirty years, a hundred years. I have accumulated a great deal of information, knowledge. I have struggled, I have tried to be virtuous, I have tried to be all that. And there is this accumulated entity. Right? The 'me' that has accumulated, struggled, achieved, experienced, been through sorrow, depression, poverty, every kind of penury. And I die. And I say to myself, 'Why shouldn't I go on, so that I will improve myself next life?' You understand? By good deeds, by etc., etc. I will be better. Right? So what is this centre which has accumulated, remembered, suffered, what is that centre? You understand? If that centre has a continuity then there is reincarnation. Right? It will reincarnate next life, the soul - the Christian, the Hindus have a different word for it and so on. But the essence of that is the centre. Right? Right? You can call it by whatever name you like but it is that. Now what is that centre? Is it permanent? Right? If it is permanent it can go on - right? - modifying itself, changing itself, but the core of it will go on. I wonder if you are following all this? It is fairly simple.
So we have to find out what that centre is. If we say it is the centre of god - right? - then that centre which is creating such mischief - right? - god must also be mischievous. Right? I wonder if you meet all this. Or that centre is put together by thought. You understand what I am saying? The name, the form, the family, my previous families, my father, mother and so on, genetically, heredity, the accumulation of all the pain and sorrow of generations is that centre - right? - put together by thought. I say I am a Hindu. You say you are a Catholic because you have been from childhood trained to accept Catholicism. And I, born in India, if I am stupid enough, I say, 'Yes, I am a Hindu'. So that centre is the result of continuous, modifying movement of thought. Right? I know the people who believe in reincarnation will object to all this because they like to believe that they have a future. It may be illusory, it is nonsensical but it gives them comfort. Right? And we all want comfort, in one way or the other. So dying means the ending of that also. And when there is an ending of it, the mind is totally different. I wonder if you see. It is no longer accumulating. It is no longer experiencing. It isn't dead, it isn't static, but so alive there is nothing to collect - you understand?
Then there is the problem now - not a problem: what is meditation? Please, take proper positions! (Laughter). I can see it happening! (Laughter) You know man, human beings have always sought, because their minds are everlastingly chattering, everlastingly moving from one thing to another, driven by desire, driven by reward and avoidance, pain, it is always trying to find some kind of quietness - right? - some kind of peace in which at least for ten minutes it can be quiet. Right? So man has sought this. Go to the church, sit there quietly. Go to a marvellous cathedral, when there is no circus going on, and be quiet. And it is a strange fact that in all these churches there is never a moment of quietness, except when it is empty. You understand what I am saying? The priest is doing something, you are doing something, everybody is chanting, replying, incense, this, that - never, never quiet, except when the cathedral is really empty of human beings. The same in the temples, the same in the mosques. Is it because those people in authority of the church, temple and so on, never want you to be quiet so that you will begin to question? You understand? Because if you are quiet you might enquire. If you are quiet you might begin to doubt. But if you are occupied all the time, you never have time to look around, to question, to doubt, to ask. That may be one of the great tricks of human mind.
So we are asking what is meditation. And why should one meditate? Is it natural? Natural - you understand? Like breathing, like seeing, like hearing. Is it natural? And why have we made it so unnatural? Taking postures, following systems - Buddhist meditation, Tibetan meditation, Christian meditation - you understand? - the Tantra meditations - you don't know them perhaps. Some of you may know, and the meditations set by your favourite guru. Right? We are asking, aren't all those really abnormal? Right? Are you following? Why should I take a certain position to meditate? Why should I practise, practise, practise - to arrive where? You understand my question? To follow a system: twenty minutes in the morning, twenty minutes in the afternoon, twenty minutes in the evening, to have a quiet mind. Having achieved a little quiet mind I can go off and do other mischief all day long. (Laughter) These are actual facts I am telling you.
Is there a way of meditating which is none of these things? You understand my question? Till now, we say meditation is to quieten the mind, first, to have a mind that is capable of observation. To have a mind that is completely centred - right? - completely concentrated. Right? So that there is no thought except one thought. Right? One picture, one image, one centre upon which you are looking. Right? I don't know if you have gone through all this. The speaker has played with them, for half an hour of each of these meditations, ten minutes, five minutes, and they meant nothing.
So you have to go into this question: who is the controller and the controlled? You understand? Are you getting tired? Our whole life, if you observe, is this: controlling and not controlling. Right? I must control my emotions, I must control my thinking. I can only control my thinking by constant practice. And to practise I must have a system. The system implies a mechanical process, making the mind mechanical, more and more, and it is already mechanical now but we want to make it much more so that it gradually becomes more and more dull. We go through all this. Right? Why? If you are meditating according to T.M. - right? - or according to somebody else, why? Because you want to have an experience either through drugs, and you know drugs do you harm, therefore you say no, you put that aside, but by practising something you will experience something else. Right?
I don't know if you have ever gone into the question of experience; why human beings are demanding experience. Either the mind is asleep, therefore an experience means a challenge. Right? Or the mind is awake and therefore doesn't need an experience. I don't know if you are following this. So one has to find out if your mind is asleep, or bored with the experience that you have, sex, drugs, all the rest of other experiences, you want something far beyond all that. Because you are always craving for experience: more delightful, more extravagant, the more communicable and all the rest of it. Why does the mind demand experience? Ask yourself, please. There is only one thing: a mind that is very clear is free from all entanglements of attachment and so on, such a mind is a light to itself. Right? Therefore it doesn't want any experience, there is nothing to experience. You cannot experience enlightenment. That sounds the very idea of experience, it is such a stupid thing to say, 'I have achieved enlightenment' - it is really dishonest. You cannot experience truth - right? - because there must be an experiencer to experience. Right? If there is no experiencer there is no experience at all. I wonder if you see that. But we are attached to our experiencer and therefore we are always asking more and more and more.
So meditation generally as is accepted now, is the practice of a system, breathing properly, sitting in the right position - the lotus position or whatever position you take, wanting or craving for greater experience, or the ultimate experience. Right? This is what we are doing. And therefore all that is a constant struggle - right? - a never ending struggle. This never ending struggle is hoping to end all struggles. You understand? Look what I have done. I am struggling, struggling, struggling to end struggling, which is sometime in the future. Right? See what tricks I have played on myself. I am caught in time. Right? I don't say, 'Why should I struggle at all?' If I can end this struggle that is enlightenment. You understand? To have no shadow of conflict. But we do not want to make all those efforts. We are caught in time. Right? And to be free of time is to be free to have pure observation, and then the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet. You don't have to make the mind quiet - you understand this? If you end all conflict the mind naturally becomes quiet. And when the mind is absolutely silent, without any movement of thought, then perhaps you will see something, perhaps there is something sacred beyond all words. And this, man has sought everlastingly, something that is beyond measure, beyond thought, which is incorruptible, unnameable, eternal. That can only take place when the mind is absolutely free and completely silent.
So one must begin very near - you understand? Very near. And when you begin very near there is no far - you understand? When you begin near there is no distance and therefore there is no time. And it is only then that which is most holy can be. Right sir.
Hope you will all have a pleasant time.