Salvaging the brain
Can the brain ever be free from knowledge?
3rd Public Talk, Madras
January 03, 1981
If one is expecting something from the speaker - a blessing, a new direction, a new set of ideals, or a pattern of conduct and so on, one is afraid you will be disappointed, because we are thinking together. It's our life, it's the human life, the humanity that you represent. And if one may point out again, that if you are seeking personal salvation, personal improvement, to get better jobs, more money, a better way to heaven, I am afraid again you will be disappointed. We are not talking about personal salvation at all. We are trying together to see if it is possible to salvage the mind, the human brain, which has become so corrupt, so mechanical, so utterly careless, concerned chiefly with itself, its own security, its own little family, or identified with a nation, and so bringing about a great deal of misery to mankind. And we are asking ourselves why the human brain has so deteriorated: depending on others, becoming immoral, corrupt, trying to find out a way of living from others, if one is unfortunately labelled as a guru, a way of life.
As we pointed out the other day and in the last two talks, this is a serious gathering where we are both of us are concerned and deeply enquiring into why human beings right throughout the world have become what they are. (Sound of music) There it is.
I suppose I have to talk. One observes in this country, in this part of the world there is a great deal of corruption, not merely the bribing under the table but the corruption that exists in the very depths of one's being. The word 'corruption' means, 'rumpere', from Latin and so on, 'to break up'. The essence of corruption is fragmentation, to say one thing and do another, to have ideals and not face actuality, this constant struggle to become something, not only in this world but also inwardly - the becoming; from a bank clerk to the manager, from the local priest to become an archbishop, and a disciple trying to become the master. This constant struggle to become something, that is part of corruption.
And, as we pointed out also last week, we are losing all integrity - integrity being observing the whole of life as one unit, as a whole, not as fragments as we do. And also, if one may point out, we lack co-operation. We co-operate for commercial purposes: to have more money, we co-operate with an authority: political, religious, or some kind of crank, we are too willing to co-operate with those people because there we gain something for ourselves. We are not talking of such co-operation. Co-operation can only come when there is love, not profit, motive. And when there is that co-operative spirit there is also an action which is non-co-operative. Right? Are we following? Because when we turn, and not being co-operative we become rather antagonistic, violent. But when we co-operate when there is love in our heart then we also know how not to co-operate, without bitterness, without anxiety, without any sense of violence.
And seeing all this in this country, or in this part of the world, what is the responsibility of those who live here? This is a very serious question, this is not a political rhetoric. Seriously one asks, living here, why this state of disaster, confusion, utter neglect, carelessness, brutality exists, though you talk about, go to the various temples, do all kinds of imaginary, illusory, worship, utterly satisfying and at the same time contradict everything that you look up to.
So we are concerned with the salvaging of the brain, of the human mind, your mind, your brain. As we said, the brain has evolved through time, it has evolved through millions of years and we have arrived at this present condition. This brain is not the individual brain. There is no individual brain. There is the brain of humanity. This I think, if one may point out, one has to understand seriously. Thought has identified itself with the psyche, the psychological world and established a sense of individuality. We will go into that presently. But first one must be very clear in understanding that the human brain, our brain, your brain, is the result of many, many million years, it has evolved through time with a great many experiences, accumulating knowledge, that knowledge stored up in the brain cells which becomes memory, and from that memory thought arises. This is the common factor of all human beings at whatever strata of society they may be. It is the common factor of every human being, that accumulate knowledge through experience, that experience as knowledge stored up in the brain which becomes the memory, from that thought and action. This is what we are doing every day. From that action you learn more, so there is this constant accumulation of knowledge, action, knowledge - this chain in which we are caught - the human brain is caught and acting. Nobody can deny this fact. This is the only fact which is actual.
And this memory, this knowledge acquired through experience being common to the whole of mankind, and that mankind is you. So your brain is not your individual brain, there is no such thing as individual. This is really important to understand because all our activity, all our thinking both psychologically as a reaction, we are trained, programmed, if I may use that word, the computer word 'programmed', conditioned for many, many, many millions of years. This is the habit in which you are caught. And if you enquire very deeply, seriously, with scepticism, with doubt, not accepting a thing from anybody, even the neurologists, the brain specialists, or from your religious books and so on, if you examine with great critical scepticism because that is the essence of religion. The investigation, sceptical investigation into the whole structure of human being, not merely physical but the psychological world which is far more important than the mere physical examination. Then you will find that human beings have lived this way for millennia, accepting individuality and from that all the problems arising - conflict with each other, conflict with the community, conflict with society, conflict as war and so on, so on, so on. Now is this a fact, or a theory invented by the speaker, and trying to prove that theory? As the speaker said often, he has no belief, no ideals, no direction, and he is certainly not doing propaganda for any particular system, establishment or organisation. Organisations and institutions are actually destroying mankind whether it is political or religious - specially religious.
So to depend on institutions and organisations for the salvation of mankind seems so utterly meaningless. And mankind has depended, looks up to, respects the scientists, the political authority, the economists, the specialists, and these are not going to save mankind either. Please see the actuality of all this. We depend on institutions, which is normal, like the post office, bank - I don't know all those kinds of institutions - but also we depend on religious institutions, the authority of a guru, of a book. And so when you hand yourself over to an authority which gradually builds up an institution or a structure, then in that web we are caught hoping our brain will be salvaged.
So the question is - not a problem; to solve a problem of any kind the brain must have no problem. Right? I'll go into it, you will see. A brain cluttered up with problems, sexual, fear, pleasure, sorrow, all kinds of problems that human beings have, how can such a mind except - such a brain - except engineer, doctor, a physician, they may solve those problems but the human psychological problems can never be solved if the brain itself is in a mess, is in confusion, is in decay. It is in decay when it is completely caught in knowledge. Please understand this. That is, experience, knowledge, memory, thought, action - that is the chain in which the brain is caught. Watch it yourself, this is not the speaker's invention. And such a brain will inevitably become mechanical: you specialise as an engineer, or as a lawyer, and everlastingly carry that for the next fifty, sixty years till you die. Which is mechanical, though in that mechanical process there may be expansion, contraction, learning more, but it is in the same pattern. So the brain becomes mechanical. And it must become mechanical because it cannot possibly live in a constant flux. I don't know if you understand all this.
Are we thinking together, at least some of us? Because it becomes very important, at least for a group of people to see the imminent necessity of bringing about a different kind of life, a different way of acting, a different behaviour. But if it is mechanical, as it is becoming, the brain will inevitably deteriorate, though there are biologists, scientists, saying, 'Only through knowledge there is the ascent of man. Man can only grow through knowledge' - we are questioning that. We are questioning the idea that knowledge is the way of salvaging the brain, salvaging the human being, because knowledge, which is experience, there is no divine knowledge except in the books, which are after all just printed words to which you may attribute the quality of sacredness, but just a lot of words, printed, put on a page, and if you worship that then of course then it is just nonsense. You are not a religious person because you read the Gita from morning till night. Or there are those who preach about the Gita, everlastingly reading about it. Like every book, the Koran, the Bible, the Gita and all the so-called religious books, may be absolute theories, and they are, because they don't actually affect our daily life. And we are concerned with the radical movement in which there is the total breaking down of this routine process of the brain.
In this mechanical process of life there is no freedom. And freedom is not from something, from prison, from sorrow, from pain, and it certainly is not freedom of choice because that is another one of our illusions that because we can choose we are free. Is that so? Does a clear, unconfused mind, brain ever choose? Because it is so clear there is no choice. It is only the confused mind, the contradictory mind, the mind that is not certain, that's always caught in this trap of choice. I hope you are following all this. You know when there is such a large audience with so many contradictory faces, contradictory opinions, it is very difficult to go into something very, very serious. And we are trying to go into something very, very serious. So there is no large audience, there is only you and the speaker. And between us we are talking over together, talking over together in friendship, with affection, with care, but being very sceptical, doubting, questioning, enquiring, never, never accepting because there is no authority. If one is seeking truth there is no authority. When there is the question of freedom there can be no authority, either political, religious or any other authority. But most of us don't want to be free, we want to be secure. And this search for security, individual, national, group, idealistic and so on, this security which each one wants, this brings about contradiction, this brings about division - you want your security, I want mine.
So perhaps this search for security, psychologically as well as physically, may be one of the causes of this corruption in this country. So we are together - please bear in mind we are together, you are not listening to a talk by the speaker, we are examining together the condition of man.
Thought is the dominant factor in our life. Thought dictates all our action. Thought has built this structure which we call society. Thought has built all the religions in the world. The churches, the images in the churches, the temples with their goddesses and all the rest of that nonsense, and the mosque, everything in all that area thought has created it - the rituals, the puja, the tradition, everything thought has built. This is a fact. Thought, which is the outcome of the desire for security, that's what we all want, not so much perhaps physically unless you are utterly poor, then that is a different matter, but psychologically, inwardly, we all want security, so we invent gods. God has not shaped us, we have shaped god. I don't know if you realise all this. What we have shaped we worship. It becomes so utterly nonsensical. But in order to have this security we live in illusion, we don't want to face facts.
So thought has created the psychological structure of man. The psychological structure is the characteristics of the ego, the 'me', the 'I'. The 'I' is fear, anxiety, depression, violence, cruelty, the ideals of being non-violent, all that is in the psychological world, the world inside you, inside your skin as it were. That is the world in which we live which dominates the external. Those idealists, socialists and the communists, say, change the structure of society outside, then man will change. This has been the old dream of every reformer, of every socialist. But you may change the outer as much as you like, as has been proved by the communist world with its recent revolution, the inward savage, the inward barbarian, who is afraid, who wants his personal - you know, all that, that overcomes the outward structure. You know all this.
So we are enquiring together as two people, the nature of thought and thought which has created the inward psyche, the inward responses, both neurological as well as psychological. You are following all this? Thought has created this. Right? Then thought separates itself and then begins to dominate the psyche - I must control my reactions, I mustn't be afraid, if I am jealous I find a rational excuse for jealousy, hatred, violence, as though all those reactions are separate from thought. Thought has created this. I don't know if you follow all this. Right, sir? Can we go on together, you and I?
So it is in a constant movement. Right? You know we have solved the problems of communication, more or less, we are trying to solve through robots and computers, more production, better production, more consumer goods, all those, in those fields, the technological world we are solving a great many things. Right? I don't know if you are aware of all this. Like in Japan for example, they are using robots with computers to free man. And there is going to be another problem - in the manufacture of cars and other things they are using robots. So we are solving all those kinds of problems, but we have never solved the problem of conflict. You understand my question? Never, though we have lived for thousands and thousands of years this problem of conflict has never been solved: conflict between man and man, man and woman, family against another family, one group against another group, one religious sect against another religious sect, however big, however well-established, however powerful. We have never throughout this million years never solved the problem of conflict. Why? You understand my question? Please ask yourself this - why. Is it possible to live a life completely without a shadow of conflict? We are going to enquire into that.
First we must be aware, conscious, know actually, not theoretically, not as an abstraction, but fact, in our daily life we live an astonishing way which brings conflict after conflict. Now can that be solved completely so that we can live in freedom, in beauty and in morality, and of course that can only come when there is love. So let's find out. You are not listening to the speaker, we are together going into this problem.
Conflict must exist when there is division. That's law. Right? Division between me and you, we and they, the Hindus, Muslims, the Jew, Arab, the communists and socialists, and so on, so on, so on externally. But the external reaction is brought about by the inward state of the brain, which is thought dividing - right? - thought dividing the thinker and the thought. Right, you are following this? There is no thinker without thought. Right? Right, sir? So thought has created the psychological world, the 'me' with all its characteristics, which is fear, sorrow, pain, depression, a sense of immense loneliness, a sense of fear of death, the future, all that is the area of the psyche - right? - the psyche being what is generally considered the soul, the higher self, you know, all that - it is still within the area of thought. There is no question about it, you can doubt it, you can examine it sceptically, rationally, exercising the highest quality of your brain to see why human beings live in perpetual conflict from the moment they are born till they die, with tears, with occasional laughter, without any sense of love.
I do not know if you have realised that this constant movement in the brain - that is, outwardly acting, going to the office, factory, labour, day after day, day after day, day after day, for fifty years - think of the monstrosity of it all! And that becomes a routine, and when that routine stops you die. And that's our life. And psychologically there is this constant movement - right? - becoming, not becoming, should, must not - you follow? - fear, loneliness, all the sense of despairing loneliness. In this constant movement thought says there must be some element which will be permanent. Right? I don't know if you are following all this. Therefore thought establishes a centre as the 'me' that is permanent. But that 'me' is the movement of fear, anxiety, all that. You are following all this? This constant movement of uncertainty, confusion, misery, and the desire to be secure knowing that there is no security. There may be, if you are lucky in this world, fortunate enough, you might have a little money, a career - a corrupting lawyer and so on, there you might have a little security; but inwardly, which is your relationship with another there is no security. So there is this constant movement in uncertainty. This is what is happening. And because you are so utterly uncertain, confused, you go to gurus, to all the absurd cults that exist in the world, to all the temples that have utterly no meaning.
Now. See the map of all this. You understand when I say, a map? That is, when you are looking at an actual map of the world, of this country for example, can you look at it without direction? You understand my question? You look at a map to go from this place to that place, and you judge how many miles, and all the rest of it. So your brain is always looking with a direction, therefore you never see the whole of the map, the whole of the world. So can we look without direction at this nature of conflict, not how to solve it, not, 'Tell me the way so that I can live without conflict', that would be too stupid, to ask such a question even. But can we look at this nature of conflict without any motive, without any direction, without wanting to be free of it, then only you are capable of sceptical examination. You understand what I am saying, sir? We are doing it together now.
As we said, conflict must exist when there is a division between thought and the psyche. Right? Be clear on this point, please. The psyche being all the characteristics of the 'me: I am nobody, but I will be somebody; I am anxious, lonely, unhappy, a dull, miserable life, and I want to escape from it, run away from it, and so on. All that is the psyche, which is the 'me'. Right? The 'me' is that, created by thought. If you had no thought, this would not exist. You understand? Of course, naturally. So as this exists, and thought says, I am different from this, therefore I must control this. That's what you are doing. I wonder if you see this. Right, sir? Clear enough? Clear as crystal, so that there is no doubt about it. Thought, which is the outcome of memory - memory, knowledge, experience, from that experience you act, learn more from that action, add to that knowledge, and keep the cycle going. And that thought has established the structure of the psyche, the inward world of 'me', with my peculiarities, with my peculiar tendencies, with my anxieties, loneliness, despair, sorrow. Right? Why has thought done this? I don't know if you follow all this. Right, sir? You are asking this question, not me. Why has thought done this? Why has it separated itself from something which it has created? I don't know if you are following this. Don't you say, 'I must control'? And the 'I' is the structure of thought, that which he is controlling is also the structure of thought. I wonder if you see this. Please, do see this very clearly. If we don't, let's examine it more. That is, let's go into it a little more.
Suppose I am very lonely, lonely though I am married, children, go to the office, go to the temple and all that nonsense that goes on, I am utterly, profoundly lonely. And being lonely I escape because I don't know how to tackle that loneliness, I don't understand what loneliness is, but I am frightened, this sense of utter existence for a day, month, in which there is no relationship with another, no sense of communication with another, thoroughly enclosed. Don't you know all these feelings? Wake up! And as my brain doesn't know how to solve it, it then escapes, escapes through entertainment - right? - whether it is religious entertainment or football, they are both the same. You agree? Are you really agreeing to this, that religious entertainment, going to the temple, the puja and all that thing that goes on there, which is an entertainment, because that doesn't alter your life, just an amusement, and football are the same. Do you agree to this? Is it mental agreement, just a verbal agreement or an actual saying, 'This is the same', therefore finished with it?
So what is loneliness? You understand? Without escaping, without running away into some illusory, imaginary ideal, the actual fact is that I am despairingly, anxiously lonely. I may be married, I may have sex, I may have children, but this thing is rotting. Like a man who is deeply hurt, as most of us are, from childhood we are hurt, and he carries that hurt throughout life, and we can say it doesn't matter, it will not affect my action, but it does affect your action because unconsciously, deeply your actions are guided by your hurt. You build a wall round yourself not to be hurt more and all that business goes on, the consequences of that hurt is bitterness, more loneliness. And this loneliness, why do human beings go through this? Ask yourself, sir. As two friends we are talking about this. Why? It must exist because of your actions. Right? Go into it, go into it, don't agree. Your daily actions are self-centred. Right? Your daily thoughts, your daily activities, are concerned with yourself. You may pretend to be a social worker and give your life to that but the 'me' is still going on, only you have identified yourself with something. Like the communist identifies with the State, with the ideal, with blah, blah, you identify yourself with something else.
So as long as there is self-centred activity there must be loneliness. I don't know if you see this. If your chief concern is 'me' then that 'me' must act in a very narrow circle, however that circle may be wide or deep, but it is a narrow circle. And that action must inevitably produce this exhausting, despairing loneliness. You understand all this? Not verbally but actually.
So we are asking why human beings live with conflict. The essence of that conflict is this division between thought and that which thought has created as the 'me', the psyche, the characteristics of the self - my name, my form, my ambition, my desire for power, money, position, my dishonesty, my corruption. So does one realise this fact that as long as thought divides itself as the 'me' and thought as being different from me, which is, the thinker being different from the 'me'. You are following all this? Be clear, for god's sake!
Then what takes place when you see it clearly? This is your test. You have to test this thing, not just verbally accept all this. Then what happens when you test it in life? That is, when thought has divided itself into the observer and the observed. You understand this? Right, sir? When you see actually the observer is the observed, thought is 'me' with all its characteristics, when you see this fact that there is only thought, dividing itself constantly - right? - what takes place? You understand? You have totally removed the contradiction. You understand all this? Totally annihilated, dissolved, absorbed this division which exists. Which is, where there is division there must be conflict inwardly, as well as outwardly. So you are no longer a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian - you understand? - a communist. You understand, sir, you don't belong to a thing! That's the outward fact. You may carry a passport but you don't belong to any country. Are you like that? That's the test.
And when this division utterly comes to an end what takes place? You understand my question? Don't say, 'It's peace', don't say, 'It's the end of conflict', then you are playing with words, it doesn't mean a thing. What actually takes place when there is the observation - critical, sceptical observation of this fact: thought divides itself as the 'me', and the thought controlling and so on, the whole process which the speaker has explained very carefully. When you see the fact, and not the abstraction of the fact - abstraction is an ideal which has no reality, what has reality is this. Then what takes place? You'll have to find out what actually takes place in the brain when there is no contradiction. You understand? There is contradiction between the observer and the observed. When there is no contradiction what takes place in the brain? Are you waiting for me to reply? Are you waiting to find out what the speaker has to say, or are you discovering for yourself? Which is more important? Not what the speaker explains, that is just words, but if you discover it for yourself then you can throw away all the books, religious books in the world.
Then the brain has only one factor, and that is the only instrument you have. And is there an observation - please, just listen, find out, I am just suggesting this, look into it - is there an observation without knowledge, an observation in which there is no experience. The moment you have experience there must be an experiencer - I don't know if you follow this - therefore division. So is there an observation without any quality of remembrance, any quality of observing with knowledge? You understand? That is, sir, when you look at your wife, or your husband, or at the tree, or the cloud or something or other, do you observe without the word - the word being merely the symbol? Can you observe - please do it as you are sitting, perhaps you are sitting next to your wife, or your husband, can you look without the word? Which means, can you look without the image which you have created about her or him? Do you understand? Can you? Or you discover that you are caught in a verbal structure. You understand? And the verbal structure is not the wife or the husband. Are you all tired? So you have to find out, is there an observation and therefore action, because when you observe danger you act instantly, physical danger; meeting a tiger, a cobra, there is instant action.
Now you have observed, examined sceptically the whole structure of man's existence - of course all kinds of details which we can go into for which we haven't time, nor is this the occasion for that - but have you seen as clearly as you see the danger of a tiger, or a cobra, this movement of thought? Which means, is there action which is not divisive, which is whole. That is the test. When the brain is completely non-fragmented by thought, because thought born of knowledge is always limited, because knowledge is never complete. Right? It's obvious. And thought born of knowledge must be incomplete. It can invent, or think about completeness, eternity, immortality - that's all just words. But when that division ceases then there is a totally different observation and action - in daily life, not in some monastery or in becoming a sannyasi and all the rest of it, that has also very little significance when you are trying to salvage the mind, the brain of humanity.
So, sir, the question really is deeply: thought is not love. Right? No, please see love is not pleasure. And without that, do what you will, go to all the temples in the world, discipline yourself till you are sick of discipline, do all kinds of things, you will not save the brain from its catastrophe.