Security not based on thought
Knowing oneself is the beginning of freedom
2nd Public Talk, Bombay
January 27, 1979
May we continue with what we were talking about yesterday, no, on Wednesday. We were saying, if I remember rightly, that the root of the degeneration of mankind at the present time is this living a life on concepts, conclusions, theories, and that is an activity of the intellect, and when intellect predominates all our existence, then it must be, as we pointed out, a lopsided life that is not harmonious, complete, whole. I do not know if any of you followed all this clearly and if we may we will go on further into what we were talking about. First of all I would like, if I may, to point out that this is a serious gathering, not an amusement affair, but people who are serious, deeply concerned with what is happening outside in the world and in their own lives, their lives of conflict, confusion, misery, and before we go into further what we intend to talk about this evening, I think one must learn the art of listening, the art of hearing accurately what the speaker has to say. If you do not give complete attention to that hearing, I am afraid then whatever is said will be confusing, not effective, ineffectual.
So the art of listening implies that one give attention. You know what you think; you know what your activities are; you know your own opinions, you know your own values, judgements, and concepts. If those interfere with what you are hearing, then you can't possibly hear what the other person has to say. So one has to learn to listen attentively. And probably it becomes very difficult for most people to give complete attention for any length, for an hour, so their minds wander off; they partially hear; they hear what they want to hear. So as we are going to talk about serious things, please, if I may ask, listen with care as you would listen to somebody whom you love, if you love anybody at all. Listen with the intention to understand what the other person is saying, not only listen to the speaker, but in life: to your wife, to your husband, to your children, to listen, not only with the ear listening, but also listen beyond the word which is much more difficult. Because to listen so intensely implies that we must both be, the speaker as well as you, on the same level with the same intensity, at the same time, otherwise you can't communicate properly and we want to talk about so many things this evening, so please learn, if I may respectfully suggest, learn the art of listening. That means putting aside your own opinions, your judgements, your experiences, your wishes, your desires, your motives; just listen happily to somebody who wants to tell you something.
Because one feels that in the very act of listening, the very act of listening brings about a change because it is like a pool that is very still, quiet of an evening and you drop a stone in it and it has waves. In the same way, listen. And also, if I may point out, there is also the art of seeing. We hardly ever see actually anything completely. We have visual impressions casual or deep. But to learn the art of seeing, observing, demands again attention. When you attend to something very deeply you forget about yourselves, you forget about your worries, your problems, because in that attention there is no centre from which you are attending. I do not know if you have ever done all these things; if you have, then please, this evening not only listen but observe your own thoughts, your own feelings, your own impressions, your experiences and see if they have any validity. And also there is the art of learning. Most of us learn by accumulating knowledge, facts, going through school, college, university, if you are so lucky, which is to memorise. But also there is an art of learning which is not memorising, that comes about by listening and seeing exactly what is false and what is true. To see the truth in the false, to have an insight into that which is absolutely true.
Because most of us learn and then act. You accumulate knowledge and use that knowledge skilfully in life. You act and then learn from that action and accumulate knowledge again from that action. That is, you learn first a great deal of information, then from that knowledge you act skilfully or not skilfully. And there is the other which is, you act and from that action learn, which is to accumulate knowledge. So they are both the same, that is, to acquire knowledge and then act, act and acquire knowledge; so both are the same. So we are saying something entirely different and please listen to it, you may not agree or disagree but just as you would listen to some child who wants to tell you a great story about himself, his little experiences. With the same care, affection, listen. There is a different way of acting, not from the accumulation of knowledge but having an insight into something immediately; that is, to see, observe with all your attention that any kind of organisation, either spiritual or political - please listen to all this carefully - religious organisations, political organisations, social organisations are not going to solve the human problem at all. No organisations will ever solve our human problems. To have an insight into that, into the truth of that, is to act instantly, not acquire knowledge and then act. I wonder if you see this.
That is, you acquire knowledge and from that knowledge act. So there is an interval between knowledge and action and in that interval, which is time, during that interval, during that gap, all other actions come into being. So your action is never complete. Whereas if you see that no organisation - as an example - no organisation - political, religious, the very latest organisation, is not going to solve the problems of man, when you see that, have an insight into it, you act immediately, which implies that you don't belong to any organisation. That means you are by your own strength, by your own vitality, by your own energy, you are solving instantly your problems. This is something probably you have not heard. Probably you have not gone into this question of action, because life is action. Everything that we do implies action, intellectual, physical, emotional and so on. And our actions are based on an ideal, something in the future or on a principle, again something in the future, or on a concept or on some conclusion, which are all the activities of the intellect and so these actions are never whole, complete; in those actions there are regrets, they bring about confusion, uncertainty. Whereas we are saying, to have an insight, to see something instantly and act.
Now, as we were saying the other day when we met here, intellect, that is the capacity to reason logically, sanely, is the movement of thought. Intellect is the instrument of thought and all our life is based on thought. This building is built by thought. The churches are built by thought, and the content of the churches and the temples, the Mass and so on are the result of thought. That's obvious for any person, who sees sanely, rationally, without any personal emotions and prejudices, thought plays an extraordinary importance in our lives and in our relationship with each other. And thought, as we pointed out the other day, is limited because it is based on memory, on experience, on knowledge. So knowledge is always limited. And so thought is limited and fragmented and the more you think about your problems the less you will be able to solve the problem, except technological problems. And we are saying, it is important to understand the nature of thought and its right place which is technological knowledge: how to drive a car, to speak English, or whatever language one speaks, to go to the office, to do all the technological functional activities demand thought but thought has no place whatsoever in the psychological field. When thought takes over the psychological field then trouble begins. This is again, as we have explained very carefully, the other time and we do it now.
So we are saying, knowing oneself, what you actually are, what you think, what you feel, knowing yourself is the beginning of freedom. Please understand this because most of us have never looked at ourselves. You may have looked in the mirror when you were shaving or combing your hair, but we have never inwardly looked at ourselves and that is what we are going to do. Knowing oneself implies three things: either you know yourself from the past, from your past experience, from your past incidents, events which have accumulated knowledge, so you say, I am that. I hope you are following all this. Or you observe yourself as you are, that is, what you are actually thinking, what you are actually feeling and what you are doing in the present. In that observation there is no need for the past to interfere. Would you please do it as we are talking, not memorise it, go home and then try to remember, but as we are talking together, because we are thinking together, we are sharing together, we are looking at ourselves together. So you are doing it now, not when you go home, you are then doing it from memory. I hope that is clear.
That is, you look at yourself from your past knowledge, that is simple, you all do that, or you look at yourself as you are living, as you are thinking, as you observe your reactions - now. Or you look at yourself as you might be, that is in the future. What the future is, is the modification of the past, passing through the present and projecting the future. Are you following all this? Because we are going to enquire into something, if you are interested because it is part of our life, which is to find out whether it is possible not to waste our energy. If you act from the past you are wasting your energy, because you are being conditioned by the past, the past tells you what to do or what to think and so there is a wastage of energy because you are not living actually in the present, which is to watch your reactions, your prejudices, your experience actually as you are living now. And you are wasting your energy when you are acting according to a principle, to an ideal which is a concept of the intellect. So to know oneself, the knowing of oneself is to be aware of the wastage of energy and the summation of energy. I am going to go into that slowly.
The self, the you, is knowledge. When you say, 'I', 'myself', your selfishness, all that is based on knowledge. If you had no knowledge, there is no self. Please see the truth of it, or the falseness of it, which means you must have a mind that is attentive, that is not prejudiced, that is not caught in its own stupid experiences, but is willing to listen. The self, the 'me', my ego, my personality, is essentially knowledge. Therefore knowledge is the past. So the self is in essence the past. And when you live in the past as most people do, you are wasting an enormous amount of your own energy, because you need all your energy, which is the essence of religion. A religious mind is not caught in any experience, in any belief, in any concept, which are all the activities of the intellect, which is the thought and thought is memory. I hope you see all this. So we live in the past and the past meets the present, modifies itself and goes on, but it is still rooted in the past.
Now, the brain is very ancient. Please, I am going to go into something, give your attention a little bit. If you want me to stop for a while, so that you can come back from your wanderings of thought I will stop. I want to talk over with you, the speaker wants to talk over with you something which demands your real attention and if you are tired, if your mind is wandering I will stop and take a breather and we will continue.
Our brain is very, very old; it has evolved through time. It has had a great many experiences from the ancient ape to modern times. It has accumulated enormous impressions, experiences, knowledge, reactions. It has gathered and has lived in tradition. So it is heavily conditioned, which is obvious. And the capacity of the brain is limited by its own conditioning. The conditioning is the result of time and the brain can only function effectively when it is completely secure: secure in its relationship with another - intimate and not intimate - secure in ideas, in illusions, in neuroticism, in beliefs, the brain demands that it be completely secure. It is only then it can act fully. So the brain seeks security in multiple ways. It has sought security in gods which are the product of thought. All the rituals, all the circus that goes on in the name of religion is the product of thought, and the brain has accepted that illusion and finds in that illusion security. Obviously. And the brain is constantly in action because all the time human beings are thinking, chattering, projecting or involving some political, religious, personal problems. It is everlastingly chattering and in that chattering it also finds security - of course, otherwise it wouldn't chatter. Please understand this - not how to stop chattering but see what the brain is doing - that it demands security and the constant chattering which becomes a habit, and in that habit there is security.
Belonging to a particular group, communist, socialist, this and that, a Hindu, a Muslim, living in that limited concept is security. Now - please listen - is there security for the brain at all? You enquire, you challenge it, challenge yourself and find out if the brain - the brain is only part of the whole mind, the mind being sensations, the sensual responses, the emotions, the reactions, the intellect, the thought, all that is the mind, the whole mind, and the brain and its activities are part of that mind, and the mind plays an extraordinary importance in our life. So we are asking a question which probably you won't be able to answer - if you ask it really seriously perhaps you will be able to - whether the brain must always live in a conditioned area - being a Hindu, a Muslim, a Catholic, Protestant or the new gurus or the old gurus, whatever it is, must always live in illusion because in that there is safety. So we are asking: is there a security for the brain which is not based on thought? I wonder if you understand this?
If this is too complex, or too subtle, I will go on to something else, because you see you have got brains, they have been misused, the business man is only concerned with money and the romanticist is only concerned with romance and all the rest of it. He has divided life, you understand, as business, the artists, the sentimentalists, the intellectual and all that, he has broken up the activity of the brain into fragments and he is never capable of operating with the whole brain. The brain is only functioning in a very, very small area of itself, and we are saying there is a possibility of the whole brain acting, then that action is something entirely different. Now we are asking, if there is security which is not illusory, which is not based on belief, which is not based on experience, because that becomes knowledge, then it is a fragment, then it is only part of the brain acting, whether it is possible for thought which is a fragment not to interfere in its movement. I say, I am pointing out it is possible and I will show you how it is possible - not a method, no system, no practice, that all becomes mechanical, stupid.
Now take one thing: when you sleep you dream. Most people do, either very, very superficial dreams, which are the dreams of the body reactions or so-called very deep dreams. Now, why do you dream at all? We dream, why? We dream because, if you go into it, investigate into yourself, which is part of self-knowing, we carry over our problems, our human problems. We carry over from day to day, our jealousies, our hurts, our anxieties, our greed, our envy, our ambition. So the brain is kept constantly in an artificial movement of thought. Do you understand all this? Do some of you understand? Will you encourage me? I don't want your encouragement.
So one must find out whether it is possible not to dream, and I say it is possible when any problem that arises, human problem, is resolved instantly, not carried over. You understand my question? The moment you carry over an event, a happening, an insult, a flattery, your jealousy, carrying it over keeps the brain in that movement, in the movement which is limited. Whereas if you end the problem instantly, you release the artificial activity of thought. You've understood - some of you. So you dream because you are not attentive during the day, attentive to what people say when they insult you, when they praise you, attentive to your immediate sexual, or other problems, to be attentive, and in that attention there is an ending to the problem. So when you sleep - please listen - the brain has its own rhythm, its own movement, but not the movement - I call it the artificial movement of thought with all its problems. So when the brain is allowed to function without the interference of thought it has its own natural rhythm which rejuvenates the brain, the brain then has no pressure. Where there is pressure, there is deterioration. So the brain has its own capacity of being secure in itself when it is free from all the impositions of thought.
Now, one of the factors in self-knowing which makes the brain - distorts the brain - is fear. Now we are at home! The brain, please listen to the beauty of the activity of the brain. I am not a brain specialist. No, I am not, but I have watched. The speaker has talked to specialists and so on but they are all superficial, they are all informative but they have never gone into themselves very deeply. You know, the brain is an extraordinary instrument; it is so subtle, so quick, so vital, so full of energy, if thought with its fragmentation doesn't impose itself on it. And one of the great pressures, which is most destructive for the brain, is fear. Most people are afraid - aren't you, if you are honest. If you want to be aware of yourself, if you want to resolve this enormous burden of fear which man has carried for millennia, you have to find out if it is possible to end fear: fear of god, fear of what might happen to you tomorrow, fear of losing a job, fear of somebody running away from you, fear of loneliness, fear of not becoming a great success, fear of so many, many, many things. Aren't you afraid of so many things - old age? Am I talking to myself? Fear, you know what fear does, don't you? It makes you cringe, it brings darkness, you can't see clearly, all your responses shrink, they withdraw, don't you know all this, when you are afraid both physically as well as psychologically?
So, there is the fear of getting hurt physically, having been hurt physically, then - please listen to this - having been hurt, been to a dentist and been hurt, and the fear of having that pain again. You have to solve that psychosomatic fear. You know what psychosomatic is - which is the psyche and the body, soma and the psyche. Which is to see the pain, to have the pain and not let it carry over for the next day. You end the pain. You go to the dentist, if you are unfortunate enough to go there, you go to the dentist, he drills you, gives you a great deal of pain, and not register it, not carry it over, end it, as you leave the dentist's chair, finished, which means you are tremendously attentive while the drill is going on and not shrink - pain is there, but to watch it. You understand this? Do it and you'll find out. It is not a theory. Don't memorise it. Do it. And the other is psychological pain, the inward pain of being hurt by people; when you are at school you are hurt by your teacher, at home when you are being compared with somebody who is much more intelligent than you, all that hurts you and you carry that hurt throughout life consciously or unconsciously. All that implies fear. Right?
So we are asking - fear is a great pressure on the brain, it cannot act fully so is it possible to be completely free of fear? Fear of death - please listen to it - fear of being alone, fear of being lonely, fear of losing, fear of not being attached to something, fear of identifying with something, and not being able to identify with anything, various forms of fear. Do you know your own fear? Do you? I am not asking you to tell me but are you aware of your own fear? Perhaps not now but when you go home, when you are quiet, by yourself, if you ever are, then the fear comes into being. So we are asking, is it possible to end fear, not temporarily, relatively, free of fear for a few days, but completely, so that you have no psychological fear at all. Do you realise what it implies - tremendous sanity. It's only the people who are frightened, that shrink that have become hypocrites, and all the rest of it.
So what is fear? Not the objects of fear. You understand? One may be afraid of the dark, one may be afraid of the politician, one may be afraid of this or that, but the very feeling of it, the reaction of it, that sense of shrinking, what is the root of it? The root of it is time. Just examine it, don't reject it. The root of fear is time both chronologically as well as psychologically: you have had pain yesterday or a week ago, and you might get it and you hope you won't get it - and fear. That has taken time. You see that? Right? You are following this? Or you might be afraid of what might happen, which again is in the future which involves time. You are afraid of death, again, you are living, but death is far away which means time. I won't go into more details. It is fairly obvious. Time means fear, time means movement, from here to go to your home is a movement of time which covers the distance. Time also implies the interval between the living and the ending. Time is this movement by the clock as well as by thought. That is clear.
So thought is time. Have you ever realised thought is never still. It is always in movement, chattering, conceiving, imagining, wanting, searching, you follow? Chattering, chattering, chattering. That is a movement. So time is movement and thought is movement. So time is thought. You are following all this? So we are saying the root of fear is thought which is time. Now, please as we said at the beginning of the talk, listen to it. First listen to it. Don't argue about it, that it is, it is not, this and that, but just listen and find out for yourself whether it is true or false. Then you will ask: how am I to stop thinking. You follow? That is your natural question. If thought is the root of fear, which it is, which is time, how is thought to come to an end so that I shan't be afraid? Right? That is a natural question, isn't it? No? That is a wrong question. No. No, this is not cleverness, this is a wrong question, because you have not seen the truth that time is fear. If you see the truth of it, then thought comes to an end. Truth is that which is - I won't go into all that. So the brain has been conditioned to act and waste its energy in fear. And we are saying, when there is an ending to fear you are releasing a tremendous energy into the whole structure of the mind. We will go into the question of death tomorrow or on Wednesday, but first see that how we waste our energy by dividing our life, which brings conflict: the business man entirely concerned with money, money, money, and the housewife concerned entirely with the kitchen or whatever she does, and the lawyer and the priest and the artist. You know. This division is in essence a total waste of energy. To live that way brings conflict. If you divide, break up your life into departments and each department is active on its own, it must be in conflict with other departments. So where there is a conflict there is a wastage of energy. Come on, sirs, see it.
And as we said, religion, the religious mind, not all the rot that goes on in the name of religion which is absolute nonsense - a religious mind has this enormous capacity because its brain has its own rhythm and it is never under pressure. This we will go into when we talk about meditation and all that. So as we live now, our life is conflict. That is so obvious. Conflict between you and your wife, your husband, with your children, with your society, conflict, struggle, struggle. And the art of living is to find out whether it is possible to live without a single conflict. Which doesn't mean you become dull, because we think conflict gives us sharpness, we progress and all the rest of that business, but to find out a way of living, which is the art of living, in which there is not the slightest shadow of conflict. Conflict will exist always when thought, which is the movement of fragmentation, which we went into carefully, when thought usurps the whole field of existence, then it breaks up life and therefore there must be conflict, and so the brain realising the damage of conflict seeks security wherever it can: in illusions, in beliefs, in dogmas, in religions, in rituals, in experience, which is again a divisive process. So there is a way of living, if you go into yourself very, very deeply, there is a way of living in which there is no conflict and therefore the brain has its own rhythm and therefore it has an extraordinary capacity. Right, sirs.