Self-centred occupation creates sorrow
The brain can function excellently only in order
5th Public Talk, Bombay
January 30, 1980
This will be the last talk. I wonder why you are all sitting here. What is behind your minds what are your desires, your aspirations, your depressions, your sorrows, the innumerable travail of life? We expect, don't we, unfortunately, that someone will solve our problems - some enlightened human being, some philosopher, some erudite scholar or a guru, or someone upon whom we invest our devotion, our courage, our hope and we have lived that way for a million years, looking for someone else to do all the work and we just follow. Someone to lay down the pattern and we merely copy; someone to lead us to heaven, or to other places and we have lived that way. Priest after priest, religions after religions, leaders: political, social, economic, the Marxist, the Maoists. All these people have offered their wares - logical, illogical, historical and non-historical, illusory, without much meaning; and we have meekly, humbly, without much thinking followed them. This has been the lot of all human beings. And one wonders why we have become like this, why we have become second-hand human beings without any depth to our life, without solving all our problems by ourselves, but always looking for someone else.
And as this is the last talk, I would like to point out, if I may, that we are not selling any goods, that we are not doing any idealistic propaganda; we are not offering any scheme, any method, but pointing out, if you are serious and if you are willing, that there is a different kind of life to be lived daily: without conflict, without this confusion and misery which man has accepted as his way of life.
Life is a vast, complex field, area. It is tremendously complex in the sense that verbally the words have made it complex, because we live by words, our brains are crowded with words, and words have become extraordinarily important in our lives and so we live a very superficial life, wanting, hoping to live a deeper, more serene, a life in which there is not this ugly conflict. But words must be used because they are only the means of communication between two people, and words if they are not properly understood, must inevitably lead to misunderstanding. So I think it is important that we learn the art of listening; not to what the speaker is saying only, but also to nature, to everything about us, to listen so that our hearing, not merely by the ear, but hearing deeply to our own complex misery, strife, and struggle, to listen to it, not to reject it, not try to overcome it, not run away from it, but to listen to it so completely, so deeply that the very thing that it is telling you becomes reasonable, rational, true.
And as this is the last talk, we have covered a great deal of our life in all the last four talks, I think we ought to talk over together this evening the nature of love. What love means and if there is an end to sorrow, not only the sorrow that each one of us goes through, but the sorrow of mankind; the sorrow which wars have brought about, the tears of all the people, who have not killed but have others who have been killed, the poverty, the degradation of penury. And we also should talk over together the nature of death and meditation. So we are going to cover a large field this evening and I hope you will not mind if we do not rush through it but go carefully, step by step, hesitantly with care, with attention, then perhaps some of us will capture the meaning and live by it. Because what we are concerned is to bring about a different society, a different culture, a different way of living, and that can only be brought about by each one of us together, not by one single human being, or some divine law but by each one of us, the way we live everyday. And if there is a transformation of one or two of us, and that transformation does bring about a new culture. Culture can only be a new one, can only come out of a religion, not out of superstition, not out of ideas, however good or bad. Religion, not these things we call religion: the puja, the rituals, the fancy robes and so on and so on. That is not religion. Religion is the assemblage of all our energy to live a life that is harmonious, actual, and in which there is great affection, great love, a sense of compassion for all things, that is religion, not all the things you are playing with.
So, we will begin by talking over together, I mean together, not that I, the speaker thinks it out for you and you agree or disagree, but you and the speaker are walking together happily, easily, without too much tension, without too much occupation, with a sense of amicable, friendly, happy relationship. If we could establish that, at least for an hour, this evening, we could go a great distance together. You know man has always lived in sorrow, we all go through this great thing called sorrow. We may be conscious of it, or unconscious of it; we become conscious of it when we have pain, when somebody dies, when somebody runs away from you, leaves you, when you are left utterly lonely, at that moment or previously, you have felt this agonising sense of isolation. And this loneliness, this sense of complete state of mind when you have lost all sense of relationship with anything. I am sure most of you must have felt this on rare occasions, or perhaps know of it when you are with a great many people, in an office, in a factory, or when you are talking to somebody, you have this deep abiding sense of isolation. And that is one of the causes of this suffering, and apparently we never seem to dispel that depressing, wasting energy of loneliness. And, as we said, that is one of the causes of this suffering.
Now, when one is aware of this, we generally get frightened, we generally run away from it, or seek some escape, which will be satisfactory, pleasant and gratifying. But that loneliness remains, like some disease from which you are trying to escape. You may escape, but the disease is there. And so can this loneliness which has a great many consequences - you may become a social worker, a politician fighting for a place of power, or a priest or a businessman, or what you will, there is this sense of loneliness, isolation. And the consequences are, any form of escape, religious, any form of entertainment, but it is always there. So can we, in talking over together, and I mean together, can we look at it? Because without the ending of sorrow, there is no love. Please realise this. This is not a rhetorical statement, but truth, that where there is sorrow, where there is fear, love cannot be. And life bereft of love has no meaning. And without the ending of sorrow, that flower cannot blossom. So it is important to find out for ourselves, without being guided to it, without being persuaded to it, to see for ourselves the nature of this loneliness.
Please don't go to sleep. It's too early. You may be tired after a days work, and sitting comfortably, listening to somebody might put you to sleep. Or go off into some kind of fanciful meditation, closing your eyes and having lovely dreams. If you want that kind of thing, go to bed, or go to a cinema but here we are a group of serious people, I hope, who are wanting to find out for themselves how to live a life which is totally different, a life that will create a new society.
This loneliness comes about through our daily action. I do not know if you have not noticed how self-centred we are, how extraordinarily selfish we are. Sir, please don't nod your head. It has no meaning. Just listen to it. Your nodding the head in agreement, has no meaning. What has meaning is to observe your own selfishness, your own self-centred activity, your constant, endless occupation with yourself, either as a meditator, or a businessman, as a man or a woman you are occupied daily with yourself. And where there is self-centred activity, it must inevitably lead to isolation. You may talk of co-operation, working together, being together, but as long as this self-centred movement is going on in the form of nationalities, groups, sects and all the rest of it, that self-activity must inevitably lead to loneliness. You understand this, obviously.
So one asks, can there be an activity which is not centred round oneself, because as long as man is lonely through his daily activity, sorrow must inevitably continue. Sorrow, the etymological meaning of that word is passion. Sorrow and passion go together, verbally. And as we are not passionate people - we may be lustful people, we may be struggling to express our own little self and fight for a place, but we have no passion. We are all nicely tamed people. Passion means to have total energy in which there is no motive, no desire, but the sense of complete, total comprehension which is the essence of intelligence. And that passion can only come about with the ending of sorrow; and it is only passion that will create a new society, not ideas, not systems, not a new bureaucracy, or a new tyranny. Please understand all this. Not verbally, but from your heart, one must have this sense of passion and that passion cannot come if that passion is embedded in a belief, in a dogma, in a person or devotion. All that is sentiment. Passion has nothing whatever to do with sentiment, romanticism. That passion can only come about with the ending of sorrow. That is what we are concerned to discover if it is at all possible for a human being who has lived for a million years carrying this heavy burden of sorrow, to end it. Because we said without it, you can never have love. And apparently in this country, and perhaps elsewhere, we don't know what that word even means. It implies great sensitivity, care for another, generosity, a sense of total unity with all mankind, and without love life has no meaning whatsoever, you may be rich, you may have power, position and all the rest of it, but without that flame, which can never be extinguished, one has to live with sorrow.
So our concern this evening is to find out for ourselves if it is possible to live a life without sorrow. And sorrow will exist as long as there is self-centred occupation. Right? You understand? Please. If you listen to it, not 'how am I to get at it', 'how am I to stop being self-centred' - that is a wrong question. Because then when you say 'how am I not to be self-centred', you want a pattern, you want a system, you want to be told what to do, then you are back again in another pattern which is also self-centred. Right? So if you would kindly listen, just listen. Either you listen consciously or unconsciously, deeply. Conscious listening has very little effect, but if you listen from the depth of your own being, from the depth of yourself, which probably you have never even felt, ever known. So if you could listen with such grace, with such ease, the very listening is a miracle of action. You understand what I am saying? You understand? Some of you say, yes. Let's move together. You see if you try to do something about not being self-centred you are being self-centred. You understand that? If you say, I must not be selfish, the very statement of that contains selfishness. Because you want to be different from being selfish, and that very 'want' creates another form of selfishness. You have understood?
So to merely observe the fact that one is selfish and not make a single movement not to be selfish, because any movement of the mind which has been living with deep unexamined selfishness, self-centredness, any act of the mind with regard to selfishness will not only strengthen selfishness, but will change the pattern of selfishness and you will think that pattern is unselfishness. You are following all this? So to observe without any movement of thought or action, that is, to observe your self-centred occupation in the name of god, in the name of all the rest of it, to observe it without the past interfering, just to see your face, as it were, in the mirror, you can't change your face, probably you wish you could but there it is. It is what it is, and to observe it purely without any distortion, without any pressure, just to observe, that very observation exposes the whole consequences of selfishness and that observation cleanses the mind of selfishness. Sir, don't accept this. Do it. So if you could listen so entirely to the fact that all self-centred activity in any form must inevitably lead to isolation and therefore division and therefore strife. Listen to it. Don't agree or disagree. That's a fact. It is like gravity is a fact. You can't do anything about it. But if you observe it very closely, minutely, precisely, without any distortion, then that very perception is immediate action. Are you doing it as we are talking?
So where there is isolation in our relationship, and we are isolated in our relationship, you may be married, you may sleep with another, you may hold his hand, you may say, my wife, my husband, my girl friend, whatever - we are isolated in our relationships, because each one has an image of the other put together by thought, through days and years and time. Those two images have relationship; images put there by memory, by association, by remembrance, and that is not relationship. That's why if you observe it, the image that you have about another, to see it actually, what is happening, that your relationship is based on memory, a remembrance of another, which has built an image in yourself of the other and the other has also an image about yourself, these two images are the factor of division. Please understand, this is your life. And as long as there is that division there will be isolation, loneliness, pain, jealousy, anxiety, anger, hate, strife. I wonder if you are listening. And loneliness is the consequence of our self-centred occupation. If you hear that and see the truth of it, instantly, immediately, then you will find that self-centred activity comes to an end. It is like ending something which you have been carrying for a thousand years.
So there is an ending to sorrow. And there is the sorrow of mankind; man has borne, has made, has brought about sorrow. Killing each other, dividing into castes, nations, groups, sects, ashramas and so on. Dividing, dividing, dividing, fragmenting and as long as there is division between nations there must be war, as between people. We know all this, perhaps logically, intellectually, verbally, but we never apply, we never say, test it out. And so sorrow never ends.
And we have to go into this question of what is death. You know, it is one of the most extraordinary things in life that we haven't solved this question ever. We have never enquired, not verbally, but deeply, why this enormous fear of something unknown exists in each one. Why we have never enquired if the mind can ever be free from the known. You understand my question? So do we realise factually that we are always moving in the field of the known? Your gods are known, because they have been created by man through thought and fear, that is the known. You live in the past, past experiences, past memories, past associations, past hurts, past nostalgia, past longings, that is the known, and your daily activities, also in the field of the known, the accumulated knowledge that you have, is still the known. So we live always in the field of the known and we may expand that field; we may endlessly enquire and accumulate but that which is accumulated becomes instantly the known. So we have never asked, and it is important to ask, whether there is any freedom from the known - the known hurt, the known memory, the known longing, the known future, the ideal, can the mind which is the instrument of the known, which is the accumulated knowledge of experience, all that is the known, can the mind, the brain ever be free of the known? Otherwise the known becomes a routine, you can expand it but the future also becomes the known. Do you follow all this?
That is, sir, the exploiter becomes the exploited. Right? And the exploited becomes the exploiter. This has been the cycle of man, historically, politically, economically. The exploiter exploits and the one who is exploited becomes the exploiter. And this is called evolution, this is called the movement of perpetual revolution, if you have followed all this, if you have listened to some communists and so on, specially the Trotskyites, this constant revolution, from the known to the known and the known modified and further known. So we are asking, can the mind which is the result of a million years with all its knowledge, with all its experience always within that field, ever be free to discover, to come upon something unknown? You understand my question even? And why man, you, are frightened of death? Whether you are young, or old, whether you are just going to be operated on for some serious illness, why man has put between the living and death, a long period of time. You understand? It may be a very short period, or a very long period of fifty years or eighty years. And he has always pushed it as far away as possible, and we have never asked why, why each one of us is so scared to die. Are you asking that question now? And if you did ask that question why are you frightened of it? Is it that you are afraid to leave, let go the known: the family, the known, the family, the friends, your accumulated money, black market and all the rest of it. That is the known and you are frightened to let that go. (Madam, don't take notes, please, I said, listen. You make me want to cry, you have so little feelings.)
And when one begins to enquire, not into what is death, that is inevitable, you may live, if you are sixteen now you may live to be a hundred and twenty, because you have got all the medical care and all that. And if you begin to enquire into death, not the actual fact of dying, when the body through disease, old age, accident, dies, that is inevitable, but what is 'dying'? You understand my question? What does it mean to die? Please ask yourself this question. And if you ask it this seriously, it means ending. Right? Ending. Now will you end that which you hold most dear, end it? You understand my question? The ending of attachment with all its consequences: pain, jealousy, anxiety, hatred, fear, to be attached to something, to a belief, to a person, to an idea and when you die actually, physically, you end all that. Now can you - listen now - end your attachment immediately? That is death. Right? I wonder if you are following all this. Tant pis. If you want to do it, you do it, if you don't, it's all right. It's up to you. That is death.
And death also means separating from that which we are living daily: our business, our money, our wife, our children. All that. So to find out what death is clearly, not just verbally and all the comfort of reincarnation and karma and all that kind of stuff, but to find out what it means in our daily life, you have to go into the question: what's your life, what's your daily life. If you believe in reincarnation, that your soul or whatever you call it, is born next life; that is, if you are good this life, you will have a palace next life, if you are noble this life you will have wings next life. But your belief is only a nonsense because if you actually believe that you will be born next life, according to what you are doing now then you will change your life now. But you won't. So our daily life is a terrible, complex, miserable existence, going to the office day after day, for ten years or fifty years. Face it. And you won't change because you are hoping somebody will create a new society in which you haven't to work from morning until night. So please, just listen to it, even though you may not do anything about it, but just listen to it.
To live with death every day, which means to live without time because death is time, which means every form of attachment, every form of fear, possession, domination all the rest of it, when death comes all that ends. And can we live with death, that is, ending every day everything that you have accumulated, psychologically, inwardly, to end everything that you have psychologically gathered: your hurts, your ambitions, all the rest of that business, end it. And with the ending there is a new beginning. I won't go into the much more complex problems involved in death, because we haven't time.
And also we must go into the question of what is meditation. Are you meditating now? May I ask? You are sitting there, very quietly, listening, I hope. Are you in a state of attention - not tension, attention. Again this is a very complex problem which must be approached very simply. All premeditated meditations are no meditation. Have you understood this? Oh, no. What is meditation? The word, the meaning of the word etymologically, the meaning of that word is to ponder over, to think over, to enquire, to delve into, to delve in most deeply, profoundly - that is the meaning in a good dictionary. Now start from there, that is, to think over, to ponder over, to delve very, very deeply into one's consciousness, to pay complete attention to what you are enquiring into, with diligence in which there is no deviation and no negligence. All that is implied in the word 'meditation'. Our meditations now are of different kinds. There is Zen, from Japan, meditation, the Tibetan meditation, the Buddhist meditation, the various gurus with their meditations and so on and so on. Which is what? They are all premeditated meditations. You have understood? You have gathered it? That is, some person or people, have experienced something or other. Sir, for a mind that demands experience and seeks experience is still living within the known. A mind that is free of experience, actually free of experience, can only know what truth is - truth is not an experience. That's a side issue.
So meditation has been the acceptance of a system, method, practice laid down carefully by other people who say, they know, and when they say, they know, they don't know, follow it all up, sir, don't laugh, don't laugh, you are in it, for God's sake realise it. So they say if you do this, this, this, you will reach god, or enlightenment, or nirvana, moksha or anything you like to call it. And we poor gullible people come along and say, yes, marvellous idea, they have such a great reputation; we must also do this, and you practise day after day, day after day, sitting quietly, breathing rightly, and all that stuff, and repeating some kind of mantra, which is as good as saying a lot of words, and you hope thereby to achieve some extraordinary state. Right? Agree? You know one of the factors is - rather an amusing factor - in this country anybody who is slightly imbalanced becomes a saint, a guru, whereas in Europe and in America they would go to a mental hospital. Right?
So that is what is called meditation. The Tibetan, the Zen, which is to pay a great deal of attention to your - and so on, I won't go into all the details. In all that there is this idea to control your thought so that your thought is silent, your thought doesn't wander about. Right? But the controller is also thought. Right? I wonder if you are listening to all this. The controller controls the thing which he has called thought, but the controller himself is thought. So there is a duality. The controller saying all the time, I must control my thoughts, I must control my body, I must control my breathing, I must practise, I must do this, I must do that, I must exercise, sacrifice, you know, will - the controller is the very essence of desire, of thought, of the past. So, there is always in these meditations this fact. In these meditations, they never realise the controller is the controlled. If you see that fact for once in your life, completely, that the controller, the observer is the observed - if you see that, all conflict to achieve something comes to an end.
And then we come to a certain point which is, when there is no concentration, which is brought about by thought, directed towards a particular subject, towards a particular idea, concentration which is resistance of other thoughts coming in, but only one thought directed in one direction, that is what we call concentration. Right? And in that is involved constant struggle to keep other thoughts from coming in. Right? Have you ever done all this? The speaker did it one morning and dropped it from that day. He saw the futility of that kind of game and saw the uselessness of it, he dropped it. When you drop something like that, then what takes place? That is, please see this, you have realised, the mind has realised that something is not true, false, and seeing the truth in the false frees you from the false. Do you understand? Do you understand this? Oh, God! Right, sir? If you see something false and drop it, the very dropping is the action of intelligence which has discovered that it is false. If you drop your illusions about your innumerable gods, and see gods are the factor brought about by thought, fear and all the rest of it, if you see the illusion, the very perception of that illusion is the truth. You understand? Oh, come on, sir. Will you do it? You won't. That is up to you.
So where there is attention, that is, this is attention - to see something as an illusion, created by thought, like your gods, your rituals, all that stuff, see the falseness of it, the very seeing the falseness is intelligence. And that intelligence is necessary completely to perceive the action that is born out of that intelligence. You will get it, think about it - no, don't think about it, listen to it. So when you see the false, that is, in that perception there is complete attention, there is no concentration, there is just attention. Attention implies there is no centre from which you are attending. There is a centre which demands concentration, but in attention, there is no centre. Right? Do it.
Now I will show you. Would you please, kindly, the speaker is asking most respectfully, pay attention completely now to what he is saying, completely, and when you so pay attention there is no centre from which you are attending. You understand? There is only a state of attention, not that 'I am attending'. Right? Perhaps this is something new for you all. You haven't thought about it, you haven't gone into it. Now when there is attention, the implications of that attention are care. Care can only exist where there is love: care for your wife, for your husband, for your children. And where there is attention, if you watch very carefully, there is absolute silence. Right? If you are listening to what is being said with complete attention, in that attention, though you are listening to the words, there is silence, and that silence is necessary to enquire - that silence is necessary, in whose movement - silence is not static, it is a living thing - in that silence, that movement moves towards the source of all energy. And this origin, the beginning of all energy - don't translate it as god and all the rest of it, that's nothing - the origin, the beginning of all things, and if you come to that, if the mind ever comes to that extraordinary state then from there action takes place. For that one must have a mind that is free from all problems - all problems, so that it is totally, completely free from the known. This is meditation. Right, sir.