The art of meditation
Meditation is the transformation of the mind
4th Public Talk, San Francisco, California
March 25, 1975
I hope you can all hear me, can you? Is it quite audible? Right. This is the last talk. During the last three times that we have met here we have been talking about the chaos in the world, the misery, the suffering, and the desire for entertainment and the avoidance of fear. We went into several things concerning our daily life. During all these talks it must have been very clear that we are concerned with the human transformation psychologically, for that alone can bring about a change in the society in which we live because in ourselves there is a radical psychological transformation. That is what we have been going over together. And this evening we said we would talk about meditation.
This is really a very, very complex question, and to go into it very deeply one requires a mind that is passionate, and we explained what the meaning of that word is. It requires a great earnestness, and an attention, which is not concentration. But before we go into this question of meditation, we ought to consider why, throughout the world, human beings are becoming degenerate. Degeneracy means the failure to live excellently, in its highest form. And degeneracy also implies the cultivation of memory only, and acting according to that pattern, according to that knowledge as memory. Therefore life becomes more and more mechanical. Our responses are mechanical, our attitudes are mechanical and our actions. All that indicates the degeneracy of the human mind. And to put an end to that degeneracy with all its violence, brutality, cruelty, mainly concerned with amusement and the search after pleasure, to put an end to all that one needs quite a different kind of energy. Not the energy of strife, not the energy of thought, not the energy of contention, argument, but a totally different kind of energy. And it is through meditation only that one comes upon this energy, which is not the product of thought.
First of all, most people in this country have never heard that word 'meditation' before the invasion of the gurus. And I wish that you had never heard that word, because then you and I, the speaker, can investigate together, to find out whether it is necessary to meditate, what value it has, what significance, not the market value but what significance it has in one's life, the daily living, because with that we are concerned - the transformation of the human mind and heart in the daily living; and if there is, or if there is not, something sacred, holy in life. And that is what we are this evening going to investigate together, to understand the significance of meditation, what are all its implications, and to deny totally what is not important, essential.
All religions - organised belief which are called religions - throughout the world have stated as a form of faith, belief and hope that there is something immeasurable, that there is something beyond; and you can come upon it only through great austerity, through self-abnegation, through control of your desires, devoting your life to good work and so on. At the end of it the reward is something that is eternal, blissful and so on. If we could this evening put away all these ideas, concepts and theories and find out for ourselves if there is something sacred -not the word, because the word is not the thing, the description is not the described - if there is something real, not an imagination, not something illusory, fanciful, a myth but a reality that can never be destroyed, a truth that is abiding. And to find that out, to come upon it, all authority of any kind, specially spiritual, must be totally set aside. Because authority implies conformity, obedience, acceptance of a certain pattern. A mind must be capable of standing alone, be capable of being a light to itself. And following another, belonging to a certain group, following certain methods of meditation laid down by an authority, by tradition, by group practice and so on are totally irrelevant to a man that investigates into this question, whether there is something eternal, timeless, something that is not measurable by thought, that operates in our daily life. Because if it does not function, if it is not part of our daily life then meditation is an escape and absolutely useless.
So what we have been talking about during the last three talks is the investigation into behaviour, to establish right relationship, not based on image, hurts, that utter lack of love, and to have no psychological fear at all. All this implies that one must stand alone. There is a difference between isolation and aloneness, between loneliness and being able to stand by yourself clearly, unconfused, uncontaminated.
Because meditation is really quite an extraordinary process if one goes into it, as we are going to this evening. So we are not telling you how to meditate. That is too absurd. When you ask, how to meditate, you want a pattern, a system, which can be laid down by thought - thought, as we pointed out the other day, what it thinks about is reality, but it is not truth. So there is no 'how' - how to meditate. The word 'meditation', the root meaning of that word, is to ponder, to think over, according to the dictionary, to give one's attention deeply; and also it means to measure. Measure implies time, movement from here to there. And when you ask how to meditate, time is implied - time being measurement of thought. And measurement is necessary technologically, physically; but measurement psychologically has no value at all. Measurement implies comparison, conformity, imitation, obedience. And time is involved.
So we must understand this question of time. Time is movement, both physically and psychologically, inwardly. Time is necessary to go from here to there. The distance covered, mileage, kilometres and so on, that requires time. And is there psychological time at all? Or thought has invented it for psychological purposes in order to achieve a psychological result. For that you need time, but is there psychological time at all? I hope you are following all this because talking to oneself, one can do that in one's room. But we are sharing this together, not the speaker is giving you something, but together we are taking a journey, together we are eating the same food, the same nourishment, drinking at the same fountain. What is important is the water, not who has led you to the fountain. So we are partaking, sharing this investigation together. So please do listen, because it affects your whole life, it affects your activity, your labours, your daily relationship, the society in which you live, the culture which you have created. We are concerned with the whole of life, not one segment of it, one fragment of it, but the whole. That is, what you do, what you think, what you feel, how you behave. And as we are concerned with the whole of life we cannot possibly take a fragment which is thought, and through thought resolve all our problems, because thought itself is a fragment, and it may give to itself an authority to bring all the other fragments together, but thought has created these fragments. And when we are investigating, sharing together this question of meditation we have to find out the measurement of thought as time, measurement as a movement towards a particular direction, as time - to control, to discipline, to achieve so-called enlightenment. All that is implied in measurement.
So we are asking, though physically time is necessary to go from here to your house, to build a house, a bridge, to learn a language, to learn how to drive a car and so on, time is necessary, but is there psychological time? Is there a betterment of the 'me', of the self? And is the 'better' the good? All that is involved in considering the question of time. Because in meditation one must understand the significance of thought, its value and its total irrelevancy in going beyond measurement. We are going to go into all that presently.
So first, meditation implies the freedom from measurement, that is, freedom from time. Is that possible? Because we are conditioned to think in terms of progress, of gradual achievement. We believe in psychological evolution. But is there such a thing as 'me' psychologically achieving something other than the projection of thought? You know, you all most of you probably believe in God, don't you?
K: That is a rather feeble 'yes'! And when you investigate into this belief, what is God? There is the Hebrew god, the Christian god, the Hindu god, the Muslim god and so on. Is it an invention of the mind, of thought? Is it a projection of thought because thought says to itself there is nothing permanent in life - my relationship, my love, my profession, my knowledge, my experience, faith, in all that there is nothing permanent. And it projects in fancy, in imagination, in hope, an idea called god. And so the projection is yourself ennobled, so you are worshipping yourself. Do you understand the significance of that? So we are not investigating into the reality whether there is god or no god, because that is fairly simple because there are so many gods, as so many beliefs - they are all projections of thought. And thought in itself, what it thinks about is reality but it is not truth.
So we are going to find out through meditation if there is something that is not projected by thought, that is not an illusion, a myth. And so to go into that one must ask whether thought can be controlled, whether thought can be held in abeyance, whether thought can be suppressed, so that the mind is completely still. You know this has been a problem for a man who is really truly trying to find out, trying to meditate. That is, to control thought. So he says, 'I can only control thought through discipline, through concentration, through total identification with that which thought has projected.' And all the scriptures, the teachers of meditation, their systems, all say - if you have gone into it - control, discipline, obey. And the speaker is saying something quite the contrary: not the opposite of what they have said, but what they have said is merely a process of suppression, a process of disciplining the mind or the thought according to a pattern in order to achieve a result. So we have to go into this question of control. Control implies, the controller and the controlled, doesn't it?
Who is the controller? Is that not also created by thought, one of the fragments of thought which has assumed the authority as the controller? If you see the truth of that then the controller is the controlled, the experiencer is the experienced, the thinker is the thought - they are not two separate entities. So if you understand that then there is no necessity to control. Then what takes place, if you don't control, then what takes place? I hope you are sharing all this together, are we? At least I hope so. Otherwise you are wasting your time.
Then what takes place, if there is no controller because the controller is the controlled, then what happens? When there is that division between the controller and the controlled there is conflict, there is a wastage of energy. And when the controller is the controlled there is no wastage of energy, then there is the accumulation of all that energy which has been dissipated in suppression, in resistance, brought about through division as the controller and the controlled. And when there is no division you have all that energy to go beyond that which you thought must be controlled. Is this clear? Please at the end of the talk there are going to be no questions, so please if you don't understand we will go into it differently.
Discipline means to learn, disciple who learns from a teacher. The word means 'to learn'. In learning any language, any technique, that very technique, that very language creates its own order, its own act of learning. And in meditation this must be clearly understood, that there is no control of thought, no disciplining of thought, because the one who disciplines thought is a fragment of thought, one who controls thought is a fragment of thought. If you see the truth of that then you have all that energy which has been dissipated through comparison, through control, through suppression and so on, all that energy to go beyond what actually is. Then in meditation - we are not advising you how to meditate or what meditation is; it is only fools give advice, and those who accept advice are also fools. So we are not giving advice; we are saying what is not meditation. All the systems that you have been offered in this country by the so-called people who seem to know what meditation is, if you follow a system it needs practice, when you practise you make your mind mechanical, repetition, you practise in order to achieve a result. You know we were told the other day by a pianist that a good pianist never practises, what he practises is his mistakes. So each time he plays that is his practice. All right, may I go on?
So in meditation don't follow anybody, including the speaker. Don't follow any system because it will make your mind dull, stupid, mechanical. It destroys whatever energy you have because you need tremendous energy to go beyond all thought. And they are introducing in this country, most unfortunately, miracles - not that there aren't miracles, there are, but not the miracles of these gurus - they are introducing all kinds of things which ancient India kept secret. And when you vulgarise these secrets they lose their potency. Now there are these Kundalini meditations, Yoga meditation and all the rest of it. You know what yoga means? It is a Sanskrit word which means to join; to join the higher with the lower, the higher spirit, the higher energy, the highest form of the self to the lower - to join. And that implies a division. And who is to join them? And so they invent a higher self. So there is always division, always duality, and so maintain conflict. So if one may point out, don't follow all this. Use your reason, clarity to find out the truth.
And in meditation the essential thing is the mind must be absolutely quiet. And is that possible? You know they say it is possible if you know how to breathe properly, if you sit in a certain posture, cross your legs, hold your hands in a certain way, do all kinds of tricks, and then perhaps you will have a mind that is utterly quiet. There is a story of a teacher to whom a very devout and serious disciple comes. And takes the posture of cross-legged, closing his eyes, holding his hands in a particular way, and so the teacher says, 'What are you doing, my friend?' He says, 'I am meditating.' And he goes on meditating. So the teacher picks up two pieces of stone and rubs them together, making a noise. So the meditator, the disciple says, 'Master, what are you doing'? 'I am trying to rub these two stones to make one of them into a mirror'. And the disciple says, 'Master, you can do that for ten thousand years, you will never make that stone into a mirror'. So the teachers says, 'You can sit like that for ten thousand years' - and that is what you are doing. You learn all the technique, all the ways that they are teaching you, but your mind and your heart are empty.
So we are asking whether the mind can be absolutely still, because that which is still has great energy. It is the summation of energy. And can that mind, which is chattering, always in movement, which is thought, always looking back, remembering, accumulating knowledge, this constantly moving, changing, can that thought be completely still? Have you ever tried, if you are interested and serious, to find out if thought can be still? And if it is not, how are you going to find out how to bring about this stillness of thought? You see thought is time; time is movement; time is measurement. Now in daily life you measure, don't you? You compare, both physically and psychologically. That is measurement - comparison means measurement. Can you live a life without comparison in daily life, not in meditation but in daily life can you cease to compare altogether? And you do compare, when you are choosing two materials, this cloth or that cloth, when you compare two cars, their mechanism, when you compare knowledge, but psychologically, inwardly we are comparing ourselves with somebody; and when that comparison ceases, as it must, then can you stand completely alone? That is what is implied when there is no comparison, which doesn't mean that you vegetate. So to find out in daily life, not to compare that you have been happy and now you are not happy and you want to be happy; you have had certain experience and you want that experience enlarged, given strength and so on; comparing in your relationship how happy you were when you were first married, when you first met the girl and later on how it withers. That is remembrance of things past, comparing with the present. Can you live a life without comparison? Do it once and you will find out what is implied in that. Then you throw off a tremendous burden. And when you throw off a burden which is unnecessary you have energy.
And we are asking: is it possible for thought to be completely still? And meditation is a non-directive in which there is no operation of will at all. So we will go into that. Will, that is, 'I will do, I will control, I must achieve' - all that is the action of will. Will is the essence of desire, the achievement of a certain result through desire, and desire accentuated, hardened is will. And we are educated to exercise our will. Is there a way of living in daily life without the action of will? Will implies a form of resistance, does it not - as concentration is a form of resistance. So is it possible to live a life, daily life, in which there is no exercise of will, comparison and how is this to come about? Attention is something totally different from concentration and the action of will. You know when you attend to something there is no centre as the entity who is attending. Have you ever done any kind of attention, given any kind of attention to something totally? Now you are listening, aren't you, to what the speaker is saying. Are you giving attention to him, to what he is saying, or are you listening with a comparative mind which has already acquired certain knowledge and comparing what is being said to what you already know? Listening half-heartedly, interpreting what is being said according to your own knowledge, your own tendency, to your own prejudice? All that is not attention, is it? But if you gave complete attention, that means with your body, with your nerves, with your eyes, with your ears, with your mind, with your whole being, when you so attend there is no centre from which you are attending, there is only attention. That attention is complete silence. Have you understood this? Please do listen to this. Nobody is going to tell you all these things, unfortunately. And so please give your attention to what is being said, non-comparatively, don't interpret what is being said according to what already you know. So that the very act of listening is a miracle of attention. And in that attention there is no border, there is no frontier, and therefore there is no direction, there is only attention. And when there is that attention there is no me and you, there is no duality, there is no observer and the observed, there is only attention. And this is not possible when the mind is moving in a particular direction. Do you understand?
Look, we are educated and conditioned to move according to directions, from here to there. We have an idea, a belief, a concept, a formula that there is a reality, that there is a bliss, that there is something beyond thought and we fix that as a goal, as an ideal, a direction and walk in that direction. When you walk in a direction there is no space. When you are concentrated and walking or thinking in a particular direction you have no space in the mind. And space is necessary. You have no space when your mind is crowded with attachments, with fears, with pursuit of pleasures, with the desire for power, position, then the mind is overcrowded; it has no space. And where there is attention there is no direction, but space.
Now, meditation implies no movement at all. That means the mind is totally still, it is not moving in any direction. There is no movement, movement being time, movement being thought. If you see the truth of it - not the verbal description of it but the truth, which cannot be described - if you see the truth of this then there is that quiet still mind. And it is necessary to have a quiet mind, not in order to go to sleep longer, or to do your job better, or to get more money, but as most people's lives are so empty, so poor, though they may have a great deal of knowledge their lives are poor, contradictory, not whole, unhappy, so all that is poverty. And they waste their life trying to become rich inwardly, cultivating various forms of virtue and, you know all the rest of that silly nonsense. Not that virtue is not necessary, virtue is order, and order can only be understood when you have gone into this question of disorder in yourself. We do lead a disorderly life. That is a fact. And to understand what that disorder is, the contradiction, the confusion, the various assertive desires contradicting each other, saying one thing and doing another, having ideals and the division between you and the ideal. All that is disorder. To be aware of that disorder, to give your whole attention to that disorder, out of that attention comes order, which is virtue, a living thing, not a thing contrived, practised and made ugly.
And man desires power. He has conquered the air, nature; he wants power politically; he wants power spiritually; he wants power in his relationship. And everybody is seeking power, which gives him a certain status. And in meditation you do, the mind does acquire certain powers, but they are to be totally avoided because then mind or thought becomes a slave in the pursuit of those powers which give ultimately pleasure: powers of thought-reading, producing miracles and so on.
So meditation in daily life is the transformation of the mind, the psychological revolution, so that we live in daily life, not in theory, not as an ideal, but in every movement of our life, in which there is compassion, love, and the energy to transcend all the pettiness, the narrowness, the shallow life that one leads. When that mind is quiet, really still, not made still through desire, through will, then there is a totally different kind of movement which is not of time. You know to go into that would be absurd. It would be a verbal description, therefore not real. What is important is the art of meditation. The word 'art' means to put everything in its right place. You understand the meaning of that word? Not that which is contained in the museums, but putting everything in our life, in our daily life, in the right place. That is the art of meditation, so that there is no confusion. And when there is in our daily life order, righteous behaviour and a mind that is completely quiet, then the mind will find out for itself whether there is the immeasurable or not. Until you find that out, that which is the highest form of holiness, one's life is dull, meaningless, as most people's lives are. And that is why meditation, right meditation, is absolutely necessary, so that the mind is made young, fresh, innocent. As we explained the other day, the word 'innocency' means a mind that is incapable of being hurt. All that is implied in meditation, which is not divorced from our daily living. In the very understanding of our daily living meditation is necessary. That is, to attend completely to what we are doing. When you talk to somebody, the way you walk, the way you think, what you think, to give your attention to that. That is part of meditation.
So meditation is not an escape, is not something mysterious, and out of that meditation comes a life that is holy, a life that is sacred, and therefore you treat all things as sacred.