The relationship of desire, will and love
When there is freedom
5th Public Talk Saanen
July 15, 1980
I am sorry the weather is so foul. The cause of it, apparently, is St Helen's eruption of the volcano in northern California - but I doubt it! (Laughter)
In the western world, in the religious community of the west, doubt has been discouraged, forbidden. If you doubted the whole structure of the religious institutions then you are either called a heretic, tortured, excommunicated, burnt and so on. In the eastern world doubt was encouraged; doubt your experiences, doubt your illusions, doubt the very structure of your thinking, doubt your beliefs so that the mind became free of all self-imposed or imposed illusions. And here, in the west, apparently illusions of many kinds exist, specially in the religious world, not in the technological world of business, or engineering - there you question, you have acquired knowledge by questioning and by doubting gradually built up an enormous amount of knowledge about engineering, biology and so on, physics. But in the religious world doubt is a very dangerous thing. If you doubted the whole Christian structure you would pull down the nature of the church. And I think, if I may point out, doubt is essential. Doubt what the speaker is saying, question what he is saying, enquire, never accepting either the speaker's words or thoughts or feelings, or your own interpretation of what he is saying, so that your mind, your brain is active, it is not just accepting. If you questioned your gurus, if you have any, I hope you haven't, if you question your gurus, their self-styled illumination, their idea that they are great Buddhas, and all the rest of that - and there are people like that in the east assuming all kinds of positions, beliefs - and if you question them, and they don't like to be questioned because they say, 'You know nothing, we know, don't question'. But if you question, go, penetrate into their inner heart, into their deep minds, then you are enquiring into your own minds. You are then questioning your own concepts, your own values, your own ideals.
So the mind is always actively observing, enquiring and therefore digging very, very, very, very deeply. And, if you do not mind, if I may ask, please doubt, please have a mind that is questioning, never accepting, either your own experience or the experience of another, because we are going to enquire, observe, into the whole nature of man. The psychologists and the psychotherapists and all the philosophers both the religious theologians and the Communist theorists, if you accept any of them we shall become slaves to either one or to the other, and therefore we deny freedom to ourselves to enquire. I hope this is clear. You are not, therefore, if I may point out, merely listening to what is being said, accepting or denying and just carrying on your own way of thinking, adhering to your own particular point of view, or accepting your own so-called spiritual experiences. Experience is something that happens, an event that takes place, either that event is emotional, romantic, illusory, or actual. Actual in the sense you may have certain emotional reaction, and if you don't question that emotional reaction you then become a slave to somebody else's concepts. I hope this is clear.
And so, if we may, we will go into this question, thinking together, into the structure of our being, into what we are, what our consciousness is. We mean by that word 'conscious', your attitudes, your opinions, your judgements, your prejudices, your ideals, your fears, pleasures, the whole content of your existence, your suppositions, your illusions, your ideas, and so all that is our consciousness. Right? You may invent a super-consciousness but it is still part of thought which has invented the super. Right? And there have been volumes written all about consciousness and super-consciousness and so on, but it is still the movement of thought and the things that thought has put together. So we are going to enquire, if we may, into all that.
First of all, why has man given such importance to pleasure? Please we are thinking together, there is no question of doubting here, we are thinking, you may question your very thinking but if you question your very thinking then you have to enquire into the nature of thought, which we have gone into, the nature of memory, knowledge, experience. Why man, throughout the world, has given this extraordinary importance to pleasure - why? Please, we are thinking together. Why have you, or another, given this sense of continued, pursuing everlastingly this pleasure? Pleasure not only sexual with all its images, past incidents, gathered there as memory, the image-making and pursuing that image. And the pleasure of possession, whether worldly things or possession of certain values, experiences, knowledge. In that there is great pleasure. And there is pleasure in helping another. I do not know if you have gone into that: wanting to help people - you are following all this? And the pleasure of power, both physical and psychological. The power of so-called extrasensory perceptions, the power and the pleasure in dominating people, in guiding their lives. You know all this. And we are asking: why human beings since the beginning of time have pursued this one particular aspect of life much more than others? Pleasure of search and finding, pleasure of seeking 'god' - whatever that means - in quotes; pleasure of having tremendous control over one's body, or the mind. The constant restraint which brings also great pleasure. There are many, many forms of pleasure. Why does man, you and people, pursue this? Is there - please, we are enquiring, thinking together - is there an end to pleasure? Or pleasure when denied becomes violent, aggressive, takes different forms, from the very denial of what you want. Right? May we go on with all this? May we? Please, I can go on, I have spent years on this, sixty and more years, so you have to, maybe, hear it for the first time, but you are also enquiring with the speaker, not just accepting and just sitting back lazily. Your mind, your heart, your brain is actively enquiring.
What is the relationship between pleasure and desire? What is the relationship of desire, pleasure, will and love? You are following all this? Is love pleasure? Is love desire? Or is love something totally different? To us love has become pleasure - sexually and in many, many different ways. And we are asking: what is the relationship of pleasure to desire? Apparently they seem to go together. One desires a house, and the possession of a house, a woman, or a man, title, knowledge, status, power - desire. You are following this? Apparently there is a relationship between the two: which is, desire as will and the action of will in the pursuit of pleasure. You see whatever experiences one has, personally I have doubted everything - possession, money - I haven't got it, fortunately, status and I haven't got any - because personally I abhor all that kind of stuff, but one has to enquire very, very deeply if one wants to find out if there is an ultimate truth, if there is an ultimate source of all this, the ultimate ground from which all life began and before. If one wants to go into that very deeply and see if there is such a thing then one must be free of every form of illusion. Illusion exists as long as there is the desire, pleasure, fear and sorrow. Right?
So we are going to enquire into the nature of desire, which dominates our lives: desire for power, desire to understand, desire to find the ultimate happiness, all that, god - this burning inwardly which is called desire, this flame of discontent. And as long as that discontent is not understood, has not been unravelled, broken down so as to discover what lies behind discontent and desire, we must inevitably create illusions - illusions in our relationship with each other, illusions with regard to what is truth, if there is something beyond all time. So I hope we are going together in this. All right sirs?
What is desire? Why human beings have not been able to resolve that problem of constantly desiring, this constant urge, which is the desire to fulfil, the desire to identify and when that desire is not fulfilled the sense of antagonism, bitterness, anger and all the rest of the reactions that arise. Right? So without suppressing, without identifying with something greater - you understand? - which the monks all over the world do. Right? That is, all the monks throughout the world have desire like every other human being, but the monks identify either themselves with Jesus, with Krishna, or Buddha, or whatever it is, and that desire is focussed on a symbol, an idea, a concept, but it is still desire. And there have been monks and priests throughout the world who have tried different ways to suppress desire, to be free of desire: by torturing themselves physically, by fasting, through isolation, never looking at a woman, or a man, never looking at nature, the beauty of the hills, the streams and the waters, because all that provokes desire.
So have you not noticed some of the monks in the west when they are walking, they are reading the catechism? They never look at somebody, the same thing happens. Once in Kashmir, in India, I was walking behind a group of monks. It was a beautiful country, lovely hills, birds, flowers, rippling waters, and there was a flute playing in the distance. And these monks were only concentrated in repeating some mantra because the moment they released from that particular point desire might arise. You follow? So without suppressing, without evading, without any sense of direction, without motive, which is direction, let us go together to find out what is desire and its relationship to pleasure, and the action born of will. Right? Is all this too much? Because our life is concerned with all this: we are not talking about anything ideological, outside of life, we are talking about life itself, our living, our daily torturous, boring, lonely, desperate life. You may escape through social work, or going off to some country to help somebody, but we have to understand ourselves first before we can help another. That is why I don't want to help you, in any way, because you have to find out for yourself.
So desire, will, pleasure and action. Most of our actions, if you are aware of it, are directed by will - 'I will do this, I will become that, I will not do this, I should do that' - you understand? This action of will. 'I will meditate,' 'I will follow that person, not another' - this will is part of our violence. And to understand that will we must examine very closely desire because will is the essence of desire. Right?
What is desire? How does desire come into being? And why does it play such an important part in our daily life? Whether to have a better house, better life outwardly, inwardly to become something different, this constant striving. So let us go into it carefully, perhaps some of you may have heard the speaker explaining desire, but forget it. Forget what you have read, what he has explained yesterday or two years ago, or last year, and begin as though you knew nothing. Right? Then it is fun, at least for me it is like that. If I kept on repeating what I said ten years ago it would be terribly boring.
So what is desire? Is there beauty in it? Is there something precious, something that the mind clings to, to enrich it, giving meaning to life, helping the mind and the heart to flower? Not to become, to flower - you understand? I wonder if you understand that? There is a difference between the beauty of flowering and the striving to become something - you understand? Is there beauty in desire? Or is it always connected with striving, discontent, bitterness, anxiety? Are you waiting for me to tell you? Or are we working together? You understand? You understand the difference? Either you are waiting for the speaker to explain and therefore receiving, which puts me as your guru, somebody who is going to help you, which is not the speaker's intent at all. But if we are thinking, working together, moving together, walking together, then there is no teacher and the taught. You understand? Then there is only a movement which is called learning.
Learning as we know now is accumulating infinite knowledge and acting from that knowledge. That is what we call learning, reading books, attending school, college, universities, if you are lucky, or going out, acting and through action learn. Both are the same. You follow this? Go to school, college, university, study, study, study, accumulate information, knowledge and with that knowledge enter life as a lawyer, businessman, as a cook, as a carpenter, engineer, scientist, physicist and so on. Or go out without knowledge, act and through action learn; which is the same. Right? Both result in the accumulation of knowledge, and this we call learning. Clear? Right? That is our conditioning. Our brains are conditioned to that accumulation of knowledge and action.
Now we are proposing something entirely different. There is a totally different kind of learning. You see your minds are never still, are they? May one ask? Occasionally. They are never still, still in the sense to observe so completely, not only the skies, the heavens, and the beauty of the earth, but also to observe silently without any movement of thought the whole structure of your own mind, your own being. Then when you so observe without any motive, without any direction, without any desire, then that very observation is an insight, which is not accumulation of knowledge but learning to act instantly, immediately from that which you have observed. Am I making something clear of this? No.
You see sir - oh, ladies - you see sir, our brain is accustomed, trained, conditioned to this knowledge. Knowledge becomes all important to act. That is all we know. Right? And so our actions are always incomplete because our knowledge is always incomplete, obviously. So any action born from that knowledge must be partial - right? - with regret, with sorrow, injury, compliance, conformity, imitation, comparison. Right? Are you following all this? Now is there an action which is not all that? An action which is not born out of remembrance? Can I go on sir? We are asking. I say there is, the speaker says there is. That action is the instant, the immediate perception and acting. Be very careful here because most of us think we can act immediately - I am lost. I must go very carefully into this.
Do we first of all see that acting from knowledge is always limited. Right? Because knowledge itself is limited and therefore thought is limited. Right? Any action born from that must invariably be partial. That is obvious. Therefore one asks, you are asking, not me, I am not asking, you are asking is there an action which is totally complete, without any regret, without looking back, without looking forward, without any strain - you understand? - totally, completely harmonious. There is, which is the art of observation, the art of seeing and that is possible only when there is no prejudice, when there is no direction, when there is no motive, only perceiving. (Sound of train) Let the train go by, we will go on.
Can one be free of motive, to observe? Free of directing observation but just to observe. To observe the futility of accepting spiritual authority - I am taking that as an example. To observe it: what it has done to the human mind, what it has created in the world - the division, the hierarchical approach to life - you know the whole structure of it, to see it completely. It is not necessary to read books, to investigate Buddhism, Hinduism, and so on, so on, Christianity, and then come to a conclusion they are all more or less the same. I do not mean that. I do not mean by analysing either. But to observe that the acceptance of spiritual authority is destructive to freedom. And without freedom there is no observation. When you observe that way, in that moment of observation the whole nature of authority is explained, is shown because that means your mind is extraordinarily free and has the tremendous energy and capacity to observe. And in that observation there is freedom from authority, which is insight. And that insight is intelligence which is the essence of learning. Got it.
Have you understood sir? I think you have. At least some of you. So. Now we are going to do exactly the same thing with regard to desire. We are not analysing desire. We are observing completely without any direction, motive to get rid of desire, or why shouldn't I have desire, what is wrong with desire and so on, so on, so on. Just to purely observe the movement of desire. Right? Are we working together? That is, how does desire come into being? The objects of desire may vary - you may want a better house, somebody else wants a better wife, or a husband, or a position, or a new toy, a new guru, a new - I don't know, whatever. So the objects of desire vary all along, all the time. We are not talking about the objects of desire, but desire itself. We are observing, and therefore we are not telling what desire is, but that observation of desire is telling us its movement. You have got it? You understand sir? Right? Are we together in this? All right, doesn't matter, let me go.
We are asking: what is the source, the nature of desire? It is obviously very simple. Seeing, touching, sensation - right? Right? Seeing the woman, or the house, or the car, or this or that, seeing - visual perception, contact - touching, sensation - right? Then thought creates the image of living in that house, being with that woman, or man, driving a car, sitting in the car, then desire begins. Right? Test it out for yourselves, don't accept what the speaker is saying. Seeing these corduroys (laughs), touching it, the sensation out of it, then thought says, 'How nice, what a nice colour that is, I wish I had those.' There begins desire. That is, where there is sensation, the operation of the senses, then thought creates the image, and at that moment desire is born. Is this clear? It is not my explanation: see it for yourself. It is so obvious.
So why does - please go further - why does thought always create images? You understand? It is a very interesting point if you go into it. Why thought creates the image, or the imagination, the image of symbols, ideas, you know, the whole movement of images. The image that thought creates between two people, however intimate they are, between a man and a woman. The constant building and adding to the image. So the question is: why thought is always moving in the direction, in the process of constructing images? I see that - one sees that blue shirt or the robe, whatever it is, in the window. It is a nice colour, well-cut, well-made. There up to that point it is all right. Right? Then thought says, 'I wish I had that shirt. It would look rather nice on me' and then the pursuit of that, acquiring the shirt and the pleasure of having it. You are following all this? This is very simple if you break it up.
Now the question is - this is where comes learning, not accumulating but learning, which is: seeing, contact, sensation. Then thought not entering into that. You follow what I am saying? No, no. I will explain. It is natural, sensible, sensitive, the reactions are alive, seeing something beautiful, touching it, the sensation. That is natural. Right? If you haven't that there is something wrong with your system, nervous system, your whole body is not sensitive, alert. Up to that point it is excellent. Then thought comes along, creates an image, then the movement of desire and the pursuit of it, the pleasure of it, the gathering of it. Right? Now the question is: why does thought create the image, and can thought, which is also sensation, realise that when this movement takes place, which is desire, conflict begins? I wonder if you understand. Right? Sir, don't look at me. It is not worth it but find out for yourself. Because you see it means never allowing thought - no, not never allowing - thought realising the nature of the image, why it is creating the image, thought itself realising that. Then desire becomes something totally different. You understand what I am saying? Then there is no conflict in desire. Do you see this? Where there is desire, with its image created by thought, there must be the pursuit of pleasure. Right? Do you see this? And when pleasure is thwarted either there is fear, or antagonism or violence. That is the root of violence.
So to understand, to go very deeply into the ending of violence and the understanding of pleasure and desire. If this process is understood, not intellectually but actually as a movement in one's life, then you will discover, if you go into it deeply that enjoyment is something entirely different from pleasure - you understand? When you look at the mountains, the hills and the snow and - not these days, unfortunately - but if you do observe it on a clear day, marvellously blue sky, the snowline, lines of the hills and the valleys and the waters, and the brightness and the brilliance of a day, that is enjoyment. Right? What is wrong with that? Perfect, lovely to feel that. But thought says: 'I hope I shall have it when I come back the next day' - you follow? The perception of that sense of enjoyment becomes a memory, then that memory becomes the pleasure, because it has created an image of that excellent morning, and the pursuit of that excellent morning as a remembrance. Right? I wonder if you see all this.
So the question then is, to pursue it further: that beauty of a morning, why should it be registered at all? You understand my question? There is enjoyment of that morning, the stillness, the quietness, every leaf is alive and the trees are moving, you know the extraordinary sense of beauty of a morning. It has happened - finished. But the brain has registered it as a memory, and then thought says, 'I must come, I hope I will have the same feeling, the excitement and the beauty of it the next morning'. You have understood up to that point? Right? We are asking: why should the brain register that event? It is finished. You have understood? The moment it has registered and said 'I must have it the next morning', when the beauty of the next morning appears you haven't seen it for the first time. Vous avez compris? Am I explaining something?
So we are going into something much more difficult, which is: the enjoyment when it is registered, then that registration is the pursuit of pleasure. Right? And not the beauty of that instant. It is a remembrance, remembered beauty, which is not beauty. You understand what I am saying? So pleasure invariably goes with fear. Right? No? It is so obvious, sir. Shall we go on? Fear is very, very deeply rooted in human beings. And where there is fear there is darkness. Right? You understand this? And the human mind, including the brain, has lived with fear: fear of loneliness, fear of not being successful, fear of losing, fear of not having security, fear of love, fear of dependence, fear of attachment. We all know this. Every human being has this deep-rooted fear. And the mind has lived with it. We accept it, as we accept terrorism in this present age, as we accept totalitarianism, as we accept wars, as we accept division - tribal divisions which are called nationalities, the religious divisions - we accept all these, because we daren't question anything. And if we do question there is fear. Right? So we are born with fear and die with fear. And that is a tragedy. We have never asked ourselves whether fear can end completely, like pain, like a disease? We know what to do with a disease, unless it is incurable. But we have never said, asked, or demanded, enquired whether fear can end completely, totally. We are asking that now. You ask that question, put that question to yourself. That is how we are thinking together. I am not asking you to put that question, you are putting that question for yourself.
Fear. Is fear from something, or about something? Or, is fear something totally different from the object of fear? Is this becoming too difficult? You understand sir? One is afraid of darkness, afraid of losing one's job, afraid of one's wife running away, or husband chasing another woman, or afraid of being alone, by yourself, lonely. And so it is always fear of something, from something, or about something. Right? We are asking the question: is there a fear in itself, per se? Or is it always about, from, to something - you understand? Please, ask these questions.
Is fear innate, like blood, like the cells, like smell, the hearing, the seeing? Or the nature of fear is wanting - wanting security, wanting to run away from loneliness, wanting to be something. You understand? I wonder if you are meeting my point. Are we going together? Or, fear is something that is not wanting, groping, escaping from something, either the past, or the present or the future, but it exists by itself as long as there is movement of time and thought? I wonder if you are getting it. Say one is afraid of loneliness - most of us probably know that. Or losing a job or losing something. The loneliness. If you are married, if you have children, as long as they are together you never think about loneliness. It never is there. But as you grow older your children have gone, and all the rest of it, you suddenly find yourself old, lonely, unhappy - right? And that breeds fear. Right? As one is afraid of death, something that will happen in the future, not immediately because you are all sitting here - unless the tent collapses. So there is the avoidance of death, which is perhaps at the end of some years, which is time. Right? Right? And the thought that I might die. So is fear the result of time - you understand? - or of thought? Or time and thought are the same? You understand? One has done something in the past, and one is afraid of that, because it is not palatable, it is not nice, it is not pleasant. So one is afraid of that coming up again, and being attacked. So the memory of that past incident, which was not pleasant, is the remembrance of something past. Right? Which is the movement of thought. And the movement of thought is the movement of time. Right? Right sir? So is fear the movement of thought and time? I wonder if you understand this.
If I am to die now, immediately, there is no fear. Right? It is finished. But I want to live another ten years, or another five years, and I hope nothing will happen in between that time. Right? So fear is time - do you realise this, sirs? - and thought. Right? No, please, don't - see this. This is very, very important. If you once understand this, you have to understand time and thought so completely then fear ceases totally. That is why it is very important to understand the nature of time.
(Train whistle) The train, that whistle is telling us to stop! (Laughter) It is very important to understand - we have got another ten minutes - time and thought. What is time, apart from yesterday, today and tomorrow, apart from time is necessary as a means of learning language, subject and so on, time as distance to cover between here and Lausanne, that is necessary, time is necessary to cover the distance? Time as sunrise, sunset, and the darkness, evening. That is a fact. Now is there time apart from that? Apparently there is. 'I will be. I am going to be successful. I am not now, but I will be. I am angry, give me time and I will get over it'. So there is physical time and psychological time. Right? And I am questioning, doubting whether there is psychological time at all. You understand? We have accepted psychological time. 'I will become.' - become the Minister, Governor, the politician - you know become something or other, which is hope. Right? So we are questioning whether there is psychological time at all. We have accepted psychological time, which may be an illusion, though all the saints, all the religious people, all the philosophers say you must have time, time is knowledge, time is a means of achieving, psychologically. Right? We are doubting that. We are questioning whether it is so. Apparently it is so. But is it actually so? You see? Right?
That is: 'I am not and I will be' - right? This movement from 'what is' to 'what should be', that is psychological time. And that we have swallowed, lived with it, accepted it, and that is part of our nature, part of our mind, heart, brain. I question it and I don't accept it. That is: is there an actual psychologically becoming something? You understand? Actually. That is: 'what is' and 'what should be'. Right? I am putting it very quickly. Can we move? 'What is' - anger, jealousy or whatever it is, greed, loneliness, whatever it is, 'what is' and moving away from 'what is' to 'what might be', 'what should be', what is hoped for. That is time. Right? But is 'what should be' actual, or only 'what is'? You're following? The 'what might be', might not be! (Laughs) But 'what is', is so. You understand what I am saying? Come on sirs! Right? It is so. If it is so why is the mind moving away from 'what is' to 'what might be'? Why is it incapable of living, understanding, observing 'what is'? Why is this movement away from 'what is'? I wonder if you get this. You understand my question? We are working together? Are you following this? Why is there always in us psychologically not living with 'what is', being with 'what is'? But moving away from 'what is', is time. Right? So if there is no movement away from 'what is', there is no psychological time at all. Get it?
So can the mind remain, hold, observe only 'what is', and not move away in any direction, horizontally, vertically and so on, but purely observe 'what is'? In that observation there is no time at all. Right? Do it sirs and you will see it. That is, psychological time, which we have accepted, and if we go into it very carefully without any reaction, without any motive, you will see what is of the greatest importance is not 'what should be', but 'what is'. Then in the observation of 'what is' there is the withering of 'what is', the withering away of that which is, because when you move away from it the 'what is' still remains. The moving away from it is wastage of energy. Whereas observation is total attention of 'what is', which is the observation of complete energy. Where there is complete energy there is complete attention, and where there is inattention there is the movement away from 'what is'. Have you got this? I don't know what I have said just now. You understand sir?
This is great fun: one is jealous, that is 'what is'. Then we say, 'Why shouldn't I be jealous?' - jealousy is justified, reasoned, analysed, which are all moving away from the actual central fact of being jealous. This movement of analysis, of moving away, of justifying it, is a wastage of energy, which doesn't solve the jealousy. Right? But when there is total observation, pure observation, which means no motive to dissolve 'what is', so when there is complete perception, which is total attention, in that attention there is all your energy. So where there is complete attention there is no jealousy. Only when there is inattention jealousy begins. I wonder if you capture this. Have you got this? May we stop now?
May we all go together?