The religious mind brings about a new culture
Looking at the complex problem of living
4th Public Talk, Santa Monica, California
March 24, 1974
As this is the last talk here, I think we ought to go over a little bit what we have been talking about during the last three gatherings that we have met here. We were talking about freedom, relationship and the necessity of a regeneration of the human mind and heart. It becomes more and more essential and important when you see what the world is like, with all the brutalities and the absurdities, the cruelty, the despair, the sorrow and the wars and violence. And apparently these are spreading more and more, this mechanistic world, the world of technological knowledge and all its activities, the pollution of the earth, the destruction of nature, over-population, and so on. Observing all this, as one must if one is at all serious, it becomes more and more important that human beings, you and I, should undergo a deep psychological revolution - not according to any pattern, or formula, or conceptual ideation but rather the change that naturally comes about when one is totally aware of oneself, of one's activities and behaviour, and conduct and the ways of one's thought.
That is what we have been, during the last three meetings here, talking about. And this morning, it seems to me, it is important to consider this question of what is religion, because it is necessary to be involved totally in what is religion. Because religion in the deep sense of that word, which we will go into presently, is the regenerating factor, it is religion that brings about a new culture, not the technological, mechanistic world and mechanistic thought but the religious spirit and the religious mind. And that is what we are going to talk about this morning, if you will. We can only find out what is religion if we first see what it is not. It certainly isn't this traditional continuance of worship, rituals, dogmas, beliefs and authority, which is very, very carefully organised by priests throughout the world, they have become the interpreters between what they call god and man. They are the in-between. And they have, by their very nature, being human beings, created an awful mess of religion. Religion has divided people: the Catholics, the Protestants and the various sects in Christianity, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Islams and so on. Religion has brought about many wars, endless killing of man, not only for heresy, the tortuous inquisitions but also when religions become the State then religion becomes the authority, and where there is authority in spiritual matters religion ceases to be. And observing all that religions have done, and are at the present time - worship of ideas, images created by the mind or by the hand, all that is considered a religion, or religious. Obviously they are based on thought, and thought is never new, thought is never free, because thought is the response of memory, a tradition, the past.
And so when you observe all the effects of religion, and man in his daily behaviour, his conduct has nothing whatsoever to do with religion. He believes one thing, he goes to church or a temple or the mosque, and the rest of the day he is a monster, he is a violent, cruel, ugly human being, constantly in conflict within himself and outside of himself. Surely all that is not religion?
Then what is religion? That is, can the mind which has been so conditioned by propaganda, by centuries of assertion, by centuries of dogma, tradition, habit, custom, naming oneself as a Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, or what you will - can such a conditioned mind, shaped according to the authority of others, can that mind free itself and find for itself what is sacred. Because after all religion is concerned with that which is sacred, the holy. And man in his search for that thing called the holy, the unnameable, the truth, has done all kinds of things, tortured himself, fasted, sought various experiences, visions, taken drugs in many forms in order to find or come upon, or experience that which is sacred.
So what is religion? Definition has very little meaning - you can describe it in one way and another can describe it in another, and there are multiplications of explanations and definitions. But if we could this morning not be contained by words, held by beliefs and dogmas, rituals and traditions, but rather investigate together, share together, in finding out for ourselves if there is such a thing as something holy, something really sacred because unless one comes upon that we cannot create a new culture. If you have observed throughout history, where there is a new culture the very essence of it is a religious spirit - not the mechanistic spirit, not the mechanistic mind or the technological mind, but a mind that is concerned, that is committed, that has dedicated itself to the discovery of that which is holy and to behave with that spirit in the daily life of one's existence.
So to go into that with impregnable seriousness, one must first understand the nature of authority. Why man accepts authority, specially in matters of the spirit. Why others however learned, however experienced, however caught in a verbal expression, why man, human beings, you and others, have accepted the authority of a priest, of a saviour, of a teacher, of a man who asserts that he has attained or realised or come to enlightenment - why do we accept it? Is it because in ourselves we are so uncertain, so confused, so miserable? And therefore somebody who comes along and offers something better than what we have, he becomes the authority. And then we obey and against that obedience there is revolt, reaction, and one sets off on one's own search.
So if one can this morning put aside, if you can, with understanding, with clarity, with intelligence, all the things that man has put together in the name of religion - his beliefs, his dogmas, his rituals, his propaganda, his threats, his fears, his rewards, all that thought, man has put together - if you could set aside so that one is free to examine, to be free to find out, not to experience. Because experience is one of the most dangerous things in spiritual matters. Because most of us want some kind of deeper, wider experience and because our daily life is so shallow, petty, shoddy, meaningless, we want something beyond that and we are caught in an illusion of our own projection. These are all obvious facts. And so if we could this morning seriously set aside all that, then we can begin to investigate if there is something, or if there is not, eternal, timeless, something which the mind has not put together. Because thought is very cunning and thought which is time, measure, when thought becomes the instrument of search, instrument of investigation, then what it finds will be its own projection. That is, if one exercises the capacity of thought, reason, reason can invent so many things, logically explain so much. And if you don't exercise reason then you exercise what is called intuition, which is equally dangerous. So one must understand very carefully and very deeply the whole movement of thought, because all our civilisation, both Western and in the East, is based on the movement of thought. Please, as we said during the last three talks, please don't accept what the speaker is saying, neither agreeing, nor disagreeing, but rather listening to find out for oneself what is true and what is false in what is being said, so that it is your responsibility in sharing what the speaker is saying.
And to understand the whole movement of thought one must observe thinking. I do not know if you have ever put yourself that question: what is thinking? Obviously thinking is the response of memory. Memory is the accumulated experience and knowledge which is the past. Thought is the response of the past. Thought is the response of knowledge and experience, stored up in the brain as memory. And all our activities, cultural, mechanistic, technological is based on that. Perhaps I could digress a little bit here to point out a rather interesting fact that to the Ancient Greeks thought as measurement was one of the factors of their philosophy and action - measurement. And measurement became necessary mathematically and technologically in the Western world - measurement. Please go into it... bear with me a little bit in this because it is rather interesting. If you observe the Western movement of thought and action, all that is based on measurement in which is implied comparison, imitation, conformity and so on. In India, which exploded over the East at one time, the Ancient Hindus said, 'measurement is illusion, through measurement you can never find the immeasurable'. And to find the immeasurable they exercise thought and so we are caught in the same pattern. And thought has become extraordinarily important in the world. Thought has brought about wars, thought has brought about all the inventions of man, thought has brought about the image to be worshipped, the image created by thought, projected by thought, and thought has made it sacred, the image of the mind, or the image created by hand in churches and temples, or in the writings in the mosques and so on.
So our conduct, our affections, our appetites, our intentions, our intuitions and all the rest of that is essentially based on thought, on measurement. And where there is measurement there must be time. Time is movement, movement from here to there, or outwardly or inwardly. Time is necessary as measurement.
So thought has brought about not only the structure of religions, the divisions, but also thought has projected the gods, the saviours, the teachers, the gurus. So can thought discover, or come upon something which is not of time, which is incorruptible by time, which is not yours or mine, or theirs or his? And to discover that meditation is necessary. I hope we are following each other, we are sharing together what the speaker is saying. If you are at all serious it behoves each one of us, seeing what the world is, how extraordinarily confused, destructive, disintegrating it is, only the religious mind can bring about a regeneration of man and a new culture, not based on measurement which is the self, the me, my selfish activities and so on. To understand or come upon that which is not put together by thought meditation is necessary.
Now here comes our difficulty. Because each one of you, I am quite sure have been corrupted - if I may use that word - by the recent fashion to meditate. The word 'meditation' means, by the dictionary, to ponder over, to consider, to go into, to explore. All that is involved in the word 'meditation'. And the gurus that have come from India with their traditional authority, with their technique, with their assertions, with their absurdities, and the Americans on the whole being rather gullible, have taken to it, paying lots of money and being fed up with the old church and old traditions, take on a new tradition of India and their mysteries and their absurdities. The word 'guru' in Sanskrit means one who resolves ignorance, takes away your ignorance. But generally the gurus impose their ignorance on you, their burden on you for so much money; or they assert they have got enlightenment. Some few years ago a very famous guru came to see us, with a few of his disciples. He was rather pompous, absolutely certain. And he said, 'I have got it, I am enlightened, I have reached, I have attained' - and we asked him what is it that he had attained. 'Oh,' he said, 'I have attained the immeasurable, it is in my heart, in my mind'. And we said, 'Can you hold the sea in your hand, can you hold the heavens in your fist, can you see the whole of the earth in observing one piece of the earth?' He was rather annoyed and left because he never wanted another to question what he had attained. So if you have gurus, and I hope you haven't, ask them what they have got, what their pretensions are. Truth is not something that you get, that you have, that you possess. It is a pathless land, nobody can lead you to it. You have to be a light to yourself from the very beginning so that you yourself stand alone, purified from all the absurdities of man's endeavour, search and explanations. And most of us like to depend on somebody and so the gurus are there to exploit people.
So authority and following another, whether it is a system, a method, a practice, has no place in meditation. Practice of a system, however promising, however noble, whatever the practice will give you, becomes mechanical. If you do something over and over again every day, your mind naturally not only becomes dull, routine, but mechanistic, it is not free to observe, to learn, to hear. So when you understand that, see the truth of it, then practice comes to an end. But practice implies also discipline. The word 'discipline' means essentially in the dictionary, to learn. And the ordinary sense of that word 'discipline' means conformity to a pattern, a conflict between 'what is' and 'what should be'. And where there is conflict in any form, outwardly or inwardly, there is disintegration. So meditation is not a movement in conformity, a movement in practice; meditation is not a search. Please do follow all this. You may disagree with all this but do listen to it. Probably nobody will tell you all this.
You see we need discipline. We think discipline is a form of order. But order doesn't come through discipline. Order comes through the observation of disorder. In the understanding of disorder, of our lives, of our conduct, the disorder of our thoughts, in the understanding the nature and the structure of disorder, out of that observation and investigation comes natural order. So when you understand that order is necessary, the ordinary sense of that word discipline has no meaning at all.
And in meditation one of the factors both in the East and in the West is control. As we said, what we are talking about is a very, very serious thing and if you don't understand what the speaker is saying, leave it alone. Do your own absurd meditations, practices, go to India and accept their tradition, which is dead, or go to Japan to learn Zen meditation, which is also dead - they are merely repetitive and not something free, creative. But if you are seriously interested in what the speaker is saying, and you must be - to be interested you must be serious, and as we are going into something very, very serious and very deep, you have to consider the whole question of control - control of thought. Who is the controller of thought? Is not the controller another fragment of thought? One fragment of thought tries to control other fragments of thought and when it does that there is conflict. There is the controller and the controlled. And the controller is the controlled. I hope you see all this.
So is there a way of living in daily life, please listen to this, is there a way of living in daily life which has order and a life in which there is no control whatsoever - which doesn't mean doing what you want! Because all religions have said, 'Control'. All experts, Tom, Dick and Harry who think they know what meditation is, they all keep reminding or insisting that you must control thought. They never investigate who is the controller. If there is a controller different from thought how then can he control that which is different from himself? And if the controller is part of thought, one of the fragments of thought, that fragment assumes the authority and exercises that authority over that which he wishes to control. The controller then is merely the superior entity who thinks, or assumes, that he has super-knowledge, or extra knowledge with which he can control the thing that has to be brought under dominion. So there is always conflict - haven't you noticed it in your own life? If you are trying to sit... if you are trying to watch your mind, if you are trying to sit and meditate, as you call it, one thought runs off and then you try to pull it back. There is this constant battle going on. And is there a way of living in daily life - for meditation covers the whole of life, not just part of life, meditation is concerned with the whole of existence - and can thought which has exercised such extraordinary importance, can thought free itself from this idea of control and yet highly austere in the sense of not harsh, not severe, but be free.
I don't know how much of this you understand or have gone into it, but that doesn't matter. Please just listen to it, it is good for you. Because you have nothing to join, you have nothing to practise from what we are talking about, we are together being free human beings and therefore with dignity, with order, care, able to look at this whole problem of control, of suppression, being suppressed, reaction from that suppression, imitation, conformity, all that is implied in the word discipline and control. And without understanding deeply the nature of control, permissiveness, to do what one likes, becomes the order of the day and therefore utterly meaningless.
Now from there we can proceed: what is meditation? Not how to meditate - that is too childish. When you ask how, you are asking for a system, you are asking for a method, and when you practise a method, a system, as we have pointed out, your mind becomes dull, insensitive, following the routine because the 'how' means a reward, and a mind that is seeking a reward in meditation either through experience or whatever it is, a reward, better stop what it calls meditation because meditation is not rewarding, there is no reward. Now if that is all clear then we can begin to find out what is meditation. Setting aside all that people have said about it, not out of your vanity, not because you say, 'I know more and they don't', but you are learning for the first time as it were what is meditation. And therefore not knowing you begin to learn. Which means there must be great humility. That is the first thing. Great humility to find out. That means you have set aside all the things that man has said or written, or insists upon, you have put it aside so as to find out through your exploration.
First to explore deeply into this question the mind must be free. Freedom implies space. Please just listen to it. Freedom implies space. Have you space in your mind? Or is your mind crowded with all kinds of things? With knowledge, chattering, desire, pursuit of pleasure, occupied endlessly about something or other? When a mind - which is consciousness - is occupied, there is no space, and you must have space. When you have no space as outwardly in cities, living so close together in innumerable boxes, which are called flats, obviously having no space you become violent. Or to escape from the lack of space you want entertainment. Please see all this. And have you space - space in the sense not created by thought? Thought can imagine, speculate about space - space being a movement in which there is no border, no frontier, no limit. And there is a border, there is a limit, there is a space created by the self, the 'me'. Are you following all this? Does it mean anything to you, all this? Not much. All right. I am afraid it is much too serious, you are not used to this kind of thinking, to this kind of observation, but nevertheless I'll go on.
You know self-centred activity, in which most people indulge, it creates its own narrow little space, it creates the space of resistance, the resistance created by hurt, or by certain desires and so on, there is the space created by the self, the 'me'. Therefore it is very limited. We are talking of a space where the mind is not occupied with itself. And space implies also having no direction. Direction implies will; direction implies achievement from here to there, and achieving that, to achieve that exercise of will. And freedom implies space and a mind that does not function in the field of will. Which means the total absence of the 'me' with all its selfishness. Can the mind live without time, which is movement, from here to there, time being measurement, time being thought, can thought, which is measurement, time, come to an end so as to allow space? And this is part of meditation because without space the mind cannot be completely silent. And silence is necessary, because it is only in total silence there can be perception, there can be a listening. And in this silence, not manufactured by thought or by desire or as a means of escape from the turmoil, in that silence there is a totally different kind of perception.
And so one must understand the nature of silence. That is, meditation is not outside the field of daily life. It is concerned with daily life, your thoughts, your behaviour, your desires and so on. Meditation implies freedom from all self-imposed, or exposed controls, which does not mean to do whatever you want to do. In that understanding of freedom from control, there is order. That order is brought about, comes naturally through the understanding of the disorder of our lives. And from there meditation is the understanding of space, which means the freedom from any movement of time, because thought is time, thought is measure, therefore thought as time comes to an end in meditation. And in that freedom there is silence. Not the silence between two noises, not the silence in the interval between two thoughts or between two experiences, it is beyond all that. Because it is only in complete silence the mind, which in itself is silent, can see something which is immeasurable, timeless. All that is meditation, in which there is no experiencing at all, because experiencing implies the experiencer, the one who sees or desires experience. As we have talked about it and I won't go into it again. There is freedom from experience and therefore the mind is a light to itself. It is only the mind that is caught in darkness, in illusion, in pain that seeks something beyond itself. When the mind itself is completely alight, aware, totally attentive, such a mind does not need or demand experience because there is no experiencer.
Then only, if you have gone that far, and if you have been really serious, putting aside all the petty little achievements and desires and appetites, then only the mind is completely still without any compulsion, reward or punishment, then only you will find out for yourself, or rather the mind will come upon that which is sacred, the nameless. And anybody who says, 'I have experienced that' - beware of that person! You cannot experience it, it is there and it is there for you to see.
(Clapping) Do you clap in a church or in a temple? So please do not clap, it is not worth it. Yes sir?
Questioner: Can one live without an image?
K: Can one live without an image. Can one live without an image? What is an image? The image created by hand that exists in churches and temples, that image is the projection of one's own desires put in stone or in marble, or in clay. Can't you live without that? And it becomes much more difficult to be free of the image created by thought. You have an image about your wife or husband, haven't you? Or your girlfriend, haven't you? Obviously. She has about you and you have it about her. And the relationship is between these two images created through time, it may be one day or ten years. And can you live without those images? If you can then you are really related, then you become extraordinarily responsible. But you become rather irresponsible, which is happening in the world now, when your responsibility is based on your image that you have about another.
So the question is: can you live without any image, image being not only the thing made by the hand, out of clay, marble, wood or precious stone, and the image created by thought in relationship - can you live without any image at all? Probably you have never even asked that question. If you have, and I hope you are doing it now, what does it mean - to live without a single image. Image may be an idea, a symbol, a conclusion, a concept. So can you live without a single concept? And you will find out how extraordinarily difficult it is to live without a concept, because all our life from childhood, through school, college, university, through all the business and everywhere about us, our world is made up of concepts, projected by thought according to its desires, comforts, fears and pleasures. And the questioner asks: can you live without an image. Of course one can. But that demands attention. Attention at the moment when the image is being formed, when somebody insults you, at that moment to be completely attentive. Or at the moment when somebody flatters you, to be totally aware. Then you will find no image is formed, which means there is no recording of that insult or flattery on the brain.
Yes sir? I don't know, there are so many.
Q: What happens to the mind when one is in deep meditation?
K: What happens to the mind when you are in deep meditation. Of whom are you asking that question?
K: You are asking that question yourself?
Q: Yes, many a time...
K: Wait sir, wait sir. Many times you have asked that question. What happens to your mind when you are in deep meditation. What is your mind? Mind being consciousness, isn't it? Consciousness with all its content. The content makes up consciousness. The content - please do listen - it is quite interesting, it is even fun to find out. (Laughter) We said consciousness is its content, the content is your knowledge, your experience, your desires, your appetites, your fears, your pleasures, the attachments and the struggle to be detached, the hopes, the fears, the despairs, the achievements, the acquisitions of knowledge and so on, all that is your consciousness. The identification with your house, with your family with your name, with your body, with your gold and so on, all that is your consciousness, which is the content of the mind, with its brain. The brain with its knowledge, accumulated, stored up as memory, all that is consciousness. Now what happens to that consciousness, to that mind, in meditation? As we said, when there is this meditation, the true meditation takes place there is no content; the content is the 'me', is the 'me' which is attached to my house, to my family, to my pictures, to my books, to my habit, to my tradition, to the furniture, to the bank account, all that is the 'me'. And in meditation, the deep meditation, that me is not, and if it is, it is not in deep meditation, it is playing around.
Q: Sir, my question is that I have tried... I have meditated before and my mind chatters continuously...
K: Right, I understand. I have meditated before and I find my mind chatters endlessly, what am I to do. What am I to do when my mind chatters endlessly, apart from meditation? Why does the mind chatter - apart from meditation? I just want to see first why the mind chatters. Why is the mind so astonishingly restless? Go on sir, explain it, think about it. Your whole life is restless, isn't it? Would you say it is, or it is not? Aren't you restless?
K: Yes. You are never... there is never a moment in which you are not occupied. A single second, perhaps occasionally it happens, when the mind is not completely occupied with something or other, with yourself, with your looks, with your hair, with your knowledge, with your ambitions, with your... oh, all the petty little stuff. And naturally your mind chatters. So can you during your daily life see that your mind has freedom from occupation - just to be free from thinking about something or other.
You know from this question arises, if you are still interested in pursuing the question, the whole problem of sleep. Are you interested in this?
K: I thought you would be! (Laughter) Because probably you have read a great deal about analysis and all the rest of it. You know, I wonder what would happen if you never read a book, never read what other people have said, their theories, their theologies, their assumptions, and you had to find out for yourself everything, not outwardly, not medicine and science, and all that, everything about yourself. The speaker has never read any of these books, fortunately. (Laughter) And so if you could find out if there is a time and a place where the mind is not occupied. That means a way of life that is not constantly moving from one thing to another. We do this during the day, don't we? And when we sleep what we have been doing during the day continues; the dreams are the continuation of our daily life, modified, symbolic, informative, cautioning, hinting, and so on. So during sleep there is this restless activity going on too. So if you bring order during the day time, order being not imposition of a pattern over disorder, but the understanding of the very disorder itself, which is the disorder in oneself, out of that understanding order comes. So when you are aware during the day of the disorder, just aware, watch it, with care, with affection, with understanding, with the desire to learn from this disorder what is implied. Then when you go to sleep the brain hasn't to bring about order, because the brain demands order because it can only function sanely, logically in order, when there is complete order there is complete security. And when the brain is in complete security it functions efficiently. But our life is so disorderly and when one goes to sleep the brain tries to find some order, and it spends the whole night putting some things in order, and when you wake up the next morning you have found an answer to that particular problem.
So if you understand disorder in daily life in the waking hours, then when the mind goes to sleep... when there is sleep there is not only order but there is quite a different quality of rest, quite a different quality of a mind that is completely at rest. Therefore out of that rest the brain is renovated, made young, fresh.
So all that is part of consciousness, the 'me' with all its disorders and achievements. And when in deep meditation - I do not know if you have ever gone into deep meditation, I am afraid most of you don't know even what it means - if you haven't established order in your life, order being virtue, conduct, behaviour, a life without violence and all that, without laying the foundation in righteous behaviour, you cannot possibly have deep meditation. And when you do have this extraordinary deep meditation in which there is no experiencing at all, then the whole content of consciousness is empty, there is no content, it is something entirely different.
Yes sir? Just a minute madame, he asked first.
Q: What you have been talking about in the search for freedom, how can it be done without the sense of reward? Is it not seeking the reward of freedom?
K: How can you find freedom without seeking reward? I don't know what time it is. Aren't you tired? You mean to say you are not tired? That is rather odd, isn't it? No? Sir have you ever listened attentively for a whole hour and a half? If you have listened attentively for a whole hour giving your heart, your mind, your brain to find out, to listen, you must be tired. It is only you give casual attention, you listen casually and therefore you are not tired. You just want to sit here and listen to the speaker. This must be the last question.
He says, how can one have freedom because freedom is a reward, and you are saying where there is reward there is punishment and therefore there is no freedom. Sir, don't bother about freedom. First see that you are in a prison: social prison, economic prison, political prison, religious prison, the prison which you have created yourself out of your own desire, out of your own ambition, out of your own fears and pleasures. When you understand your prison, the prison that thought both collectively and individually have created, the prison of our confusion, of our misery, of our suffering, understand that, look at it, go into it, see the structure and the nature of it, then out of that comes freedom. Then it is not a reward. A man who is seeking a reward is never free. Like a man who is always frightened of being punished, that is, fear and pleasure are our principle prisons. And a mind that understands it is really free.