Thought and knowledge are limited
Can we live together without conflict?
1st Public Talk, Ojai, California
May 14, 1983
May one remind you, if I may, that this is not an entertainment. It's nice to sit under trees on a lovely morning, cool, fresh, but in spite of all that, this is not in any way to entertain you; neither intellectually or emotionally or to try to convince you of anything. We are not doing any kind of propaganda. Nor is this a lecture, as it's commonly understood, on a particular subject to be informed, to be instructed. It is not a lecture. But together we should look at the world as it is, the whole world, not a particular part of the world or a particular group, or be concerned for the moment with our own particular problems, of which we have many, but to look at the whole world, the whole earth upon which human beings are living.
This world in which we live has been broken up into various forms of nationalities, linguistic differences, nationalistic, patriotic divisions, religious divisions: the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Tibetan, the Muslim, the Christian; and also the recent religion of Communism, Marxism; the totalitarian states through certain parts of the world where there is no liberty, freedom to think what you like, to do what you like. Wars are going on in different parts of the world. Human beings are killing each other for some idealistic, nationalistic or racial division. Human beings are slaughtered by the latest machinery of war. We are not judging, nor looking at all this from any prejudiced point or from any bias; but we are looking at it together to find out for ourselves why this is happening: why there is so much misery in the world; so much confusion; great uncertainty. And the world is becoming more and more dangerous to live in.
In this part of the world you may not have wars, but you are preparing for war. And in this world there are a great many institutions, foundations, organisations, little groups with their particular leaders; the gurus with their absurdities; each person or each group, each community is separating itself from others. This is what is happening all over the world; more so in this part of the world where each one wants to do what he likes; to fulfil himself, to express himself, to assert himself. There are threats of various kinds. This is what is actually going on in the world.
And when one looks at all this: the terror, the suffering, the bad management, inefficient management of governments, each country preparing, accumulating the instruments of war, perhaps helped by religions. And when one looks at all this quite objectively, without any bias, one must ask, if one is at all serious, and I hope - one hopes that you are, not only this morning for an hour but this is a human problem. It's a great crisis. And who is responsible for all this?
One can easily say that it's the environment, the society, the mismanagement, and so on. But in spite of all that, if we can look really seriously, objectively, not as Americans and Hindus or a particular group, but look at all this; take a journey together to find out for ourselves without being told, without being instructed or informed, who is responsible for all these terrible things that are going on. Not only in the technological world, which is becoming more and more complex; such tremendous advancement: computer, the robots, the missiles, the submarines, you know, all that's what's happening; great surgery, medicine, all that. Looking at all this, one asks not only what is one to do, but also, who is responsible, who has brought this about: the chaos, the confusion, the utter misery of man.
And this society, in which we all live, this society is corrupt, immoral, aggressive, destructive; and this society has been going on for thousands of years modified or primitive; but it is the same pattern being repeated thousands of years upon thousands of years. These are all facts. This is not the opinion or the judgement of the speaker.
So, as one must ask, and I hope you will ask, who is responsible? And what is one to do, confronted, facing this enormous crisis, if one is at all aware of this crisis?
Is the crisis outward, outside of us - economic crisis, social crisis, crisis of war; the building of enormous armaments, the appalling waste of all this. And inwardly, psychologically, we are also very confused. There is constant conflict, struggle, pain, anxiety and so on, inwardly. And this society Please remember, this is not a lecture; we are together taking a journey into the whole structure of which mankind has created, the disorder that human beings have brought about in this world. So there is misery, chaos, confusion outwardly, in the sense in society, economically, religiously; and inwardly, that is psychologically, the psyche, the consciousness, with its content is pain, beliefs, struggle, and so on, and so on, so on. Which we'll all go into during these three talks here. And since you have taken the trouble to come here one must you must ask: what are you going to do about all this? Turn to leaders? Better politicians? This one isn't good, but the next one will be better; and the next one will still better. And so we keep this game going. We have looked to various so-called spiritual leaders, the whole hierarchy of the Christian world. They are as confused, uncertain as we are.
If you turn to the psychologists or the psychotherapists, they are like you and me - confused. And there are all the ideologies: Communist ideologies, Marxist ideologies, the philosophical ideologies, the ideologies of the Hindus and the ideologies of those people who have brought Hinduism here; and you have your own ideologies. You follow all this? The whole world is fragmented, broken up, as we are broken up, driven by various urges, reactions, each one wanting to be important, each one acting his own self-interest. This is actually what is going on in the world, wherever you go; the most poverty-ridden villages in India or the most highly sophisticated people in the west, it's the same issue, the same problems: poverty, hunger, man against man; one ideology against another ideology. This is the actual fact. And what are we all going to do about it all? Who has been responsible? Is each one of us responsible? You and another, are we responsible? Please, do ask this question of yourself. Please, for this morning, if you will, be serious for an hour.
If you look to another to instruct you, to guide you, to tell you what to do, and there are people who will do all that, and they too have not through the centuries helped man to bring about a different world: neither so called spiritual leader - one doesn't like that word 'spiritual', it's an ugly word - nor so called statesmen. So where will you look? If you don't look for leaders, and all leaders are like the led, and the various gurus are, like the disciples, greedy, money-making - you know all that stuff that's going on. So, if all the leaders in the world have failed, not only in this generation but in the past generations, and in the future generations, leaders have not helped, Statesmen throughout the world - if there are any, which I doubt, at the present time - they too have not brought about a different society; put an end to wars. So where will you look? The priests have failed, organisations, institutions have lost their meaning; they have not helped: the foundations, the little groups, the little self-assertive selfish little gatherings, none of that has helped to bring about a change in man.
And man has not changed, though he has evolved from the animal to the present so-called civilised human beings; during all long evolution psychologically we are still rather primitive. That's a fact. So where will you look for help; and can anyone help?
Please, if one may remind you again and again, this is not a lecture. It is not that the speaker is going to tell you what to do or what to think, but together you and the speaker are looking at all these problems, facing them, not avoiding them, not running away. And we have been trained, educated to run away, to seek some kind of comfort, some kind of an answer from somebody. The books can't answer this question. All the religious books cannot possibly answer this question. So knowing no leader of any kind, the local or the imported, the very erudite, the philosophers, the psychologists, none of them have helped man to change himself psychologically. And we are facing a very dangerous world: one ideology, the Russian Marxist ideologies facing the so-called democratic ideologies.
So there is nobody you can turn to. I wonder one wonders if you really realise that. Nobody on earth or in heaven is going to help you. You can pray, and that which you pray to is the creation of your own thought. One wonders if you actually face this fact, or surreptitiously, in our anxiety, in our confusion, we turn to another. And probably you are all here for that; if you are not curious, if you are not saying, 'What is he going to talk about, let's hear for a few minutes, and if it doesn't interest us, we'll get out. It's a nice morning, let's go out for a picnic'. But one is confronted with this very, very serious problem of life, realising that there is nobody that can help us, nobody on earth, or any outside agency. God is the creation of thought, of man, out of his fear, out of his anxiety, desire for comfort, seeking somebody to help. The thought has created this so-called entity, God. That's a fact.
So, realising all this, facing all this, each one of us is responsible for all this; for any kind of war that is happening in the world, the war that's going on in Beirut, in Vietnam, and so on - I believe about forty five wars are going on now. Because in ourselves we are divided, fragmented, in ourselves we are nationalistic, patriotic. Patriotism is not the love of land. If you love the land, you don't want to destroy the land, as it is being destroyed right throughout the world. Each one of us wants to fulfil, immediately. Whatever is the desire, fulfil it - encouraged by the psychologists. So, each one of us is responsible as long as we are violent, as long as we are in disorder, as long as we are trying to fulfil our own particular urges, competitive, aggressive, brutal, angry, violent - which we are. Again, this is a fact. As long as we are all this, our society is going to be that. So we have created this society and nobody else. And to bring about a change in society, in the world I wonder, one wonders if you really realise what is happening? If you are not too self-centred, occupied with your own particular little problems and desires, pleasures, I wonder, one wonders if you are really aware in spite of the newspapers and so on, aware what is happening. And if you are aware, not merely intellectually observing the things that are taking place, you must be greatly concerned; not only for yourselves, but for your grandchildren, children, for the future. What's the future of man? These are all fundamental questions that one must ask. Not ask someone else, ask oneself.
So, who has been responsible? And, what can each one of us do? What's our action, facing this, not only crisis outwardly, but crisis in ourselves. How has all this been brought about? We have evolved technologically from a bullock cart to the jet, and so on; tremendous evolution. But inwardly, psychologically we have hardly moved. We are still very, very primitive. So what shall we do?
To find out one must be not only free to look, free from all bias, free from all conclusions; the word 'conclusion' implies to conclude, is to shut down. We conclude a peace, that means ending of a certain war; conclude an argument, that means to end that argument. So without any conclusion, without any bias whatsoever - if that's possible, and it is possible if you are willing, not from any self-centred point of view. If you look at all this, is thought responsible for all this? Thought that has created the extraordinary world of technology, the inventions, the extraordinary communications, the subtle surgeries, medicine; the whole infinite movement in the technological world, thought has been responsible for all that. Right? Again, that's a fact. Nobody can deny it.
Thought also has created nationalities, divisions, and hoping in divisions to find security. You believe, if you believe, in a particular form of religious ideology. That again is the activity of thought - not only political divisions that exist in the world, the religious divisions that exist in the world, the marvellous architecture, the great cathedrals of the world and the small churches, and all the things that are in the churches and the cathedrals, in the temples and mosques throughout the world, are put there by thought: the rituals, the ceremonies, the costumes of the priests when they perform; all that is the result of thought. Do you accept that?
K: No, I thought you wouldn't. You are thought, aren't you? You are memories, you are remembrances, you are the past; the past which is the accumulation of experience and knowledge; with your tendencies. You are memories. Right? A simple fact. Subtle, sublimated, crooked, one thought suppressing another thought, thought is utterly responsible for all the things that are going on in the world.
Please examine it, don't deny it or say it's right or wrong. Look at it. Have the patience, courage and be serious enough to look at it. It's easy to say no or yes, but to see the truth of it, the actuality of it: what you believe is the activity of thought. What your relationship with another is the remembrance of thought. So you are basically a bundle of memories. You may not like the fact; you may reject it; but that's a fact. If you had no memories of any kind, you would be in a state of amnesia, in a state of utter blankness, vagueness, vacant. This is a hard thing to face.
So thought is responsible for the divisions: religious, political, personal, racial, the wars that are going on between the Jew and the Arabs, between various religious groups, it's all the result of thought. Do you really accept that? If you do, see the fact; see the truth of it. Not a superstition; not some exotic idea; not something imposed upon you by the speaker.
So if you see the truth of it, objectively, impersonally, without any bias whatsoever, then the question arises: can that thought be aware of itself? Please listen to all this, if you will kindly. If you don't want to listen, it's all right too.
What is one then to do with thought? If, and it is a fact, that thought has brought about this disorder in the world, then who is to put order in the world? Who is to bring about order in the world? Or in oneself? The world outside, apart from nature, is the result of our activity: our activity of thought has brought about disorder in ourselves. So the society is in disorder. Unless we put order in the house, there'll be no order in society, in our relationship. That's a fact!
Now, who is to put order in us? Who is to bring about, out of this disorder, clear, strong, irrefutable order? Is the thinker separate from thought? You understand all these questions? Are you interested in all this? If you are not, why are you here? Just to sit under the trees and look at the blue sky; and look at those lovely hills? You can do that too. But since you are here, and since the speaker has come a long way, we must together understand this question and find an answer for ourselves, not to be told like children! To find answer which is right, correct, precise, true, and not depend on anyone.
Therefore we must examine together. We have separated thinker and thought. The thinker is always correcting thought - have you observed it? - controlling it, denying it, shaping it, putting into a mould. So the thinker, we think, is separate from thought. Please, go into it slowly, I'm going into it patiently, let's go together; it's a long journey we are taking, so if you take a long journey, you must carry things lightly, patiently, hesitantly. And to take a long journey, you must begin very near, which is you.
So, the question arises, that there is a division between the thinker and the thought. The thinker is always correcting thought, controlling it: this is right, this is wrong, this should be, this must not be; and so there is a division between the thinker and the thought. Right? That's clear. Is that division real? Or fictitious? There is no thinker without thought. Is this all a little bit complex? It doesn't matter. It's up to you. There is a division between the thinker who is the past and the thought that is taking place now. And the thinker says that thought is correct or wrong, right and so on. He controls it, so there is a division between the thinker and the thought. So that is the basis of fragmentation in us. Right? Are we together in this? At least a little bit.
We are asking why, in human beings, inwardly, psychologically, there is this division, as there is division in the world: the separation, this fragmentation of human beings, Christian, Jew, all the rest of it. What is the root of this fragmentation? The root of it is: there is a division between the two, the thinker and the thought. There is no thinker apart from thought. The thinker is the past, so is thought. Thought is the result or response or the reaction of memory. Memory is the result or reaction of knowledge. Stored in the brain, knowledge is experience; in the scientific world, in the technological world, in the world of inward world, psychological world, knowledge, experience, memory, and the response of that is thought. That's a fact. And where there is knowledge, and knowledge is always incomplete; either in the present or the future or in the past. There is no complete knowledge about anything. There can never be. Even the scientists, biologists and archaeologists and so on, they do admit knowledge is limited.
Where there is limitation of knowledge, there must be limitation of thought. When you say, I am a Christian, it's limited. When you are thinking about yourself, your problems, your relationship, your sexual pleasures and fulfilment, that's very, very limited. And thought is limited. It can invent the limitless, but that is still the product of thought. It can invent heaven; or hell or whatever - it can invent, it is still limited. So where there is limitation, there must be fragmentation. I wonder if you are following all this? Please do follow this, because it's your life. We are talking about daily life. So where there is limitation there must be conflict. When I say I am a Hindu, it's limited. When I say I am a Catholic, obviously. Where there is limitation there must be division. Where there is division, there must be disorder. And we live in disorder.
In the old world, there was order of some kind, because they followed certain traditions. In the modern world, tradition is thrown overboard, and there is nothing left, so you do what you want to do. And each one of us in this world is doing what he wants to do - his thing. And look at what chaos it's bringing about: politically, with the lobbies, each individual following his own particular inclination religious or otherwise. I wonder if one is aware of all this, of what we are all doing. The immense propaganda that's going on, in the name of religion, in the name of this or that.
So, our question then is, in our relationship, intimate or otherwise, in our actual daily relationship, there is fragmentation. The wife or the girl or the boy or the man follows his own inclinations, his own desires, his own sexual demands and you know all that. There are two separate entities having a relationship - perhaps sexual - but otherwise they have no relationship at all, actually. That's a fact. Each one is pursuing his own ambition, his own fulfilment, his own urges, inclinations, the obstinacy of each one. And we call this conflict relationship.
That relationship has brought about this division, which is not relationship at all. You may hold the hand of another, embrace another, walk together, but inwardly you are separate from the other. That's a fact. Do face it. And so there is perpetual conflict between the two.
And if one asks: is it possible to live in relationship with another without conflict? The hermits, the monks, those who live in solitude whether in the great mountains of India or in this country Relationship is the greatest thing in life. You cannot live without relationship. You may withdraw from all relationship, finding that relationship is painful; always living in struggle, conflict, possessing and not possessing, jealous, you know all that happens. There are those who withdraw from all relationship. But they are related, they cannot possibly escape from any kind of relationship.
So is it possible, as it is necessary, to live in relationship without a single shadow of conflict? You are asking this question, please, not the speaker. This is an important question, a deep, fundamental question. If you cannot live in relationship with each other without conflict, then you will create a world which is full of conflict. Even the quail agrees.
So we are asking: what is the cause of this conflict, of this disorder; in ourselves, in our relationship, and the disorder that exists outside of us? What is the actual fact of relationship? The fact, not romantic, you know, all that kind of sentimental stuff, but the actual fact, the brutal fact of it. Because if one doesn't really understand the beauty, the depth, the vitality and the greatness of relationship, we do make a mess of our lives.
Is our relationship based on memory? Is it based on remembrances? Is it based on the past incidents accumulated as various images, pictures? If it is remembrance, if it is various images, then all that is the product of thought. Then one asks is thought love? Do please ask this question of yourself, not that I am prompting you. You are all grown-up people; I hope. Is the accumulated knowledge of each other - which must always be limited and therefore that very knowledge is the root of conflict - is that knowledge, that conflict, is that love? Not love of some romantic idea: love of God, love of, you know all that kind of stuff, love between human beings, a friendship, a sense of communication, communion, non-verbal, verbal.
So, is it possible to live with another without a single image, without a single remembrance of the past which has given you pleasure or pain? Do think, look at it.
And is it possible not to build images about the other? If you do build images about the other, which is knowledge, then it is perpetual division. Though you may have children, sex, and so on, but it's fundamentally division. Like the Arabs and the Jew, the Christian and the Muslim and so on. So where there is division there must be conflict. That's a law. So can I, can you, can each of us have a relationship in which there is no conflict whatsoever? Yes, sir, go into it.
This is part of meditation; not all the silly things that are going on in the name of meditation. This is meditation: to find out, to probe into oneself whether it is possible to live with another happily, without domination, without suppression, without the urge to fulfil, all that kind of childish stuff. To live with another without any sense of division. The division must exist as long as thought is in operation, because thought is limited; because knowledge is limited. And in that division there is great pain; anxiety, jealousy, hatred; me first and you after.
To observe this fact, to observe, not say, 'I must have no division' - that sounds silly - to observe the fact that you are first divided, like two parallel lines never meeting, except perhaps sexually. Otherwise two separate lines, two separate rows, two separate railway lines each pursuing the other, his own way; clinging to each other. All that brings about great misery in one's life. So to observe the fact, that you are divided; delve deeply into the fact. When you say my wife, my girl friend, or this or that, look at the word, feel the word, the weight of the word, the weight of the word 'relationship.' To weigh the word means to hold the word.
To observe the whole implication of relationship; not only human relationship, but also the relationship with nature. If you lose relationship with nature, you lose relationship with man. To observe; to observe without any bias, to look at it, to feel the division, and when you so observe, which I hope you are doing it, when you so observe, that very observation is like a tremendous light put on the word 'relationship.' You understand? To observe - we'll go into it. To watch, which means to watch without any direction, without the word, without any motive, just to watch all the implications, the content of that word 'relationship'. To live with that word; even for an hour, for ten minutes, for a day, find out! To live with it. To so observe, which means live your complete attention to that. When you attend completely, the obstacles, the division disappears. It's like bringing great energy to something that is being broken. You understand all this?
So it is possible - not that you should accept what the speaker is saying; he is not an authority - it is possible to live without a single conflict.
But you may live without conflict, but the other may not. You understand the problem? You may have understood, gone into the question of relationship; shed tears, laughter, humour about it; weighed the word, lived with the word; you may have seen and gone into it, and comprehended it, seen the truth of it. But the other may not. Right? Your wife may not or your husband may not, or the girl friend may not, and so on. Then what is your relationship with the other? You understand? What is the relationship between a very, very intelligent man and a stupid man? Suppose you are very intelligent, in the ordinary sense of that word for the moment, which is not intelligence at all, suppose you are very intelligent, then what is my relationship to you? I am dull; I am rather stupid, I cling to my own prejudices, obstinate, my own opinions, and I am rather stupid, what is your relationship to me then? Go into it, please look at it. You will tolerate me? Be sympathetic with me? Be kind to me? That means there is still the division. You understand?
So when the conflict ends - suppose you have ended it - does it imply that there is the sense of love in it? We'll talk about love later on, or the implications of that word, and the depth of that word, the beauty of that word. But, when you have that quality, that perfume, and I haven't, and I am your wife or husband or whatever it is, your father, mother - it's strange in this country, the fathers and mothers don't count any more. They are packed away in some place. Right? Sent to old women's home or men's home. Go to Asia, where there is no Social Security, the father and the mother live with their children. And that's why they say, we must have children. That's one of the reasons why population is growing so tremendously. There must be a boy, or a a boy especially, because when the parents are old, the boys, the children will look after them. Here, all that's gone. Please consider all this when you talk about relationship with nature; how we are destroying the world, polluting the world, the air, the earth, the sea; destroying the beauty of the earth. And the beauty of relationship, to live completely at peace with one another.
Talking about peace, can there be peace in this world? Not in heaven, that's an old, old traditional disease. Can there be peace between human beings, whatever their colour, their race, their language, their so-called culture? And to find that peace, there must be peace between you and another, between you, your wife, your children. You understand? Can there be peace? Which means no conflict. Where there is no conflict, there is something far greater than the activity of thought. That's an actual fact, if one comes to the truth that to live without conflict. Which doesn't mean you become lazy, a vegetable; on the contrary. You have tremendous energy. Not to do more mischief, but to live rightly.
What is the time, sir?
K: I am sorry I've kept you so long.
May I get up please?