To watch without any movement of thought
Can we live together without conflict?
4th Public Talk, Ojai, California
May 22, 1983
This is not a sermon. Generally sermons mean a kind of moralising, semi-superstitious religious character. We are going together to take a very long journey. The last three talks were about our daily life and we went into various aspects of our life, the way of our days, our existence, our struggles, conflicts and miseries, and the ideological divisions that divide the world - religious, social, political, and so on. These divisions have brought about great wars and we are still, after so many millennia, we are still preparing wars to kill each other. Very few people seem to pay attention to the insanity that's going on; to all the terrible things that man is doing against man. We have been talking about all that together as two friends walking in a wooded lane, talking about not only their personal problems but the problems that exist in the world - the problems of human fear, the problems of relationship, and the everlasting pursuit of pleasure.
And we were asking yesterday morning whether it is possible to end all sorrow, this constant battle between human beings, the sorrow of the world, and the sorrow of each one of us. And also we were pointing out, together, to each other, why human beings live the way they do. Why human beings, after so many centuries, from the ancient Sumerians, the Hindus, Egyptians, and the modern civilisation, we have never stopped killing each other and destroying nature - overpopulation, poverty, and the extraordinary divisions that are going on in the world. The scientists don't seem to pay much attention to the ending of war. Of course the politicians can never do that; that is their mtier, their job, to sustain this conflict. And also we were talking yesterday the nature of compassion and its intelligence. And we should talk about together today whether it is possible at all, whether our brains, which have been conditioned, programmed, like a computer, so heavily conditioned, if it is possible to bring about freedom that conditioning.
If one is aware at all that one is conditioned religiously, morally and that there is no freedom at all, as long as we are conditioned there can be no freedom whatsoever. So we're going to talk over together this morning, not only freedom, justice, goodness, and whether there's the possibility of human beings ever moving away from the stream of so-called conditioned civilisation.
So first we should examine if there is justice at all in the world - justice being that which is law, that which is moral, correct, and equality. Law says we are all equal; but some are more apparently equal than the others. Clever lawyers can make anything of law, they can support anything, justify anything. So one asks if there is equality at all; because that has been one of the questions, not only Aristotle, Plato and all the Greek philosophers, but also long before them man has always been asking if there is not a possibility of equality, correct justice for all of us. Apparently there is no equality, there can never be. You are tall, one is short. One is very clever, erudite, scholarly, capable of a great many things, and the other is not - dull, obeying, conforming, mere machine or a cog in a social structure. There is a vast difference between the two. You are beautiful, the other is not; you have a sense of the aesthetic, sense of beauty, the other is not sensitive at all. So where does one find justice, equality? Or it doesn't exist at all apart from the philosophers and theoreticians, whether they be Marxist or theologians - and Marxists generally become theologians - and where does the sense of justice, equality exist? Apparently on the earth, on this earth it doesn't exist among human beings. So if one is enquiring into it as we are doing it now together - please, again, if one may remind you with due respect, that we are taking a journey together, not that the speaker is talking and you are just listening to a lot of words, ideas and concepts; but rather you and the speaker, as two friends walking down a lane, and in their friendship, who have known each other for a long time, are talking about all these things. Neither of them are imposing their ideas on the other, there is no sense of authority - among friends there is no authority. Among friends there is not only sympathy, friendship, affection, but a sense of investigation. And there can be investigation when there is not only freedom from all bias, prejudice, but also a sense of wanting to understand the whole business of human existence. These two friends are communicating with each other. That's our relationship - you sitting over there and the speaker sitting up a little higher. We are taking a journey together. If you don't want to take a journey together, deeply, it's your affair. But if you are going to sit here on a lovely morning, cool, fresh, and if one is aware of the beauty of every day, every fresh morning, the wonder of the world, it's a marvellous world and we are destroying it, in our relationship with each other and in our relationship to nature, to all the living things of this earth.
So please, if one may constantly repeat, we are together in this journey. And this is a serious affair; not something to be got over on a Sunday morning; this is not an entertainment; and as most people are given to entertainment, religious and otherwise, we are, the friend and the speaker are very serious. They are having conversation not only at the superficial verbal level but at greater depth with greater significance. So if one may remind you that you and the speaker are taking a long journey. This journey never ends; that is the beauty of it.
So we are asking: is there equality among human beings? Legally, apparently, we cannot find it. Nor by social dictum; nor religious saying that we are all brothers in the name of something or other. And when there is no equality there is no justice. So where does equality exist? Because that's a very important question. If there is no equality we are going to perpetually destroy each other. To find that equality, there must be compassion. Only in compassion is there equality and justice, not in law, not through lawyers, not through various forms of United Nations and so on, not through little groups, little communes; but together can we find compassion? Which is not a thing to be invented by thought. It's not a thing to be put together by determination, by desire, but that compassion comes when there is right relationship between each of us. We went into that question very, very seriously in the last two or three talks.
So as our relationship is a perpetual conflict, the ending of that is the enquiry, the absolute immediate urgent change. Otherwise we are going to destroy each other. And we also should he and I, the speaker, are saying to each other that we should talk about goodness. That word is old-fashioned, one hardly uses that word nowadays. The word 'goodness' means together; to bring together many things; to bring together many facets of our life so that all the broken parts, fragmented as we are, are put together, made whole, made harmonious; and from that goodness act. That's the meaning of that word, goodness - to live a life in which there is no fragmentation in ourselves. And a brain that's pursuing fulfilment is fragmented always. So goodness, equality, justice and freedom.
Freedom - the word 'freedom' means love. Freedom is not from a prison; that's only a reaction. Freedom from pain - we are not talking of physical pain, but psychological pain, freedom from it is an entrapment into another bondage. Freedom is not from something but freedom is in itself. If there is psychological hurt - and most of us are hurt from childhood - and that hurt is creating great pain and great misery to oneself and to others, mere freedom from hurt is not actual freedom. Therefore freedom implies a sense of goodness that is whole; a holistic - if I can see that scientific word - a holistic way of living, not one fragment seeking freedom and the other fragments in bondage. There can be only freedom when there is this gathering together of all the fragments and living a life that is whole. The word 'whole' means healthy, physically; the word 'whole' means sanity, rational, and the word also means holy, h-o-l-y. And goodness implies all that.
And we are asking whether the brain, which has been conditioned, been programmed to be a Catholic, to be a Protestant, and all the divisions of Christianity, the worship of one person constantly repeated over and over again, as they do in India and Buddhist countries. There they take a name and that name symbolises something which they hope to be true, as the Christian world does. In the Christian world you have been programmed, my friend has been programmed for 2,000 years - whether the person existed or not, that is not the point. There is a doubt of his existence, but what the church and all that have made of that person is obviously so unrealistic, such superstition, such idealistic, romantic, sentimental business. They do exactly the same thing in India, in Islam. In the Buddhist countries where they don't believe in God - that's one of their sayings, the Buddhists don't believe in God - but they have made the Buddha into a god. It's the same pattern repeated throughout the world generation after generation. And this is called religion. We'll talk about it presently. So we are conditioned by this. We have been programmed; we receive great many impressions, coercions, propaganda. Day after day if you listen to the commercials in this country - buy, buy, buy. And the religions do the same thing. So our brains are conditioned; not only by exterior influences, pressures and propaganda, but also inwardly, psychologically, our desires, our fears, our greed, our beliefs, all that, our sorrows and pain, conditions the brain.
So one of the questions, which is very important to ask, can the brain cells - please, my friend and I are talking together, there is no disturbance, we are both together aware of the question, and asking each other that question: whether the brain cells can themselves transform, change, otherwise conditioning will go on forever. There is a whole school which says conditioning can never be radically changed. It can be modified, it can be made more habitable, easier to live with; there is that whole school. But the friend and we are saying to each other: is that so? Or, is it possible to change radically? Not bit by bit, partially, but totally. Unless there is that radical change, man is going to live forever in conflict, pain, sorrow, destroying each other; each one asserting his own demands, his own desires, his own pursuits, his own fulfilment. And so there is never coming together and therefore there is never peace in the world. So the friend says is it possible? It is possible when you perceive the total content of consciousness. Our consciousness, with all its reactions, is like a tide going out and coming in - action, reaction; it's the movement, that's perpetual movement. And all the content - the belief, the dogmas, the rituals, the pursuits of various kinds, the desires and so on - the whole content of our consciousness is what we are. Our name, our form, our bank account, our not exact bank account, attachment, all that is what you and the friend are. That consciousness is the consciousness of humanity. It's not yours or mine; the consciousness of all mankind. Because all mankind goes through agonies, great pain, loneliness, despair, depression, chattering away. That's the consciousness, whether you go to India, Japan, Russia or here. So we are humanity. We talked about that yesterday. So is it possible to bring about a radical change in our consciousness?
It is possible if you are aware without direction, without control, without motive, just to watch all the thoughts, the anxieties, just to watch it; not run away from it. Like watching a great jewel in your hand, watching all the facets of it - the colour, the brightness, the dull spots, the open spaces - to watch it without any movement of thought. Then that brings about radical change in the very brain cells themselves. We have talked about it briefly yesterday morning.
We ought to talk now about what is religion. Because religion has apparently, from the most ancient of days, has played an extraordinary part in life. Each civilisation, however ancient, have had their idea of religion - worshipping the sun, worshipping the trees, worshipping thunder, lightening - probably that's better than all the other things. From the most ancient days man sought something beyond himself, transcending himself; the ancient Sumerians, the ancient Hindus, the Egyptians, and much later Christianity and still later Islam, all those people through generation after generation of thousands and thousands of years, have established various kinds of religion. And out of those religions came culture, civilisation. Christianity, Buddhism - Buddhism exploded all over Asia, and Christianity is doing the same in the Western world, trying to spread its own doctrine, its own philosophy, its own saviour and so on. Man has been seeking throughout his days if there is something beyond.
And in his search for something beyond, thought created God. Please, don't get upset with it, examine it. My friend says I'm not upset, but I'm listening. I'm cautious; I don't want to become an atheist, a non-believer, but I am willing to listen to you. Thought has created that thing which we call God. Because ourselves are so confused, so insecure, so uncertain, so fearful, suffering, lonely, and I do not know how to solve all those, and I look for somebody outside, somebody to guide, somebody to protect, somebody to give me security. Thought is perpetually seeking security. And as it discovers there is none as long as there are individuals fighting each other, as long as groups are separated from each other, as long as there is tribalism of any kind, there must be wars, insecurity, no protection, therefore thought says let me have some great figure, father entity - or mother entity, whichever you choose. Both in India, there are many gods and goddesses, there are about 300,000 of them. You can choose one or two as you please; that's more fun. But to have only one god is rather tiresome. (Laughter) But man has always sought this thing. And the priest comes along - he is like the rest of us - he says I'll help you. He becomes the interpreter, because in the ancient days the priest was the only person who was capable of reading and writing. He interpreted that which he called God. And then he invented all the paraphernalia to make himself important - the robes, mitre, you know, the whole circus.
So man, in spite of all the churches and temples and mosques, has always sought something beyond. And that which is beyond is not to be described or put into words; but a man who discovers it, sees something beyond. His friend says let's get it organised so we can spread it to all the people. So organisations, religious organisations, kill truth. I hope my friend sees the fact. So we are asking: in spite of all the religions and their nonsense, meaningless words and rituals, with their dogmas, and superstitions - it's really a network of superstitions - whether in spite of all that, what is religion?
The word religion has no etymological meaning. They haven't been able to discover the origin of that word. But generally it's ascribed as 'attention'. To be attentive, to diligently work, think, act, live, behave. And, in asking this question whether there is something sacred beyond all thought, we're going to enquire together into that; whether in spite of all man's endeavour, his superstitions, his rituals, the terrible things they have done in the name of religion - I wonder if the Christians realise they have killed more people than anybody else - in spite of all that, is there something holy, something totally sacred, not invented by thought, which is not the result of some romantic, sentimental imagination; or sentimental longing? Putting aside all that, we are asking the question of each other: if there is something sacred - not something which is sacred to you and not to the other - which is beyond all time and measure.
Now the enquiry into this is meditation. The word 'meditation' means 'to ponder over'. To think over, to observe exactly things as they are, not try to escape from 'what is', but to understand, not verbally or intellectually, to delve deeply into 'what is'. So the word meditation means not only to observe, ponder over, but also it means both in Sanskrit and in Latin, and so on, to measure. As long as there is measurement, psychologically technologically, from Greeks and from the ancient Hindus and so on, measurement has been necessary. Otherwise you couldn't build a temple; you couldn't bring about the whole world of technology. Measurement is necessary. But measurement psychologically is comparison; to compare 'what is' to 'what should be'. To compare what I was yesterday with what I will be tomorrow. You understand? The whole process of comparison. Where there is comparison, there must be measurement - I am dull, but you are clever; you are beautiful, I am not. There is this constant comparison in us between the ideal and the fact; the fact of violence and the ideal of not being violent, that is comparison. In meditation, that comparison must totally end.
And physically, sometimes it's necessary to compare between a good car and a bad car; between a good material and a bad material; between a good painting and a bad painting. Comparison between tall and short, comparison between light and darkness and so on; there it's obvious; it exists. But psychologically, inwardly, why do we compare at all? Can one live without comparison? Have you ever tried to live without comparison? Then you start with actually 'what is'. Then you can put your teeth into 'what is'. But if you are always comparing yourself with something else, yourself with a hero, with all examples, then you are never coming face to face with yourself or becoming familiar with yourself. So is it possible never to compare? Comparison breeds conflict. Comparison is a form of competitiveness; aggression.
The speaker generally puts religion and meditation at the end of the talks because for a very simple reason: you cannot possibly find out that which is sacred, if there is such thing as sacred, or what meditation means, unless you have established firmly what is right relationship in which there is no conflict but learning, where there is no fear psychologically. We went into this, and the understanding of desire and pleasure; and the ending of sorrow. Unless that is well-established like a great foundation, it is meaningless to meditate. You may repeat endlessly various words, whether they be Sanskrit or your own words; whether you repeat the Indian word 'mantra' - lots of people have made money on that. One of these chief business-givers of mantras is a multimillionaire. The word, as we explained, 'mantra' means, to ponder over not becoming psychologically. And also it means to put away altogether self-centred activity. That's the real root meaning of that word, which is a marvellous word, but look what they have made of it. So what is religion and if there is anything sacred at all or there is no such thing as sacred, just nothing. Or there is something, but to find out or to come upon it or for it to exist, meditation is necessary.
Meditation generally has so many forms. There is a Zen meditation. I hope the friend, we are asking the friend I hope you don't mind going through all this nonsense - there is Zen meditation, there is the Tibetan meditation, there is the Buddhist form of meditation, various forms of Hindu meditations, and in this country it is called contemplation, in the Western religious world. Now all those imply, from the Zen to the latest guru with his twaddle, nonsense, is to control thought. And all so-called serious people who have meditated, controlling thought, apparently have never - I hope some of them have - apparently they never have asked who is the controller? Who is the controller who controls thought? Is not the controller part of thought? Is not the controller the entity who has remembered all the past incidents, travail and anxiety, that remembrance is the controller? The controller is part of thought. As long as there is division between the controller and the controlled, there must be conflict. But the controller of thought is thought itself. So all the advocates of meditation, so many forms of it, practising day after day some system, method, becoming more and more dull, more and more insensitive - it is essential to be sensitive, sensitive to nature, sensitive to each other, sensitive to all the living things of the earth. But if your mind is constantly occupied, whether with sex, whether with god, whether with your own achievements, your own worries, that brain becomes more and more dull, stupid and insensitive. So on the contrary, meditation implies tremendous activity of the senses, and sensitivity, aware of all this.
All this requires a great deal of energy. Not only the energy created by thought through conflict, but energy which is not being wasted. You understand? Wasted through conflict, wasted through endless chatter, chatter; wasted in the pursuit of innumerable desires without understanding what is desire and so on. We have got tremendous energy - to go to the moon requires tremendous energy and thousands of people. So we have untold energy if that energy is not misused or wasted.
And to find that which is sacred, one must have doubt, scepticism; because that doubt, scepticism, healthy scepticism, you can't doubt everything, but in the process of doubting you clear the brain of all its stupidities, its superstitions, its illusions. The brain then becomes extraordinarily alive, subtle. So meditation is not controlling thought, or practising some system or method, but freeing the mind, freeing the brain from its own conditioning.
That's only the beginning of it. When there is that freedom, then we can enquire into what is a brain that is silent. Because it's only through great silence you learn, you observe, not when you are making a lot of noise. To observe those hills, and these beautiful trees, to observe your wife and your children, or your husband and your relatives, or whatever they are, to observe you must have space and there must be silence. But if you are chattering, gossiping, you know, you have no space or silence. And we need space, not only physically, but much more psychologically, that space is denied when we are thinking about ourselves. It's so simple. Right? Because when there is space, vast space psychologically, there is great vitality, great energy. But when that space is limited to one's own little self, that vast energy is totally contained within it's limitation. So that's why meditation is the ending of self.
One can listen to all this endlessly, but if you don't do this, what is the point of your listening? If you actually are not aware of yourself, of your words, your gestures, your walk, the way you eat, why you drink and smoke and all the rest of the things human beings are doing - if you are not aware physically of all that, how can one be aware at depth profoundly of what's going on. If you are not aware if one's not aware, then one becomes so shoddy, middle-class, mediocre. The word 'mediocre' means, the root meaning of that word means 'going halfway up the hill', going halfway up the mountain, never reaching the top of it. That's mediocrity. That is, never demanding of ourselves excellence, demanding of ourselves total goodness, demanding of ourselves complete freedom - not to do what you like, that is not freedom, that is triviality; but to be free from all pain of anxieties, loneliness, despair, and all the rest of it.
So to find out or to come upon or for that to exist there must be great space and silence. Not contrived silence, not thought saying I must be silent. Silence is something extraordinary, it's not the silence between two noises. Peace is not between two wars. Silence is something which comes naturally when you are watching; when you are watching without motive, without any kind of demand; just to watch, and see the beauty of a single star in the sky, or to watch a single tree in a field, or to watch your wife or husband, or whatever you watch. To watch with a great silence and space. Then in that watching, in that alertness, then there is something which is beyond words, beyond all measure.
We use words to measure the immeasurable. So one must be aware also of the network of words, how words cheat us; how words mean so much - a Communist, to a capitalist, means something terrible; socialist, or some stranger. You follow? Words become extraordinarily important. But to be aware of those words and to weigh the words, to weigh, to live with the word 'silence', knowing that the word is not silence, but to live with that word and see the weight of that word, the content of the word, the beauty of that word. So one begins to realise, when thought is quietly watching, there is something beyond all imagination, doubt, seeking, and there is such a thing - at least for the speaker. But what the speaker says has no validity to another. Unless you listen, learn, watch, be totally free from all the anxieties of life, then only there is a religion which brings about a new, totally different culture. We are not cultured people at all. You may be very clever in business, you may be extraordinarily capable technologically or be a doctor, professor; but we are still very limited. The ending of the self, the 'me', to be nothing. The word 'nothing' means 'not a thing'. Not a thing created by thought. In Latin 'res' means 'thing'. And thing is that which is created by thought. To be nothing; having no image of yourself. And we have a great many images of ourselves. To have no image of any kind, no illusion, to be absolutely nothing. The tree is nothing to itself. It exists. And in its very existence it is the most beautiful thing, like those hills - they exist. They don't become something, because they can't. Like a seed of an oak, of an apple tree; it is apple; it doesn't try to become the pear, or another fruit - it is. So when there is nothing, there is. You understand? This is meditation. This is the ending of the search and truth is.
I've said enough. What time is it?
Audience: Twenty-five to one.
This is the last talk. May we get up?