Truth is the catalyst to end conflict
Attention and order
1st Public Talk, Ojai, California
May 19, 1984
If I may I would like to point out that this is not an entertainment. This is a serious gathering as we are going to explore together the various issues of life. And also this is not a lecture as is generally understood. A lecture is to inform, to instruct and to persuade you to think in a particular way, or be so knowledgeable and be thoroughly informed. So this is not a lecture. Nor is it propaganda to propagate certain ideas, beliefs, or some romantic or reasonable conclusions. But rather we are going to think over together the many complex problems of our daily life. And in no way is the speaker trying to convince you of anything, nor to persuade you to accept some romantic, exotic or some philosophical concepts and ideals. This must be made perfectly clear that we are not encouraging or stimulating, or trying in any way to direct, but rather together you and the speaker go into the very many issues, problems that we have. It is not merely that you are listening to the speaker but though you are listening to him you are also watching, considering your own reactions, your own conclusions, your own experiences.
And we are going to question, doubt, have a great deal of scepticism, without cynicism, because most people are very gullible. We have been made gullible by experts, whether they be experts along philosophical lines, or psychological, or scientific, or biological and so on. We never seem to question ourselves or the authorities, the people who know, who assert, specially those people who come from the Asiatic countries with their peculiar beliefs and religious dogmas and superstitions. So please from the very beginning of these talks and questions and answers we are going to question everything. We are going to have a great deal of scepticism, including what the speaker is saying; question it, doubt it, find out, if one may respectfully point out, what is true, to be able to be sensitive enough so that one captures not only the verbal meaning but also what lies behind the words, the content of the words. Not only the etymological meaning of the words but also the quality, the beauty, the strength of a word. Because most of us are caught in a network of words, our whole thinking process is a verbalisation, making pictures or images, and we are caught in all that, so we never actually are free from words and ready to go beyond the word, or the explanation, or the description.
If we could this morning and the following days, be very clear on these matters: that the speaker has no authority whatsoever, he is not a professional, not an expert of any kind, because to the speaker that is rather frightening, to be an expert about something. But if we could together, we mean together, take a very, very long journey, a timeless journey into the very complex structure of the human psyche, of what we are, why we are behaving the way we do, why we have all these crowding thoughts, one after the other ceaselessly chattering. If we could together amicably, as friends do, take a long walk into an area that superficially we have scratched, superficially we have had innumerable descriptions, explanations by the professionals, the psychologists, the psychiatrists, the biologists, the archaeologists and so on. But if we could put aside all that for the time being, though it may perhaps have a certain value at other times, but if we could this morning, like two friends talking over their problems.
We have problems, life is full of problems, from the moment we are born until we die. And we seem to be unable to resolve any of these problems. On the contrary, as a civilisation, whatever that word may mean, grows we seem to be multiplying problems. And we never seem to be able to be free of all problems and to live a life that is without a single shadow of a problem. Into all this we are going to take a journey. You are responsible for taking the journey because you have come here, though it is rather hot, and I hope you will be careful not to smoke, because it is much too dangerous.
It's your responsibility as a human being to find out why after fifty thousand years or more or less, we are what we are. During the long period of evolution from the most primitive brain to the highly sophisticated brain that we have, why during all this period of vast experience, knowledge, incidents, so-called evolution, why we are still what we are - primitive psychologically, hating, violent, superstitious, killing each other, accepting one authority after another. I do not know if you have noticed in this country there are experts who tell you how to dress, how to make up your face, how to have sex, how to bring up babies, how to read. And all the politicians tell you what to do. If you have noticed, perhaps you do not notice as you are too close to it, when you come to this country from abroad you notice all these things all over again. They are telling you, everybody, the newspapers, the magazines, the priests, the evangelists, the authorities, the specialists, the experts, telling you what to do. And this is supposed to be a free country, you are supposed to be free people who are capable of thinking things out for themselves, capable of dealing with their own lives, either righteously or unrighteously. One wonders why a young nation like this is so caught up in the travail of experts, so we are losing our own inward stability, clarity and a sense of behaviour. I do not know if you have noticed all these things. Perhaps the speaker may be exaggerating, but I doubt it. When he comes from abroad for a week he listens to all the television, all the channels, thirteen channels, newspapers, magazines, talks to some of the experts, and listens to the evangelists - my god, what a crowd! And apparently this country is bent on fun and success, money, and a way of having pleasure superficially. You must have noticed all this too.
So this is the country that is becoming dominant throughout the world, from Asia, from India, from Europe, they all want go to America, to the States; not only to earn more money, to have the capacity of invention, and so on.
So please, if one may repeat it over again, we are not experts, we are not professionals, we are in no way instructing you, or telling you what to do. But rather with great simplicity, with great affection, let us walk together. Together either we walk very fast, or very slowly. But together explore into the injustice of this world, and enquire if there is justice at all, why human beings hurt each other, kill each other; why belief, faith, ideals are dividing people throughout the world. Like the ideology of Russia and the democratic ideology are at war. The piling up of armaments throughout the world, even the poorest country. You must surely be aware of all this. So everybody throughout the world is preparing to kill each other. Demonstrations to stop a particular kind of war, neutron or atomic wars. But nobody seems to be concerned with stopping all wars. There is no demonstration to stop wars, to kill human beings.
And after these forty, fifty thousand years, we are still what we are. What has happened? Why are we like this? Time is supposed to give us understanding, supposed to give us knowledge, supposed to give us a sense of right or true behaviour, accurate. But apparently time has not solved any of our problems. On the contrary.
So one asks, as one must, talking over together as two friends, why have we become like this? It is not only in this country, it is right throughout the world, from the most primitive village in Africa, or India, to the most highly civilised, so-called civilised people. What has happened to us? Some may be thoroughly satisfied with what we are, specially if you are rich, powerful, have status and position, then you don't question these things. But if one is thoroughly dissatisfied, not in revolt, dissatisfied - I hope one sees the difference between dissatisfaction and revolt. If you are dissatisfied, which comes from observing things as they are actually, dissatisfied with all the things that man has put together, then you are beginning to enquire into it. But if you merely revolt against it, that revolt is merely a reaction. And we are full of reactions, and therefore we never get any further. But if you could, perhaps only this morning, see things as they are, not according to your particular prejudice or conclusion, or ideologies and faith, but things as they are, not only in your own particular backyard but throughout the world - the starving, the poor, the uneducated, the extraordinary rich people, tremendous power in the hands of the few, whether it is democratic or communist, totalitarian, power, money, with all that goes with it.
So if we could as friends, not opposed to each other, not contradicting each other, nor accepting what the other fellow says, but together take this journey. Which means you, each one of us, whatever speed you would like, walk, but walk, not let the other person do all the talking, all the explanations, all the reasons and descriptions; together look at it, observe it. To observe is one of the most difficult things to do. To observe without any direction, without any motive, without any word, just to observe that tree, for example, without being caught in the word 'tree', and all the implications of that word. If we are so able to observe ourselves and the world in which we live without any prejudice, without any conclusions, from any point of view, whether yours or mine or somebody else's. Just to look at it first.
We see there is a great deal of misery, a great deal of poverty; or else affluent societies like this country, though there is poverty in this country, there is war, nation against nation, tribe against tribe, ideologies against ideologies - the Catholic, the Protestant, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Muslim and so on. Two thousands years of propaganda of the Christians, and fifteen or sixteen hundred years of propaganda of the Muslims, and two or three thousand years or more of the Hindus and the Buddhists. We are slaves to this propaganda called religion, called nations, and so on. The world is at war, not only in a particular part of the Mediterranean but there are wars going on - I believe forty wars are going on, I have been told, perhaps it is a mistake.
So that's observed outwardly, this competition, each one out for himself in the name of god, in the name of psychology, in the name of science, each one is out for himself, for his success, for his fame, for his reputation, for his power, and so on.
And also in the world externally individuality is given tremendous importance, each one thinks he is the entire world, to do exactly what he wants, to fulfil, to succeed, to compete, you know, all the rest of it. And also externally so-called religions have divided man too, the whole Christian world with all its subdivisions, and the Buddhist, the Muslim, the Hindu divide. And they are also perhaps so-called peacefully at war. Perhaps too, if you can listen, observe accurately, the Christians have killed more people than anybody else. Look at it carefully. I am not against Christians or Hindus, just observing all this.
So externally our society is in chaos. In that society we live, which is degenerating, and dangerously near. And so this is the external world in which we live. Obviously one asks, who created all this external world, the society in which we live. Surely no divine hand has moulded this society. Society is put together by each one of us, through our violence, through our pleasure, through our fears and beliefs and dogmas, through our search for security in the family, in the community, in the nation. We have created this society, each one of us, and there is no question about that. We have made the society in which we live. And there are the reformers, like the communists, who wish to alter the structure of the society externally. The socialists, the totalitarians, and also the democratic people who through legislation and all the rest of it want to alter the organisation of society. When that organisation fails they invent another organisation. You must know all this. So organisation by re-organising is called progress. Right? I do not know if you have noticed all these things: politically, religiously and socially. It happens in the universities, colleges, in professional areas; but we never question deeply, seriously why we live in the society which we have made, which we have structured, put together. And this is the result of forty, fifty thousand years of evolution.
Either it is altogether hopeless, man will everlastingly live this way because for forty thousand years he has lived this way. And if we look to time to change fundamentally the structure of the psyche, the inwardness of our ways, if we rely on time another forty thousand years we will still be the same. If forty thousand years has not changed us another forty thousand years is another game.
So one asks very seriously - my friend and I are talking together, walking in a shaded lane where there are a lot of birds and flowers and the beauty of the hills - is it possible to change the human behaviour? Is it possible for a human being who is so fragmented, so broken up, so contradictory, so much in conflict, is it possible to fundamentally, not superficially, through pressure, through reward and punishment, but deeply, can there be a mutation not only in the brain cells themselves but in the whole structure of the psyche, which is self-centred, egotistic, utterly concerned with itself? This has been the problem of some of the religious people from the ancient of times. And those very, very, very few, have perhaps broken the chain of self-centredness with all its limited selfish activity. And the vast majority of people carry on.
So we are asking, my friend and I together: is it possible for us to change? Not change to something else, that is only a becoming. When you change what you are to what you should be, that is a form of becoming. Right? So that is no change at all. I wonder if you understand this? If I am greedy, or schizophrenic, or utterly committed to some kind of amusement and fun and entertainment, to change from that particular form of entertainment to another form of entertainment is still entertainment. Right? But change implies an ending, not a continuity. Are we together in this? You are the friend walking with the speaker. If this is not clear we must go into it because it is very important to understand this.
We must enquire into what is ending. Take for example the word 'austerity', 'austere'. The etymological meaning of that word is to have a dry tongue! Not take alcohol, the root meaning of that word in Greek and so on is to have a dry mouth. From that arises the word 'harsh', dry, a sense of cruel control, a sense of simplicity holding to a certain pattern. Now austerity, we are not talking in those terms of dryness, harsh, cruel, cruel discipline to be austere. I wonder if you understand all this. To have great simplicity inwardly, that can only happen when there is absolute clarity. And that can take place when there is an ending to constant indulgence, ending. Say for example, if you are a smoker, end it, not take a lozenge in its place, chew something else in its place. If you are greedy, violent and all the rest of it, end it, not say, 'I will be something else'. We will go into this much more deeply when we talk about death. You don't mind talking about death, do you? Americans are rather frightened about it, aren't they? There are books written now, recently I see - How to die happily. They are helping the people who are dying to die easily. But death is something extraordinary which we will talk about later on.
So there is the importance of understanding ending. Go into it for yourself and you will see the extraordinary thing that we never end anything, there is always the ending and the beginning of the same thing in a different form. We took the word austere, which is really extraordinary, inward austerity, great sense of simplicity, without any complexity. But we won't go into that now because that requires a great deal of understanding. Because we have the picture of a great many saints and so-called religious people who are very, very austere, at least they pretend. And there is no austerity without love. Love and simplicity is the essence of austerity.
So my friend and the speaker are talking over together, they say, is it possible for each one of us to fundamentally end greed and violence, the search everlastingly for some kind of pleasure, end fear and so on? So we will go into it now.
From childhood our brains have been conditioned to solve problems. A child goes to the school, he has a problem how to read and write. And as he grows older, mathematical problems, geographical problems and so on. So our brain - actually this is a fact, it is not the speaker's imagination, if you have observed yourself - our brains are conditioned to solve problems. The brain is conditioned. So throughout life we are trying to solve problems. Haven't you noticed this? So to solve a problem the brain must be free to solve it. But if it is full of problems itself it cannot solve problems. That is a logical, sane, observation. You can see it in politics, how it is happening, they solve one problem and in the solution of that problem there are multiple problems. Right? You see this - economically and so on.
So one of our first demands or first enquiry is to find out whether we can we free to investigate why we are always solving problems, why we have problems first. We have problems. Right? And you go to various places to resolve your problems. If you have never been alone in the world, wandering among the hills, they will teach you how to be alone in the woods. You pay five hundred dollars or more and they teach you. And you are willing to be taught. Right? So what we are saying is, a brain, your brain, when it is conditioned from childhood to the resolution of problems, you are only multiplying problems. But if one can understand, see the fact, not only the explanation, the reason, the logic of it, but see the fact that a brain that is trained, educated to solve problems, as you have been from childhood, you are bound to increase more and more problems. Right? This is logic, sane. So is it possible for us, for you, to approach a problem with a brain that has no problems? You understand? You understand this? I am afraid you don't.
See the fact first that if you have problems and your brain is trained to solve problems, as it is now, then you can't solve the problem. Right? It is only when the brain is free then it can resolve problems. This is logic, reason. And the lawyers and the professionals increase our problems. They are paid to do that! Whereas if you want to solve a problem one must look at the problem and how you approach the problem. How you approach it. To approach means to come near. How do you come near to a problem? You can't come near to a problem if your mind is seeking the solution of the problem. Right? You can only come near it, look at it, observe it when you are not wasting your energy searching for a solution. I wonder if you understand all this. It is very simple, don't get complicated.
I have a problem, suppose I have, with a friend, or with a wife or husband, how do I approach it? Freely, or with a conclusion which I would like to bring about? Or I have a motive? So a motive, a conclusion, a preconceived solution is a distorting factor, so I never solve the problem. Right? So our first enquiry into this is: can we look at problems in the world and in ourselves, and the world is not different from you, the world is what we have made of it, the society is not different from you, you are the society, you are the world and the world is you, and can we look at that? That is, to look, observe freely without any direction of a problem, whatever the problem be. Then in the observation, in coming very, very close to it. Then the problem itself becomes important not the answer. You understand? And therefore there is no problem. Oh, I can't go on into it; if you have understood it, so much the better.
So: which means why is it that our brains - because that is the centre of all our activity, all our thought, all our emotions, it is the centre of all our reactions, that brain is conditioned through long years, forty thousand years, it is conditioned as Christian, Buddhist, as a philosopher, as a scientist, as a psychologist, psychiatrist, you know the whole business of it. It is conditioned. That conditioning not only distorts action but also creates a great many problems in relationship, in communication, in looking at things without freedom. So we ought to enquire into that first. That is, why our consciousness - our consciousness is the whole content of our brain, it is what we are, what you think, what you feel, your beliefs, your pleasures, your faith, your prejudices, your experiences, your memories, your pleasures and so on, all that is what you are. All that is your consciousness with all its reactions. Right? It's nothing strange, it is very simple. You don't need to go to a professional to find all this out. You can look at yourself, you can know it, if you are capable of observing yourself very clearly, you will find this out much more deeply, truly than from a book or from a professional.
So this is what you are. And we are asking a very serious and fundamental question: this self-centred consciousness is the consciousness of the entire world because every human being throughout the world is self-centred, like you. He has pleasure, he has pain, he has sorrow, he has various superstitions, beliefs, he has invented gods, as you have invented gods. So this consciousness which you have, which you think is yours, personal, mine , is the consciousness of the entire world. They are trying to prove this in different ways scientifically. I won't go into all that. Then when science says then you will probably all say, yes! Because we have been taught to accept what the experts say. But we are not the experts here, we are together looking at this extraordinary phenomenon which is a human being.
And religion, society, our own pleasures, have made us think we are separate individuals. I know what we are saying goes against everything that you believe. On the contrary we are saying you are not individuals; you are the rest of humanity, you are humanity because you suffer, because you have fears, you have many illusions and superstitions and beliefs, you have one god or one saviour, and in Asia they have a thousand gods, perhaps that is more fun. So you are like the rest of the world. It is a tremendous realisation, this fact. Then you will not kill another, if you kill another you are killing yourself.
So that is the one thing, our conditioning has made us. Religions have said you have separate souls; in India too you have separate atmans and so on and so on. So can all this be radically changed, fundamentally so that we can live on this earth, which is so beautiful, only it is rather hot this morning, it is such a beautiful world, not in pictures, not in the museums but when you look around, the hills, the rivers, the valleys, there is a great sense of beauty in the world? Nature is not made by man; the tiger is not put together by thought. But apart from nature thought has put everything together, the structure of our own self. So thought is responsible, without thought and memory which is born of knowledge, you can't do a thing.
So we ought to enquire what is thought. We are going to enquire together, if you will. What is thinking? What is thought? Because thought has created the extraordinary world of technology - going to the Moon, the neutron bomb, missiles, the submarines, the computer, communication, the railways, the airports, thought has put together all that. And also thought has put together the whole business world. Thought has also put together all the cathedrals of the world, the temples, the mosques, the churches, and the magnificent, beautiful cathedrals of Europe. And also thought has put all the things that are in the churches, in the cathedrals, in the temples, in the mosques - their rituals, their garb, their clothes, their sceptres, you know all the things that show off the religious person. And also thought has invented god. So we should enquire very carefully into the nature of thought because everything we do is based on thought. Your relationship with another, intimate or not, is structured by thought. To write a letter, to drive a car, to be a first-class scientist or carpenter you must have thought.
So we should very carefully understand the nature of thought, why thought has become so extraordinarily important in our lives. And thought may be also one of the reasons why we destroy each other. So what is thought, what is thinking? When you are asked a question, what is your name, your answer is very quick, immediate - why? Because you have repeated it a hundred times, you are very familiar with it. If you are asked a more complicated question, there is a time interval before you answer it. During that time interval you are looking, you are searching, you are asking, and you are looking into books to find out the answer. There is an interval between the question and the answer. During that interval thought is enquiring. And also when you ask something much more complicated and you say, 'I don't know' - I wonder if you ever say, 'I don't know'? Do you? When you say, I don't know, you are waiting for an answer, or for somebody to tell you. So these are the stages of thinking. And also what is thinking? Perhaps you have heard the speaker talk about it, explain it. Forget, if I may request you, what the speaker has said, or what you have read about it, completely put aside all that, and let us look at thinking.
Your thinking may be crooked, or straight, or rational, or subtle, or neurotic, schizophrenic, but it is still thinking. The most erudite person and the most illiterate person, the man who doesn't know how to read or write, who lives in a small village, he also thinks. So there are these extreme forms of thinking - subtle, crude, and so on. So we should be very clear what is thinking when all our life is based on thinking - perverted, crooked, illogical, illusory, utterly stupid.
Thinking can only take place when there is memory. Without memory you cannot think. And this memory is stored in the brain cells, in the brain. Right? And memory is the accumulation of knowledge. And knowledge can only be, exist, where there is experience. And experience is always limited. Right? And so knowledge can expand, be wide, but knowledge is always limited, either in the future or now, it is always limited. That's a fact. Scientists are adding more and more and more to what they already know. So knowledge has always been limited now or in the future, so thought or our memory is always limited, obviously. So thought is limited. Right? So action then born of thought will always be limited, therefore anything that is limited must create contradiction. Right? You understand all this? When you are thinking about yourself all day long, as most people do, it is very limited, isn't it? And action born of that limitation must create innumerable problems, contradictions.
So to go into it more deeply which is as thought is limited, which is so, there is no complete thought about anything, there cannot be, it can think about completeness, it can think about measureless, but the thing that thought thinks about as being measureless is still limited because in itself thought is limited. Right? So thought being limited, everything it has done has created contradictions. That is, thought has created nationalities. Right? Because thought says, I must be secure. I am not secure with a family, but I will be secure with a greater community, and the ultimate greater community is the nation, which is born out of tribalism. Nationalism is merely another form of glorified tribalism. And so therefore you have divided the world into the Christian world, the Buddhist world, the Hindu world, the Islamic world, with their separate gods, it all seems so utterly silly. Pardon my saying so. And so where there is division there must be conflict. Right? There is conflict going on in the eastern end of the Mediterranean between the Jew and the Arab, Iran and Iraq, fighting about what? The ideological gods and suppositions which each group has created.
So when one realises not verbally or logically, but the reality that thought is everlastingly limited, there is no end to the limitation of thought, thought then is a material process. Because it is stored in the brain, it is a material process. Therefore anything that thought has created can never be sacred, holy, but only limited.
So one asks: if thought is limited and creates such havoc in the world, what is the place of thought? Are you asking these questions? Do you understand? Is the speaker working, or are you also working? Are you also thinking, enquiring, groping, pushing? Or are you merely sitting under the shade of dappled shade and enjoying the mountains and the hills and the quietness of this place, which is good too, but to listen to something that is true, listen to something which you yourself have found for yourself to be true. And then be committed to it, work for it. Not just let things go by. If you hear the truth and not act, then that truth acts as a poison. It creates more trouble, more problems.
So there must be the right place for thought. You cannot go from here to your house without thought. You cannot drive your car as soon as you leave this place, when you want to get home, you have to use thought. You have to use thought when you write a letter, you have to use thought when you do business and so on. So thought has a right place. But has thought any place at all - please listen to this - has it any place at all in the psychological area, any place at all in relationship with each other? You understand my question? Has thought in relationship a place at all? If it has then in that relationship there is a limitation, and therefore there is division, therefore there is conflict. Right? In my relationship to a wife, or to a husband, or to a girl, a boy and so on, if in that relationship thought plays a great part, thought being limited, then that very limitation creates a division between her and him; and therefore where there is division there must be conflict. As you know very well in all your relationships there is conflict, however much you may like another - I won't use the word love - however you may like the other, or have pleasure with the other, it is always limited, therefore breeding conflict. That's law, that's logic, that's truth.
So thought has its right place in the world of technology, in the ordinary world, but psychologically, inwardly, thought has no place at all. Then there is a place that creates the self, the 'me'. And the 'me', the ego, the persona, is very limited. It can imagine that it is marvellous, it can imagine it can do extraordinary things. But that imagination, that picture is really still very, very limited, small. To see the truth of this, that's all, one has to do nothing but just see the fact of it. And that very fact, the perception of the fact, as you perceive something dangerous, like a dangerous animal, a dangerous precipice, if you see this as factually, as actually as that, then you break the whole chain of continuity of the self. Then only it is possible to live with another without a single shadow of conflict. Because conflict is the very essence of violence. We think violence is out there: the terrorist, the kidnappers, the wars, the people who carry guns, as in this country everybody is allowed to carry guns, a most extraordinary country! You go into a shop and you can buy a gun.
So violence is not only out there, but violence in relationship exists as long as there is division, as the 'me' and the 'you'. The 'me' pursuing my ambitions, my greed, my purposes, my achievements, and she also doing the same. And therefore we are always living in conflict. And realising the conflict you say, how am I to solve it. So we come back: the brain being conditioned to the solution of problems from childhood, so we say, all right, let's see how I can resolve, or change, or bring about the ending of conflict. That becomes a problem. Right? That's what you are doing now: how am I to end conflict? But if you saw the root of it, the cause of it, whatever has a cause, that cause can be changed, it can be removed. The cause of conflict is the sense of division brought about by thought, which is limited. And whatever is limited - religions are limited, your beliefs are limited, anything that is put together by thought is limited and therefore it must always create conflict. If you see the fact of that, the truth of it, then that very truth is the catalyst that will end conflict.
I have finished for this morning. We shall continue tomorrow morning. If one may point out you must listen to the whole - not that I am inviting you to come again tomorrow, it's up to you, I am not interested if you come or don't come, and I mean it - but if you want to understand the whole issue, the whole totality of life, you must listen to the whole thing, it is a package, as you call it! Not just one chapter of it, it is a whole book you must read. It has got many chapters, many paragraphs. And that book is you. And as we are going to talk about all these matters during the next week, if you are willing, one must listen to the totality of it.