What are the causes of human conflict?
Truth demands a mind that is totally free
4th Public Talk, Ojai, California
May 09, 1982
May we continue from where we left off yesterday? We were talking about disorder and the causes of disorder and the very detrimental, destructive nature of fear. We went into it very carefully yesterday, step by step, and that it is possible to be totally free psychologically of the burden of fear. And we also slightly touched upon the subject of conflict, human conflict. If I may suggest, this is not an entertainment, a Sunday morning outing because you have nothing else better to do. Nor is it an intellectual amusement. Life has become, has always been, very, very serious. Serious in the sense that one has to respond fully to all the things that are happening around us: the dreadful wars that are going on, the religious divisions, the various types of gurus with their peculiar entertainment. And as this is a serious gathering, one hopes - it becomes rather necessary that one must exercise one's own brain, one's own capacity, one's own energy, not stimulated by others or by these talks, but rather, as we are together examining the present state of human affairs, it becomes necessary that this gathering should not be treated as a lecture, a lecture being to inform or to have a discussion, transmitting ideas, certain judgements and evaluations. So this is not a lecture, as we have been pointing out over and over again here. The speaker is merely acting as a mirror in which one sees one's own condition, one's own fears, anxieties, loneliness, and the agony of life with its occasional flare of joy.
So we talked yesterday morning about fear, disorder, and the other mornings we talked about how human beings are hurt from childhood and that hurt they carry on throughout life and that it is possible to be free of all those hurts. And also we talked about relationship, human relationship. Why, in that relationship there is so much conflict. And whether it is possible to live a life, not only in all these matters, but essentially, deeply to live without conflict.
Why do human beings, after so many millennia, so astonishingly intelligent in one direction, technological direction, why human beings do not apply that quality of intelligence to their own lives and see whether it is possible to live without conflict. What are the causes of human conflict? Why does one live a daily life, in our relationship, in our actions, why there is such conflict, struggle, such pain? Please, as we pointed out, you are asking this question, not the speaker. The speaker is only putting into words the state of one's own mind, the state of one's own life: the enormous contradictions, saying one thing, doing another; thinking one thing and acting quite differently. Why human beings after so many centuries, having acquired information outwardly about almost anything, inwardly, psychologically, they have not investigated into their own problems, into their own travail, into their own anxieties, pain, grief. Is it that we have always looked to authority, to somebody to tell us what to do? There are in this country, as one has observed, specialists of various types: religious, psychological, and so on. They are telling us what to do, what to think. And we are gradually becoming dependent upon them, and so losing our own capacity, our own intrinsic energy of intelligence to explore and discover the causes of our conflicts, struggle, pain, and so on.
This morning we ought to talk over together the cause of conflict. There are various types of conflict, both outward and inward. The inward conflicts express themselves in the outward conflicts, you cannot have a society, an orderly society unless we human beings live an orderly life, sane, rational, healthy, holy life. And so we ought to, together think why we have all become like this - what we are.
As we have been pointing out in previous talks, our consciousness with its content, the content being hurts, beliefs, conclusions, judgements, evaluations, fears, pleasures, various types of acquisitive attachments, fear of death, seeking something beyond the ordinary events of life - that is the content of our consciousness. That's what we are. We, or the 'I', is not different from the content. I think this should be made clear. It may be that one is so conditioned to analysis, we want to find out why we human beings live as we do, and so we begin to analyse, try to discover the various causes for this unfortunate troublesome existence. But we have never enquired who is the analyser and the analysed. Is the analyser different from the analysed, and can the analyser merely verbally find the cause and the analyser then dissipate the cause? And we have done this for thousands of years. We know the causes. Most intelligent people, most people who are aware of their own turmoil, they can easily through analysis find out the cause, or the causes.
And so, we have separated the analyser, who is investigating the consciousness of himself. I hope this is clear. My consciousness, and yours, is its content. Without the content there is no consciousness as we know it. The content of one's consciousness, one wants to investigate, one wants to look, one wants to find out why that consciousness is in conflict, in contradiction. So one separates oneself from the thing that is being examined. Please follow this, if you will, a little bit. Thought separates itself as the analyser, that analyser tries to examine, analyse that confusion, that turmoil, that loneliness, that despair, and then begins to discover the cause. Then he tries to dissipate the cause, hoping thereby to wipe away the effects of the cause. So there is this division, as the analyser and the analysed, and hence wherever there is psychological division in oneself there must be conflict. This is a law, as gravity, that wherever inwardly there is a contradiction, a division, a separation from the analyser and the analysed as the observer and the observed, there must be conflict: as the Arab and the Jew, the Hindu and the Muslim, the ideological differences of the capitalist society and the totalitarian society, there must be conflict. And that conflict brings about this division, brings about the feeling of not being whole, the feeling of not being whole, because in us, in ourself, there is the division.
So is it possible to realise, not intellectually, but actually see the fact, as one sees a fact of pain, as one has this pain of a toothache and so on, actually realise, feel, perceive, that where there is psychological division there must be, inevitably, logically, conflict. And this conflict denies the feeling of being whole. That is, the feeling of whole is the freedom from error: 'to err', you understand the word, 'error'. So, feeling whole, the feeling of being whole, means not inwardly fragmented, broken up as we are. That is, all problems, psychological problems, are interrelated: the hurt, the lack of order, disorder, the conflict in relationship, all these problems are interrelated. We treat them as separate. And the perception, or the seeing logically, truthfully that all problems, psychological problems, whatever they be, are interrelated, you cannot take one problem separately from other problems. And to perceive the feeling of the whole movement of problems is one problem. A problem means, according to the dictionary, something thrown at you; that's the meaning of a problem. Something thrown at you which is a challenge; that's the meaning of that word, 'problem' is that. It's a challenge, something put before you. You have to meet it rightly. But we meet every problem as though it were separate, to be resolved, unrelated to other problems, as we do in life: religion, which is no religion at all as it is now, is separate from your intellectual, technological life. If you are a great surgeon, you are not concerned about your daily life, what you are inwardly; you are concerned about your technique, your method of operation and so on and so on.
So we live a life, both outwardly and inwardly, with a sense of fragmentation, which means we never feel the wholeness of life. That life is a movement, not your life and other people's life; life as a whole is one. It's not American life, or Indian life, or a Buddhist life, or a Muslim life, it is life, to be lived on this earth sanely, rationally, not divided as nations, which is a tribal adoration of an idea. That's what is happening in South Atlantic, this tribal war that is going on.
So, we all want to be safe; that is natural. Physically, we want to be safe: to have a house, a shelter, clothing, food. That's natural, healthy, sane, rational, for all of us, not only for the affluent people. There is a great deal of poverty throughout the world, even in this country. This poverty, this lack of relationship to the whole of the world, is brought about by national divisions, religious divisions, economic divisions. There is no feeling of global relationship. Please listen to all this. And our outward problems will never be solved, never, unless we have this global relationship. That is why it is important to understand very carefully that our consciousness, which is with all the beliefs, dogmas, judgements, loneliness, despair, anxiety, fears, hurts, is common to all mankind, to all mankind, whether they live in Russia, China, or in this country. And because it is common to all mankind, you are mankind. You are not a separate individual. This is hard to realise. Because you suffer, so does a man in the Far East; there he is uncertain, confused, trodden down, and you too, you are confused, uncertain, seeking security, safety; this is the problem of all human beings. And so it is hard to realise, to see the fact, because we are so conditioned to individuality, to see the actual fact that we are like the rest, we are the humanity, we are the whole of humanity. And therefore our action then will be a global relationship in which national divisions, religious divisions do not exist.
So we should consider this morning whether it is possible for a human mind to be safe, safe from error. Do you understand my question? Human beings have sought security, not only physically through family, group, community, nationality and so on, but also tried to find safety, to be safe in ideas, collective ideas, collective group, having the same conclusions, same beliefs, same frontiers. Man has sought his safety in isolation. That's what each one of us is doing. We want to be safe in ourselves, separate from the rest of mankind. 'Safe' means to have this feeling of wholeness, of being whole, then you are completely safe. But you cannot be whole or have that extraordinary feeling of total completeness if there is any sense of fragmentation. Now, this statement from the speaker may be false. One must doubt, question. It may be his own peculiar invention or illusion. But, having heard it, one must find out if it is possible or not possible to live a life which is whole, therefore safe. That means you, who have listened to this statement, you have to apply your mind, not agree. You have to question, you have to question your life, your existence, your whole activity, find out for oneself whether it is possible to be totally safe. You cannot possibly be safe in isolation; doesn't matter whoever says it, it is a law. And so what happens if you cannot be safe in isolation, why is the world divided up like this? The British, the Argentine, the French, the Russian, you follow? And religiously, too; those who are Christians, and the Christianity broken up in their beliefs, thousands of different beliefs in Christianity; the same thing in India, all over the world it's the same phenomena.
So, we are asking, when one realises this fact, can one live in the modern world, do your business, whatever one does, with a sense of feeling of being whole, not fragmented. Specialisation is one of the factors of fragmentation. One has to have specialists: doctors, carpenters, the postman, and so on. But psychologically, inwardly, what is the need to be a specialist? You are following all this? We are human beings.
So, we ought to discuss also the nature of pleasure, as we talked about fear. And also we should go into the question of suffering, whether it is possible for us as human beings who have lived on this earth for so many millennia, whether it is possible to end our sorrow. Please, as we have pointed out, this is a serious question. It's not just a Sunday morning sermon. Thank god we are not in a church or a cathedral, you are under lovely trees. We ought to be serious enough to enquire into all these matters. So we are going to enquire first why man has pursued pleasure at any price, why it has become such an important thing in life. When you emphasize one thing, you deny the others. You are merely pursuing pleasure, pleasure in so many forms: pleasure of possession, pleasure in attachment, pleasure in becoming something, pleasure in having knowledge, pleasure in having a piece of earth, pleasure in feeling that you have achieved something, you have been able to have a very good body, pleasure in drink - you know, so many forms of pleasure. Not only sexual remembrance of pleasure, but the pleasure of seeking, finding, achieving, being somebody. So why has pleasure become so extraordinarily important in life?
What is pleasure? As we examined very carefully into the nature of fear, went into it in great detail, we should also regard, examine pleasure. What is pleasure? Please, you answer the question, not the speaker. Is it a remembrance? Pleasure in prayer, pleasure in worship - I don't know what you pray to, what you worship, but it's a pleasure. Is it a remembrance of things that are past, over? Or, is it something in the future? Thinking about that which might give you pleasure. Or, the remembering of something which gave you a delight yesterday. Does pleasure, as fear, exist now, in that sense of having pleasure at the moment? It's like a man saying, I am happy. The moment he says that, he is not. It's only the remembrance of being happy at one time, or yesterday; that remembrance is the pleasure and the pursuit of that remembrance in action. I hope you are following all this. So, is pleasure a matter of time? Is pleasure an action of thought? As fear, we said yesterday, and we have said this often before, time and thought are the root of fear. Time and thought are the root of pleasure. We want to deny fear, but pursue pleasure. They are two sides of the same coin. You cannot be free from fear if you do not understand the nature of pleasure. When you look at that mountain, though it is a cloudy morning, when you look at these marvellous old trees and the blue sky, it gives you a delight. It is a marvellous thing to look at nature and the mountains and the rivers and the animals - wild, not kept in the zoo. It gives you a sense of extraordinary width and beauty. You remember that, then that remembrance insists and pursues, having, demanding more of the same thing. So thought and time are the factors of fear, and pleasure. We are not denying or asserting or suppressing fear, but to observe it, to see what is implied in it, to be totally acquainted with it.
Then one can ask, what is love? You understand, this is very serious, all these questions, human questions which affect our daily life. Is love pleasure? Man has reduced it to that. Is love pleasure? Is love desire? Love of country, love of a person, love of a poem, love of a painting, love of the country, love of acquiring a great deal of knowledge. So what is love? Love of god - it's so easy to love god. We don't know what that is, but we have invented it, and so we love it. You understand? What we invent, we love. So what is love? Negation is the most positive action. To negate that which is false, totally negate that which is false is the most positive action. To negate, for instance, the whole concept of nationalism, or a saviour, or some external agency to reform us, to change us, to bring about a different society; to negate the outward agency of any kind is the most positive action. So to negate totally that which is not love. That is, to negate jealousy, to negate totally every form of antagonism, to put aside competition, to deny the solitude, the sense of separate entity - and you are not a separate entity, you are related, you are the mankind.
So to deny that which is false is the truth. To deny all illusions is to live in reality. So can one deny, put aside, negate that which is not love. Attachment is not love; see the consequences of attachment, attachment to an idea, to a belief, to a conclusion, to a piece of earth, as my country, attachment to a person. What is involved in this attachment? Suppose I am attached to my wife. What are the consequences of attachment? Enquire, please, for yourself. I am attached to my wife, or the wife is attached to me. And the consequences are fear, the loss. If I am attached to a belief, the same thing, fear of losing that belief. If I am attached to some experience, I hold on to that and I battle, resist any form of enquiry by you to doubt it. I daren't doubt it, because I feel without it I am nothing. So, is it possible to have a relationship with a man, woman, or anything, anything, without any sense of attachment? Would my wife, if I told her, 'Darling, I am not attached to you,' what would she say? She would throw something at me, probably. (Laughter) You laugh, but you have not applied, you don't face the facts, that attachment denies totally love. You will say, I understand it logically, intellectually, but I have not this feeling that I must be free from it because that's one of the factors of conflict. Where there is conflict, there is not only division, there cannot be love. If I love the thing called god which man has invented, there is conflict, because I want his forgiveness, his prayer. You follow?
So love cannot exist where there is antagonism, competition, attachment, conflict, possession. Now can the mind, can a human being negate all that, and live with a man or a woman in society? You have heard this statement - either it is true or utterly meaningless. If it is meaningless, then it has no value. But if you have heard it and find it has value in the sense that it can be applied, why is it that human beings, knowing all this, don't apply? Why is it that human beings never change radically? Nothing outside will make you change - no gods, no gurus, no Masters, no saviours, no authority. There is a mutation in that conditioning, only when you yourself see the truth of it. That means you yourself have to think clearly, objectively, not personally. That means to have this extraordinary sense of the feeling of being whole. Not fragmented means to be safe, free from all error. And when the mind is in that state, there is love. It's not whether you love your wife or don't love somebody else, love is love. Please see all this. It's not, can I love one person and not love another? It's like the perfume of a flower. When the perfume is there, it is not only for the one who is nearest to the flower, but the flower itself is the beauty of life, to be looked at, admired, smelled by anyone who wants to. This is not a romantic statement where you can kind of admire and smile and say, I wish I had it. Because without that perfume of love, life has no meaning. You may be a marvellous professor, great scientist, and so on; without that, life has lost its vitality, its depth, its beauty.
And also we should talk about what is beauty. What is the quality of mind that has beauty? Is it the face, well-covered up with all kinds of cosmetics, lovely hair, properly shaped eyes, and so on? Is beauty in the painting of a great master? Is there beauty in a lovely poem? What is beauty? Because if you have not that quality of that sense of depth and the clarity which beauty brings about, love has no meaning either, because they two go together. So one has to enquire very carefully, and if you are serious, deeply, what is beauty. Can beauty exist where the mind is in conflict? Where you have problems, one or many, can beauty exist? Or, beauty is there when you are not there. Have you ever looked at a great mountain, the majesty, the dignity, the immovability of that mountain when you look at it? For a moment, the majesty of it drives away all your problems - for a second. That is, at that moment, you, with all your problems, are not there. And you say, what a marvellous thing that is. There, the outward greatness drives away the pettiness of yourself. Then that feeling of immensity, magnitude, that great wordless state puts away the little problems of life. Like a child with a toy, the toy takes the child over; for a moment the child has forgotten or is absorbed by the toy. And we are also absorbed by something; escape from ourselves. Which is to absorbed. You are being absorbed now by the talk. So for the moment you are quiet and so on. So when you with your problems, with your anxieties, with your loneliness, with your attachments, are not there then beauty is. And where there is beauty, and love, life becomes an extraordinary movement.
I think we better stop now. We'll discuss next Saturday the ending of sorrow, what death means, what is meditation, if there is at all something that is utterly beyond all words, beyond all time, and that which is sacred. We'll talk about it Saturday and Sunday. May we get up?