What has religion to do with your daily life?
Is it possible to bring about a deep psychological revolution in ourselves?
4th Public Talk, Madras
January 08, 1984
I suppose one must talk.
We began these talks with the enquiry: religion and peace on earth require a great deal of intelligence. Peace on earth has not been possible for man for thousands and thousands of years, nor has religion - what is accepted as religion - brought peace to man. There have been religious wars, religions have killed people, blessed canons, warships, religions have tortured, burnt people, humanity, and all religions talk about peace on earth. And apparently we never seem to have peace on earth. This is a fact. Neither in society nor in the environment, which we are slowly, carefully destroying, nor is there peace in ourselves. And we began these talks with enquiry into these two subjects.
And if one may again point out without boring you, that this is not a lecture about religion or philosophy, or what is peace and so on. It's not how you should think or what you think but rather together, you and the speaker, enquire into this very complex question of what is religion and if it is possible not only to have peace in the world but primarily in oneself. If there is not peace in us, inwardly, psychologically, then we create a society which has no peace whatsoever, it is becoming more and more diabolical, more and more destructive. We human beings have become more and more cruel, more and more careless, indifferent. And religions have tried to tame man. There have been various commandments, various sanctions, the socalled religious books throughout the world have said, do this, don't do that. And fortunately or unfortunately we have never obeyed them. We just quote them, they become nice slogans for political or religious purposes and we carry on as we are - thoughtless, indifferent, callous and rather brutal in our own activities and thoughts. And the speaker has put religion and peace at the end of the talks, generally, because we have been through the whole complex problem of living, daily living - relationship we talked about, how important it is, that without right relationship there will be perpetual conflict between man and woman, between society and each one of us. Because society has been built together, put together, structured according to our desires - we have made them.
And we have been through fear, whether it is at all possible for human beings to be utterly free of fear. And we said it is possible. And also we talked a great deal about - yesterday evening - suffering. The enormous suffering that man has borne throughout his life and past generations, and perhaps the future generations. And we should talk over together as two friends, not trying to convince each other of anything, not trying to do any kind of propaganda, try to convert one to one's own point of view, but together, sitting down under a tree, talking about not only their daily travail, their daily toil, their daily misfortunes and incidents and unhappiness and depressions, but also the two friends are talking about their religion, what is religion. And whether it is possible for human beings who have lived so long on this beautiful earth, whether it is possible to have peace at all, not only in themselves, in their lives, in their attitudes, in their way of daily living, whether it is possible to have peace, quietness, without any conflict, without any problems. And we are together, this nice evening, going into all this.
Please bear in mind, the speaker most respectfully points it out to you, that he is not investigating. Together you and he are exploring into this very complex problem of what is religion and if there can be peace in the world. Because you are the world; the world is not separate from you. What you are the world is. What you are in daily life the world is. That is, whether you are an American, Russian, Chinese or Indian or Muslim, or whatever you are, each human being suffers, goes through a great deal of anxiety, always seeking security, both psychologically and outwardly. And that security is being gradually denied through wars, through terrorism, through all kinds of unspeakable things that are going on in the world.
And fundamentally if we as human beings do not change our whole way of living, our attitudes and expressions and outlook, we are going to create a world that is going to be destroyed. I do not know if you have not read or talked to some top scientists. Many of them are saying, and the speaker has talked to some of them, if there is a nuclear war the whole earth will be destroyed, the whole earth, including your favourite country - India, Russia, America - the world will be totally destroyed. This is not a threat, this is what is taking place between politicians, how to juggle this. And there have been books and articles in America specially, and also I believe in Russia also, what would happen to man if a bomb fell in a particular city, ten million people will disappear altogether, vaporised, a hundred millions round the centre will be hopelessly ill, their eyes melting and so on, all the horrible things. So we should as human beings living in this world, controlled by scientists and politicians, shaped by our thinking, by newspapers, magazines, and by the owners of temples, whether it is government owned or individually owned, we ought to talk about all this together. And one believes that you are here for that purpose, not just to listen, just to hear a few words and go home and pursue the same thing as you have been doing, but rather thinking things out together, not intellectually or romantically or imaginatively or theoretically, but actually find out.
So, first what is religion? The root meaning of that word is not very clear. But we know, we have some perception of what religion is, as it is now - rituals, meaningless utterly, prayers, asking god to help you, and you pay in return something, either in coin or through some kind of sacrifice, take vows and so on - quid pro quo, you give me this and I'll give you that. And religions, as they are now, most of them believe in god. Probably you all do. Right? Would the speaker be accurate if he asked you that you believe in god, most of you? Silence? Most of you believe in god. You've never asked why. If there is no fear in your heart, absolutely no fear, would you have gods? And gods are created by thought. Go to any temple, any mosque or any cathedral and all the things apart from architecture - the great cathedrals of Europe have marvellous architecture, structures so enormous and so marvellous, great dignity, like some of the Indian temples and mosques. All those external things are created by thought, good architects, anonymous. You don't know who built the ancient temples of India or the most beautiful mosques in the world or the cathedrals, but what is inside these temples of the world are put together by thought - their rituals, their costumes, their idols are all put together by hand or by thought.
And thought, as we said, is a material process. I do not know if you have gone into it. If you have, you must have perceived for yourself that thought is contained in the brain cells as memory, knowledge, experience. We went into that very carefully. And whatever thought has created, which is your gods, your rituals, your prayers, and all the books, religious books of the world have been put together by thought. You might say, they are divine revelation straight from the horse's mouth, but it is still thought that put those words in the book. Thought is a material process because it is the result of experience, knowledge, memory, stored in the brain. The cells of the brain carry these memories. So, god, prayers, all the things that are contained in churches, temples and mosques are put together by thought, whether that thought be ancient or modern it is still thought. So what has thought done? Invented the image then worships the image. You understand? Through imagination, through fear, through longing, through this search for some eternity where there might be peace - thought has done all this. So thought, creating the images, whether by the hand or by the mind by the brain, then worships the very thing which it has created. Obvious. So you are playing a game, which doesn't affect your daily life at all.
So what has religion to do with your daily life? If religion is something in the temple and all that, and your life is entirely different, what takes place? Theories, concepts, conclusions, which are entirely divorced from one's activity, business, science and so on. Naturally one becomes hypocritical. May I use that word without insulting? This is what we have become. Say one thing, which is to pray or worship, and do exactly the opposite. And such people call themselves religious, idealists, and they miss the enormous quality of straight thinking and acting.
So what is religion? Please ask yourselves as two friends talking over together this question, what is religion? Man from time immemorial has sought something beyond all this, beyond the daily travail, beyond his loneliness and despair, his conflicts and anxieties, his everlasting suffering. He sought to put aside all this to find something which is not put together by thought. The ancient Sumerian, the ancient Egypt, and the five thousand, seven thousand years of Hurappa, you know, in Pakistan and so on, all sought something beyond. Because pain, suffering, one cannot endure too long. It dulls the mind, brain, it dulls the quality of love. But man has sought that. And the priests come along, all over the world they have come, to translate that into daily life. He becomes the interpreter, he becomes the guide, the guru, because we don't know what that is, but somebody says, 'I know', and we are so gullible - and I hope you are not gullible now - we are so gullible because we are suffering, we want comfort, we want safety, we want certainty, and we are caught by them. And this is what is happening throughout the world. If you are dissatisfied with one structure of religion you turn to the other. If you are a Christian, you are fed up with it, it's not sufficiently intellectual or romantic - no, sorry, it's very romantic and sentimental - but go to India, there you will find light. All troop round here - you know what is happening here.
So this has been the long struggle throughout the centuries to find something which is not of time, which is not of thought, which is not put together by thought, something totally immeasurable. And he has imagined it, said there is heaven and hell, in heaven there is peace, not on earth, not in our daily life, but in heaven there is peace. So you have postponed or put away peace from daily life. So together we ought to investigate this, if you are serious and interested, because it's your life. And is there something beyond all this? Is there something that is sacred? We are going to investigate that very carefully.
And also we ought to consider together, what is peace? The obvious meaning is not to have conflict, not to have pain, not to suffer, not to have everlasting struggle from the moment you are born till you die. That is, to have no problems at all and no conflict. Is that possible? Is it possible to live in this world, not run away from the world, is it possible to live a life, daily life without a single shadow of conflict? If you say it is not possible then you have shut the door. Or if you say yes, it is possible, you have also shut the door. But if you begin to enquire, if you begin to explore, neither saying it is possible or not possible, to learn, to go very deeply into this question, whether man, you, living in this town, married or unmarried, family and so on, job, responsibilities, whether you can live completely at peace with yourself. Of course you can if you are neurotic, psychopathic. You can imagine you are in heaven or believe in some fantastic thing and you live with that. And so you have closed yourself in a belief and imagine in that belief you are living at peace. But all that is rather childish, immature and mediocre.
The word 'mediocre' means, the root meaning of that word, is never going to the top of the hill but always part of the hill. That's the meaning of the word 'mediocre'. You may be good at your business, as a great scientist, as a philosopher, as a professor, as a good carpenter, but your life may be mediocre. We are not talking about good professional careers, which you are all good at, but we are talking about mediocrity, the mediocre mind brain. And having a mediocre brain Which is to live at your highest capacity, not your capacity expressed in some business or in some profession, but to live inwardly a life of great austerity, integrity. The word 'austerity' comes from Greek, which means to have a dry mouth. Which is, those people who are austere generally are very dry, hard, stern, one or two loin cloths. That is not austerity. Austerity is the quality of a brain that is whole, not broken up, that has great depth and integrity, and there is no shadow of conflict.
So we are going together examine whether it is possible to live in the modern world without any conflict. What is conflict? Please, bear in mind all the time that you and the speaker are having a friendly conversation and as they are friends talking about life, you are asking the question, not the speaker. So you are asking the question, what is conflict, why do we live in conflict? Are we aware that we live in conflict? Or we have become so hardened, so callous, indifferent, that we accept everything - the squalor, the poverty, the misery, the confusion, and naturally conflict, we put up with it. But if you begin to enquire whether it's possible to live without conflict then you have to ask - I hope you are asking - what is contradiction? And also you have to ask, as long as there is measurement, which is comparison, there must be conflict. Right? Are we meeting each other? Our life is always based, most of our life is based on comparison - in school, colleges, universities, you are always comparing. Your degrees are the result of comparison. And where there is comparison there must be conflict. Measure - you are tall, I am short, or I am black and you are white, or pink. It's always comparison. You are bright, I am not; I want to be bright like you. You look so nice and I am not nice looking. So there is this conflict of comparison. So can you live without a single movement of comparison? Do it, sirs, you will see. Then you will see that what is important is what you are, not what you should be or what you want to become.
And also conflict arises when there is separation, when there is duality, the opposite: I am this, I will be that; I am violent but I will pursue nonviolence, which is the opposite. So, is there opposite at all? Are you following all this? Does it interest you, all this? Or you have gone to sleep? It's a comfortable place - I hope you are all comfortable. And you have been challenged, questioned, asked. You have to respond. Of course, there are so many people you can't all respond at once. There would be too much noise. But if you respond to yourself, find out, is there opposite at all. There is the opposite: man, woman, dark, light, sun rising, sun setting, but psychologically, inwardly is there an opposite? I know - no, I don't know - people have told me, there are some theories that only the enlightened have no opposites. I don't believe it. No, I question it rather - not believe. I think that's nonsense. There is only 'what is'. That is, violence is the fact, nonviolence is nonfact. So the brain has created the nonfact because it is incapable of dealing with the fact. Right? If you know how to put an engine right then there is no problem, but if you don't know how to deal with 'what is', your violence or whatever it is, then you must invariably invent its opposite, because through the opposite you hope some day to achieve or change 'what is'. I hope you are following all this.
So, we are saying there is no opposite, except you are tall, I am short and all that - physically we are different, but psychologically, inwardly there is only the fact, and how to deal with the fact. If you know how to deal with it there is no opposite. So we are going to investigate together whether we can look at the fact, the fact being violence, fear, sorrow, callousness, concern with oneself. These are all facts. Whether there is heaven, whether one day you will be enlightened - all that is nonfact, it has no meaning. But if that has a meaning and you hold on to, and you are avoiding 'what is' there must be conflict because there is duality. Right? There is conflict when you say one thing and do another, think one thing and act totally differently to what you think. It's what you're all doing.
So, is it possible to understand violence, fear? Which is what we have, not create the opposite but comprehend, learn, investigate 'what is'. If you take any subject, any reaction, like violence, because that is fairly common for all of us - we are all rather violent people, aggressive. We may not be aggressive in one direction but in other directions we are. Now, we are violent people, that's a fact. How do you look at violence? Is violence separate from you? If you say nonviolence we are pursuing, that is totally separate from you, because you have no relationship to it actually, but what you are is violence. So can you look at that violence and understand the nature and the structure and the depth of that violence. That is to perceive, apprehend, learn about the whole content of violence. Violence is not only physical but much more psychological, inward. Now, what happens? I am going to go into it, if you are interested in it.
I am violent - suppose the speaker is violent - angry, irritated, imitating, conforming - all those are patterns of violence - conformity, comparison, anger, jealousy and so on. That word 'violence' contains all that. Now, I am violent. That's a fact. How do I look at it, how do I understand it, how do I explore it? Please do this as we are talking. First of all, is that violence different from me? You understand? Is anger, jealousy, fear, separate from me? Or I am that. I know you will say, 'Who is looking?' We are going to go into it. First of all we must be very clear that violence is not something apart from me - I am violent. Right? Would you acknowledge that fact? Or you would say, 'Who is it that is witnessing, observing violence?' The observer is the past. Right? The observer who says, 'I am violent', and sees the nature of violence, the observer, the looker, the investigator is the past - his memories of violence, the word 'violence' is part of memory and so on. The observer is the past. Clear? With the past you are looking at the present violence. Right? The present violence is a reaction, and that reaction you are looking from the past. The past is looking at that. So what takes place? You have used the word 'violence', which is the past, because you have been violent before, and you recognise it - please follow all this carefully - you recognise the new reaction and say that's violent. So the past memory with its word recognises the present reaction. So you have separated the present from the past. The observer is the past looking at the present. Right? So there is duality, and so there is conflict. And so they say, how am I to suppress violence, I'll pursue nonviolence and all those tricks you play. But actually you are violent. That's a fact. Can you hold that fact, not move away from that fact. That is, to observe without the observer. You understand? Therefore to observe without the knowledge of the past. Sir, don't agree, this is one of the - it requires great attention, great pause, silent observation to look at violence without a single word, without the whole operation of the past interfering in your observation. The observer is the observed. Right? This is difficult for you to accept or to see because all our life we have - sorry - all our life we have separated - we are Hindus, you are a Muslim - those are titles, the result of propaganda, but we are human beings. So is it possible to live without duality? That is, to say one thing and keep to that, not doubletalk. Remain with violence, understand its nature, look at it, which is to observe without the past. This requires, as I said, a great deal of attention, the urge to learn, not to condemn.
So, we are asking is it possible to live without conflict. The speaker is saying it is possible. Which means - I'll make it a little more complex - which means never recording. Never recording, whether insult or flattery or any incident, psychological incident, never recording. You understand? Are we understanding each other, even intellectually, verbally? The brain is recording. You are now recording what the speaker is saying. You may not be aware of it, you have been recording, like a tape on which this talk is being registered. So the brain is recording. Can that recording stop? The recording is knowledge and the recording of that knowledge, recording knowledge is safety, security. And we are frightened to let go, to look at things afresh. So, not to record. Not to record when your wife or your husband says, 'You are a fool' - I hope your husband and wife say, 'You are a fool'. Not to record that word or the feeling of that word.
Our brains have become like the computer. The scientists and the experts who are building computers are saying - pouring millions and billions of dollars, both in Japan and America, to create a computer which is ultra mechanical intelligence, which will think more rapidly than the human being - please, follow all this - they are doing it now. India may be fifty years behind or ten years behind, but they are building a computer, computers, where they take over most of man's activities. Of course they cannot - probably they will - write a sonnet, an ode or a song - probably they will. So the computer is like our brain but not so dull. It's tremendously active, carrying on a small chip thousands of memories. And when the machine can do all the things that human beings do, what's going to happen to the human brain, your brain? You understand my question? For god's sake, react. On the television in America we saw a Japanese car being built. There was the computer and a robot. The computer was telling the robot how to build a car, and the robot was building a car, and the workmen were in white aprons and white gloves. And suddenly the whole machinery stopped, and then the computer says to the robot, not verbally, that you didn't turn the screw tightly. So the robot immediately tightens the screw and the whole machine goes on. And this is what is happening in the computer world. That computer can outthink, it can invent gods, as you have invented gods, it can play chess, it can do the most extraordinary things. And what's going to happen to the human brain? You haven't thought about it. It's not worth going into because you are not interested in it.
The human brain requires activity, challenge. Either that brain is going to be entertained , the entertainment industry is going to take over that brain, as you are being taken over now - sports, cinema, magazines, temples, they are all entertainments - and football, you know, cricket and all the rest of it. Then what is going to happen? Your brain is taken over by entertainment industry. And it is being done now, of which you may not be conscious of it. And gradually your brain becomes quite dull, if not already. And either you're going to be entertained, or you turn totally in a different direction, inwardly. If you turn inwardly there is immense, infinite, everlasting security.
So, we are talking about peace. One can have complete peace within oneself, not peace of mind, which is silly, peace which is living, quality, depth, not just superficial quoting of peace. And that can only happen when there is no conflict whatsoever.
And also we ought to talk over together what is religion. And to find that out, go into it very, very deeply, we must talk over together, you and the speaker talk over, have a conversation, what is meditation. The word 'meditation' means to ponder over, think over. And also that word 'meditation' means measure. You understand? To think over, to ponder over, and also the capacity to measure. And if you want to find, if there is to be Religion has to be understood, not intellectually, not romantically and all that rubbish that is going on in the world, but to find out, to discover, to see the full meaning of that word, can only take place when there is no fear, when there is no conflict. And to find out - not to find out - for that sacred, if there is anything sacred, to find that truth, not through search, not through various experience, various gurus, going from one racket to another, but to see the truth of it there must be meditation.
What is meditation? Meditation generally is understood, whether it is Zen or every other form of meditation - Hindu, Tibetan, Buddhist - they all now have become systems, practices. Any system - any system whether it is bureaucratic or religious or a system of thought, philosophy - any system has inherently in it decay, degeneration. You see that happening. So, one must be free from all systems to meditate. Right? Will you be free of systems to meditate, or you have your own particular pet method to bring about tranquillity of the brain? Which is, you may have found through meditation a sedation. You understand? Putting yourself to sleep, to hypnotise yourself through repetition. Right? So we are going to find out together what is meditation. The speaker is not telling you how to meditate. The word 'how' doesn't exist in spiritual matters. The word 'how' implies the method. You have had a thousand methods and that has left you where you are.
So, what is meditation? Ask it, find out, we'll help each other. Which is, first there must be no authority, no instructor, no one to guide you, therefore you cannot possibly rely on anyone. Right? You have relied on, all your life and past generations have relied on leaders, on politicians, on gurus, on priests, and where has that left man at the end of it? He's still in confusion, still in conflict. So, to find out the true significance of meditation is total abandonment of all authority, including the authority of knowledge. You understand this? So that your brain is completely unconditioned, totally free from all tradition, from all sense of becoming. Which is, our brain is conditioned through becoming: you are becoming from a clerk to a manger, from an apprentice to a master carpenter, from a university student in engineering you are becoming head of an engineering department. Physically you have tried to become there, and the same movement is extended psychologically. There we are trying to become something. I am not good but I will be good, I will become enlightened. Enlightenment is not of time. Enlightenment isn't at the end of your life or through various practices. Enlightenment is to have a clear brain, uncluttered, uncluttered by knowledge, by thought so that the brain is free. And that is meditation, so that there is no measurement.
I do not know if you have gone into the question of measurement. The whole of the West, the whole technological world of the West, which you are copying here, is based on measurement. If there was no measurement there would be no technology. And the Greeks, the ancient Greeks, were concerned with measurement, and they exploded their philosophy, their discoveries, mathematics and so on, exploded over the West. India said, the ancient people - if I have been told correctly, because the speaker doesn't read all these books, thank god. So he's not burdened with knowledge, with tradition, he can look things as they are. India said that measurement is illusion. You cannot measure - the speaker is saying this - you cannot measure the universe, you cannot measure with words or thought the immeasurable, or that which is beyond all time. To understand the enormity of it, the grandeur, the beauty, the strength and the immense vitality of a brain that is utterly free, it has got tremendous energy, as in the technological world those who are inventing, searching, asking, exploring, they have immense energy there. But when the brain is free of the self, the 'me', which is essentially the wastage of energy, selfcentred activity, when there is freedom from that, the brain has got immense, incalculable energy, and you need - there must be that energy. Not put together by thought, not through various forms of awakening what you call centres in your brain and, you know, Kundalini and all that kind of stuff. The speaker knows something about all that. He disregards it totally. Whereas if there is freedom from conflict, and inwardly there is great silence, and meditation is that. Not contrived, manipulated, but silence without the which is not put together by thought.
Silence implies space. The brain must have space, but it has no space when thought is operating, because thought is limited, as all knowledge is limited. So there must be absolute silence and space, which can only take place when there is no measurement, no becoming. And when there is that silence - not the silence between two noises, not the silence or peace between two wars, two conflicts; silence is something totally unrelated to noise - and when there is that silence then there is that which is sacred, which is not measurable by word. This is meditation and this is religion, which has total relationship with our daily life.