What instrument will solve human problems?
Why has man become what he is?
1st Public Talk, Madras
December 25, 1982
I don't know why you are all here. I wonder why you have gathered. It's a rather important question to ask by each one of us here, with what intention, with what purpose, and at the end of the talk, what you have gathered for yourself. We are going to talk over together a great many things relating to our daily life, relating to all the events that are taking place on this unfortunate earth. And so this is not a lecture. A lecture generally means gathering information, collecting some data with a view to instruction. So, this is not a lecture as it is commonly understood, but this is a conversation between us. A conversation, if you will, between two friends who are concerned not only what is happening in the world externally, environmentally, but also what is happening to the human being.
We are going to talk about it, first: what is happening to our brain, to our conduct, why human beings who have lived on this earth, perhaps a million years or a more recent discovery, between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago, why after all this so-called evolution, passing through so many wars, one religion after another, one government after another, why we human beings throughout the world have so degenerated, without any stamina, without any integrity. And we are, as I said, we are going to talk over together, you are not merely - if I may point out most respectfully - you are not merely listening to a series of ideas or some form of conclusion, or some new principles and values, but together you and the speaker are going to examine closely, hesitantly, carefully, what is happening in the external world, and what is happening to us in our own daily life, the inner life.
So, please, we are having a conversation together about all this. If you hold on to your opinion, however slight, or dogmatic, or stubborn, or obstinate, or come to some definite conclusions, then it will not be possible to have a conversation, or communicate with each other. That must be clearly understood from the very beginning of these talks, that you and the speaker are going to examine, not from any religious point of view, or as a communist, socialist, Marxist, conservative, left and right, or belonging to any nation. We are going to examine. To examine one must have a free mind, not an opinionated mind, not a traditional mind, not belonging to any sect, to any order, to any religious group or to any institution. Then one cannot possibly examine closely what is happening in the world outside of us. There are the threats of war, the nuclear or the conventional war; the decline of all religions; there is no moral activity, but most of us are living superficially, intellectually, never examining, never questioning, doubting all that is going on in the world.
And to examine, to probe, to observe, requires a very clear mind and heart, a brain that is not held by any tradition, a brain that is already conditioned, a brain that has evolved through millennia. And if we are not aware of the activities of our own brain, our own sensory responses, examination and the observation of what is going on in the world, becomes almost impossible. So, please, even for this evening, let us talk together like two human beings, friendly, not imposing any ideas on each other, any dogmatic, argumentative conclusions, but as two friends who have known each other for some time, sitting under a lovely tree in a cool climate and looking at the world.
What is the world? What is it that is happening out there? Who has created it? Why has man become what he is, thoughtless, careless, indifferent, without any love, brutal, violent? Why have we become like this? You might blame: it's our inheritance, you might blame it on the environment, on the culture, on the society. But who has created this society? Each one of us, the past generation after generation, and the present generation is contributing to it. So we have created this world, and there is no escape from that fact. Each one of us has contributed to that chaos, to the mess that is going on, the disorder, the anarchy.
So, thought has divided the world into nationalities, and nationalities are one of the causes of war. Nationalities devised by thought in its search for security has divided the British, the French, the Indian, the Muslim, the Pakistan, the Russian and so on, and thought has created war through this division. And the preparations of war for killing other human beings, thought has been responsible for this. In its search to be safe, secure, to find somewhere or other a sense of safety, it begins with the family, community, then a large group and a wider group hoping thereby to find some kind of safety, protection, security, and so it begins with the small and ends up in nationalities. And all the governments are supporting this crazy system of dividing people into nationalities, into groups - as the Hindus and the Muslims, the Chinese and the Russians, the Americans of course, and the British, the French, and so on. Then thought has been responsible for the division of religions - the Christian, the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Muslim and so on. Thought has created the marvellous cathedrals, the great mosques and the lovely temples.
And thought has put in these temples, mosques and churches the things that are invented by thought - the rituals, the dogmas, all the ceremonial vesture, thought has been responsible. And thought has created the problems of division, the problems that arise through division, between the Jew, the Arab, between one group against another group. Thought has been responsible for the extraordinary development of technique, technology. Very few of us know what actually is going on in the technological world, the terrible things they are doing biologically, inventing great instruments of destruction of man - vast, unlimited movement of technology. And thought has organised mass killing in the name of peace, in the name of country, in the name of god. So there is great conflict going on for which thought is responsible.
We will presently investigate together what is thinking, what is the nature of thought. But first we must examine the activity and the result of thought, thinking. Thought has brought about great hygienic benefit, communication, rapid transport and all that. The brain is infinitely capable, and that capacity, that energy of thought has created this world of technology, with all the problems it involves, social, environmental. And thought also has created havoc in our daily life, in our relationship with each other, between man and woman. So we are saying that thought is responsible for all the misery it has brought about in the world. Please don't deny or accept what the speaker is saying. He is putting that forward for you to examine, to question, to doubt, not to accept nor agree, but to look, to examine, to care. Thought has also done great things for humanity.
So, we must together examine very carefully what is the source of thought, why thought has created such havoc in the world, whether thought can ever have as its companion love, or love is entirely different from the activities of thought. So, please, together without any sense of authority, without any sense of belonging to any group - either the Marxist, Capitalist or democratic, belonging to no religion, no sects, totally uncommitted. Then only is it possible to examine and to go beyond the present confusion and chaos. So, please, listen, not agree, but listen to find out. We have to be both the teacher and the disciple. The word 'disciple' comes - the meaning of that word disciple means he who learns. And also we must be the teachers. The very act of learning gives us the responsibility to teach. So, we are going together to learn, not hold on to our old traditions, to our old opinions and conclusions, then that prevents you from learning, not from the speaker but learning through observation, learning through the investigation of the nature of thought and the nature of the brain, not the physiological brain but the activities of a brain that is conditioned. So, first of all, we are going to look together, why the brain which has evolved through thousands of years, which has gone through every kind of experience, pleasurable, painful, and every kind of incident, accident - why that brain had become so limited, not limited in one direction, which is in the technological world. It is not limited there at all. It is moving with an extraordinary rapidity. And so in one direction, in the direction of technology, the brain has infinite power. That is obvious.
The brain has put man on the moon, it has invented the terrible things to kill human beings, and also technology has given man great comfort, hygiene, communication, and so on. But the brain is limited because it cannot go in any other direction but that direction. That is, it is incapable at present of going inwardly. And if it can go in one direction with such extraordinary vigour, extraordinary energy that has been put into the technological world, if it can go in the other direction, that is not in the direction of amusement, entertainment, but in the world of the psyche, the psychological world, then it has an extraordinary infinite capacity, both outwardly, that is the technological world, and the inward, the psychological world. But we have not given that same consideration, the same enquiry, the same doubt, scepticism, questioning, demanding, challenging what we are. And so, if you will, we are going to enquire together into the whole psychological world, why after all these thousands of years, why we live in conflict with each other, why man has become so miserable, unhappy, anxious, uncertain, hypocritical, dishonest, corrupt, suffering a great deal. That is our inner world, the world of the psyche, the psychological realm into which very few have investigated deeply, profoundly. And the psychologists, the theoreticians, the analysts, psychotherapists, they have not solved our human problems. They have written vast volumes about it, but we are still what we are.
So, how do we investigate into something that is yourself, that is your consciousness? You are both the unconscious and the conscious, the whole realm of the inward activity which dictates the outer activity. If that inner activity is not in order, then we create a society as we have done, which is totally in disorder. You can any fool can see this. You cannot create outward order unless there is inward order. We are not going to discuss what is order now. We will, as we go along. But one has to realise this fact, that the outward chaos, war, confusion, the brutality, the violence, the hatreds, is the result of our own life, our own disorder, the conflict in our own consciousness, the disorder of our daily life, the disorder in our relationship with each other, the perpetual row that goes on between human beings. And can all this misery, confusion, conflict, anxiety, and so on, can it ever end? This question is far more serious than the nuclear war, or the neutron war, whatever war that be, whether it is possible to change radically the content of our consciousness. The crisis is there, not in the world. Please understand all this. The crisis is not in the world, not the nuclear war, not the terrible divisions, the brutality that is going on. The crisis is in our consciousness, the crisis is what we are, what we have become. Unless we meet that crisis, that challenge, we are going to perpetuate wars, destruction, and there will be outward chaos. (Sound of crow) Even that crow agrees - those crows are having fun.
I wonder if we realise, when there is great disturbance outwardly, uncertainty, insecurity, we turn to tradition, turn back to tradition, like the Muslim world is doing. They go back to the Koran, and in the Christian world they go back to the Bible. Fortunately in the Hindu world there are so many books they can't go back to the books, but they go back to tradition, to tribalism. They have now got tribal gods at every corner because the world has become uncertain, dangerous. And you are all doing the same. You want to belong to some group, some sect, some local god. The other day we were told by a European who has investigated into the gods of India. He told us there are 330,000 gods in this country - I suppose it's better than having one. Then you can have fun with them all. Now how does one enquire into the psychological world, that is, into the world of consciousness? The content of that consciousness is what you are. That is not a dogmatic statement. That is not a conclusion, but that is a fact. What you are is the content of your consciousness: your beliefs, your opinions, your experiences, your illusions, superstitions, your gods, your fear, your pleasure and the loneliness, the sorrow, and the great grief, and the fear of death. That is what you are. That is, the content of your consciousness is what you are. You can divide that consciousness into various parts, invent a super-consciousness, super-super-super, but it is still the content of your consciousness. You can meditate, sit cross-legged, do all those things, but it is part of your consciousness. And the content of your consciousness is put together by thought. Please examine this. Don't - the speaker asks most respectfully, don't throw it out, don't say I agree, I don't agree with you, or agree with you. Just examine it, find out. Please don't stick to your old opinions, conclusions or what the books have said.
We are saying the content of your consciousness is put together by thought, by thinking, thinking that you are a Hindu or a Christian, Marxist, Maoist or whatever you want to think. Thought which is limited has brought about limitation in consciousness. It can expand consciousness by thinking that it can expand and experiment in expansion. But it is still the activity of thought. Right, sirs? Are we together in this? We are not saying dogmatically. We say please examine it, don't agree, but question it, whether your consciousness which is the activity of the brain, brain with all its sensory responses, brain which is the centre of thought, whether that thought has not brought about fear, whether that thought which is also movement in time, whether that thought is not responsible for the whole content of our consciousness.
And we are saying, thought is limited because it is the outcome of knowledge. It is the result, the end product of experience, knowledge stored in the brain as memory and the response of any challenge is thinking. And knowledge is always limited. There is no complete knowledge about anything. Right? The scientific knowledge is limited. Every kind of knowledge in any field, biological, sociological, technological and the world of religion with all their gods, and all gods in the world are invented by thought. Examine it please. Don't reject it. Don't say he is preaching - whatever he is preaching. He is not. Examine it. All the gods on earth man has invented them, thought has invented, and then thought worships that which it has invented and this you call religion. That word 'religion', when we talk about it, the root meaning of that word is quite difficult and it has not been established what the root is of that word. So, thought is limited and whatever its activity is always limited, and being limited, it must inevitably create problems, not only problems in the technological world but also the problems in human relationship, which is far more important to understand than the technological world because we human beings are perpetually in conflict with each other: agreeing, disagreeing, believing and not believing, one opinion, dogmatic opinion against another opinion, one idea, one ideal against another ideal. This perpetual war between human beings is created by thought. And having created the problems then thought tries to solve them and so increases the problems, which is what is actually happening.
If one sees that, not intellectually, not as an idea or a conclusion but as an actuality, as a fact, then one can ask a totally different question, which is, the only instrument that we have, which is thought - please understand the nature and the content of thought, thought is all sensory responses, all the imagination, all the sexual symbols, the sexual pictures and so on, the feeling of depression, elation, anxiety, all the result of limited thought, because thought is the outcome of limited knowledge. There is no complete knowledge about anything. So then, if thought is not the instrument to solve human problems, then what is the instrument? You understand my question? Are we together, understanding this, or am I just talking to myself, or are you listening to what is being said? It is up to you. Take it or leave it. This is really a very important question to ask, because thought is a worn out instrument, blunt instrument. It may be clever, it may solve certain problems, but the problems it has created in human beings and between human beings, the instrument that we have used to solve our problems in our daily life in relationship, that instrument is blunt, limited, worn out. Unless we find a new instrument, there can be no fundamental, radical change of the human psyche. So, we are together going to enquire into the nature of that instrument, the quality of it, the structure of it, the beauty of it. But before we can enquire, one must be absolutely clear that the instrument which we have now as thought, has reached its tether. It cannot possibly solve our human relationship. And in that human relationship there is conflict and out of that conflict we have created this society through our greed, through our brutality, through our violence.
Unless one is absolutely, irrevocably clear that thought is not the instrument to solve our human problems - we have tried every method of solving our human problems: surrendering ourselves to some ideals, to some guru, to some concept, to some conclusion - we have done all those things, we have followed all kinds of leaders: political, religious, various quacks who are gurus. We have done everything, and we are still what we are, slightly modified, a little more observant, a little more kindly, but basically, after this millennia upon millennia, we are what we have been from the beginning of time. And the instrument that we have had, which is thought, that instrument can no longer solve our problems. If this is very clear, and that requires great observation, questioning, doubting, asking, never accepting authority: the authority of the books, the hierarchical structure of our society, the authority of institutions, the authority of those who say, I know, you don't know, I will tell you. So a mind which is enquiring into the nature of a new quality and structure of a new instrument must be entirely free from authority; not the authority of the policeman, not the authority of the governments, however rotten they are, however corrupt, thoughtless. So, a mind that is enquiring into something that requires great sensitivity, freedom, that demands a brain that is stable, not wobbly, sloppy.
I don't know if you have not noticed how are our minds are sloppy. We go from one guru to another, especially in this country. We tolerate anything: the dirt, the squalor, the filth, the corruption, the tradition that is dead, and all the temple buildings which are absolutely meaningless, spreading all over the world. I believe they are building temples in America. What a lovely idea. And Europe. One nonsense going to the other kind of nonsense. You watch all this and you absorb all this. And a mind, a brain that enquires must be extraordinarily free, and have great sensitivity. I don't know if you have not noticed how limited our senses are - senses - which is, the observing optically, visually, hearing, to hear another so completely that you understand immediately what is being said, to have sympathy, empathy, the feeling of cooperation, feeling of affection, feeling of love. We haven't got it here. But you love god. You love going to a temple, putting on ashes, belonging to some tribe, tribal god, because you are frightened, and where there is fear there is no freedom of enquiry.
So, please, we are going into this very, very seriously, if you will. This is not an entertainment, this is not something you come for one day and forget the rest of the year. We are concerned, we are talking about our daily life, our conflicts, our loneliness, our despairs, and none of those can be solved by thought. Then what is the instrument that will solve our problems? Don't wait for the speaker to tell you. Then the speaker becomes your guru, your leader, and the speaker doesn't want to be your guru, your authority. But together, as two human beings, concerned, caring, concerned with humanity, because after all you are the rest of humanity, because your consciousness with its content is the rest of humanity. The rest of humanity has also the same consciousness as yours. They suffer. Every human being in the world suffers, is anxious, uncertain, confused, in tears, lonely, like you. Your consciousness is not yours, it is the rest of mankind. So you are mankind. It is not a mere intellectual, logical, analytical conclusion. It is a fact to be felt, realised, lived, that you are not a separate human being, you are not an individual. That is a hard pill to swallow because we all think we are separate individuals with our own little brains. That is our conditioning to think that each one of us is separate, we are not. We are the result of thousands of years of humanity - their suffering, their loneliness, their despair, their excitement, their joy, their sex. What you think, others think. The great scientists think, so does the uneducated villager, poor, hungry, labouring from morning till night, he also thinks. So thinking is not your individual thinking. It is only thinking. You may think in one way, another may think another way, but it is still thinking.
So the thinking, consciousness, is shared by all human beings. And when one really realises that, the fundamental truth of it, then our whole activity changes. Then you are concerned with the whole humanity, which means your son, your neighbour, your wife, your husband, your man who is miles away.
So sirs, we better stop this evening and continue tomorrow evening in our enquiry, and ask whether there is a different kind of instrument, a different kind of activity which is not the activity of thought. Don't invent. Let us find out. Don't come to any conclusion but enquire, question, doubt. To have a subtle mind, quick mind, a brain that is active, not bogged down by tradition, by conclusions, by ideals, so that you and the speaker can talk about it, enquire, go into it very, very deeply.