What is it to listen, to learn and to observe?
Is there an intelligence which has no cause?
5th Public Talk, Saanen
July 20, 1982
What are you waiting for? (Laughter) I think we should go on with our investigation together. We should talk about first, what it is to listen, what is it to learn, and what is it to observe? Most of us hardly listen. We listen with our sensory ears and it doesn't penetrate much deeper than that generally. To listen without translating what one hears into our own language, without interpreting what is being said, whether by one's friend or relative, or listen to a bird or to the flow of water, that listening doesn't go very much deeper. You hear a statement by one of somebody telling you something, or the speaker is investigating for you, together we are investigating, whether our hearing is superficial, or the very act of listening opens up the whole problem. So it is important how one listens, not only to what is being said now but to listen, the art of listening, so that one has a great deal of sensitivity in listening. You can reject what is absurd, superficial, that is fairly obvious, but in listening is it possible to see what is false immediately and what is truth, not without a lot of explanations, descriptions, analysis, but in the very act of listening perceive.
And listening perhaps is really the greatest thing to do. If one tells you 'I love you', how do you listen to it? Do you actually listen, or wonder why he says that - what does he want? What is his aim? What is his arrire-pense, behind the words? So we are not listening actually to the feeling of that person who says 'I have great affection for you'. Then if one does so listen there is no there is immediate communication with each other. I wonder, one wonders if it has happened to you that way, to listen so completely so that the whole heaven is open to you.
And also we should consider what is learning. Is there anything to learn, except technological, learning a language, learning how to fly, or write a letter, learning fairly necessary things in life - that is necessary. How to read a book, how to drive a car, how to be a very good carpenter - you learn, accumulate and then you use that knowledge to act skilfully. That is what most of us do when we use the word 'learning' - accumulating a lot of information and knowledge stored in the brain, and from the brain which the brain directs and act. That is generally what is understood by what we mean by learning - external learning about the atmosphere, about various things - the peripheral learning. Now is there any other form of learning? Is there a learning which is psychologically accumulated by various incidents and experiences, and stored up psychologically, which then in our relationship, in our daily life, will that knowledge help or bring about clarity? You understand my question?
Most of us, as you are doing now perhaps, and I hope you are not, you are listening and learning, in the ordinary sense of that word, what is being said, accumulating it, and then saying, 'Yes, I have understood it'. First the listening, then observing the fact or the falseness of what is being said and clinging to something that you feel to be real, and holding on to that, and from there act, accumulate more and more and more. Again the same phenomenon as one does outwardly when learning a language and so on. This is the whole process of learning.
We are asking a question, you and I, is there a different way of observing without accumulating? Because the moment when one accumulates and acts from there it becomes mechanical. Our brain has become mechanical but when the brain is free of the mechanical process of thought, of reactions, then it has immense capacity, infinite capacity. Look what human beings have done in the technological world, in the world of computers, in the world of warfare, in the world of communication and so on. Within the last perhaps a hundred years, tremendous advancement technologically. So the brain is capable of extraordinary things. The scientists are saying so. Perhaps then you will accept it. That is not being said sarcastically.
Now when we learn, as is commonly understood, the learning, accumulating knowledge, that very accumulation process becomes automatic, mechanical. So we are asking a question together whether this mechanical process will ever free the mind, brain, so that it has immense, unlimited state. You understand my question. I hope this question is somewhat clear. Our brain is not yours or mine. That is obvious. Because how can your so-called personal brain evolve? It is the evolution of time - evolution means time - through millennia upon millennia, and this process of evolution has conditioned the brain to certain rewards and punishments, to certain reactions, and so it has made itself limited. And in this limitation it is accumulating knowledge and functioning from that knowledge therefore it makes itself more and more mechanical. It is so obvious, isn't it. It is not something exotic or irrational but when one observes oneself rather deeply and very, in the sense aware what is happening outside and inward, one can see the brain, how it has been conditioned, and that very knowledge which has accumulated is becoming its own instrument of limitation. Right? I hope you are meeting this. Are we aware of this? Are we aware that our brains are first of all limited, conditioned - nationalism and so on - conditioned, and we are acting from that conditioning, learning from that conditioning, therefore increasing the conditioning more and more and more. Right? Are we aware of this? Know it, perceive it. Not accept that our brains are limited and repeat that they are limited. Whereas if one is aware of this condition then one can ask a different question altogether, which is: is there any form of psychological learning at all? You understand my question? Are we together in this, or are we just...
What is there to learn about oneself? - learn in the ordinary sense of that word. What is there when I observe myself - the conditioning, the responses of that conditioning, the reactions to various pressures, influences, strains, and seeing this constant pressure externally and inwardly, the strain of it, which becomes more and more, introducing a greater factor of conflict - right? - and is it possible to be aware of this, to observe this as it is, and find out for oneself whether it is possible to go beyond it. Not to learn what is beyond, because then it is just a quid pro quo. Right? This is very important, please, because we are going to something presently which requires your real enquiry.
So we are saying learning must be there, obviously. Learning about the external world totally, as much as one can learn, because learning is never complete about the external world, there is always something being added or taken away. But can one learn or observe oneself, never recording what is observed? Otherwise the recording becomes the knowledge and you are back again. You have understood? Please, we are talking over together. It is not the speaker is laying down any dogma, any belief, any statement - we are enquiring together that humanity has accumulated a tremendous lot of information, knowledge, which is necessary, externally, with all its pitfalls, with all its dangers, with all its limitations. And is there anything to learn about oneself? Or there is only the act of observation, not learning. We must differentiate between the two: observation and accumulation as learning. To observe the condition, to observe the reactions, the reactions with their responses as reward, punishment, good and bad, the more - just to observe. And that observation implies holding that which is observed without any movement of thought. Is this are we together in this or not?
One observes that one is afraid, there is fear, conscious or unconscious, deep down. The immediate response is to go beyond it, to be free of it, to suppress it, to escape from it. That is our natural our conditioning. Right? Now, to observe, be aware of fear and not rationalise it, not give an explanation, not try to discover the cause of it, just to observe it. Right? Are you doing it as we are talking? You observe that you are greedy, envious. Envy is not only at the social level but much deeper. Envy implies the more. The more is measurement - the more, the better and so on, it is a form of measurement. Now, can you observe envy which has a cause in measurement, in comparison, in imitation, in conformity, in pursuing an ideal, which are all measurements, which are all comparison. Now, to observe envy without any accumulated responses to it. Are we doing it? Please, don't make it difficult. It is really simple. I am envious because I see that you have brains, I see that you are capable, I see you have got extraordinary capacity which I haven't got. And I compare myself with you. That very comparison is the cause of envy - right? - the more. Now, to be aware of this process and just not move away from my envy, from the envy which as a reaction arose my state. Right? Can you so hold it, as a vessel holds the water, hold it? Are we communicating?
Perhaps some of us are not used to this kind of enquiry. Some of us perhaps come out of curiosity here, or to see that chap, what he is talking about, why he is against or for, and all the thing that goes on in one's mind, the chattering mind. If one can for an hour give one's attention, may be sporadic, but give your attention to understand a very complex problem. And the complex problem is: what we have learnt and accumulate all the time is making the brain mechanical. So knowledge is becoming mechanical, making the mind mechanical. You understand? I learn how to be a carpenter, be an apprentice to master carpenter, and I learn. I have accumulated a great deal of knowledge about the instruments of carpentry, the wood and so on, and from there I act, I become a carpenter. That becomes more and more mechanical. If I am a specialist in a certain direction, it is the same thing.
So we are asking a very serious question, which is, is knowledge making us - psychological knowledge, not the outward knowledge - is the psychological knowledge making us more and more mechanical, therefore more and more limiting the capacity of the brain? The brain has an extraordinary capacity, infinite capacity, but we have reduced it to a very small affair. Right? So can one observe this fact that psychologically we have been told what we are by the specialists and according to them we try to understand ourselves, according to them we conform, but we never investigate apart from the psychologists. That means enquiring, not knowing, moving. Right? Is this
So, there is a hearing, a different action of learning through observation. That learning is not accumulation. The water flowing is never accumulating - moving, moving. And when there is this total process of listening, never accumulating from any experience, never recording that which has happened, and this can only take place when you are observing very, very closely so that the brain which has become more and more conditioned, more and more mechanical, limited, can break down this limitation.
If that is clear then we can begin to enquire into something that is absolutely necessary: what is beauty? What is the relationship of beauty to love, to compassion, to intelligence? Right? Please, ask this question, put this question to yourself and find out. We are talking over together, I am not telling you. You are not following the speaker at all. He is totally anonymous. He happens to be sitting on a platform for convenience but there is no authority in this. It isn't I know and I'll tell you all about it. On the contrary, we are together co-operating in the investigation of something that is absolutely necessary, whole life itself. Which is one of the We talked about fear and other things last four times that we met and now we are talking, we are asking what is this immense sense of beauty?
You see, our whole civilization, whether in the East or in the West, has been the investigation of the external, making the external as pleasant, as agreeable, as comfortable, and so on. Making the external beautiful - beautiful house, beautiful furniture, a lovely garden, beautiful clothes, that's a marvellous painting, that's really quite an extraordinary poem, the great cathedrals, the temples and so on. So we - a beautiful woman, a man and so on - external. Making the external as perfect as possible, as accurate as possible. If you lived in this part of the country you will see the mechanical things are extraordinarily lasting, you don't have to call the plumber every other day. Here they endure. So, our history, which is the story of mankind, and that mankind is you, history is the story of yourself. And we have made the external as so-called beautiful as possible. If you see an aeroplane, it is really extraordinarily beautiful, or a diamond, or a marvellous bridge expanding vast waters.
So is that beauty? Partly. When you see a mountain against a blue sky, the shadows, the valley, the rivers, that is an astonishing sight. So one asks what is beauty? Is there beauty without having inner beauty? You understand? We will go into the word 'beauty' presently. You may have a beautiful face, beautiful body, proportion, good eyes and all the rest of it, and the external beauty of a person is nice, attractive, pleasant, and is that beauty, without understanding the depth and the meaning of beauty? You are following? Are we together in this? Yes? Bene. Somebody agree with me please. (Laughter) I am not talking to myself.
So what is beauty? Is it only in the external world? And can there be beauty in the external world without understanding the beauty of life in oneself? Right? So we are enquiring together. Please, I must emphasise together, co-operating together to find out what is beauty - not according to the magazines, not what the artistic authorities say what is beauty, but to understand for ourselves the nature of beauty. Because without that love cannot be. Has beauty a cause? As love has no cause, as intelligence has no cause, which we went into previously, has beauty a cause? So we are going to enquire if there is a cause to beauty - you understand? - cause. When you see something extraordinarily great, marvellous, majestic, what is your response to it? You observe it, if you are at all aware of something external what is taking place, you say, 'How extraordinary, how beautiful that is. Let's go and have tea'. Then such a response is very, very superficial.
Now what takes place when you see something majestic, like these mountains around one? What takes place in you, in each of us? For that single second, or perhaps some longer period, for that moment the immensity of that pushes away all your problems, all our conflicts, all our unhappiness, for that single instant in the majesty of that great mountain you cease to be, for a second. Right? Right? There the outer greatness has driven away the pettiness of oneself. Right? Just observe it. This is so. You stand in front of a great picture, painting, or hear great music, for a moment everything has gone except the sound, and the sound has immense movement, it covers the earth, and at that moment you, as all my associations, is not. When the self is not there is beauty. Right? Please see the truth of this, not because the speaker says so. See the actual happening of an incident where you can say, 'My god, what an extraordinary thing this is'. That is, when your thought and all the implications of thought, and all the things that thought has put together has completely gone for a second. It is not there because something externally has impressed you so enormously you forget yourself. Right?
Now, is it possible not to have this enormity in front of you which pushes away the self, the problems and so on, is it possible without any external greatness or beauty or impression to look at life with this sense of not from a centre? You have understood my question? Is it possible for me to look at this life, which is really quite extraordinary, much greater than all the music, and all the temples and all the mountains and poems, this life which is so extraordinary, with all its complexities, with its pain, sorrows, anxieties and so on, to look at it without any response to it, without any reaction to all this? That means can you look at this without a with absolute quietness? Right? When you look at the mountain you are quiet for a second because that vastness made you to be quiet, forced you. Now without any force, without any compulsion, without any pressure externally, have that silent observation not only of yourself, of all the things that are going on, but to have that capacity to observe totally silently. Is not love, which has no cause - one may put it into words: 'I love you', but behind that word is a sense of vastness, a sense of an extraordinary depth to it. And that depth and that quality cannot possibly exist when there is this tremendous activity of I should, should not, I wish I had more, and all the rest of it. Is it possible to look at life that way?
Now we are going to look at a problem which most of have: the problem of dying. It is not the question of old people like myself, it is the problem of everyone whether they are poor, rich, powerful and so on. Together we are going to look at it. Look at it. Not asking for explanations - we will do that presently, later - but to look at this question which has troubled mankind from the time immemorial: death, the dying. Not what happens after the death, not enquire what is more important, which is what is before death, the whole long period of years before dying, but just to observe the thing called ending. Right? Ending.
Death is the ending. Now what does it mean to end? Please, this is really important, do go into it. To end something; let us take for example attachment. Most of us are attached - to a house, to a belief, to a faith, to some ideal, to some pattern of existence, or to a person - attached, which means clinging to that, holding to a person and so on. The consequences of that attachment are fear, anxiety, the pleasure of holding the person or the idea, and fighting for that idea, which is another form of pleasure, following somebody, saying he is my guru, my etc., etc., and holding on to him. Or in attachment there is fear, anxiety, some pleasure and the desire to continue in that attachment, never ending it. We all know this. It's common for most human beings. Now what does it mean to end attachment? Because we see the consequences of it. And also we see the cause of it. I am attached to you as an audience because I derive from that a great sense of satisfaction, a great sense of fulfilment - which I don't but suppose I do - a sense of achievement, fame and so on, all that nonsense. We are not talking about detachment. Detachment is the opposite of attachment. When I pursue detachment I am really pursuing attachment. Are you clear on this point? Please see the truth of this. I am attached and it brings me great pain, and out of that pain I say, 'For god's sake, if I could be detached from all this'. Which is, the response of pain, which has made me which has projected an idea of detachment, and I am pursuing detachment. Clear? So we are not talking about detachment. We are only talking about the fact of attachment. Detachment is just an idea, away from attachment.
So, we are talking about ending, without the cultivation of detachment. Right? Is this So, is it possible to end altogether attachment? Which means being aware of all the implications of attachment - right? - and end it. The ending is not a process of time. Right? Most of us say, 'I am attached, yes, I'll gradually move away from it. It will take time because I can't let go because there are various reasons and all the rest of it'. So it is partly lack of clear observation, partly laziness, and the habit of being attached. When one is aware of the whole movement of attachment it is so obvious. When one is deeply aware of this fact of attachment, to a community, to a commune, to a group, you know, the whole of it, to end it because you see the truth of attachment. And the perception of truth is not of time. Right? I wonder if you see this.
Is this clear somewhat? That perceiving that which is false, which is illusory, and that which is true, doesn't take time, doesn't say, 'I must think it over, I must analyse it, I must talk to my friends about it, I must cultivate a sense, a silence to observe'. So perception, seeing the truth, is not of time. You understand, that's a discovery, because for most of us our tradition says take time, practice. Practice detachment, you may not be free of it today, work at it - which are all so absurd. It is another form of struggle, pain, anxiety.
So to see the fact, the truth, is instantaneous if you are aware of the whole thing. But most of us are partially asleep, because we have been drugged by tradition, by what other people have said. If you can put aside all that and look, and see the whole implication of attachment, to end it. The ending is not that there is a future. You understand this? I may end attachment because I have pain in that attachment therefore I want to end it, which has a cause. Right? Please understand. That which has a cause can end. Love has no cause, therefore it is limitless.
So, we are asking, as death is the ending, both physiologically and all the things that one has psychologically accumulated. That is the ending. But thought says, 'That isn't good enough. What is the future? I have accumulated so much knowledge. I have been virtuous, struggled, what is the reward for all that?' So our mind, brain, is accustomed to reward and punishment. The reward is the future comfort, future security, a continuity of that which has been. And if there is nothing after death life has no meaning. Right? I will go on, struggle, I have done that all my life, it is part of my life, part of life. But if we understand the nature of conflict and end it.
So, what is it that continues? You understand? What is it that has given us the sense of continuity? Physiologically one has continued from the moment you are born till you die, there is a continuity. It is measurable by age, by time, physically. Apart from that, what is continuity? The things that I have accumulated, the furniture? The knowledge, the experience, the vast suffering? Is there a sense of no measurement? Continuity means measurement. Right? Are you following this? Anything that continues can be measured, not by measurement, a tape, but the psychological comparison - I have been this and I am going to be that. That is a form of continuity - right? - which is measurement. Can I look at continuity without measurement? Or is it possible for the brain not to measure? Measurement was born out of Greece. Right? Out of ancient Greece measurement was put together. And the Western world and the Eastern world has followed this pattern. Without measurement there is no technology. Right?
So our conditioning is to measure: the better, the more. Now can one is there an observation without measurement? Sir, this is a rather complex question, you can't just agree or disagree, because all our life is based on measurement - you are tall, I am short, you are clever, I am not, you are beautiful, I am not, you are a great success, I am a failure. So always in the realm of comparison - right? - which is measurement. What does it mean to live without measurement? You are asking this question. I hope you are. To have no measure, which means no comparison. Is love measurement? Please go into this. I love you; tomorrow I won't love you. To live a life, if it is at all possible - one has to go into it, find out - to live a life without a cause, which is time, to live a life without measurement. To live a life without the burden which is accumulated in that word 'the better', 'the more', if at all possible. Or life must always continue in measurement, in cause, therefore always within the limitation of time and knowledge.
Right sir, that is enough.