What is it to observe holistically?
Can the mind be free of every motive to investigate?
6th Public Talk Saanen
July 21, 1977
I forgot what I talk about.
I would like to talk this morning about, if I may, observing holistically - to observe, to see or to listen to the whole total content of something. We look at things partially, according to our pleasure, or according to our conditioning, or according to some idealistic point of view. So we are always looking at things fragmentarily. The politician is only concerned with politics, the economist and so on, the scientist, the businessman, all throughout life, it seems to one, that one never takes or observes the whole movement of life - not broken up - like a full river with a great deal of volume of water behind it. It is water right from the beginning to the end. It may get polluted but given sufficient space between two pollutions it can clean itself. So in the same way can one treat one's life holistically, move totally from the beginning to the end without any fragmentation, without any deviation, without any delusion? I would like to talk about it - I remember it now.
First of all, it is important to understand, I think, how the mind creates illusions of self-importance, of various types of comforting, safe - at least for the time being - illusions that give one security, and these bring about a great deal of illusions. That is, to look at something with a preconceived idea or belief, so you never really see it actually. And these illusions are created by desire, by satisfaction, by wanting comfort. And satisfaction is entirely different from ecstasy. Ecstasy, as we said the other day, is a state of being, or not being, (laughs) which is outside of oneself. That is really ecstasy in which there is no experiencing. The moment there is an experiencing it is the self, it is the past memories that recollect, remember to translate an experience according to the past demands, or past conditioning. So ecstasy never creates illusions. You cannot hold on to it because it is outside of oneself. There is no question of remembering it. There is no question of wanting it, because when one wants it there is the desire to satisfy and that creates illusion. Right? And most of us are caught in some kind of illusion - the illusion of being, or not being, the illusion of power, position and so on, the whole category of the projections from the centre, which is the 'me'. That invariably creates illusion. As we said, illusion means to observe, to see sensuously with a definite conclusion, prejudice, or an idea. That invariably creates illusions. That is clear. And an illusory mind, or a mind that is caught in illusions, has no order. Right?
Order can only come about holistically. Right? Please see the importance of this. We need order. Even in a very small room you have to put things in their place otherwise it becomes terribly disorderly, ugly, rather dirty - as most rooms are - (laughs) sorry! And we think order is following a certain pattern, following a certain conclusion, following a certain order which you have already established in the past and keep on in that routine. I think order is something entirely different. Order can only come about when there is clarity. Clarity brings order, not the other way round. If you put it the other way round, which is, try to seek order then that becomes mechanistic - naturally, repetition, a conformity to a pattern which you have established for yourself in the room or outside the room, or inside yourself.
Order, as we said, can only come about through clarity - clarity to observe without any distortion. We went into it the other day very carefully, so I won't go into it again, if you don't mind. Order implies harmony in daily life. Harmony is not an idea because we are already prisoners of ideas. We are caught in the prison of ideas and therefore there is no harmony in that. Harmony implies clarity, which is to see things holistically, to see, observe life as a total unitary movement. Right? Can we do this? You understand my question? Can one observe life, or observe one's living, which is life, as a total whole movement of life - not, I am a businessman and I am different at home, or I am an artist and I can do the most absurd things, eccentricism, you know all that follows. This breaking or fragmenting life into various categories - the elite and the non-elite, the worker and the non worker, the intellectual and the romantic, the emotional, the politics and the economics - which is our whole way of living. Now can we see how important it is to see this life as a total movement in which everything is included, in which there is no breaking down, as the good and the bad, and heaven and hell. Right? It is only possible - no, I will put it this way: can one observe what it means to see holistically? Can one see holistically anything? Right? When you observe your friend, or your wife or your girl, or your boy, husband, can you observe, see holistically in that relationship? I wonder Right? Are you following what I am saying? Right? Is that possible?
It is possible only when there is no accumulated remembrances which become the image. Right? In any relationship there is accumulated remembrances, incidents, which definitely leave a mark on the brain, and therefore you always look at somebody, your wife and so on, fragmentarily. Now can we, serious, wanting to find a different way of living in our daily life, is it possible to look at another in a relationship, intimate or not intimate, as a whole? Please do it now as we are talking. You are married, you have got girls and you have got boys, you have got a husband, wife and all the rest of it, uncle, aunts, whatever it is, (laughs) can you look at another as a whole? Which means not having any remembrances or conclusions about another. Therefore to observe holistically implies freedom. Right? We are getting on.
We think freedom is from something else. Right? To be free implies, generally as it is understood, I am free from my sorrow, from my anxiety, from my work - or whatever it is. Which is really a reaction, isn't it? Therefore it is not freedom at all. When a man says, 'I am free from smoking' - I hope you don't smoke, any of you, because it is very bad for one's health, that's up to you. When one says, 'I am free from smoking', it is a response from what has been, moving away from what has been. But we are talking of freedom which is not from something, which means to observe holistically. Right? Get it? Get it?
So we are going to talk about something which demands your careful attention. That is, to observe freely, holistically, means there is no fragmentation or direction in observation. Right? There is no freedom when there is direction; when there is direction there is distortion. It is only when there is complete freedom you can observe holistically. And therefore in that observation there is no satisfaction, and therefore there is no illusion. Get it? Step by step we are going into it.
So, can one observe life as a total movement, non-fragmented, but holistic, flowing continuously - 'continuously' not in the sense of time. I wonder if Right? When one uses the word 'continuous' it implies time. Right? But there is a continuity which is not of time. I am going to go into that a little bit. Are you excited about it as I am? I am getting into it.
When one talks about continuity it is of time because a thing that has been and that will be. The relationship is between the past and the future as a continuity, without breaking up. Right? That is what we generally understand by the word 'continuity', which is of time. Right? Time is movement, from here to there; time implies distance, to be covered through days, or months, or years, or as an idea to be achieved. All that implies a movement. Right? Time implies thought, of course, so thought is movement in time, or, thought is the movement of time. Right? Therefore it is a movement of measure. Right? This is reasonable, sane. But is there a continuity, if we can use that word which isn't perhaps quite right, but we will use it for the moment - is there a continuity which is not a series of incidents related to the past and therefore the cause becomes the effect, and the effect becomes the cause, which is continuity. Right? Now we are asking is there a state of being in which there is a coming to an end to everything. That is - because I am leading I say I am discovering something, I want to talk about death. You will see in a minute.
We think life is a movement in time, and to be measured, and this movement ends with death. That is what we call continuity. There is, I think - not, I think - there is, one observes, a movement which is not of time, which is not a remembrance of something, going through the present, modified and continues. There is a state of mind which is dying to everything that is happening - coming in and flowing out. You understand? Not retaining, flowing out. There is never any retention but always flowing out. Right? That has its own sense of beauty, and, if I may use the word in quotes, 'continuity' - which is not of time.
Now, are we working this out together? Otherwise it has no meaning, there is no fun in my talking about it. There is fun only when we can communicate with each other, and each of us are doing it together. It is like playing cricket, or football, or any game - together we have to do this. Not, I do it and then tell you, and you copy it, or try to find out what it means. But if we do it together it is all the time active. Right?
So, I am asking, we are asking: is there a way of living which is only from moment to moment, without any retention, which is memory and so on? Is there a way of living, in which How shall I put this? I want to communicate therefore I must find - because communication - listen to this - communication implies compassion, clarity and the skill, which is verbal skill to communicate. If there is compassion with clarity, skill will inevitably come about - not the other way round. I want to tell you something very deep and I must have the skill to tell you, the words, the means of communication; but that communication remains only verbal when there is no compassion and clarity. Intellectually one can cleverly argue this out, logically, sanely, objectively, but it remains at a very, very superficial level; but when there is communication with compassion, clarity, skill is easy. I don't know if you follow all this.
So I want to communicate - the speaker wants to communicate with you whether it is possible to live a life which is totally holistic - right? - not fragmented - therefore no you and me. Right? No we and they, my country, your country, my god - all that is gone. Right? Are you doing it? As we are talking, are we together doing it? As I said, we are playing a tremendous game. Therefore if you don't take your part in it you are out of the game. If one of the football players doesn't play properly he goes out. So this is a game in which life is involved - right? - our whole life, therefore you have to partake in this game. So we are asking together if it is possible to live a life that is holistic, without any fragmentation. And that fragmentation exists when there is a desire to satisfy, which creates illusion, therefore you are not playing the game. You are out of the game. If you say, 'I have come here to understand you, the speaker', then you are out of the game. You are not understanding me, you are understanding the whole of human existence, which is you. You are the representative of all humanity, therefore you have to take part holistically in the game. Right? Now is that possible? I say it is possible only when you see exactly 'what is' - right? - without any distortion. If you are angry, see it as it is, not try to suppress and all the rest of it. When you are jealous, anxious, suffering, anything, to observe holistically. And that is possible only when you live with suffering completely - not to go beyond it, not to seek comfort, not to escape from it, when you completely, totally live with something then there is no distortion. Right? And out of that observation holistically comes clarity. Right? Do it. Please, do it as we are talking.
And for us life, as we said, is a movement in time. I was born so many years ago, I am growing, until I die. There is this constant movement of remembrances, registration, retention, action, and, from that action learn, store it up and so on. And we are saying that movement is of time; and that movement is brought about by thought which is time. And thought being limited, a fragment, thought can never see holistically, though we have cultivated religiously through education and so on, so on - thought. Thought becomes an extraordinary thing in our life. Therefore thought is always fragmentary. Why? Because it is born out of memory, out of knowledge, out of experience, stored up in the brain. So whatever is stored up in the brain is the past, therefore it is limited, therefore it is fragmentary, not holistic. Right? It's clear - right?
And also we said, order in life is essential, because the moment you have order you are clear. Right? When there is clarity there is order. So we are going to examine together this problem of death. Together. You know every religion, from the ancient of days, has tried to find out if there is something beyond death. The ancient Egyptians - if you have read something of it - thought, or lived in a way that living is part of death - so you carried on with your slaves, with your cattle as you died. To go over the other side is to live what you have lived in the past. You have read about it, you know the whole Egyptian attitude, the ancient Egyptians. And that was a continuity. Right? And the Hindus - the word 'Hindu' is invented by the British during their colonisation - the word 'Hindu' never existed, Hinduism never existed. It was only invented by the British when they were a big empire. The ancient people of India - we will put it that way, geographically speaking - in those days there was no geography, they were human beings. They said life must have a continuity because what is the point of one's achieving a moral character, having so much experience in life, having suffered so much, if it merely ends in death, what is the point of it? Therefore, they said, there must be a future for this. And that future is the content of consciousness with its content. And that consciousness modified with its content went on, which is called reincar... I won't go into all that. I won't name it even! Because it is much better not to name these things, you can observe them better.
And also the Christians have different kinds of desires, fulfilled as resurrection and so on, so on. We want to find the truth of it. Right? The truth of it, not what you think or what I think, not what the professionals think, the priests and the psychologists and all the rest of it. And also there have been appearing in a great many articles in Europe and America, that people who have died - 'died' in quotes - come back in daily life and remember that extraordinary state after death - light, beauty, whatever it is. One questions whether they are really dead, because if you are really dead, which means oxygen not going to the brain, and therefore the brain deteriorates after five minutes, or three minutes, I have forgotten exactly, therefore when there is real death there is no coming back. And therefore there is no recollection of something after you die. You know there have been articles about it. So I want to clear the field. (Laughs)
I want to find out the truth of this extraordinary state, together. Please this is a very serious game we are playing, it is beyond chess, beyond football, beyond everything. It is a game - we are playing a game with delight, enjoying the game, and therefore a mind that is eager to find out; not saying, 'I must find out because I would like to live next life, I am frightened of death, therefore please tell me if there is something more.' That is not playing the game. So we are together trying to find out the truth of these things. Because death must be the most extraordinary experience, much greater than so-called love, much greater than any desire, any idea, any conclusion, because it may be the end of everything - the end of every form of relationship, every form of recollection, remembrance, accumulation. It might be total annihilation. Right? Complete ending of everything. And one must find out what is the truth of this matter.
To find out the truth, to come upon it, every form of identification must end - right? - every form of fear, and the desire for comfort. It is that desire for comfort may create illusion, and therefore one is caught in that illusion and says, 'Yes, there is a marvellous state after death.' So we are learning how to observe the way of observation which is holistic - which means there is no fear, there is no desire for comfort, there is no illusion, and therefore the mind is completely free to look. Are we doing this? Which means you have no attachment - which is enormously difficult, because I am attached to my wife, house, ideas, conclusions, and therefore I am frightened to let go, I am frightened to be completely alone. We explained that word 'alone' means all one. So no attachment of any kind to anything: to ideas, to persons, to a future hope - please if you are playing the game this is very, very serious - to your son, to your daughter, to your wife, to your husband - no attachment, which doesn't mean that you become callous. When there is attachment there is illusion, and when there is illusion there is no clarity. And when there is no clarity there is no freedom and therefore no order.
So the mind must have no identification with the name, with the form, or with any person, idea, conclusion - is that possible? And, as we said, that does not deny love: on the contrary, when you are attached to a person there is no love; there is dependence, there is the fear of loneliness, to be left alone in a world where everything is so terribly insecure, both psychologically as well as outwardly - therefore desire to be attached to something.
As you are listening, if you want to find out what is the truth of death, what is the meaning, the real depth of that extraordinary thing that must happen in life, there must be freedom. And there is no freedom when there is attachment, when there is fear, when there is a desire for comfort. Can you put all that aside? Can you? Otherwise don't play the game. You can't play the game. If you have, and I hope you have, because we are trying to find out together the truth of this extraordinary thing called death. And also the truth of what is before death. You understand? Not the truth after death, but also the truth before death. What is the truth before death? If that is not clear the other can't be clear. So we must look very closely, and carefully and freely at what is before death, which we call living. Therefore, what is the truth of our living - which means what are you, or who are you? You understand? What are you, which you call living? And we are trying to see the truth of that. I don't have to tell you, have I? You know it very well. A heavily conditioned mind through education, environment, through culture, through religious sanctions and beliefs and dogmas, rituals, my country, your country; the constant battle, wanting to be happy and being unhappy, depressed and elated, going through anxiety, uncertainty, hate, envy and the pursuit of pleasure, fear. Right? Afraid to be alone, fear of loneliness, old age, disease - this is the truth of our life, daily life. Right? And can such a mind, which hasn't put order in this life, order in the sense, which comes through clarity and compassion, can such a mind which is so utterly fragmented, disorderly, frightened, can it find out the truth about something else? You follow what I am
So one must first put order in one's house. The house is burning and we are, some of us are not aware of it at all. It is actually burning. If you read everyday a newspaper, what is happening in every country - so your house and the house of humanity is burning. And we are not doing anything about it. Because we are all concerned with our own immediate security. Right? And when you seek security, for god's sake, you are bringing about total insecurity. a va?
So during the last six talks, or whatever we have been through, four or five, we have tried to bring about clarity. Out of that clarity and compassion comes intelligence. Intelligence is compassion, is clarity, the awakening of that. And that awakening in the midst of this misery can come about, when you live with it completely. You understand? When you live with your suffering, with your sorrow, with your agony, with your personal live it completely, not escape from it at all in any direction. Then out of that comes an extraordinary sense of clarity, which we have talked about considerably.
So during these days have you, together, brought about this intelligence in life, before death? If you have, and I hope for the sake of humanity and the world that you have - one wants to cry because we human beings are so damn stupid - then you can find out the truth of death - not partially dying, partially awake, partially dead, as most human beings are, but the total ending, which is the brain not having enough oxygen can only last - I don't know exactly - three or five minutes - if you know it, and after that it cannot function. That is death, through disease, accident, old age, or through senility. Now what is the truth of it all? Some of us may have seen what is before death, and in seeing it very, very, very clearly, and out of that clarity comes compassion and therefore the awakening of intelligence, and with that intelligence we are going to look. You understand? Otherwise you can't see the logic of it. If your house is not in complete order and therefore complete clarity and compassion, how can you find anything beyond it? So what is the truth of death? That is, complete ending. There may be something, or may not be. Right? Because that is a hope, therefore a hope creates distortion and therefore illusion. So we are cutting that out. Can you stand all this?
So the ending: one can only find out the truth of it when there is an ending. Right? Right? When there is an ending to everything that you have. Can you do it? Ending to your attachment, not giving it a day, but ending it completely now. That is what death means. Can you? So ending, complete ending - when there is complete ending something new is born. You understand? I wonder if you do.
You know, fear is a burden, a terrible burden, and when you remove that burden completely there is something new takes place. Right? But we are afraid of ending, ending at the end of one's life. We are saying end it now. Vous avez compris? You have understood? End it; end your vanity, because without ending there is no beginning. Right? And we are caught in this continuity, never ending. So when there is total complete holistic ending there is something totally new beginning, of which you cannot possibly imagine. It is a totally different dimension - my saying it has no value. But as we are together playing the game of trying to find out what is the truth of this extraordinary thing called death, to end one's attachment, to one's fears, to one's vanities, conclusions, neuroticism - to end it. Can you do it? Will you do it? Are you doing it? Not bit by bit - one day attachment, next day fear, third day vanity, fourth day anxiety and so on - to end the whole thing now. That is, to end the content of consciousness, which is our consciousness. The content makes consciousness. The content is fear, attachment, greed, envy, my country, your country, my god - content. To end all that, not through will - through will you can never do anything, in the psychological sense. Then if you do it by will there is conflict. Right? And through conflict there is no understanding of the depth and the truth of anything. If you and your wife, or your husband are in conflict you don't understand relationship. It is only when there is no conflict then you can look at each other, then you can feel each other, trust each other, love You follow? Then a totally different state exists in relationship.
So to find out the truth of what death is, there must be the ending of this content of one's consciousness. Therefore you will never ask: 'Who am I?' Or 'What am I?' You are your consciousness with its content. And when there is an ending to that consciousness with its content there is something entirely different, which is not imagined. You know, human beings have sought immortality in their action, one writes a book and in that book there is immortality of the writer; a great painter does a sketch, or a painting, and that painting becomes the immortality of that human being. All that must end, which no artist is willing to do.
So as human beings, and each human being is a representative of the whole of humanity - I wish you could feel that, understand the depth of such a statement. You are the world, and the world is you, and when there is change in that consciousness you bring about a change in the human consciousness. So death is the ending of this consciousness as we know it. Right sirs.
See you on Sunday.