What is the cause of the present crisis?
Can the brain ever be free from knowledge?
1st Public Talk, Madras
December 27, 1980
I suppose I have to talk. If one may, I would like to point out that it is not an entertainment, nor is it an intellectual appreciation and the capacity to argue, opinion against another opinion, or counter one conclusion against another. We are not trying to find what is truth through dialectical methods, but rather together, you and the speaker investigate, explore cautiously, without any bias, without any opposition, neither agreeing nor disagreeing, but together, you and the speaker, go into the human problem.
It is becoming more and more obvious that human beings throughout the world are gradually deteriorating, degenerating, becoming more and more corrupt through seeking power, position, money and not caring at all for another. It is becoming more and more clear. And as the speaker has come to this country for the last sixty, or fifty years, every winter, he sees there is a rapid decline in this part of the world, called India. And it does not indicate when we talk about this particular part of the country that this problem does not exist in other countries. Please do not say, does not corruption exist in other countries. That's an avoidance of facing the facts. And how can we, as human beings, living in this country, save this country, salvage it? Not only morally, ethically, aesthetically but religiously. The human mind in this country, as well as in other countries, is becoming more and more mechanical, repetitive, accepting things as they are, or trying to save their own particular corner on this earth. And if one is to salvage this country, save it, rescue it, it does not lie in the hands of politicians, nor in the hands of the scientists, nor with the economists, and certainly not with the gurus.
And if we are to investigate together the salvage of this country, knowing that the speaker is not a nationalist, nor adheres to any particular belief, ideal, faith, organised religion, bearing that in mind, what is one to do? As you are all most of the people here in this audience are Indians, what is one to do? What are you going to do? What's your responsibility, knowing that there is corruption, and apparently this corruption has become the way of life. The country apparently is falling apart, each one struggling for himself, each one more or less, both outwardly and inwardly corrupt, how is one, if you are facing the problem, as one should, how are we human beings going to save this particular part of the country, salvage it? Are there a group of people who are absolutely incorruptible, absolutely have integrity, incorruptibility and integrity: not say one thing and do another, believe in some kind of ideal, some kind of belief, worship an image, and then be utterly selfish in other directions? To bring about a salvage of this country there must be some people who have this sense of deep integrity, and absolute incorruptibility. Is that possible? This is not only in this part of the world, but also in every country this is going on, each one for himself. This has been going on throughout history, since man probably began, that we are operating from the centre of the self, the 'me' first, and so each one is fighting the other, convincing the other of his own particular point of view, and so on. And religiously also, going to the temple, or the mosque, or the church, has lost all its meaning. Fear has made us go to the temples, not love. One wonders whether in this part of the world love exists at all. Or are we all ruled by the intellect - the intellect being the capacity to think, to discern, to choose, to distinguish. And when intellect becomes far more important than love, as it is happening throughout the world, there must be inevitably not only physical destruction like war, but also there must be deterioration of morality, ethics, and a way of living that is essentially worthwhile, significant.
Now, having stated that, what is our responsibility? Most religions, as one observes, have tried to find salvation for the individual: the individual soul, the individuality, the individual freedom, the individual enterprise and so on, so on. Individuality has been emphasised, and what we are saying is not the salvation of the individual. There is no redemption for the individual.
I will explain very carefully every statement that is made. So please, throughout these talks bear that fact in mind, that there is no salvation for the person, for the individual, for the 'you'. There is only the mind, the humanity, of which we are. We are the representative of all human beings. And if one is merely concerned with one's own particular salvation then that salvation is the furtherance of selfishness.
So bearing this in mind throughout the talks, we have to examine why human beings have become what we are. Please, as the speaker said, we are examining it together, you are not merely listening to a talk, to a sermon, to a lecture. We are together examining why we human beings, wherever we live, have come to this state where we have become corrupt, mechanical, without any sense of integrity - why, what is the cause? We all want to do something when we face a crisis like this, psychological crisis as well as physical crisis. It is becoming more and more dangerous to live in this world, more and more frightening. You must have noticed all this. And why is it, what is the cause, or many causes, that have reduced man, that is you, to the present state? We know what is happening in the world: poverty, overpopulation, bad governments, relying on specialists, and so on. There is a great deal of confusion, from the very top to the very lower strata of society. And when one observes all this, what is the cause of it?
Before asking what shall we do, what action shall we take, we must first examine the causes. When we understand the causes, from that action takes place. But most of us are so eager to act, to do something about this mess, and we join groups, become social reformers, join the communist party, or the socialist party, or whatever party politically you belong - left, right, centre and so on. We are all concerned with action: feed the poor, help the lower strata of society and so on. Surely, we are not denying that, but before we act we must find out for ourselves what is the cause of all this mess that we human beings live in? Why has man become so selfish, so corrupt, has no sense of integrity? And why there is no love at all.
So that is what We say, let's first, before we take action, find out for ourselves what are the causes, or only single cause, that has produced the present whole crisis, not only in the family but also in the community, in the nation, one nation against another, wars, and all the rest of the chaos that goes on around us. So please, you are not merely listening to the talk, to the speaker, you are, both of us are exercising our brains because we are all responsible for the present state; not the governments, not the economists, not the gurus, but we as human beings, living wherever we are, why is it that we are becoming more and more self-centred, more and more dishonest, more and more superstitious, so frightened of this world. This is a beautiful earth, it is our earth, you are meant to live on it happily, with a sense of affection, care, love, and apparently all that doesn't exist.
So can we ask ourselves, what is the cause of all this. Is it our religion, which is invented by man? Is it our ideals, again projected by thought, by man? Is it our self-centred activity? Is it that we have given tremendous importance to thought, to the intellect? Why is there national division, religious divisions, more and more there is a breaking up of human beings - all that we know. You know all this, probably if you have thought about it at all. So what shall we, not only act, but together find out what is the cause of this human misery. Are you waiting for an answer from the speaker? If he does answer, or explain the causes, or the cause, then there will be arguments, there will be opposing explanations, each according to his own particular experience, according to his own particular knowledge, his prejudice, his conclusions, and so on. So what shall we do? You understand my question? There is, and there must be a cause for all this, or causes. How do you approach the problem? How do you regard the problem, or how do you receive the problem that there is no love in this country? The love of a tree, love of a rock, love of a man, love of a woman, it doesn't exist. When you ask why it doesn't exist, they are totally unaware of this word even.
So how do you, as a human being, living in this country, with all the things that are happening here, how do you find out the cause of all this? How do you, or how does one examine a problem? A problem being, for the moment, why love doesn't exist in your heart, love being care, concern, responsibility, and that sense of great beauty that goes with love. Why is it it doesn't exist. That's perhaps the major problem. And how do you approach it? Do you love anybody? Do you love your wife? Do you love the earth? The wandering beggar? Love is different from devotion. When you are devoted to some god, to some temple, to some ideals, to some country, behind that there is a motive, which is an exchange, I give you this and you return me that. That's why you go to the temples, or you go to your gurus. It is an exchange. Love has no motive. It doesn't ask anything. When we are asking, that may be the major problem that we are facing in this world. And why is it that human beings have not that perfume, that quality, that blessedness?
Now if that is the major cause, then how will you approach the problem? The problem being why you, as a human being living in this marvellous world, on this beautiful earth, why this quality, this sense of love, compassion, care, deep affection, why is it that human beings have not that? After having put that question, how do you regard it? Do you say, 'Yes, we do love our family'? Do you actually? Please sirs, go along with me, let's go together, take the journey together, to find out. Because you see, without that one quality, do what you will, have marvellous governments - and there can be no marvellous governments ever - you can have great statesmen, you can have all your economic problems solved, but without that, our life becomes empty, shallow.
Is love to be cultivated? As you cultivate a plant, or cultivate knowledge, is it to be cultivated? Or does it only exist without any sense of the activity of thought, when there is no self, when there is utter denial of selfishness. So is that the reason why human beings throughout the world we are becoming more and more selfish, more and more self-centred, more and more this sense of individual achievement, individual salvation? When that is emphasised selfishness becomes all important, rationalised, intellectually accepting the necessity of it, and unconsciously, deeply, never being free from it, is that the reason why human beings have become what we are?
So what is your responsibility? How can we salvage this country? Can there be a group of people who are absolutely incorruptible? Corruption is not merely at the superficial level, passing money under the table. That's a very small affair. But corruption is much more deep, corruption is in the mind, corruption is the exercise of thought for its own benefit. Corruption is when there is contradiction in the very psyche, when there is conflict and that conflict is continued for any length of time it brings corruption. When thought is attached to a particular idea, experience, to a particular nation, to a particular belief, dogma, such attachment must inevitably breed corruption. And why is it that we have no sense of integrity? The word 'integrity' means being whole, integral. And when we observe, we are broken up human beings, fragmented, violent and yet trying to seek peace, greedy and having its opposite, so we are always in conflict. That is corruption. That indicates the lack of integrity, dishonesty.
So what shall we, as human beings, seeing perhaps the basic cause of our degeneration, from there, what shall we do? You understand my question? It is this: that having found a cause, or many causes - many causes being this utter disregard for another, the total concern with oneself, which identifies itself with the nation, with the family, with the gods you believe in - it is all the movement of the egotistic action. And that may be one of the causes of this present misery. Realising that, what is our action? - not only as a human being living in this part of the world but every human being is representative of all other human beings. I do not know if you have gone into that. Your brain is not your brain. That brain has evolved through time, millions and millions of years, and when you regard it as your particular brain you have reduced this enormous capacity of its energy to a very small point. And when you regard yourself as an individual, free to choose, free to do what he likes, are you actually an individual? Or are you the result of your culture, of your tradition, of your superstition, of all the books that you have read, or not read? Are you actually a total, integrated human being - undivided, indivisible, not broken up? It is only such a person is an individual.
So having listened to all this, what's your action? How are you, living in this country, going to salvage this country? Or are you allowing, going to let this country go to pieces? It is breaking up, as individuals, as human beings are breaking up.
There is another factor too that is coming into the world: our brains are programmed, like the computer. You are Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, whatever it is - which is, the brain is programmed, conditioned by constant repetition, tradition, knowledge, which is what the computer is. And the computer with the robot is going to take over the world. This is coming. All the labour, which man has gone into, factories will be run by computers and so on, so on, so on. And what is man to do then? You understand my question? It is going to come. It is happening already.
So you have this problem: not only the salvaging of this country, which is your responsibility totally. You are totally responsible for yourself. If you are corrupt your government, your country, your everything is corrupt. If you have no sense of integrity, whatever you do will be destructive. That is one problem.
The other is, you are going to have a great deal of leisure, perhaps not within a few years, now, perhaps in about twenty years you will have a great deal of leisure, and what are you going to do with it? You understand? These are the problems that you have to face. Not find an answer. Problem exists only when you are trying to find an answer. You understand this? But when you examine the problem itself with all its complexity, in that problem is the answer, not away from it.
So our minds - the mind is different from the brain. I don't know if you are interested in all this. As a human being you must be. The brain has evolved through time. Time has been the central factor of the activity of the brain: time to learn, time to acquire knowledge, time to learn a skill, time to learn a language and so on, to drive a car. So time is the central factor of the brain. And mind is totally different from the brain. Mind is the whole movement, which is not involved in time. This requires - you are not used to all this. This is where meditation comes in, which we will talk about another day.
Whatever knowledge man has acquired, stored in the brain, and from that knowledge thought arises, so it is part of our daily activity. So thought is time. And all our outlook is within the field of time. That is, I will be, I must, if I am greedy, I will not be greedy, violent, if one is violent you take time to be not violent and so on, so on, so on. So our whole movement of thought is based on time. So the structure of the psyche, psychological structure, is also based on time. As long as we do not understand the nature of time, the mind then becomes part of time. Is this all Greek? Probably it is. But it doesn't matter.
So, sirs, and ladies, what is our responsibility in saving this country? It is your responsibility, yours alone and nobody else's - not the government's, not the scientists', not the economists', not the environmentalists', the social workers', nobody. You are the only responsible person. Therefore it matters very much that we not only feel it, but undertake this responsibility so that from that responsibility one begins to have care. Responsibility is not duty. Duty is an ugly word. Responsibility has great significance. You are responsible for your family, for your child, for your neighbour. And when that responsibility is given over to another, to your guru, to your politician, to the specialist, then you become merely a robot. And that's what we have done, we have handed ourselves over to all the authorities that exist in the world. We have become incapable of thinking for ourselves, looking at facts as they are. The fact that you do not love, that's a fact. And to live with that fact, to realise how without it one becomes brutal, careless. And when you live with that fact that you do not love, realise what happens to your mind and your whole being, to realise it not as an idea but as an actual, daily fact. Then your whole approach to life is totally different. You become sensitive, you become alive, you become passionate to change that which is not true.
So if you find the cause of this catastrophe in this country, finding the cause you have to act; that is, to remove the cause. And to remove the cause is to observe the cause, not try to change the cause. If I am corrupt, I observe what that corruption is. As I pointed out, there is corruption when there is attachment, whether it is to your family, to your belief, to your profession, to a particular dogma, belief, inevitably corruption takes place. Haven't you noticed this? If I am attached to a belief, I am attached to it because I find satisfaction, security in that belief, that belief may be illusion, but I am attached to it. So that attachment separates me from another who believes in another, who has his own particular attachment, so there is conflict between us. If you are attached to your wife or your husband, what takes place? You are anxious, you are frightened, you are jealous. And the more you are attached, the more the agony becomes.
So where there is attachment there must be corruption. That is a fact, that is the truth. Now, what will you do with it? Or will you find lots of explanations, or rationalise and say, 'Yes, I accept that, but we have to live in this world'? So such a mind is a corrupt mind. So the responsibility is yours, to be absolutely incorruptible. And to have such integrity that's like a rock. Have you ever watched a river flowing, in the midst of it there is a great boulder, and the great volume of water cannot push it aside, it is stable, immovable, and the water goes round it. Our minds, our lives have to be like that to bring about the salvage of this country, which means the salvage of human beings.