What is the relationship of thought to desire?
Is there a way of living completely free from pressure?
4th Public Talk, Ojai, California
April 09, 1978
May we continue with what we were talking about for the last three meetings that we have had.
First of all I think it should be made quite clear that we are not doing any propaganda, to propagate any series of ideas, or a way of life, but rather together, each one being free, independent to observe very clearly what is taking place, not only in the external world but also what is happening inwardly. I think it is becoming more and more obvious for those who are at all aware, and concerned with the world, which is gradually deteriorating, disintegrating morally, ethically, and if I may use the word, spiritually. Observing all this, no obvious solution for the confusion and the miseries and the sorrows of the world are present. What is required, if one can so point out, which is based on reason, logic, and clear thinking, that a new mind is necessary, a mind that is not re-formed, or re-conditioned, but a mind that is totally new so that it can face the political, religious, economic, social problems of the world, a totally different kind of mind, not put together by thought. And therefore it behoves us, if I may again point out, the importance to find out for oneself what is the movement of thought: how it arises, what is its nature, whether thought can transform itself at all. Or that in the very process of understanding the whole movement of thought, perhaps that very observation might bring about a different quality of brain and mind.
As we said before, and if we may again point out, that this is not a lecture, the speaker holding forth on some speculative, theoretical, hypothetical ideas, but rather we are thinking together, not agreeing together, not accepting anything that the speaker says, but together, freely, without prejudice, examine the nature of thought.
As one observes, thought has created the modern world with its extraordinary technological advancement. Thought has divided the world into nationalities, into particular groups, one nation against another nation, one group against another. Thought also has divided the world into various religions: the Christian, the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Islamic world, and this is the product of thought. The contents of the churches, the temples and the mosques, are put together by thought. That again is fairly obvious for those who want to go into this question whether it is possible for a new mind to come into being. So it behoves us and becomes important to find out whether thought, the whole process of thinking, can solve all our problems, both domestic, international, family, religious and so on. Thought, as we pointed out earlier, is broken up; thought can never comprehend or perceive the total, because the fragment can never understand or see the totality of existence because thought in itself is a fragment, is a broken up thing. We said thought is broken up because it is based on memory, and memory can never be complete. You can always add to it, or take away from it, extend it, but thought, which is the outcome of memory, knowledge, experience, can never, under whatever circumstances, comprehend the totality of existence. It can understand one fragment of it, or one piece of life, and try to alter it, disfigure it, re-form it, but it is still a fragment, a broken-up thing, because it is based on knowledge, on time, on the process of evolution. I think this must be clear for each one of us if we are going to understand, communicate with each other whether thought, the whole movement of our thinking can solve any problem, any psychological problem, any problems of relationship and so on.
And also one must be clear that thought has not created nature, the tree, the mountains. But thought has made use of nature. So thought, whatever it creates, is a reality, the actual. Thought can create illusion - that's also actual, real. But it cannot possibly bring about or understand what is truth. That truth is not yours or mine or somebody else's, belonging to a church, or to a group of people. That truth can only be understood when we comprehend totally the whole movement of thought. That is, to give thought its right place, and for thought to realise for itself its own nature, its own fragmentary quality. And that is one of our difficulties, that thought cannot possibly understand that it is a fragment. It can imagine it is a fragment, it can think that it is a fragment, but to actually perceive, to actually go into the question whether thought is a fragment, to observe its movement as fragmentary, broken up, is that possible?
As we have said before, in all the talks, previously and now, we are examining together. It is not that you are accepting what the speaker is saying, you are free to get up and go, or free to listen. But if you do listen, please be good enough to listen without prejudice, without some conclusion, without some pet opinion, because we are not opposing one opinion against another, one conclusion against another, one hypothesis against another. Together, you and the speaker, are examining, exploring, whether it is at all possible, observing what is going on in the world, and the confusion, the mess, the misery, the wars, the economic condition and so on and so on, whether it is possible to bring about a new mind, because the old mind, the conditioned mind cannot possibly solve these problems. Thought cannot solve these problems, because thought itself has created these problems. If this is absolutely clear, not because the speaker says so, but because you yourself clearly see for yourself, therefore there is no divergence of opinions. We are only dealing with facts, and not your fact or my fact, but the fact, the actuality, what is happening in the world. From that, in that observation one realises completely that a new quality of mind is necessary, not a mind that is reconditioned to a new pattern but a mind that is totally free, therefore a quality of a creativeness that is so necessary.
If you have observed, a new culture can only come out of a religion, not the orthodox religion, not the religion of thought, not the religion of images, of beliefs and authorities, dogmas and rituals, but a religion that is capable of perceiving what is truth - not your truth or the speaker's truth, or somebody else's truth, the philosophical or psychological truth, but the absolute truth which is the essence of religion. We are using the word 'religion' in the sense of gathering all energy, not dissipated, not controlled, not given a certain direction, but this quality of energy that comes into being when there is total freedom. And that energy is only capable of enquiring totally into what is truth. In that sense we are using that word 'religion'. Not the institutionalised religions, with their priests, with their dogmas, with their rituals, with all their imaginative, romantic states.
So to understand all this, as we said, the mind, the brain must be free from pressure because if there is any kind of pressure, both physiologically as well as psychologically, any kind of pressure, there is distortion. That's clear and very simple. It's not a matter of acceptance, it is so. If I push you in a certain direction, whatever you do will be according to my pressure. Or if you yourself have your own pressures, your own demands, your own desires, which act as pressures, then whatever you do will be deformed, distorted. That again is a simple fact.
May I take my jersey off? Pretty hot.
So we are going to, together, examine, as we said, the pressures of language, the pressures of ideologies, the pressures of institutions, the pressures of family, the domination of one over the other, and also we discussed yesterday about fear. We should also go into the question together of the whole problem of desire, which is, perhaps that's the greatest pressure one has. If I am too intense, please forgive me, I can't help it. One must be passionate, one must have intensity, otherwise you can do nothing. We have destroyed that intensity, that passion, through permissiveness, through all kinds of idiotic pursuits, we have destroyed that capacity of great intensity, through following somebody, through accepting various fads, religious fads with their gurus and all the rest of that nonsense - we have lost all that. And perhaps in enquiring together into this whole question of pressure we may come upon that intensity, not eventually, not just before you die, but in the very process of enquiry that passionate intensity can come about. And it can only happen when there is no pressure whatsoever, of any kind, outwardly or inwardly. Actually there is no difference between the outer and the inner, it's one unitary movement, but we have divided the world as the outer and the inner. But when we see the inner has created the outer - the inner being the whole movement of our thoughts, our fears, our greeds, our anxieties, and our pleasures, we have created this world, the world doesn't come into being by itself, socially. That's what we have created. So the outer and the inner are one constant interrelated movement.
So we must also, as we said, examine together the question of desire. To enquire into that we must be clear that the word is not the thing. The word 'desire' is not the actual feeling, the actual emotional urge, or the reaction. So we must also be very clear that the description is not the described. One can describe the mountain, most beautifully, all the shades and the valleys and the depth and the dignity and majesty of mountains, but the word, the description is never the actual. The painting, the poem, the statue or the things that thought has created through words is not the actual. So we must be very clear in examination, in investigation, that the word 'desire' is not the actual. We are now examining the actual, not the word. But we must also be very clear that the word 'desire' is not driving us. I wonder if you understand this. Right, sir?
So what is desire? Because for most of us it is one of the most important pressures. Desire to be successful, desire to have more money, desire to obey, desire to follow, sexual desires, the desire of pleasure. So as it's one of the most important pressures in our life - not precious - you understand? - it is not precious, but pressure. Perhaps my English may not be the American English, so please forgive. We are talking about pressure.
What is the nature of desire? How does desire arise? Why there is such urgent constant desire to fulfil, to become, to achieve? Right? So we are looking into the nature of desire. What is the relationship of thought to desire? Are they related, or are they interrelated? Is desire and thought a movement? Or is desire something separate from thought? So we are asking, what is desire? We have gone into the question, what is thought. We said thought is the response of memory, experience, knowledge, stored up in the brain, and there in the very cells is contained the memory from which thought arises. So what is desire? Is desire brought about by thought? Or is desire independent of thought - please listen to this - or in the movement of perception, seeing, in the seeing thought takes control - which we will go into as we go along. All right, sir?
What is thought? How does it come into being? As I said, please, don't accept a thing that the speaker says, there is no authority here, though unfortunately he has to sit on a platform for the convenience of others, it doesn't give him an authority, a position, a status. When we are examining together there is no status, there is no authority, there is no conclusion. So we are looking together into this question of what is desire. How does desire arise? I do not know if you have ever enquired into that question. Or we are so accustomed to the expression of desire, and whenever desire arises there is this fulfilment of desire. (Sound of bells) Well, they are going to have fun this morning. We can take a rest.
May we continue now?
We are asking what is the nature of desire, and how it arises. And what is the relation (Sound of bells) (Laughter) Imagine when you are in Rome where there are three hundred churches or more, one round every piazza, every via, all of them ringing for some time. I hope your Christian reactions are fulfilled! (Laughter) (Clapping)
I hope we can start again enquiring seriously, not facetiously, not for the time being, but as it is a very important factor of our life to go into this question of what is desire, and what is its place in life, and what value has it, and so on. If you have observed most of the religions have said deny desire, control desire, subjugate desire, deny desire in the service of god. The monks throughout the world, of different colours, have said, don't have desire. But when you deny desire, suppress desire it has greater strength, greater vitality, and so inwardly burning with desire, outwardly have a calm face, read the book, don't look at a woman, don't look at the beauty of the world, nature, the marvellous earth, because that might awaken desire, so don't concern yourself, you are a monk, don't look at anything but the book. And when you do look at a woman, consider her as your sister, your mother, anything but what she is. This has been the way of the monks throughout the world. But we are not saying suppress, control, deny, run away from desire, on the contrary, we are trying to understand the nature of it. And when we have comprehended fully its structure, and its nature, then it has its right place, then it doesn't fill the horizon, your whole life, therefore there is neither denying it nor suppressing it.
So it is important to understand the nature of desire, what is desire. Surely desire is a reaction from a stimulus. The stimulus is when you see something, in a shop window, when you see a woman or a boy, or a man, or a beautiful car, or a dress and so on. So desire arises through perception, seeing - please observe it for yourself, it is not because I say so - through seeing, then contact, then sensation, then thought creates out of that sensation the image, and that very creation of that image is desire. Right? Please don't accept what the speaker is saying, observe it in yourself. You see a beautiful dress, shirt, trouser, whatever it is, and seeing it, touching it, then the contact, the sensation, and thought creating the image of you wearing it and desire arising. Right?
Please, as we said, this is not analysis. This is observation. When you observe, analysis has no place. When you observe the movement of sensation, the sensation, whether it be sexual, whether it be any kind of sensation, arises through seeing, the optical seeing, the observation, the contact, the sensation, and the image-making. That is the whole movement of desire. Right? But the problem is, that movement demands fulfilment, demands that it should gain what it wants, should buy, or whatever it desires. Now the problem is, where does thought come in and make it into a desire, into that desire demanding fulfilment? Where does thought come in? You understand the question? I must make it clear.
You see a beautiful car - I am taking the car, may be a woman, may be a man, may be a marvellous picture, piece of furniture, piece of jewellery, whatever it is. You see a car. Then the contact with it, the sensation to own it, the sensation, and thought creates the image - you sitting in the car and driving it. Then the whole problem arises whether thought can separate itself from sensation. I wonder if this is clear. No, it is not, I'll make it a little more clear. You see the car; sensation, and desire, you sitting in the car, driving it. And if you haven't got enough money to buy a car you are jealous, you are anxious, you want to you do all kinds of things, you steal cars. I believe that's the latest, you know, going on in this country. So the problem arises when desire demands fulfilment. Right? You see a beautiful woman, or a beautiful man, sex, urge, all the rest of it. The desire always wanting its fulfilment. The desire is constant, the objects of desire may vary, but desire is constant. I don't know if you follow this. And then the struggle begins: I must not desire, I must desire, the edict of religions - if you pay attention to that kind of thing any more - or because you desire you fulfil whatever you want, this permissiveness of this country, which is spreading unfortunately throughout the world. You are setting the standard, unfortunately.
So this constant struggle to do whatever the desire demands. It may bring pain, it may bring satisfaction, it may bring pleasure, it may bring all kinds of things, but there is constant struggle. Where there is struggle there is expenditure of energy. Right? So the monks have said, don't waste that energy, therefore withhold desire, that energy is necessary to serve god, whatever it is, Jesus Christ, and all the rest of it. All put together by thought. I am sorry we are speaking next to a church. So how to prevent the conflict, is the question. You understand? Desire is always creating conflict. You may be satisfied with one fulfilment of a desire, but that satisfaction demands more, so there is constant pressure, constant drive, which brings about a great deal of conflict. The question then is, is it possible to prevent this conflict? Because one realises conflict is a wastage of energy, when you are related with another, man, woman, to be in conflict with each other is so futile, meaningless. And in the same way, one must find out whether this wastage of energy through conflict, which desire inevitably brings about, whether that conflict can end. Is this clear? I can go on.
How does this conflict arise in the movement of desire? Are we together in this? Please. We are understanding each other? Some of you perhaps will, some of you don't, doesn't matter, it's up to you. We are asking, where does conflict arise in desire? Observation, sensation, contact, sensation. If that stops there then there is no conflict. Right? I wonder if you see that. You see the car: contact, sensation. That's normal, natural, you see a beautiful thing, a beautiful mountain, beautiful trees, lovely morning - sensation. But thought says, I wish such a beautiful day could continue tomorrow, without rain. So is it possible - please listen - is it possible to be so alertly aware for sensation to stop and not let thought interfere with it? Right? That is, have you ever observed the sea, or the mountains, or your friend, or your boy, or girl, with total awakening of all the senses, not just the eyes, or the ears, with all your senses to observe? I wonder if you have ever done it. Then you will see there is no division between the observer and the observed. That is, when you observe totally, with your heart, with your mind, with your eyes, with your ears, with all the senses awakened, with all the senses observing, then there is no desire as thought interfering with sensation. I wonder if you see this. Do try now, as you are sitting there, to observe, doesn't matter what, the tree, with all your senses, not only with your eyes. If you do, the sensation of seeing the colours, the sparkling leaves in the sun, the clarity of the blue sky, the sensation, if you so completely observe there is no centre from which you desire. I wonder if you have got it. Hai capito?
So we are asking: when thought interferes with sensation then desire begins and the demand of desire to achieve, to fulfil. If you see this very clearly then there is no suppression of desire. Which doesn't mean you fulfil desire. You have to go into this. If you are listening you will be doing it and therefore you will understand it; if you are not listening, in the sense we are using the word 'listening', when you listen you listen with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your being, and not make an abstraction, an idea of what is being said. Then you are doing it, then you will see for yourself that desire as we know, it has very little importance.
From desire there is the whole movement of pleasure, which is gratification, satisfaction, both sexually and otherwise. The pursuit of pleasure, which man throughout the world is doing now. It is becoming more and more exaggerated. The more sophisticated, the more civilised we become the greater the pleasure apparently, the pursuit of it - sexually, entertainment, football, you know, the whole cultural pressure which is based on pleasure. And what is pleasure. Why does man pursue everlastingly pleasure? We are not denying pleasure, we are not saying it is right or wrong, but why does man, wherever you go, pursue eternally this pleasure? The pleasure of achievement - right? - the pleasure of worship, the pleasure of being a great man, a success, a reputation, you know, the whole urge to pursue that which you have enjoyed yesterday and give it time and then pursue it. Don't you know all this? This is your life. Your life is based on that: pleasurable experience, pleasurable thoughts, pleasurable actions, gratifying. And the pleasure of attachment, the pleasure of possessing something, whether it is a furniture or a person. This is what is actually going on with all of us all the time. And when there is no pleasure there is anger, there is violence, there is destruction, hatred. Again these are facts, not my invention. And when there is no pleasure you get hurt. And when one is hurt from childhood - this actually goes on throughout life - when you are hurt you resist, you build a wall round yourself, you isolate yourself. And action from isolation is neuroticism, incomplete, incorrect, destructive. And hurt is not having, not pursuing pleasure, but somebody preventing you from pursuit of that pleasure, and so on, so on, so on.
So one must go again into this question of what is pleasure. Is love pleasure? Is love desire? What is the relationship, if there is any, between pleasure and love, or desire and love? If there isn't any, why does man pursue this everlastingly, this pleasure? You understand my question? Why do you do it? Your search for god is pleasure. All the things that you have created by thought, through sensation, gratification, satisfaction, is the pursuit of pleasure. Those of you who follow gurus, and go to India and all the rest of that nonsense, is to have the greatest pleasure, which you call enlightenment. So we must enquire, if you are at all serious, what is pleasure. Because pleasure is also becoming very destructive: the pleasure of belonging to a certain group opposed to other groups, little sect opposed to another sect, the pleasure of being somebody in this world. You follow? All that. So it is very important, is it not, to understand what is the nature and the structure of pleasure, how does pleasure arise, and has it any relationship with love. We will find out if there is any relationship between pleasure and love if we enquire into pleasure, joy and ecstasy, and their relationship to love. But merely to try to find out what love is without understanding pleasure, it will lead you totally to a different kind of illusion.
So what is pleasure? How does pleasure arise? Is pleasure the expression of desire in its fulfilment? You have had a marvellous evening yesterday, sexually or otherwise, that is remembered, the brain has recorded that event, it has been put on the tape, and thought says, 'I have had that marvellous time yesterday, I hope we shall have another evening like that.' Right? You have seen a marvellous sunset, clear, golden, radiant, filling the earth with such marvellous light. There is tremendous enjoyment of it, delight in it, there is the remembrance of it. That very remembrance and the pursuit of that remembrance is pleasure - or sexually and so on, you can imagine all the rest of it.
So pleasure, at the moment of pleasure there is no registration. Right? I wonder if you have noticed it. The moment you say, I am happy, you are not happy. Happiness - we will use that word just for convenience-at the moment of being happy you are totally unaware. But a second later you say, 'I have been happy', which is the remembrance of that thing a second later - registered, and the registration of that happiness, which is gone, which is dead, that registration is thought remembering that incident, and demanding more of it. Right? So thought remembering an incident, however marvellous, beautiful, exciting, that incident has been registered, then thought takes it over, remembers it, and then demands more of it. And the 'more of it' is the pleasure.
So joy happens by itself. It occasionally, if you are lucky, quiet, unaware, not concerned with your little self everlastingly, it happens. Then remembrance of it, and the pursuit of that joy which merely becomes a pleasure. So joy is not pleasure. I wonder if you understand this.
Now the problem is, modern civilisation is encouraging, commercially, in other ways, to pursue this pleasure, more, more, more, waste and so on. We are destroying the earth, we are destroying nature, we are destroying ourselves. And the problem is, seeing the operation, the function of pleasure - again can one observe an incident like a beautiful sunset and end it, not say, 'Well I must have it tomorrow'. You understand my question? That is, see something extraordinarily beautiful and that's the end of it. Why carry it over for the next day? Which means, to observe totally with all your senses, then there is no registration. It is the registration, the remembrance of that incident, or that happening, and the pursuit of that is pleasure, with all its conflicts, with all its pain, you know all the rest of it.
And we are asking, what is the relationship between pleasure, desire and love? Is there any relationship at all? And why has man made love so pleasurable? You understand my question? So one has to ask, go into the question of what is love. That word is so heavily loaded, so misused, so corrupted: love yourself, love your soap, love your hair - all that nonsense of commercialism. So one has to, really if you are serious, find out what love is, because without that you are going to destroy everything in life. So what is love? Surely a man who is ambitious has no love. Right? But you are ambitious. You want to be somebody. Or if you are not, you hate somebody, belittle somebody, and a man who is aggressive has no love. Obviously. A man who is completely concerned with himself as most people are, and they may talk about love, surely there is no love. A man who is jealous, who is greedy, who is possessive, and attached, a woman who is attached to a man, or a woman, attached, is that love? Please, sir, don't agree or disagree. Just enquire, find out for yourself. Does attachment with its misused word of responsibility, is that love? Attachment implies owning somebody, fear of losing him, being attached you are afraid to lose, and become lonely, frustrated, miserable, so more and more and more you attach - it may be a person, it may be a house, it may be a furniture, it may be some belief, all the rest of it. Is that love? Because attachment breeds fear, attachment breeds anxiety, attachment breeds guilt because you then become responsible for that person, and if you are not responsible you feel guilty. Is all that love?
And if you are serious, you see all that is not love, then put aside all that. Then you have that extraordinary quality of that flame, the real thing, not the word. Then love has no relationship with pleasure. It is not related to desire, because desire is based on sensation, sexual and otherwise. Pleasure is the pursuit of a remembrance, and love is not a remembrance, love is not something to be cultivated by thought. And that's why it is very important to understand the nature and the structure of thought.
So when you see all this, not verbally, not theoretically, but actually in your daily life, then out of that comes not only love but a different kind of mind, totally new. It is only such a new mind can solve our various complexity of our problems.
May we get up? May I get up and go?