What kind of brain is needed for meditation?
The world of peace
4th Public Talk, Brockwood Park
September 04, 1983
To come out in this weather must indicate something. For us all to sit here in this terrible weather!
This is the last dialogue together. We began this series of talks by asking why human beings living on this earth, such a beautiful earth, except on a rainy day like this, why we cannot live at peace with each other, why must we have wars, the economic, social, racial differences, and why we cannot live with each other - intimately or otherwise, with tranquillity, a certain quality of serenity? And apparently that is not possible, because the vast majority of people throughout the world are very violent. They don't want peace - neither do the governments. They talk a great deal about it, but they are all preparing for everlasting war. And religions too have not given man peace. The tribal divisions, local gods and saviours, the religious hierarchy, all that has prevented - or we have created all this and therefore there is no peace on earth. Pacem in terris.
And we have been talking over together, if we can in our daily life, end conflict within ourselves, be free from any shadow of fear, end suffering, move away entirely from the self-centred activity which is one of the, perhaps, or the major causes of conflict - not only outwardly but also inwardly. And very, very few seem to be serious enough to go into this deeply and perhaps realise that there is a totally different way of living. And this morning, if we will, together, go into this question, not only of peace, but as we said, what is the origin, the beginning, of all existence? Why man has become what he is. Why we are, after millennia upon millennia, very, very primitive psychologically, barbarous. And technologically we are advanced tremendously, and that very technology is going perhaps to destroy us too. And we ought to go together this morning and enquire seriously: is it man's lot inevitably that he lives this way? Or has something gone wrong with the whole human evolution? Or is there something outside, beyond human measure, that if one can understand, go into it deeply, may perhaps open the door, open our eyes, and perhaps our hearts too, so that we may naturally, easily, live a happy, serene life? That is what we are going to enquire together this morning.
First of all, we must understand the word 'experience'. Experience is a process of acquiring knowledge, becoming familiar with something. And this knowledge may be one of the fundamental reasons of our conflict, of our ignorance. Not the knowledge of outside, technological knowledge, scientific knowledge, medical knowledge, and so on, but the accumulated knowledge of humanity which is the whole burden of the past. That may be one of the basic causes of conflict. We have talked a bit about it and we'll go further into it.
We ought to enquire together whether there is an outside agency beyond the measure of man - beyond man himself as a measure - an outside agency that we can appeal to, pray to, ask guidance. Or be with that so basically that we are that so that there is no outside agency. I hope we are together in this. This is, as we said the other day, and we have been repeating this many, many times - this is not a lecture, nor a sermon on Sunday morning - god forbid! Nor try to instruct, convince you, or do some kind of silly propaganda. If we could both of us, travel together, walk along together and see things as they are, and go beyond. Is man the measure of all things? Man being his consciousness, reactions, his memories - is he the measure? Or there is something outside of him that, if we can come into contact, may help us? Right? This has been the activity of religion. Throughout the world, from ancient of days, man sought something outside of himself, or has said: there is something divine in me, in the human, but it is covered over with his greed, with his envy, with his ambitions and cruelty, bestiality, and that can be stripped away, then that will be the abiding factor of righteous behaviour. Right? Are we together in this, following each other? And to strip away all the layers of our ugly, brutal, anxious, ambitious, aggressive life, there have been many, many systems, many incantations, many forms of rituals, magic. They have tried every form of physical torture - fasting, denying every sensory response, to come to this point where man can understand and live a different way of life.
Scientists are also trying, through genetic engineering, through chemistry, other forms of drugs, to change man. And man has looked in every direction outwardly, and perhaps never inwardly. He may have superficially scratched the surface of his existence. But man has perhaps never, except for a few, deeply concerned and gone into himself, for he is both matter and the movement of thought, which is also matter. And the instrument of investigation has been thought - to go in himself. And thought is not the right instrument, because thought itself is limited. Right? So religions throughout the world, organised and not organised, individual, separate groups and every form of attempt has been made to become enlightened - if I may use that word which has been so corrupted by the gurus. If we can put aside all the religious dogmas, faiths, symbols, figures, rituals and all those incantations which have very little meaning now - perhaps they never had it - if we could put aside completely all that, not belong to any group, to any spiritual authority - those two words 'spiritual authority' is the denial of spirituality. So if we could shove off all that, which means, be able to stand completely free, unafraid, so that we can enquire into the actual, if there is a dimension that is not the invention of thought. And then, what is religion? Right? We are going to go into all this.
What is the origin and the beginning of all existence, from the minutest cell to the most complex brain? Whether there was a beginning at all, and is there an end to all this? And also we are going to enquire together: what is creation? Now, to find out all this, to uncover all this, what kind of brain does one need? You understand? What kind of capacity, what kind of energy, what kind of passion is needed to really probe into all of this? You understand? To probe into something totally unknown, not preconceived, not caught in any sentimental, romantic illusion, there must be a quality of brain that's completely free. Right? Free from all its conditioning, from all its program, from every kind of influence, and therefore highly sensitive and tremendously active. Right? Is that possible? Do you, taking part in a dialogue, do you have such a brain? Or is it very sluggish, lazy and living in its own self-conceit? Which is it? Because we are going to enquire into something that demands a mind, a brain that is extraordinarily alive, not caught in any form of routine, mechanical. Is that possible? Have we such a brain in which there is no fear, no self-interest, no self-centred activity? Otherwise it is living in its own shadow all the time. Right? It's living in its own tribal, limited environment, field. It's like an animal tied to a stake - the tether may be very long or very short, but it is tied to a post, therefore its movement is limited. You may give it a very, very, very long rope, but the very length is an indication of limitation.
A brain must have space. So what is space? Not only the space between here and there - space indicates 'without a centre'. Right? If you have a centre, and you move away from the centre to the periphery, however long, wide the periphery is, it is still limited. Right? Are we following each other? So, space indicates, does it not, where there is no centre and there is no periphery, there is no boundary. Have we such a brain that one doesn't belong to any thing, attached to anything - attached to one's experience, conclusions, hopes, ideals, and so on, so that the brain is really, completely free? Right? If it is burdened, you can't walk very far, you can't go very far. If it is crude, vulgar, self-centred, it cannot have measureless space. And space indicates - one is using the word very, very carefully - emptiness. Are you following? Does it interest you at all this? Are you sure, coming here in spite of the awful rain and wind, we are communicating with each other?
We are trying to find out, aren't we, if it is possible to live in this world without any fear, without any conflict, with a tremendous sense of compassion which demands a great deal of intelligence. You cannot have compassion without intelligence. And that intelligence is not the activity of thought. One cannot be compassionate if one is attached to a particular ideology, to a particular narrow tribalism, or to any religious concept, for that limits. And compassion can only come, or be there, when there is the ending of sorrow, which is the ending of self-centred movement. Right?
So space indicates emptiness, nothingness. And that space, because there is not a thing put by thought, that space has tremendous energy. This is what the scientists too are saying, only it is their conclusion, it is not the actual living of the scientist, because the scientist, like everybody else, every other human being, is greedy, out for himself, or he represents a government, or he is ambitious, and so on. He is just like anybody else, but he has got an extraordinary capacity for accumulating knowledge in a certain area.
So the brain must have the quality of complete freedom and space. That is, one must be nothing. Whereas we are all something - analysts, psychotherapists, doctors - that's all right. But when we are therapists, when we are biologists, technicians, that very identification limits the wholeness of the brain. Right? Can we proceed from there?
And then we can ask, only then can we ask, really, what is meditation? Because if you ask what is meditation or try to meditate and follow all the systems whether it is Zen, a Buddhist form of meditation, Tibetan form of meditation, the Hindu, the Christian form which is rather limited, and all the latest gurus with their peculiar invitations to mysterious meditations, only on a condition you pay a lot of money for it. And there are all these forms of meditation. They are all based on making thought silent, making thought to be quiet, not rampant thought. Right? That is, there is a controller who is going to control through systems, through practice, through daily allotted time for quietness, and so on, and so on. There is always the controller watching. And the controller himself is the activity of thought. Right? So they are going round and round in a circle, like a cat chasing its tail. And that's called meditation.
Now, meditation is something entirely different. Unless one has laid the foundation of order in our life - you understand, order, there cannot be order if there is fear, there cannot be order if there is any kind of conflict, unless our house, not the outer house, unless our inward house is in complete order, so there is great stability, no waffling around, great strength in that very stability, therefore in that order - then only one can ask what is true meditation.
If the house is not in order, your meditation has very little meaning. Right? You can invent any kind of illusion, any kind of enlightenment, any kind of daily discipline - it will be still limited, illusory, because it is born out of disorder. Right? This is all logical, please, sane, rational. It is not something the speaker has invented for you to accept. Unless there is this kind of - may I use the word - 'undisciplined order' (that's a good word, I'm glad I thought of it just now!) - unless there is undisciplined order, meditation becomes very shallow and meaningless.
So then, what is order? Thought cannot create order, because thought itself is disorder. Would you accept that? Do you see that? Because thought, based on knowledge, which is based on experience, all knowledge is limited. Right? This is a fact. And so thought is also limited. And when thought tries to create order, it brings about disorder. Right? Do we see this actual fact? - not as a theory.
Thought has created disorder, that is, it has created disorder through conflict of 'what is,' and 'what should be'. Right? The actual and the theoretical; there is only the actual and not the theoretical. And thought looks at the actual from a limited point of view. Right? And therefore its action must inevitably create disorder. Do we see this as a truth, as a law - or just an idea? You understand? I am greedy, suppose I am greedy, envious - that's 'what is'; the opposite is not. But the opposite has been created by human beings, by thought, as a means of understanding 'what is', and also as a means of escaping from 'what is'. Right? Are we walking together, communicating with each other? So there is only 'what is'. And when you perceive 'what is' without its opposite, then that very perception brings order. Are we together?
As we were saying - our house must be in order. And this order cannot be brought about by thought. Thought creates its own discipline - do this, don't do that, follow this, don't follow that, be traditional or not traditional, and so on. Thought is the guide. One hopes to bring about order, but thought itself is limited, therefore it is bound to create disorder. If I keep on repeating for the rest of my life - I'm a British, British, or French, French, or would you like any other nationality, or a Hindu or Buddhist, whatever it is - that tribalism is very limited. And that tribalism is causing great havoc in the world. Right? We don't go to the root of it, that is, to end tribalism, not how to create better wars.
So similarly, we are saying, order can only come into being when thought, which is necessary in certain areas, has no place in the psychological world. And therefore in that world, that world itself is in order when thought is absent. Are we meeting each other?
So meditation - the very word 'meditation' means to measure - measure between 'what is' and 'what should be,' between 'what I am,' and, through meditation, 'what I will be'. So meditation, both in Sanskrit and Latin, and so on, is the quality of measurement, right - which is comparison. And comparison is disorder. All right? Do you need explanation of that? When I am comparing myself with you, which is, I am competing with you, I am trying to be better than you, then this is a constant conflict, isn't it? So is it possible to live without any comparison, not only biologically, physically, but much more psychologically, inwardly - never to compare oneself with anything, with anybody, so that the mind, the brain, is free from this conflict of arrogance. Right?
So then we can ask, what is meditation? Because it is necessary to have a brain that is absolutely quiet. The brain has its own rhythm - please, I am not a scientist, brain specialist, but one has watched all this in oneself - which doesn't mean that the speaker is extraordinary. Don't let's become sentimental and personal.
The brain is endlessly active, chattering from one subject to another, from one thought to another, from one association to another, from one state to another - it's constantly occupied. One is not aware of it generally. But when one is aware without any choice, choiceless awareness of this movement, then that very awareness, that very attention ends that chattering. Please do it, and you will see how simple it all is.
So the quality of the brain is that it must be free - space and silence. Silence psychologically. One is talking now. You and I are hearing each other, talking to each other. There, thought is being employed because we are all speaking English. But to speak out of this silence - do you understand what I am saying? Don't, please go off into some kind of fanciful imagination.
This brings the question of language. Does language condition the brain? Have you ever thought about all this? Or is it all something totally new? Does English or French or whatever, Russian or Chinese, does, the very usage of those words, does it shape the brain so that it becomes conditioned? Language does condition the brain. Right? If you talk to a Russian or to a Frenchman - of course if you talk to a British or an American speaking English - if you watch, their whole outlook is limited by the language they use. Right? Have you noticed all this? So to be free of the network of words! Right, sir? To use a language, like English, and not allow it to shape our outlook on the whole of existence. Right?
I see you haven't done any of these things, so it's all just something fanciful. So, not to be caught in the network of words, that's quite complex too. When you say, 'I am a Communist', your whole reaction is different. As you have had a recent war in the Falklands, when you talk about Argentines, the label is more important than the person. So there must be freedom from the word. Then the brain is utterly quiet though it has its own rhythm. Right?
Now what is, then, creation, what is the beginning of all this? Right? We are enquiring into that - the origin of the beginning of all life - not only your life, but the life of every living thing: the deep down whales, the dolphins, the little fish, the minute cells, the vast nature, the beauty of a tiger. Have you ever seen a tiger in a forest? No, of course not, you wouldn't see it. It's really the most extraordinary animal. I won't go into it, that is, not this time. I nearly touched it, wild. And the living of man, from the minutest cell to the most complex man, with all his inventions, with all his illusions, with his superstitions, with his quarrels, with his wars, with his arrogance, vulgarity, with his tremendous aspirations and his great depressions - what is the origin of all this? Right?
Now, meditation is to come upon this - not you come upon it - in that silence, in that quietness, in that absolute tranquillity. The beginning - is there a beginning? And if there is a beginning, there must be an ending. Right? That which has a cause must end. If I have cancer, the cause is the disease, I must be operated on, then that would be the end of it or it would kill me. Right? Wherever there is a cause there must be an end. That's a law, that's natural. So is there a causation at all for the creation of man, the creation of all this way of life? You understand my question? Is there a beginning of all this? How are we going to find out?
Religions have said there is god - god is the beginning and the end of all things. That's a very easy way of solving the problem. The Hindus have said it in one way, perhaps the Buddhists too, and Christianity said, god. Only the fundamental belief - man has been created four thousand five hundred years ago. Right? It seems rather absurd because four thousand five hundred years ago, the Egyptians invented the calendar, which means they must have been extraordinarily advanced, and so on. And if you are a fundamentalist, then you'll get angry with what is being said. And I hope none of us are any kind of fundamentalist.
So what is creation? Not the painter who creates the picture, not the poet, not the man who makes something out of marble. Those are all things manifested. Right? Is there something which is not manifest? Is there something, because it is not manifested, that thing has no beginning and no end? That which is manifested has a beginning, has an end. Right? We are the manifestations, aren't we? Not of divine something or other, we are the result. We are the result of thousands of years of so-called evolution, growth, development, and we also come to an end. That which is manifested can always be destroyed. But that which is not, has no time. Right?
Now we are asking is there such a thing as something beyond all time? This has been the enquiry of philosophers, scientists, and religious people - to find out that which is beyond the measure of man, which is beyond time. Because if one can find, come, discover that, or see that, that is immortality. Right? That's beyond death. I wonder if you understand all this? Are you following all this? A little bit at least? Try to encourage me, please. I don't want your encouragement. You see this man has really sought, in various ways, in different parts of the world, through different beliefs. Because when one's discovered that, or realised that, life then has no beginning and no end. Therefore it is beyond all concepts, beyond all hope. Do you follow? It is something immense.
Now to come back to earth: you see we never look at life as a tremendous movement, our own life as a tremendous wide - with a great depth, a vastness. We have reduced our life to such a shoddy little affair. And life is really the most sacred thing in existence. To kill somebody is the most irreligious horror. To get angry, to be violent with somebody. The speaker has been angry only once and the person with whom he was angry has been reminding him, so he is still carrying on with the anger. You understand? Really?
You see we never see the world as a whole because we are so fragmented, we are so terribly limited, so petty. And we never have this feeling of wholeness, you follow, where the things of the sea, things of the earth, the nature and the sky, is the universe, is part of us. Not imagined - you can go off in some kind of fanciful imagination and imagine that we are the universe, then you become cuckoo! But, to break down this small self-centred interest, to have nothing of that, then from there you can move infinitely.
And meditation is this. Not just sitting cross-legged, or standing on your head, or doing whatever one does, but to have this feeling of complete wholeness and unity of life. And that can only come when there is love and compassion.
You know, one of our difficulties is we have associated love with pleasure, with sex. And love also, for most of us, means jealousy, anxiety, possessiveness, attachment. That is what we call love. So is love attachment? Is love pleasure? Is love desire? Is love the opposite of hate? If it is the opposite of hate, then it is not love. Right? Do you see this? All opposites contain its own opposite. Right? When I try to become courageous, that courage is born out of fear. Right? I wonder if you understand this? No? So love cannot have its opposite. Love cannot be where there is jealousy, ambition, aggressiveness.
And where there is that quality, then from that arises compassion; where there is that compassion there is intelligence. Not the intelligence of self-interest, not the intelligence of thought, not the intelligence of a great deal of knowledge, but compassion has nothing to do with knowledge. Then only is that intelligence which gives humanity security, stability, vast sense of strength.
So we have come to the end of our dialogue and one hopes we shall meet again next year.