What place has knowledge in correct action?
Can the brain be free of all pressure?
3rd Public Talk, Madras
December 31, 1977
May we go on talking over together what we discussed last time we met here, last Sunday? If I may, I would like to point out something: we were talking about the art of observing, observing the world, what a chaotic, confused, brutal world it is actually, factually. And also we said through the outward observation, the same movement turned inside, which is to observe oneself, actually, what one is; not theoretically, but factually, what is actually daily going on within our own confused, miserable, rather frightened existence. We went into the question of what it means to observe. I think we went into it fairly thoroughly, but this evening, if I may, I would like to begin with the art of listening, whether one really listens at all, not only to what the speaker is saying, but also to everything that is going on around us - the nature, in our families, when we are talking to a friend and so on, whether we even listen or we only listen casually, paying little attention, rather bored, know exactly what the other fellow is going to say. And so, gradually one gets into the habit of partial listening, whether at home, in the office or anywhere else. I think there is an art in the way one listens. Perhaps in the very act of listening, the whole problem may be solved. If you have gone into it very thoroughly, what it means to listen, not merely respond to verbal communication, not only understanding the words, and so on, but also to listen to what is behind the word, to listen between the words, to see the depth of the word and have an insight into the meaning of that word before it is almost spoken. That requires great deal of attention, sensitivity and alertness to capture what the other fellow it saying. And, listening implies, doesn't it, not to make an abstraction of what is being said - an abstraction being to draw a conclusion from what you hear, which is actually an abstraction. I don't know if we are meeting together on this point.
Please let me again, if I may, remind you most respectfully, that we are sharing the thing together. I am not making a speech, throwing out a lot of ideas. But together we are exploring, together in exploration sharing, we are walking together, and we must keep at the same speed, with the same lan, with the same movement. Otherwise you cannot share. You may be far ahead and I may lag behind. So sharing implies, doesn't it, that both of us together investigate into the art of listening first, because we are going to investigate into a great many other things this evening, but first I think it is very important to learn for ourselves the art of actually listening. When you listen to a statement of any kind, the instinctual response is to either agree of disagree. And therefore you stop instantly from listening. Or, compare what you hear with what you already know. So, comparison in listening prevents you from listening. I hope we are meeting each other in this point. And also listening implies, doesn't it, that in our enquiry both of us are not coming to any conclusion. As we said, the word 'art' means putting everything in its proper place.
So I think it is very important to learn for oneself the art of listening. If one listened really very, very carefully, not interjecting your own personal opinions and conclusions and prejudices, but listen with your heart, with your mind, with your keenness, and perhaps a deeper form of communion can take place, both verbally and non-verbally.
So, having stated that, I would like to go into the question: what place has knowledge in our life? I don't know if you have ever asked that question. Knowledge implies, doesn't it, that which is known, that which has been experienced, gathered, collected, stored up as memory in the brain. That is a fact. And as we are living, more and more information about everything is being gathered, about the whole universe, matter, movement of stars, time, eternity, and so on. And also we have information according to the psychologists and philosophers about ourselves: what we are, what we should be, how we are evolving towards something or other, this constant information is being given, gathered and distributed. So we live with extraordinary accumulation of knowledge; knowledge not merely from books, whether they are so-called sacred or unholy but also from our own experiences we have gathered a tremendous lot of human knowledge about ourselves - if you gone into it.
So, we are asking what is the place of knowledge with regard to right action? Are you interested in this? Are you sure? Because, in a confused world, a world that is becoming more and more insane, more and more destructive, one must - if one is at all serious, fairly intelligent, deeply concerned - find out for oneself what is one to do, not only as a human being but as a collective representative of all humanity. We went into that the other day, because every human being, you as a human being, is the representative, is the totality, of all humanity. Now will you listen to that statement, that you are actually the representative of all humanity, will you listen to that? Or will you draw a conclusion from it, make it into an idea and discuss about that idea, argue back and forth? So, when you do that, you are moving away from the act of listening. If you listen totally, completely, with all your being, then a deep transformation takes place, because to realise that you as a human being are no longer a petty individual, worrying about his little this or that, but you are the entire humanity, if you listen to that, it is really a most profound awakening - I won't call it experience. It brings tremendous clarity, a great deal of vitality and strength. And so, I am asking, if I may ask, are you listening to that statement completely or have you already gone off making an abstraction and an idea and observing the idea? I don't know if I am making myself clear on this point. The word 'idea', comes from Greek and so on, means to observe. See what we have made of that word, which means to observe - not a conclusion, not a fixed opinion, but to observe what is actually going on, both outwardly and inwardly. So are you, if I may ask, listening that you are actually the representative of all man, humanity. You see, that means when you listen so completely, the idea of petty little individuality disappears altogether. You are concerned with the whole global human being. I wonder if you get this?
So, we are asking what place has knowledge when there is an enquiry into what is right action? Right action means correct action, accurate action, precise action, not right action according to you or to me or to some action based on some pattern, some conclusion, some ideal. Those are not actual correct action. So we are trying to find out, if you are interested in it, and you must be as a human being, when there is so much confusion, both outwardly and inwardly, what place has knowledge with regard to right action? You have understood the question first? Because we have got tremendous knowledge, and knowledge implies, by the very word, that which has been known, which has been acquired, which has been accumulated through experience, through education and so on and so on - this whole accumulation of knowledge. There are a whole group of scientists saying man can ascend only through knowledge. The ascent of man through acquiring more and more knowledge. Knowledge we said is always in the past - there is no knowledge of tomorrow. The tomorrow is dictated by the knowledge of yesterday, passing through the present. That is obvious. So we live in the past, if you observe yourself: you might have had marvellous experience a couple of years ago or yesterday, and that experience, the residue of that beauty, or that love, whatever it is that you think that experience is, and it is gone and you are searching for it, longing for it, which is again moving in the field of knowledge - always functioning within the field of the known. I hope you are following all this.
So, what is right action? You understand? What is right action, which will be true, precise, accurate, correct under all circumstances, whether you are at home, the office, whatever you are doing? It is very important to find out. Does knowledge bring order? Because action, correct action is based on order, not on choice, not on accumulated information called knowledge. So one asks, does knowledge bring order? Are we in communication with each other, or are you off somewhere else and I am off somewhere else? I feel we are not in communication because perhaps for some of you it is all new. And so you are hesitating, questioning, worrying about it. Sir, let us make it very, very simple. Knowledge implies storing up of experience, gathering all the known facts and storing up in the brain and acting according to memory. That is simple. Right? Acting according to memory. Acting according to that, does it bring order? Please be clear on this point, because we are investigating. I am not telling you it does or doesn't. But through exploring, investigating, we'll find out whether knowledge, which is always the past, can the past bring about order? You understand my question? Can tradition bring order? The word 'tradition' means to hand over, hand across and also, if you go into that word deeply you will find the meaning, it also means being treacherous. Please listen carefully. The word 'tradition' not only implies the accepted meaning: to hand over from father to son, the whole movement of tradition, but also it implies to be a traitor, traitor to the present. You understand? No, you don't.
So let us enquire into the word 'knowledge', whether knowledge brings order, or when you are functioning within the field of the known you are repetitive. And you may think repetitive existence is complete order. Please enquire into it, because we are all very traditionalist. You may think you are very modern, but your whole background, the unconscious, the deep layers of your mind, is very traditional. Not merely following some silly guru - going to the temples - but also the desire to conform to a pattern, whether you have created that pattern or it is imposed upon by society, culture and so on. So we are asking: what is order? If it is not related to knowledge, knowledge being the known, and functioning within the area of the known is repetitive, and that brings a great comfort, because you are always safe - at least you think you are safe.
So, what then is order? You understand my question? Because we are enquiring very carefully to find out what is correct action in life, what is right action with regard to your relationship to your wife, to your girlfriend, to your neighbour, as a citizen of the world, what is right action? Because unless you find out for yourself, you will always be in a turmoil, always be either regretting or frightened and therefore never acting wholly, completely. I wonder if I am making this clear? So, may we go on? I hope you are also exploring.
What is order? Is your life in order? A sequential order not occasional order, like in mathematics: sequence. If you go into the whole problem, which we won't now - mathematics, when it is a sequential movement is pure order, ultimately. So, is one's life orderly, sequential, following one thing after the other, logically, sanely, reasonably? Please enquire. And if it is not in order, then one has to enquire, why there is so much confusion in the world and in us. Right? I hope you are following. Right, sir? Why is there so much confusion? Why is there so much uncertainty, such fear of insecurity, such sense of choosing and the choice may lead to further confusion? Because, presently if we have time, we want to go into the question of fear, so we are leading up to this tremendous problem of every human being which is fear, but to understand it deeply and to be free of it, one must find out not only the sequential clarity of thought but also find out for oneself whether choice ever brings clarity. I wonder if you understand all this. May we go on? Why do you choose? You may choose between black cloth or a white cloth or between a certain quality of material, between two cars, between this or that. There it is in order, isn't it? You must. But why do you choose in any other psychological direction? You understand my question? Why do you choose at all? Between various gurus - if you do choose but generally what one does is you like what he says, you like what he's - blah, blah, blah, and then go after it - but when you are enquiring into confusion which means disorder, how does disorder come about in every human being? Disorder implies contradiction, firstly. Right? Disorder implies, saying one thing and doing another in which there is no integrity, no honesty. Disorder implies the incapacity to see clearly, and when you see clearly there is no choice. So choice exists when there is confusion. I wonder if you accept all this. It is only a man that is confused who says, 'I am going to choose'. When the thing is very clear, there is no choice, you just do according to that clarity. But if you notice, our existence is based on choice and the pursuit of will. Will is the very essence of choice. I wonder if you follow all this?
So what does clarity mean? You understand sir? When you look at a map, an ordinary map, if you want to go into a particular place from where you are, you look at it in one way. You measure the distance, you know exactly where the road is, and you take that road. So there is no confusion there because in front of you is the map. Because you have a direction. Right? Because you have a direction where you want to go, there is no choice. You just take the best road and go. So where there is direction, you think there is order. I wonder if you get this? And have you a direction? You understand? Direction. Not getting a job, becoming a professor or something or other, but psychologically, inwardly a direction. And the direction is brought about through motive. Right? So as long as you have a motive, the direction is distorted. And so that is one of the fundamental reasons of confusion. Right? So can you observe the map without direction, which is not the map of roads and villages and towns, but the map of your whole existence without direction. I wonder if you meet this point - because the moment you have direction, you are discarding the observation of the whole. Look, sir, can you look at life as a whole, not as a businessman, as a scientist, as a specialist, or a religious person or an atheist, or communist, but life, this immense thing, with all the complications of anxiety, fear, greed, envy, sexual demands, you know the whole of it, take the whole picture? You can only do that, to see the whole, when you have no direction. And therefore, the perception of the whole is order. I wonder if you see this. Are we communicating with each other, are we travelling together, or are you far ahead or I am far ahead and you are behind, are we moving together?
That means, order implies a way of living in which direction as a motive comes to an end. Therefore, you are looking, observing the whole of existence, not as a doctor, as a philosopher, as a religious man, as a cook or whatever it is. You are looking at the whole of life. So, order means the understanding, the actual fact of a life, daily life, in which there is no contradiction, there is no following a particular pattern. There is no action of a direction. Therefore, there is no choice. I wonder if you get it. It does not matter. If you don't get it, it is your misfortune. Let me go on.
So once you have established order, not following a pattern which is not order, not following a blueprint, not following what a guru says, those are all total disorder - but order means the observation of the whole of your life, the totality of your life. It is like observing something like the tree wholly, not get delighted at one particular branch or one particular leaf or one particular fruit, but the whole of the tree. That means your mind must have the capacity to look without direction, without prejudice, without personal problems - to look. Right.
So when one asks this question: what place has knowledge with regard to correct action? Knowledge has its right place: learning to drive a car, learning a language, learning a technique, learning a skill, all that you must have knowledge. Otherwise you are not a capable person. But knowledge has no place when there is correct action. This is difficult to understand, so let me go into it a little bit. Because action is not having acted or will act. Action means in the present. Action is the movement in the present. But if you are acting according to a pattern which is the past, then you are not acting at all. I wonder if you see this. Or following a particular ideal which is in the future and then acting according to that ideal in the present, it is not correct order, correct action. Right? I wonder if you see this. But we are caught between the past and the future. Right? So we live in the past. That is our life. And the past is guiding, shaping the challenge of the present and shaping the future. That is our daily life. So we are saying - please listen, you may not agree or disagree, these are facts - that knowledge has no place where right action is to take place. Knowledge then merely becomes mechanical. Action is not mechanical.
So to find out the art of living in which knowledge has its right place and seeing what the implications of actions are, not according to some book or some personal experience but action which is not mechanical, which is not repetitive, which is not pleasurable or rewarding or painful, but correct, right, that can only take place when you have placed knowledge in its right place. Shall we move on? You are only too willing to move on.
We want to go into the question, because if there is fear there is no right action. You may talk about right action, you may write books about right action, but as long as there is this immense fear within one, there is no right action. So we are going to enquire together - please, together - what is the mature and structure of fear. You understand? Because every human being in the world is frightened about something - he may be frightened about his wife, he may be frightened of not living rightly, he may be frightened of the future, he may be frightened of losing a job, all the neurotic fears and so on and so on and so on. Right? So we are going to go together, investigate whether it is possible to know what one's fears are, and when you leave this evening, when you walk out of here, to be completely free of fear. Because otherwise it is not worth talking about it. Whether it is at all possible to be both physiologically as well as psychologically, to be completely free of fear. You understand? Can we go together in it?
First of all, is one aware of fear, your particular fear? Or you slur over, not wanting to enquire because you don't know how to deal with fear. So we are going to deal with fear, not run away from it, not escape from it, not rationalise it, not say, 'It's all right, let's have a little fear because that keeps us in order'. We are talking about complete, total freedom of fear, because otherwise there is no order in life. Otherwise you will accept authority of the guru, of the politician, of your priest or of the psychologist or the analyst. So it is a very fundamental question which each one has to face and find out and totally eradicate it. We are going to do that now.
So please listen, not only listen but also move together. Have you ever faced fear? Please listen to my question. Be acquainted, live, know the actual fact of fear? Or you think about something - the future, you may lose your job, you may lose this and that, and the other thing, and therefore you are artificially creating fear. You understand the difference? I wonder if you do. I am asking, if you will kindly listen, whether you ever know what fear is? Or you only know fear because you think about the past or the future? You understand my question? So please listen. Is fear caused by thought, thinking about the past or thinking about the future, the past pain that you had whether at the dentist or other pains physically that you have had and thinking about it, hoping that it will not recur and get frightened about it? Which is the movement from the known, the known pain of last week, and projecting a non-state of pain in the future and getting frightened about it. Have you understood what I am saying?
So what is it we are doing? Please be clear on this point because it is most extraordinary if you go into it. Am I frightened of what I did yesterday? Am I frightened of losing a job, though I am not losing the job, I may lose the job, or I am frightened because my wife is more dominant than me and I live under her domination and I am a little frightened, or I am frightened of death, which is the future? So which is it I am doing: actually know what fear is, the fact of fear - do you understand? - not the fear caused by thought. Please, this is your life, it is important for you to understand this. Has fear a cause, the cause being that you had pain last week and you are frightened that it may happen again. Right? Or is there a fear by itself without the movement of thought bringing about fear? No, no, don't say yes, sir, you haven't gone into the whole problem of fear. First of all, sirs, aren't you frightened? Frightened about something, aren't you? Darkness, wife, the boss, the authorities, and also frightened of not fulfilling, frightened of not having loved, frightened of being lonely, frightened of being never on top of anything, aren't you frightened of something? Now when you look at your fear, is thought creating that fear? Do you understand my question? So is thought the root of fear? Do you understand? That is, I am living now - at least I think I am living - a shoddy, miserable, stupid life, that I call living. And I am frightened of the unknown. I don't know what is in the future, I only know what is now in my knowledge. So I am frightened of the unknown, so I cling to the known. Right? I don't let go the known and say, 'Let's find out'. But I am so frightened I cling to the known. Which means what? That thought says: I am accustomed to live with the past, the known, and I am frightened to move out of that. Right? So the origin of fear, is it thought? Not how to control thought, that is not the point, not how to change thought, how to stop thought. But is the beginning of fear, the beginning of thought? Do you understand my question? So how is one, knowing that thought is the movement of time, past, present, the movement of time, and this movement of time coming to an end, is fear. I am putting it a little more complicatedly which is, look - why don't you think all these things out? From yesterday I move, live through the present. The yesterday's memories are modified and go on. So the past through the present being modified goes on. So the past is going on all the time, modified somewhat polished, somewhat less and more, but the past is the river that is moving all the time. That is, knowledge is moving through the present, modified, changing, but knowledge is still going on. So thought which is the response of memory, which is the collection of various experiences, knowledge, and so on, from that is the storehouse which is the cultivation of memory, and the response of that memory is thought. This is a fact. You don't have to invent, discuss. Look at it.
So I am asking myself and you, we are exploring: is the origin of fear thought? If it is, then what relationship has thought to action? Do you follow what I am saying? I wonder if you do.
I have got a quarter of an hour more. The speaker's intention, his communication with you, is that when you leave this place that you are totally free of fear, both physically as well as psychologically, because a man who lives under fear, lives in darkness. It is a tremendous burden, and in darkness trying to find something that is dark. He will never find anything. So that is what I want to discuss with you, to make you to see the reality that there can be freedom from fear.
So we are saying: is there a fear independent of thought? Do you understand? Or, all fear is related to thought? Right, sir? Now which is it? Obviously thought which is the response of memory and so on, thought, thinking about what happened yesterday, that pain, not wanting that pain, and that pain may come back and be afraid of it - that is, physically. The same thing psychologically. I am attached to you and that attachment I consider love, which is nonsense, it is not love; where there is attachment, there is no love. Obviously. We won't go into that for the moment. So I am attached and I am afraid if I let go my attachment I am facing a greater fear of loneliness. Right? Are you following all this? So thought is attached to a belief, to a person, to an idea, to a conclusion, to an opinion and is afraid to let go, because if you let go, where am I?
So fear is related to thought. I am afraid of dying, coming to an end. I may believe in all kinds of stuff: reincarnation, future life, resurrection and all that, but the fact is that I am coming to an end, and I don't know what will happen at that moment when I have to let go everything, so thought says, push it off further away, as far away as possible and don't even think about it. But there is always this worm going on, afraid of the future, afraid of letting go, afraid of not knowing, afraid of loneliness, and so on. So thought is the origin of fear. Right?
So the question then is: why does thought - please listen - why does thought have such extraordinary importance in the field of the psyche? Do you understand my question? You understand my question? Why does thought, thinking, take such supreme command in the field which is me? You understand? Is the 'me' the result of thought? Are you understanding what I am asking? Is your self, including the higher self, the supreme self, the atman, the super-consciousness, the ultra-consciousness, consciousness beyond, beyond, beyond, beyond, all that is still within the field of thought. Right? So what relationship has thought - if it is the origin of fear - what relationship has thought with regard to correct action, right action? You are following all this?
So, we will have to go into the question: what is the origin, the beginning, why has thought become so tremendously important? If thought creates fear, if thought has made the past so tremendously important, which is knowledge, and if thought, in spite of knowledge, in spite of everything, breeds fear, is it possible to give thought its right place and therefore, thought does not enter into any other field? You understand? Are we communicating?
So what is thinking? When I ask you that question, are you thinking? Or, please listen, are you listening? Which is it that you are doing? I am asking you. Giving thought its right place gives you freedom from fear. Are you actually listening to that statement? Or are you saying, how am I to put thought in its right place, tell me what to do? So you are not actually listening. You have gone off, right?
So, I am asking you: please listen, find out, learn the art which is to put everything in life in its right place - sex, emotion, everything in its right place. So, we are asking: can thought realise itself and its activities and so bring about in itself its right place? You understand my question? Thought now is moving in all directions. And one of the directions is fear. So to understand fear, you must understand the place of thought - not stop thought. You can't do it. You may try to do it, but you can't stop thought. But if you can put it in its right place - not you - when thought puts itself in its right place, then it has understood, it knows its limitation, it knows its capacity to reason, logic, and so on, but in its right place, right? So we are asking: can thought see itself, its own limitation, its own capacity and say, this reason, capacity has its place and it has no place anywhere else? Because love is not thought. Is it? You say, 'No'. I think your heads must be very loose! Is love the product of thought, remembrance? Please listen carefully. Remembrance, of your sexual pleasure, other pleasures? Is that love? We will go into what the nature and the beauty of that thing is later. First, we are saying: unless you learn, learn not memorise, not repeat after what the speaker has said but actually find out for yourself whether thought has its own, realises its own place, and when it realises it, it won't move in any other direction, and therefore no fear. You understand this? No, but this requires, please, application - test, not agreement or verbally, but daily test that you know that - not 'you' - thought has created the you. Right? Thought has made you different from itself, and that is our problem, one of our problems. Thought, the origin of thought is the beginning of remembrance. Whether the most savage man, the most primitive animal, the anthropoid apes, the remembrance is the beginning of thinking. Like that tape registering now, the brain registers; registering means remembering. And the origin of thinking is remembering. That is a simple, ordinary fact. So can thought - please listen - can thought, your thinking, can your thought awaken to itself, know itself as the cause of fear and therefore realising that, says: I know my right place. You understand? You know this requires great, not concentration, great awareness, implications of the whole movement of fear, the understanding of the movement of thought.
You see, if you do this, if you go into it, if your thought goes into it, this is part of real meditation, because you cannot meditate if your life is not in order. Right? If your daily life is not perfect order then meditation is something cheap, an escape, a meaningless illusory pursuit. That is why we are saying if there is to be real meditation, the full meaning of that word, the depth of that state, the beauty and the clarity and the compassion, you must then begin by laying the foundation of order in you daily life. But you find that extremely difficult. Therefore, you go off and sit under a tree or hold your nose and do all kinds of stuff thinking you are meditating.
So there is a tremendous possibility of being completely free of fear if you have listened very carefully to what the speaker has to say, because we are journeying together, we are walking together, we are sharing together in our walk, in our exploration. Therefore, there is no learning from somebody. You are learning as you walk, as you explore. So there is no authority. So have you, after an hour and a quarter, realised - has thought realised its place? Meditate about it. Think about it. Go into it. Give half an hour of your life to find out - not half an hour, give your life to find out. Because, then you will see for yourself as a human being who represents mankind, whose consciousness is the consciousness of humanity, when there is no fear in that consciousness you, who have understood and gone beyond it, change the consciousness of humanity. This is a fact. So if I may ask, have you learnt the art - has thought learnt the art of putting itself in its right place? Then, once it has done that, the doors of heaven are open. Heaven, you know. All right.