What will make us change?
On being conditioned
1st Public Talk, Brockwood Park
August 25, 1979
I'm sorry the weather is so foul.
I am sure many of you have come with your personal problems, and hope by these talks they will be solved; but they can only be solved if we apply self, choiceless awareness and a quality of religious wholeness. I mean - we mean by 'religion' not beliefs, dogmas, rituals and the vast network of superstition, but religion in the deep sense of that word, which only comes into being when there is this self awareness and meditation. And that is what we are going to talk about during these four talks, and two question and answer meetings, as has been explained.
To go into this matter rather deeply, not only to be aware naturally and easily, with our own particular problems, which are related with the problems of the world, because we human beings are more or less alike throughout the world psychologically. You may have different colour, different culture, different habits and customs but in spite of that all human beings go through a great deal of travail, a great deal of sorrow, great anxieties, loneliness, despairs, depressions. Not being able to solve them, they seek salvation through somebody else, through various forms of beliefs, dogmas, and acceptance of authorities.
So when we are discussing, talking over together these problems if we merely confine ourselves to our own particular little problem, then that self-centred activity only makes it more narrow, more limited and therefore it becomes more of a prison. Whereas if we could during these talks and dialogues, or questions and answers, if we could relate ourselves to the whole of humankind, to the whole of humanity. We are part of that humanity. Over in the east they suffer just as much as you do, they have their sorrows, their unhappiness, their utter loneliness, a sense of negligence by the society, there is no security, no certainty, they are confused as much as we are here. So we are essentially, deeply psychologically, part of that humanity. I think this must be understood really, not merely verbally or intellectually or through reason but one has to feel this. It is not a sentiment, or a romantic idea but an actuality that we are part of this whole of mankind and therefore we have a tremendous responsibility.
And to bring about a unity of all other human beings, it is only religion can do this, bring us all together. Not politics, not science, not some new philosophy or some expansive economy, or various organisations, political, religious, none of them are going to bring us together as a whole. I think this one has to realise very deeply, that no organisation - religious, political, economic, or the various forms of United Nations organisations - will bring man together. It is only religion in the deep sense of that word can bring us all together. Religion - we mean by that word not all that is going on in the world, the various superstitions, the make-belief, the hierarchical set-up, the dogmas, the rituals, the beliefs - religion is far beyond all that, it is a way of living, daily. And if we could think over together, think together not about something, but have the capacity to be able to look, hear and think together. Could we during these talks do that? Not that we must agree with each other, or accept each other's opinions or judgements but rather putting aside our own particular point of view, our own experience, our own conclusions, if we can set those aside, and have the capacity to think together, not about something, which is fairy easy, but to be able to see the same thing together, to hear the same meaning, significance, the depth of a word, to hear the same song, not interpret it according to your like and dislike but to hear it together because I think it is very important to be able to think together, not as a group, having the same thought, the same point of view, the same outlook, but having set aside one's own particular idiosyncrasies, habits of thought, come together in thought. Say for instance we can think together about belief, we can argue for it or against it. We can see how important belief is, to have some kind of psychological security. And being desirous of that security we'll believe in anything. This is happening in the world. Belief in the most ridiculous nonsense, both economically, religiously and in every way. So we can think about a belief together, agreeing or disagreeing. But we are trying something else, which is not thinking about something but thinking itself together. I wonder if I am making myself clear.
No two people apparently are capable of thinking together unless there is some catastrophe, unless there is some great sorrow, a crisis, then people come together and think together, about a war and so on. It is always thinking together about something - right? But we are trying something, which is to think together. Which is only possible if we for the moment forget ourselves, our own problems, our own inclinations, our intellectual capacities and so on and so on, and meet each other. That requires a certain sense of attention, a certain sense of awareness, that each one of us are together in the quality of thinking. I don't know how to express it more clearly than that. Could we do that about all our problems? We can think together about our problems, but to have the capacity to think at the same level, with the same intensity, not about something, but the feeling of thinking together. I wonder if you get it?
If we could do that we can go together into many things. That means a certain quality of freedom, a certain sense of detachment, not forced, compelled, driven, but the freedom from our own backyard, and then meet together. Because this becomes very important when you want to create a good society. The philosophers have talked about it, the ancient Greeks, the ancient Hindus and the Chinese have talked about bringing about a good society. That is in the future, some time in the future we will create a good society according to an ideal, a pattern, a certain sense of ideals and so on. And apparently throughout the world a good society has never come into being, there are good people maybe. It is becoming more and more difficult to be good in this world. And we are always looking to the future to bring about this good society - good in the sense where people can live on this earth without wars, peacefully, without slaughtering each other, without competition, in a sense of great freedom and so on. We are not defining what is good for the moment - the definition of the good doesn't make one good.
So can we together think the absolute need of a good society? The society is what we are, society doesn't come into being mysteriously, it is not created by god, man has created this society with all the wars and all that is going on. We don't have to go into all the horrible details of it. And that society is what we are, what each human being is. That is fairly obvious. That is, we create the society with all its divisions, with its conflicts, with its terror, with its inequality and so on and so on and so on because in ourselves we are that, which is in our relationship with each other we are that. We may be fairly tolerant, fairly affectionate in private relationships; even that's rather doubtful, but with regard to the rest of the human beings we are not. Which is again fairly obvious when you read the newspapers, magazines and actually see what is going on. So good society can only come into being, not in the future but now, when we human beings have established right relationship between ourselves. Is that possible? Not at some future date but actually in the present, in our daily life could we bring about a relationship that is essentially good? Good being without domination, without personal interest, without personal vanity, ambition and so on. So that there is a relationship between each other which is based essentially on - if I may use the word and I hope you won't mind - love. Is that possible?
Can we, as human beings, living in this terrible world which we have created, could we bring about a radical change in ourselves? That is the whole point. Some philosophers and others have said human conditioning is impossible radically to change; you can modify it, you can polish it, refine it but the basic quality of conditioning you cannot alter. There are a great many people who think that - the Existentialists and so on and so on. Why do we accept such conditioning? You are following I hope what we are talking about. Why do we accept our conditioning which has brought about this really mad world, insane world? Where we want peace and we are supplying armaments, where we want peace and we are nationalistically, economically, socially dividing each other, we want peace and all religions are making us separate, as they are, the organisations. There is such vast contradiction out there as well as in ourselves. I wonder if one is aware of all this, in ourselves, not what is happening out there. Most of us know what is happening out there, you don't have to be very clever to find out, just observe. And that confusion out there is partly responsible for our own conditioning. We are asking: is it possible to bring about in ourselves a radical transformation of this? Because only then can we have a good society, where we won't hurt each other both psychologically as well as physically.
When one asks this question of ourselves, what is our deep response to that question? One is conditioned, not only as an Englishman, or a German or Frenchman, and so on, but also one is conditioned by various forms of desires, beliefs, pleasures and conflict, psychological conflicts; all that contributes to this conditioning and more. We will go into it. We are asking ourselves, thinking together because we are thinking together I hope, can this conditioning, can this human prison with its griefs, loneliness, anxieties, personal assertions, personal demands, fulfilment's, and all that, that is our conditioning, that is our consciousness, and our consciousness is its content. And we are asking: can that whole structure be transformed? Otherwise we will never have peace in this world. There will be perhaps little modifications but man will be fighting, quarrelling, perpetually in conflict within himself and outwardly. So that is our question. Can we think together with regard to this?
Then the question arises: what is one to do? One is aware that one is conditioned, knows, conscious. This conditioning has come into being by one's own desires, self-centred activities, through lack of right relationship with each other, one's own sense of loneliness. One may live among a great many people, have intimate relationships, but there is always this sense of empty whirl within oneself. All that is our conditioning, intellectual, psychological, emotional, and also physical naturally. Now can this totally be transformed? That I feel is the real revolution. In that there is no violence.
Now, can we do it together? Or if you do it, if you understand the conditioning and resolve that conditioning, and another is conditioned, will the man who is conditioned listen to another? You understand? Perhaps you are unconditioned, will I listen to you? And what will make me listen? What pressure, what influence, what reward? What will make me listen to you with my heart, with my mind, with my whole being? Because if one can listen so completely perhaps the solution is there. But apparently we don't seem to listen. So we are asking: what will make a human being, knowing his conditioning, most of us do, if you are at all intelligently aware, what will make us change? Please put this question to ourselves, each one of us, find out what will make each one of us bring about a change, a freedom from this conditioning? Not to jump into another conditioning: it is like leaving Catholicism and becoming a Buddhist, it is the same pattern. So what will make one, each one of us, who, one is quite sure, is desirous of bringing about a good society, what will make him change? Change has been promised through reward - heaven, a new kind of carrot, a new ideology, a new community, new set of groups, new gurus, a reward. Or a punishment - 'If you don't do this you will go to Hell'. So our whole thinking is based on this principle of reward and punishment. 'I will do this if I can get something out of it'. But that kind of attitude, or that way of thinking, doesn't bring about radical change. And that change is absolutely necessary. I am sure we are all aware of it. So what shall we do?
Some of you have listened to the speaker for a number of years - I wonder why? And having listened it becomes a new kind of mantram - you know what that word is? It is a Sanskrit word meaning, in its true meaning, is not to be self-centred and to ponder over not becoming. The meaning of that is that - mantram means that. Abolish self-centredness, and ponder, meditate, look at yourself so that you don't become something. That is the real meaning of that word which has been ruined by all the transcendental meditation nonsense.
So some of you have listened for many years and do we listen and therefore bring about a change, or you have got used to the words and just carry on? So we are asking: what will make man, a human being who has lived for so many million years, carrying on the same old pattern, inherited the same instincts, self preservation, fear, security, sense of self concern which brings about great isolation, what will make that man change? A new god? A new form of entertainment? A new religious football? New kind of circus with all the - you know - with all that stuff? What will make us change? Sorrow apparently has not changed man, because we have suffered a great deal, not only individually but collectively as a whole of mankind we have suffered an enormous amount - wars, disease, pain, death. We have suffered enormously, and apparently sorrow has not changed us. Nor fear, that hasn't changed us because our mind is pursuing constantly, seeking out pleasure and even that pleasure is the same pleasure in different forms, that hasn't changed us. So what will make us change?
We don't seem to be able to do anything voluntarily. We will do things under pressure. If there was no pressure, no sense of reward or punishment, because reward and punishment are too silly to even think about, if there was no sense of future - I don't know if you have gone into that whole question of future, that may be our deception, psychologically. We will go into that presently. If you abandon all those then what is the quality of the mind that faces absolutely the present? Do you understand my question? Are we communicating with each other? Please, say yes or no, I don't know where we are. I hope I'm not talking to myself.
If one realises that one is in a prison, that prison created by oneself, oneself being the result of the past, parents, grandparents and so on and so on - inherited, acquired, imposed - that is our psychological prison in which we live. And naturally the instinct is to break through that prison. Now does one realise that, not as an idea, not as a concept, but as an actuality, psychologically a fact? When one faces that fact why is it even then there is no possibility of change? You understand my question?
This has been a problem, a problem for all serious people, for all people who are concerned with the human tragedy, the human misery, and asking themselves why don't we all bring about a sense of clarity in ourselves? A sense of freedom, a sense of being essentially good? I don't know if you have not noticed the intellectuals, the literary people, the writers and the so-called leaders of the world, are not talking about bringing about a good society, they have given it up. We were talking the other day to some of these people and they said, 'What nonsense that is, that is old fashioned, throw it out. There is no such thing as a good society any more. This is Victorian, stupid, nonsensical. We have to accept things as they are and live with them'. And probably for most of us it is like that. So you and I as two friends, talking over this, what shall we do?
Authority of another doesn't change, doesn't bring about this change - right? If I accept you as my authority because I want to bring about a revolution in myself and so perhaps bring about a good society, the very idea of my following you, you instructing me, that ends good society. I wonder if you see that? I am not good because you tell me to be good, or I accept you as the supreme authority over righteousness and I follow you. The very acceptance of authority and obedience is the very destruction of a good society. Isn't that so? I wonder if you see this? May we go further into this matter?
If I have a guru - thank god I haven't got one - if I have a guru and I follow him, what have I done to myself? What I have done in the world? Nothing. He tells me some nonsense, how to meditate, this or that and I will get marvellous experience or levitate and all the rest of that nonsense, and my intention is to bring about a good society, where we can be happy, where there is a sense of affection, a relationship so that there is no barrier, that is my longing. I go to you as my guru and what have I done? I have destroyed the very thing that I wanted, because authority, apart from law and all the rest of that, psychological authority is divisive, is in its very nature separative. You up there and I down below and so you are always progressing higher and higher, and I am also progressing higher and higher, we never meet! (laughter) You laugh, I know, but actually this is what we are doing. So can I realise authority with its implication of organisation, will never free me? Authority gives one a sense of security. 'I don't know, I am confused, you know, or at least I think you know, that's good enough for me, I invest my energy and my demand for security in you, in what you are talking about'. And we create an organisation around that and that very organisation becomes the prison. I don't know if you know all this? That's why one should not belong to any spiritual organisation, however promising, however enticing, however romantic. Can we even accept, see that together? You understand my question? See it together, to be a fact and therefore when we see that together it is finished. Seeing that the very nature of authority with its organisation, religious and otherwise, is separative, and obedience, setting up the hierarchical system, which is what is happening in the world and therefore it is part of the destructive nature of the world, seeing the truth of that, throw it out. Can we do that? So that none of us - I am sorry - so that none of us belong to any spiritual organisations, that means religious organisations, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, none.
By belonging to something we feel secure, obviously. But belonging to something invariably brings about insecurity because in itself it is separative. You have your guru, your authority, you are a Catholic, Protestant, and somebody else is something else. So they never meet, though all organised religions say, we're all working together for truth. So can we, listening to each other, to this fact, finish from our thinking all sense of acceptance of authority, psychological authority, and therefore all the organisations created round it, then what happens? Have I dropped authority because you have said so, and I see the destructive nature of these so-called organisations? And do I see it as fact and therefore with intelligence? Or just vaguely accept it? I don't know if you are following this? If one sees the fact, the very perception of that fact is intelligence, and in that intelligence there is security, not in some superstitious nonsense. I wonder if you see? Are we meeting each other? I am a bit lost. Would you tell me, are we meeting each other?
K: No, not verbally please. That is very easy because we are all speaking English or French or whatever it is. Intellectually, verbally is not meeting together. It is when you see the fact together.
Now can we - we are asking - can we look at the fact of our conditioning? Not the idea of our conditioning. The fact that we are British, German, American, Russian, or Hindu, Eastern or whatever it is, that is one thing. Conditioning brought about through economic reasons, climate, food, clothes and so on, physical. But also there is a great deal of psychological conditioning. Can we look at that as fact? Like fear. Can you look at that? Or if you can't for the moment, can we look at the hurts that we have received, the wounds, the psychological wounds that we have treasured, the wounds that we have received from childhood. Look at it, not analyse it. The psychotherapists - sorry I hope there aren't any here - the psychotherapists go back, investigate into the past. That is, seek the cause of the wounds that one has received, investigating, analysing the whole movement of the past. That is generally called analysis, psychotherapy. Now discovering the cause, does that help? And you have taken a lot of time, years perhaps, it is a game that we all play because we never want to face the fact but 'Let's investigate how the facts have come into being'. I don't know if you are following all this?
So you are expending a great deal of energy, and probably a great deal of money, into proficient investigation into the past; or your own investigation, if you are capable of it. And we are saying such forms of analysis are not only separative because the analyser thinks he is different from the thing he is analysing - right? You are following all this? So he maintains this division through analysis, whereas the obvious fact is the analyser is the analysed. I wonder if you see that? The moment one recognises that the analyser is the analysed - because when you are angry you are that - is this a puzzle? - that the observer is the observed? When there is that actual reality of that then analysis has no meaning, there is only pure observation of the fact which is happening now. I wonder if you see this? It may be rather difficult because most of us are so conditioned to the analytical process, self examination, introspective investigation, we are so accustomed to that, we are so conditioned by it, that perhaps if something new is said you instantly reject it or you withdraw. So please investigate, look at it.
We are saying: is it possible to look at the fact as it is happening now - anger, jealousy, violence, pleasure, fear, whatever it is - to look at it, not analyse it, just to look at it and in that very observation is the observer merely observing the fact as something separate from himself, or he is the fact? I wonder if you get this? Am I making myself clear? You understand the distinction? Most of us are conditioned to the idea that the observer is different from the thing observed. I have been greedy, I have been violent. So at the moment of violence there is no division, it is only later on thought picks it up and separates itself from the fact. So the observer is the past looking at actually what is happening now. I wonder if you get all this? So can you look at the fact, you are angry, misery, loneliness, whatever it is, look at that fact without the observer saying, 'I am separate' and looking at it differently. You understand? Or does he recognise the fact is himself, there is no division between the fact and himself? The fact is himself. I wonder if you see. And therefore what takes place when that actuality takes place? You understand what I am saying?
Look, my mind has been conditioned to look at the fact, which is loneliness, let's take that - no, we began with being hurt from childhood. Let's look at it. I have been accustomed, used to thinking that I am different from the hurt - right? And therefore my action towards that hurt is either suppression, avoidance, or building round my hurt a resistance so that I don't get hurt any more. Therefore that hurt is making me more and more isolated, more and more afraid. So this division has taken place because I think I am different from the hurt - right? You are following all this? But the hurt is me. The 'me' is the image that I have created about myself, which is hurt - right? I wonder if you see all this? May I go on? You are following all this?
So I have created an image through education, through my family, through society, through all the religious ideas of soul, separativeness, individual, all that, I have created an image about myself, and you tread on that image, I get wounded. Then I say that hurt is not me, I must do something about that hurt. So I maintain the division between the hurt and myself. But the fact is the image is me which has been hurt. Right? So can I look at that fact? Look at the fact that the image is myself and as long as I have the image about myself somebody is going to tread on it. That's a fact. Can the mind be free of that image? Because one realises as long as that image exists you are going to do something to it, put a pin into it, and therefore there will be hurt, with the result of isolation, fear, resistance, building a wall round myself - all that takes place when there is the division between the observer and the observed, which is the hurt. Right? This is not intellectual, please. This is just ordinary observing oneself, which we began by saying 'self-awareness'.
So, what takes place then when the observer is the observed - you understand? - the actuality of it, not the idea of it, then what takes place? I have been hurt from childhood, through school, through parents, through other boys and girls, you know, I have been hurt, wounded, psychologically. And I carry that hurt throughout my life, hidden, anxious, frightened, and I know the result of all that. And now I see that hurt exists as long as the image which I have created, which has been brought about together, as long as that exists, there will be hurt. That image is me. Can I look at that fact? Not as an idea looking at it, but the actual fact that the image is hurt, the image is me. I wonder if you see? Right? Could we come together on that one point at least, think together? Then what takes place? Before I tried, the observer tried to do something about it. Here the observer is absent therefore he can't do anything about it. You get it? You understand what has taken place? Before the observer exerted himself in suppressing it, controlling it, not to be hurt, isolating himself, resisting and all the rest of it, making a tremendous effort. But whereas when the fact is the observer is the observed, then what takes place? Please do you want me to tell you? Then we are nowhere, then what I tell you will have no meaning. But if we have come together, think together and come to this point then you will discover for yourself that as long as you make an effort there is the division - right? So in pure observation there is no effort and therefore the thing which has been put together as image begins to dissolve. That's the whole point.
We began by saying 'self-awareness' and the meditative quality in that awareness brings about a religious sense of unity. And human beings need this enormous sense of unity, which cannot be found through nationalities, through all the rest of that business. So can we as human beings, after listening for perhaps an hour, see at least one fact together? And seeing that fact together resolve it completely, so that we as human beings are never hurt psychologically. In that thinking together implies that we both of us see the same thing, at the same time, at the same level, which means love. You follow sirs? I think that's enough for this morning, isn't it? We'll meet again tomorrow morning.