When there is no pressure there is freedom
Is there a way of living completely free from pressure?
1st Public Talk, Ojai, California
April 01, 1978
I am very sorry not to have these meetings in the Oak Grove, perhaps next Saturday it might be possible.
If I may ask, and please give your attention to it, that we meet here to talk over things that concern the whole of life, not any particular part of live, or a segment of life, but the whole content and the beauty and the greatness of life, the whole of it. But our minds unfortunately are educated, conditioned to deal with parts of it. If we are artists, we are only concerned with the world of art, if we are business people we are concerned with business, politics, if you are a scientist your mind is specialised in a particular way and you do not take the whole of life. Even the so-called religious people do not take the whole content of life. And if we may during these talks here and discussions, we are going to concern ourselves with the totality, the integrity of the whole of life. So if you are expecting a solution for a particular part of life, like a physical pain, or some particular personal emotional problem, or if you are going to concern yourself with the intellectual part, I am afraid we shall not be able to meet each other. As I said, we are concerned with the whole of life. So please if I may ask we will deal with the particular later as we go along, whether it is a problem between man and woman, whether it is an economic problem, or a social problem, or an ethical problem, or economic and so on and so on, we will deal with that as we go along. But I think it is very important, if one may point out, to observe and learn about the whole movement of life. So it becomes very difficult for those of us who are specialised or concerned with one particular part, whether it be sexual, romantic, occult or seeking a fanciful fulfilment, I am afraid we shall not be able to communicate with each other. I hope this is clear that we are concerned deeply with the whole of life, whether it is sexual, all the various forms of occult powers, which I am afraid are inundating this country, or a particular relationship between man and woman. So let us be from the very beginning very clear what we are talking about so that we can communicate with each other, so that we can in our talks meet each other.
Our brains, our brain, are very, very old. That's a fact. And throughout the millions of years it has evolved, grown, experienced, recorded, stored up various forms of experiences, knowledge. If you have observed that you can see it for yourself very clearly. So it is conditioned very, very deeply. Our reactions are very old, our fears, our desires, our pleasures, our sorrows, are older than all the hills and the mountains and the rivers. So we are conditioned through the ages to perform, act, think in a particular way. And we are going to examine together, please when we say together, I mean together, you and I are going to explore together, not that I talk and you listen, but we are both of us going to examine, explore into the whole content of our mind, the conditioning of the brain and the nature and structure of the self, the 'me', which is as old as the hills.
Please, I must keep on repeating this, because most of us are accustomed to listen to a talk, to accept or reject what is said, but what we are trying to do, what we must do together is to examine together, explore together, find out together, learn together, otherwise these meetings have no value whatsoever. We can repeat phrases, or some acquired knowledge, but when we are walking together the whole issue becomes entirely different, doesn't it? Walking together in a lane perhaps we see the same things together, the same shadows, the same outlines of the hill, the majesty of a mountain, the swift flowing river, when we see it together our communication becomes extraordinarily simple and clear. But if you are looking at the stream and considering what a bore it is to walk, or this or that, then we are not walking together. So please, if I may repeat it over and over again, and I will during all these talks, that we are working together to find out, to learn together.
So learning together means that there must be a common interest, a common enquiry, a common urge to find out, not to be told because we are not an authority, though the speaker sits on a platform it is merely for convenience, it doesn't give him any status. So having no authority, and you obviously if you are at all enquiring have rejected all kinds of authority, which we shall presently go into it. But it becomes very important that you and the speaker move together, find out together. Then communication becomes not only easy but also we are not driven by language. Most people are driven by the language they use. They are compelled, forced, their reaction is according to the verbal language they use. Please, this is again very important to understand. I hope you are also working as the speaker is working. We use language to communicate, to inform, to see clearly. But when language uses us, when you use the word 'socialism' in America, it has all kinds of implications, and that word which awakens the reactions makes us act in a particular way. Right? So you are driven by language, compelled by language, you react to language. And when we do that communication becomes extraordinarily difficult. After all, language is an instrument, and the instrument mustn't drive us, we must drive it. Is this clear? No, please, see it for yourself not because the speaker is saying something which you perhaps have not thought about. But if you could observe it in yourself, that is, how any word, specially a word very loaded like socialism, or communism, or Catholicism, or Protestantism, Hinduism and so on, they have a particular influence, pressure on you, so the instrument is using us, we are not using the instrument. You can only use the instrument if you understand the exact meaning of words, unemotionally, without any reaction. Say for instance, when you use the word 'communism' generally that word makes us antagonistic to that word, if you are a capitalist, or whatever you are. But if you observe the word, use the word without any emotional content, without any reaction, the word 'communism' becomes very simple because both of us understand, if you know all the implications of that word, what it denotes, as it is, totalitarianism, Marxism, Maoism - if we use those words knowing their meaning, their content, then the word is not using us but we are using the word. Can we go on from there? I hope you see this point very clearly because we are going to see how language acts as a great pressure on us. And this pressure distorts communication. Right?
Is this the first time that you are hearing all this? If you are, please learn about it, find out whether the word is using you, or you are using the word. If you are using the word, which is the language, which is communication and so on and so on, if you are using the word, then if you use the word knowing what it means without the emotional content, without the reaction to that word, then - and I also use the word in the same way as you do - then communication becomes very simple. Right? But whereas if you have certain reactions to the word, and the speaker may not have it, then communication is not possible. Clear?
So one of the factors in our life is that language acts as a great pressure on us, and therefore distorts not only communication but the clarity of thinking. Any pressure, whether economic, social, moral, idealistic, or the pressure of authority, or the pressure of language, is a distorting factor. May we go on?
If you have a pressure, a weight on you all the time, physically, you cannot walk straight. But if you have pressure, emotional, linguistic, economic, social and so on, any form of pressure distorts action. This again is obvious. If one is married, or has a girlfriend, or a boyfriend and the man or the woman is constantly exercising pressure on another, then communication is not possible, and his pressure is reacting against the other pressure. Right? So there is this constant pressure in which we live. Our whole moral, ethical, religious, political, economic structure is based on this principle - pressure. Do you see this? There is pressure not only climatically, but there is the pressure of a linguistic reaction, the pressure between man and woman, the pressure, economic, social, ethical, religious, ideological pressures. We live, all of us, under pressure, weight, strain, and therefore our action is always distorted. If you are acting under pressure you cannot act freely or rightly, or accurately. So we are going to, together, explore if it is possible - please listen - if it is possible to live our whole life without any kind of pressure. Don't say, it is not possible - then you have blocked yourself. Whereas if you begin to enquire, find out, go into it very, very carefully, then you might find it is possible, entirely, urgently possible to live without any kind of pressure. Therefore when there is no pressure there is freedom. And it is only in freedom there can be total observation of the whole totality of life. I hope we are together in this.
First of all we said, there is the pressure of language, the whole commercial pressure through language - buy this, buy this - on television, you know, that's what goes on in this country. Unfortunately America is becoming the standard of the rest of the world - most unfortunately. So please bear in mind that we are not doing propaganda, the speaker is not trying to convince you of anything, trying to persuade you, trying to dominate you, trying to frighten you. But together you and the speaker are going to examine these pressures in life, and whether it is possible to be totally and entirely, absolutely free of pressure. When there is the cessation, when there is no pressure whatsoever, the brain itself undergoes a radical change, which we will go into it as we go along, which is part of meditation. Don't go off to sleep now, I am not talking about meditation. I am afraid the people who have brought it from India, or from Asia, or from Tibet, their type of meditation is no meditation at all. Please, I am not being prejudiced, not dogmatic, or assertive, but we will enquire into it as we go along. The whole idea of meditation practice is too mechanical, too absurd, too childish. And in this country you have swallowed the whole thing without examining it, paying lots of money and all the exploitation that goes on with it, the racket. The gurus have become industrialised, which is inevitable in this country.
So we are going, together happily, easily, and if I may use the word, affectionately, to see if it is at all possible to be entirely and completely, absolutely free of every kind of pressure. Then one can live happily. Is pressure necessary at all? Do you understand my question? First we live under pressure, that's obvious. Then the question is: is it necessary? What would happen if man, or woman, if a human being - I use the word 'human being' implying man or woman, I won't differentiate, that's too silly - human being. Why does he live under pressure? Is it ethically right, correct, socially necessary? Is it necessary, this so-called pressure, through religious images, concepts, conclusions, beliefs and rituals? That's what is happening in the world, constant pressure. And we are asking, is it necessary to live under those conditions? What would happen if you did not live under those pressures? We are going to find out.
So we must keep a mind, have a mind, that's enquiring, not accepting, not rejecting, not saying, 'It is possible' or impossible. We are going together to observe these facts. When you observe, what actually takes place? When you observe yourself or another, do you actually see 'what is', or do you imagine what you see, or interpret what you see, or in the observation twist what you see? You understand my question? We are asking, is observation possible which is without any distortion? And distortion takes place if you have pressure: that you must see, that you must understand, that you must go beyond this, that you must become a great success in your observation. Again, the American way of life - make a success of everything. Do you understand?
So we are asking, is it possible to live without any pressure and why do we support, why do we acquiesce, why do we live under pressure? Is it because it has become a habit with us? Please, we are enquiring, so go into it with me. Is it that we are accustomed to it, we are conditioned to it, from childhood, through school, through college, through university, if you are lucky to go through university, from childhood there is a pressure - through examinations. And learning has become a pressure. I hope you are watching all this. Why do we accept it? Is it natural? Or is it unnecessary, abnormal? Is it if we are free of pressure of every kind we might face great danger and fear because we are so accustomed to live in pressure, under pressure, it gives us, perhaps, a false security? So we would rather accept what is known, which is, the various forms of pressure, and rather frightened of the unknown in which there is no pressure. So we must find out for ourselves, each one, what is the truth of this - not your opinion, or my opinion - the actual truth why each one of us accepts this tremendous pressure of society, tremendous pressure of so-called learning, the pressure of knowledge. Do you understand all my questions? We accept it probably because we are conditioned to live with it. The pressure the woman exercises on the man, and the pressure the man exercises on the woman - you know that very well. And each person accepts it because that may be a way of living in which there is no love, there is no sense of deep communication and it has become a habit, a normal thing in our daily life. So that is a fact, that is 'what is', and can you observe it without distortion, without becoming romantic, foolish, you know all the imagination, just to observe actually 'what is': that you are living under various kinds and forms of pressures, weight, strain. And wherever there is any kind of pressure, it doesn't matter what it is, there must be a distortion. If you have great pressure on your tummy - put a stone, it must react, it is not normal. So in the same way a brain under pressure cannot be normal, it becomes extraordinarily neurotic, distorted, deformed. And probably we are all deformed, and we don't see it.
And our intention in this meeting is to learn to observe: to observe the fact, actually see what is going on. Therefore there is no propaganda, no sense of being convinced, or making you believe in anything. So we said, one of the great pressures in life is the usage of words, how language drives us. The instrument of communication has become more important than what we are seeing. So can you please not tomorrow or when you go home but sitting there actually observe how unfortunately the instrument of language has made us do, react according to its conditioning. If you observe it very closely then you can ask the question, why has it become such pressure, and is it possible to use language, the word, with its content, knowing its content, without any emotional, romantic, psychological pressure? You understand this? Please do it now as you are sitting there, watch how words act as pressure. And is it possible not to let the instrument use us, but we use the word. So you are free of one extraordinary weight. It's like the cello, the musical instrument, the cello weighing down on you. But if you use it, quite a different action takes place. Right?
Then there is the pressure - which would you like to take, instead of my telling you? Don't immediately answer, find out.
K: Ideology. Right. Most people have ideals. Why? The Marxists, the totalitarian attitude, the future is all important, not the present. The ideals of Lenin, Marx, Mao; why have ideals, the Christian ideals and so on and so on, why have ideals become so important, and why do they act as an extraordinary pressure on us? Don't they act as a pressure on you? So why do you accept the pressure of ideals? Go on, sirs, it's so simple. Please, perhaps at the end of the talk, or at another time, we can discuss it, you can ask me, but let me talk for a while. Probably you haven't thought about these matters at all. Perhaps it may be something totally new and your mind is already rejecting it. Or you say, 'What would happen if I had no ideals? I have lived so long with ideals, they have given me comfort, they have guided my life, they have acted as a solace and so on and so, the mind being used to ideals, and when it is challenged it recoils, and reacts. So please don't do it. Just find out, learn about it, not from me, not from the speaker. The speaker is teaching you nothing. He is just pointing out, showing you - take it, or leave it. It doesn't matter to me. But it's very important for you to find out why ideals have become of such extraordinary importance.
Ideals are always in the future, something in the distance, which indicates, doesn't it, that you are not concerned with actually what is. Right? You are observing 'what is' through the ideals of a future, so you have never come into contact directly with 'what is'. The ideals of a good life, the ideals of an American way of living - whatever that may mean - the ideals of having no war, peace, the ideals of love, the ideal of perfect marriage, perfect relationship. Now who has created these ideals? Who has created this whole monstrous society, this immoral society? Obviously thought. No? Thought - please observe, learn, don't reject, don't say, no, it's not like that, go into it. After all you are here, perhaps some of you have come a long way, you are here to find out. You know your own thoughts, you know your own reactions, you know your own way of thinking. So you are here to find out what somebody else has to say, so listen to the poor chap! Don't say, 'No, it's all wrong'. So thought not being able to deal with the present - please listen carefully - to 'what is', creates an ideal in the distance, hoping that ideal will help to understand the present, to deal with 'what is' and there is this constant battle between 'what is' actually and 'what should be'. This battle, this conflict is one of the great pressures of our life. Right? Why? Why do you have pressures of ideals? If you knew, or when you understand how to deal with actually 'what is', then ideals are not necessary at all. Right? Please investigate what the speaker is saying, don't reject it. That is, why should you live in conflict between 'what is' and 'what should be', why? If you understand 'what is' then the conflict ceases between what is actually happening and what should be happening, which is so ridiculous. So our question is then: is it possible to observe clearly without any pressure 'what is'? There is a pressure if you want to change it. Right? There is pressure if you say, 'This is ugly, brutal, and I must change it to something else'. That becomes a pressure. So can you look at 'what is' without, again, using a word which drives you? I wonder if you understand all this. Look: if one is greedy, or angry, jealous, the word 'jealousy', 'anger', 'greed' have their associations of condemnation, rationalisation, saying, 'It's all right, why shouldn't I be jealous', and so on and so on - so the language is driving you. Right? Do you see that? Can you observe that feeling which you call greed, which you call anger or jealousy, without using the word? If you don't use the word 'greed', 'jealousy' and 'anger' then what takes place? The weight, the pressure of language has ended, stopped, therefore you are looking at a feeling which has no name, and therefore can go beyond it. Right? Have some of you understood all this? Or shall I go into it much more?
K: More. All right, sir. You see the ideal has become a part of knowledge. Right? So knowledge has become a pressure. I'm an American, or I'm a Hindu, or whatever it is, some idiotic name. And that acts as a great pressure, and that pressure divides people - the Arab and the Jew. A very good example - the Indian and the Muslim, the Hindu. You follow?
So as most of us unfortunately live in the future called the ideal, we are never capable of observing actually what is going on. Either we are living in the past - the past is our knowledge, accumulated through millions of years, which has conditioned our mind, our brain, and so we are either living in the past yesterdays, or in the future yesterdays. The future is the past yesterday passing through the present, modified and going on. It is still yesterday. I wonder if you see all this. We are not talking about philosophy. I particularly don't like philosophy. It means - philosophy means the love of life, love of truth, love of wisdom, not theories, not ideals, but actually the love of wisdom. But you cannot love wisdom, something in the future. But you can only love something that you look at, what actually is in your hand. And to observe what is actually in your hand with all your heart, with all your capacity to look, without naming it, then the thing that you look at becomes extraordinarily beautiful, or something that has no value at all. Are you following all this? Are you doing all this? Or am I talking to an empty wall?
So can you be free of ideals and the pressure of the conflict that comes about between actually what is and what should be? It's a cruel way of living, isn't it - twisting your whole life into 'what should be' - your education, your religious institutions, everything has made you accept the pressure of ideals and live with it. Right? So are you free of that so that you are capable, that you have energy to look at 'what is'. You have no energy if you are wasting it in some ideals. That's real wastage. It saps your energy because ideals bring about conflict: your ideals, my ideals, somebody else's ideals - it's too complicated and too silly.
Now, can we move away from that? Move in the sense that you have understood it, you have grasped it, learnt about it, therefore it has no value any more, and you are a free human being who is only observing 'what is' and nothing else. Right?
Then there is the pressure of institutions - democratic institutions, republican institutions, labour institutions, totalitarian institutions, educational - you follow - we live, and our life is built around institutions, we become part of institutions. Right? Haven't you noticed this? If you live in India, you are a Hindu, that's an institution. The word 'institution' implies to stand, and when you identify yourself with an institution and you become that institution - most of our brains are institutionalised - therefore you stand, it's safe in an institution. And that institution is a great pressure. Institutions, I mean by that word, routine - go to the office, do this, do that, live according to a routine, which doesn't mean when you leave institutions you do nothing, or do whatever you like, which is too equally absurd. Institution means routine, status, the presidents and down the line, and also it means conforming to a pattern, whether it is the American pattern, or the religious pattern, and all that. Obviously you can see this very clearly.
So we are saying, any form of institution is a distorting factor in life. When the brain has accepted the institution as a means of safety, security, status, a position, then it functions mechanically. And to live mechanically we think is the safest way. Right? The national institution, the nation - the American nation, the Russian, Indian, German, French, English, they are nations, with their institutions, with their tradition, with their hierarchy, with their - all the rest of it. And we live in those institutions, we have become the institutions. You understand? I wonder if you see this.
Meditation has nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of institution. There must be freedom from any routine, from any sense of position, achievement. We will talk about it as we go along: the importance of meditation and where every form of pressure has gone. It's only then the mind can really ecstatically meditate.
So are you as a human being - please listen - are you as a human being who represents the entire humanity, which is a fact - as a human being, you as a human being represent the whole world, the whole world of humanity because you suffer, you go through anxiety, jealousy, fears, despair, moods, elations, sorrow, like everybody else. So you are actually the representative of all humanity. This is not an intellectual idea, it's not an ideal, but it's a fact. So what happens to you is happening to everybody. And if there is fundamental deep transformation in you, you are transforming mankind. I wonder if you see all this.
So wherever you go, institutions have become more important because the brain thinks it can function effectively if it is caught in a routine - right? - if it acts mechanically all the time. Therefore we accept the president, the vice president, you know, all the way down, and all the way up - the pope and down to the poor parish priest, and from the parish priest up to pope. It's an institution. They are good institutions, some of them, but the good becomes the bad when it becomes an institution. You understand what I am talking about? So are you living, living with an institutionalised brain? Marriage has become an institution. Right? And those who don't marry live with a girl or with a man, and say, 'That's an abomination, I won't, that's just a piece of paper. I won't go to church', and all the rest of that, it's nonsense. But we, who live with a girl or a man, are free of institutions.' Rubbish! Because that has become another institution. Which means - please understand, go into it, for God's sake, it's your life - which means, what is the common factor between the two, married and unmarried - both have become institutions. The common factor between both is possessiveness - it may be temporary, and it is also in the married life temporary, you can divorce, convenient, sexually pleasing, comforting, you can rely on each other, attachment, each person living inwardly his own life, but saying, 'My darling, you are part of me'. Don't laugh, these are actual, unfortunate miserable facts. So what is the common factor? They are both the same, whether you get married through a paper, or live with another person, the common thing is the same. Which means what? No love at all. When you live with another and derive comfort, escape from loneliness, become attached, jealous, how can you have love when there is jealousy, anxiety, fear of losing, attachment, how can you have love? So find out for yourself.
So it is very important to discover for oneself whether your whole attitude, your way of life, your way of thinking, your actions, are the result of institutions. This is a tremendous question, you understand. It isn't just yes and no, it's a very complex thing. How to live a life without belonging to anything, belonging to no institution, whatsoever. Which means you must have a different kind of mind. And you cannot have a different kind of mental, or cerebral action unless you understand how we are a slave to institutions.
What is the time sir?
Q: Twenty five minutes to one.
K: So we have talked an hour and five minutes. You know we can go on talking about these things, it is like a man ploughing, ploughing in the sand and never sowing. Most of us are so accustomed, our habit is to go a meeting and learn something, or be told, or be informed, but I am afraid this kind of meeting is not like that because we are both investigating, exploring, learning, finding out. Finding out how language has become such an appalling weight on us. The instrument is using us, we don't use it properly, accurately. And also how the ideals - the most extraordinary thing is really, wherever you go, as I happen to go, ideals are the first thing they talk about. The philosophers, the theoretical politicians, the experts in theories as the Marxists, the Maoists, they are theorists. Think of it. And one finds very, very rarely a human being who has no ideals whatsoever, but is only living with 'what is', actually living, so that he lives then without conflict. If you see 'what is', how can you have conflict? You understand? Only conflict arises when you want to change 'what is'. When I want to change jealousy into something else then conflict arises. But if I understand, look at jealousy, as I would listen to a child who is telling me about himself, about his ideas, his feelings, I would listen to it, I wouldn't interrupt, I wouldn't say it is right or wrong because it is a child, and he wants to tell me all kinds of things. So in the same way 'what is' is telling me enormous things, if I know how to listen to 'what is', I'll see 'what is'. But we haven't the patience or we do not want to see what actually is because our minds are so conditioned, we must change 'what is', 'it isn't right to be jealous'. Or we say, 'Why shouldn't I be jealous?', rationalise it.
So to look at 'what is' without any distortion, which means without any pressure - the pressure of ideals, the pressure of wanting to change 'what is'. Do you understand all this? Then you begin to have an insight into something which is not the action of memory - we will go into it another day, tomorrow perhaps - which is not the action of remembrance, but an insight which is totally divorced from thought, from memory, from experience. That insight gives you an extraordinary release. That insight also, if you go into very deeply, transforms the very structure of the brain.
So at the end of the talk, of our talking over together, have we understood, or learnt, or seen, how language uses us, and the pressure of language; how ideals with their enormous pressure are distorting life, deforming our actions; and how institutions, whatever they are, which is a routine, and we think there is safety in routine, in being mechanical. Now we are saying it is possible to be free of all pressure if you know, if you understand the nature of pressure and what it means to observe. There must be freedom to observe. Look, if I am married, or if I have a girl, and I want to understand her, I must look at her, I must listen to her, I must find out, but I cannot find out if I have an image about her, if I think she is this, which is, all the words that have been accumulated through the past, which has become knowledge and that knowledge is observing. Can I look at my wife, or husband, or the tree, or the mountains, or the lake, or the beauty of a flower, without the word - the word being the image. And the image is a tremendous pressure too.
So at the end of the talk, conversation rather, have we understood this simple fact that to live under pressure of any kind brings about distortion of fact, distortion of action?
It's over. We will meet tomorrow.