Why do we live with unresolved problems?
Why has man after thousands of years not found peace?
5th Public Talk, Saanen
July 17, 1984
May we continue where we left off on Sunday?
We have been talking about various issues and problems of life, like fear, relationship and the conflicts that one has in our daily life. Why is it, if one asks oneself, that we have always problems - problems of relationship, economic problems, social problems, individual problems? We seem to be living with so many, many problems and we never are able to solve any of them. In the solution of one we seem to bring about many other problems. Until we die we seem to be living with so many issues, so many unresolved crises and so on. If one is at all aware, at all concerned with our daily life, can one ask why we have these problems? Why we live with so many issues, so many demands, so many unresolved problems all our life? Is it our brains are conditioned to problems? From childhood, through school, college, university, if one is going through that process, every level of education has conditioned the brain to problems: mathematical problems, problems of skill, problems of various disciplines that one goes through. Is it that our brains are conditioned from the very beginning of our life? We have problems, and the brain has been conditioned to resolving problems - right? So our brain is conditioned to problems - right? We are talking over together, the speaker is not instructing. The speaker is not informing, so this is not a lecture but rather we are together taking a journey, taking a journey, not only as we have done in the outward world, but also deeply inwardly, psychologically. And to take that journey we must both go together. So you are also taking that journey, not just the speaker. So we are together going into these questions. So the speaker is not an authority but rather as two friends talking over their many, many problems of their life. And that is what we are doing together.
We are asking why we have never resolved any of our problems? Is it because our brain itself is conditioned to the resolution of problems, And therefore the brain itself is not free of problems? It is only a brain that is free that can solve problems. But if the brain itself is conditioned and therefore it itself has become a problem, therefore whatever problems arise it never solves them. And we are asking why? Why is the brain - or if you do not like the word brain, why is it our consciousness, which we shall talk about presently, why is our consciousness so entangled, so many issues, and when our consciousness, which is what we are, is such a complex entity, then that very complexity cannot solve anything. Right? It is a simple fact.
And we are asking can that consciousness, can that psyche, be ever free? Because life has problems. Life is constantly throwing up problems and if the brain, consciousness, our whole nature, is not free then we shall never be able to resolve any problems - clear? Are we listening to each other? Do you, if I may ask as a friend asking you, do you ever listen completely, wholly, as you now are sitting there, or walking in a wood together, do you ever listen wholly, or only partially? If one is listening partially, in a state of distraction, then you do not give your whole attention to listening. Do you ever listen completely to your wife or husband? Or you already know what she is going to say, or he is going to say? Because we have lived with her, or him, and so on and so you have got used to her voice, or his voice, his usage of words, his repetitive responses, so you almost know what he is going to say before he begins to speak. Are we like that? Will you listen to the speaker? Not that you have heard of him before, but for the first time you are listening to him - have you ever tried it? To listen to a bird warbling in the night, or in the early morning? Have you ever listened to the whisper of leaves? Have you listened or looked at the clouds floating in a blue sky?
So listening is an art. It is a great art. When you listen so attentively, fully, there is no barrier because you are then giving your whole attention to what you are listening to? It is only when there is inattention, when there is only a partial listening, then communication between you and another ceases.
So can we learn together the art of listening? The art of listening. The art of not only hearing with the outer ear but also listening to the inward ear. Not only to yourself, to hear your own reactions, your own responses, but also listen to what another is saying, so that your own reactions and what you are hearing coincide, there is no division. That's a great art to learn. When you listen to classical music, Beethoven, or Mozart, or Bach and so on, when you so completely listen, not remembering that you have heard it before, and going back to all the romantic pleasures that you have had when you listened, but actually listening now. That, as we said, is an art, like seeing is an art; seeing the clouds, the train going by, the beauty of a great cloud. When there is that total perception of beauty there is no self intervening, the self, the consciousness with all its problems. So where there is the art of listening and the art of seeing, this beauty, or the sound of a train rattling by, listening so completely, then there is no self at all. You are just listening, seeing. This is not something romantic, but if you do it actually then you will see how simple it all is.
So we are asking - (Noise of airplane) - listen to that sound! The thunder of that aeroplane. When you are really listening, then you are not, are you?
So let's go back. We have to investigate (noise of plane) - when you are listening to that aeroplane completely there is no resistance to that sound: when there is resistance, or defensive process, then the self comes into being - right? (Noise, laughter)
We were talking about problems and whether the brain can be free from problems itself so that it will solve problems. To understand that we must go into the question of consciousness. Consciousness, you may not like to use that word consciousness. There are some psychologists objecting to that word. If you object to that word there are all the reactions, biological, emotional, intellectual reactions. These reactions are registered in the brain, recorded in the brain, so the reactions, biological, which is physical, emotional, intellectual, all those reactions are contained in the brain, recorded in the brain. If you have pain, it is recorded. The records, the memories, are part of the consciousness. And that consciousness is your beliefs, your reactions, your faith, your fears, anxieties, suspicions, depressions, loneliness, pain, pleasure, sorrow, and all the imaginative romantic concepts of god, universe, all that is what you are. Right? All that is your consciousness. So our consciousness is perpetually in conflict with its own reactions - right? Are you following this? Obviously. Need I go into all that?
One desire opposing other desires. One opinion against another opinion, one conclusion changing later to another conclusion. One puts aside one belief and takes on another belief - right? One pleasure and the boredom with that pleasure, and demanding another pleasure. So our brain is constantly in a turmoil - right? That is a fact. Nobody can deny that. So our consciousness, what we are, each one, is the whole content of our consciousness - right? What you have learnt, whether it be skills, what one has accumulated scientifically, what one has accumulated as knowledge, as experience, all that is you. Your soul, if you believe in souls, or if you are an Asiatic you believe in some other form of belief, and so on - right? Are we clear on this matter?
So what is this consciousness which is so specialised as yours - right? Do you understand my question? You say, 'It is my consciousness, not yours. I suffer and that suffering is me, mine. Pleasure, it is my pleasure, my dogma, and that dogma may be shared by millions, or thousands, but it is still mine.' - Right? Now we are going to question whether it is yours at all. We are educated both biologically, socially, religiously, to think that we are totally separate from another - right? You are a man, another is a woman, child and an old man just one foot in the grave, there is that difference. But in consciousness, are we different? You understand my question? Please give your consideration to this. Don't just listen. I am questioning therefore you are going to wait for an answer but together we are sharing this question. We have so far accepted that our consciousness, our intelligence, our feelings, our concepts are all mine, are me. And the speaker and you are questioning that fact. That means you are enquiring into it with scepticism, with doubt.
When you go all round the world, various parts of tiny hamlets, fairly large villages, and great towns of the world, you there find all human beings suffer, they all laugh, they all shed tears, like you, they all have their troubles, and they all have their own feelings, like you. They may not be sophisticated, not learned, not know what the world is, but they all have fears, anxieties, depressions, this sense of deep loneliness, sorrow, and hoping there is something beyond all this misery, and having their own gods, like you have your own gods. So this consciousness - please don't accept what the speaker is saying, question it, doubt it, but move - so this consciousness, as we think it is ours, is shared by all human beings - right? Shared by everybody on earth.
So this consciousness is common to all of us. Clear? The sequence of that, that all our consciousness, the feelings, the responses, however subtle, however gross, however crude, is shared by every human being on this earth. So it is not my consciousness, it is not your consciousness - right? This is where you are going to not accept. Therefore we are not individuals. Do you accept that? Do you see that? See it logically first. Logic is necessary. Reason is necessary. Logic, step by step, investigating reasonably step by step, as we have done. And when you realise that, the fact, not supposition, or romantic ideal, but the fact that we all share this, we all stand on the same ground. We all have the same movement of pain, sorrow, pleasure, depression, anxiety. When you see the truth of it and feel the reality of it, then you are all humanity. You are humanity, you are not separate and say, 'I am a Swiss, I have my own peculiar upbringing' - of course you have peculiar upbringing, you are surrounded by these marvellous mountains, prosperous, well fed, educated - quotes - perhaps a boy living in a small village far away in a foreign country, he may not be educated, he may be just living, struggling, having one meal a day, but he thinks like you, thinks. Thinking is common to all of us. Expression of that thinking may be different. If you are a poet, you might write a poem. If you are a painter you might do this and that. But thinking is common to all of us.
So if you see the truth of it, the depth of it, the feeling of it, the subtlety of it, then you realise you are humanity and therefore you have tremendous responsibility, you cannot kill another because then you are killing yourself.
So in understanding this consciousness, which is, as we said, the whole past memories, the experiences with their knowledge stored in the brain as memory, this memory, not the expression of that memory, but the memory is common. You remember the way to your house, so does the man in that little village thousands of miles away remember from his field to his cottage. So we are asking: as long as that consciousness, which is stored in the brain as reactions and so on, as long as that brain is in a state of turmoil, a state of problems, it can never solve any problem. It is only a free brain not hindered, not limited, only such a brain can solve problems.
So we are asking ourselves whether that brain, that consciousness, with all its content - right? - the content makes consciousness. If there was no content consciousness may not be as we know it now. Clear? Am I - is the speaker putting lots of things in one talk? If I am, I am sorry. That is the way it is. Because we are going to, if we have time, go into sorrow, passion, which is different from lust and what is sorrow. And also, if we have time this morning, we must investigate into the whole immense question of death. Because we have only one more talk, next Thursday.
So we are asking whether this consciousness, with its content, can ever be free, not consciousness but the brain which holds this consciousness - right? This brain which retains all the memories, the past, the present and the future, which holds - can that brain, can that consciousness be thoroughly empty? You understand my question? Please ask that question of yourself. (Noise of train, whistling). That train has never whistled before, probably it is encouraging us! And when we are asking this question: whether the content of the brain, not the knowledge and the skill of daily life but all the psychological retentions, the recording, can totally be free? This is a really very, very serious question, because we have lived with this consciousness for forty or fifty thousand years. And we have invented all kinds of gods, all kinds of saviours, all kinds of religious books, from the ancient Egyptians to the present day. And so we have not only to consider whether it is possible for the brain to retain knowledge in the area that is necessary and not hold it in any other area, which is the psychological, that state of the psyche which remembers, which contains all the past and the present - right?
So to go into that we must also consider time, time as forty five thousand years until now, that immense duration of time. And also during that long period of time there have been many gods, many scriptures, many expressions of cruelty, wars, despair, tears, laughter, anxiety, insecurity. And that is what we are. That is, the past is contained in the present. That is clear. The past is in the present. And the future is in the present. Because we have had forty five thousand years, we will have another forty five thousand years unless we fundamentally change now - right? This is logical.
So is it possible for this consciousness to cease entirely, with all its troubles, turmoils, and all the rest of it? Otherwise if there is no cessation of all that you will be tomorrow, or a thousand tomorrows, exactly, modified, what you are now. Clear? Right? So that is death. We will go into it much more.
We ought to go into the question now of what is love, what is compassion, and what is sorrow with its pain. Mankind, from the beginning of time, has shed tears. They have killed each other, perhaps a few at a time, with an arrow or with a club, with a sword and thousands and millions of people have suffered, shed tears, they have lost their sons, their husbands, their lovers and all the rest of that. Man has been like this from the beginning and during forty, fifty thousand years we are still going on, the same as before, only now we have marvellous means of destroying millions of people at one blow. We have progressed immensely - right? And this is called progress. So during all those forty five thousand years mankind has shed tears, sorrow, they have lost their sons, their husbands, their wives, destroyed great cities and built new cities on the old site and so on. So mankind, human beings, have suffered immensely and we are still suffering immensely. This is not romanticism, this is not emotionalism, this is a fact. And we are not stopping at all, we are going on along the same road, the same movement. And we are crying. And so mankind has suffered immensely as we are suffering now. There is no single human being on this earth who has not suffered, either physically, biologically or emotionally or intellectually. (Noise of airplanes) - they seem to love us, don't they!
And we have never asked or enquired if there is an end to sorrow. And instead of asking, demanding that question, we have said someone else will suffer for us, as the Christians do, and the Asiatics, including primarily the Indians, they said it is part of Karma - you know the Sanskrit word, which means Karma, the root meaning of that word is to act. What you sow you reap, whether in this life or the next life. That is their idea. What you sow, what you are now, you will be next life, perhaps slightly modified, next life. So we have taken comfort in theories, in speculations, in faith, in the next life and so on and so on, but we have never faced the thing, we have never stayed with the thing. One has never said 'I suffer, I will live with it and find out why I suffer.' - not escape from it, not run away, not seeking any form of comfort. That means suffering is like a jewel, a great jewel. You know if you have a great jewel in your hand, you look at it, you marvel at it, you see the beauty of it, how it is set, in platinum, gold, silver, with such delicacy, such refinement, with such beauty, you hold it and look, never want to run away from it. In the same way if one can hold that thing, sorrow. Not get morbid, not run away from it, just to hold it and look at it, not as an observer looking at it. Some years ago a friend had a most extraordinary jewel. It was one of the most beautiful jewels and he said, 'Hold it for a minute.' I held it, the speaker held it and looked at it. It was really the most extraordinary thing, very ancient, very rich and valuable, priceless. And it was something outside of you. That jewel is not part of you, it is there, like that watch, like that microphone, like that camera. But sorrow is you, you are not separate from sorrow - right? You are sorrow. But we say, 'How am I to be free of it?' Therefore the moment you say, 'How am I to be free of it?', you separate yourself from the fact that you are sorrow. You understand this?
When you get angry, or greedy, you are greedy, aren't you? You are not separate from greed, you are greed. But to say, 'I must get rid of greed.' Or, 'I must hold greed', or 'It's...' and so on. You understand? The moment you separate yourself from the feeling, from the pain, from anxiety, then that separation causes conflict - right? So sorrow is you - your self pity, your sense of loss, your sense of loneliness, your sense of failure, your sense of remorse, regret, guilt and all the rest of it. The sense of great loss of someone whom you have so-called loved. And when we separate that sorrow from you, thinking you are different from sorrow, then you want to escape from it, seek comfort from it, but when you are that, because you are that, then you hold it, without any movement away from it, hold it without any thought interfering with it. You are just watching. Then you will see, if you give your whole attention to it, that sorrow ends, never to return again.
With the ending of sorrow there is passion, there is energy, incalculable energy, which is passion. Lust is a passing thing, to be repeated. But passion can never be repeated, it is there because there was the ending of sorrow. And most of us have not this passion because most of us are caught in pleasure.
So with the ending of sorrow there is love. If you are suffering, not only physically but inwardly more, how can you love another? You can have pity, you can have sympathy, you can be kind, generous, but that is not love, but love includes all that. Because we have said we must go into this question of what is love.
It is not only the ending of sorrow but also the ending of jealousy, the ending of ambition - listen to it, please listen - ending of ambition. How can you love another, or have love in your heart, if you are becoming ambitious, if you are ambitious to achieve, to fulfil, whether in the physical world or in the psychological world. When you are ambitious to become enlightened - such a silly statement. When you meditate, as some of you - probably many people who talk about meditation, they are ambitious because they want to get somewhere. And therefore those people have no love at all because they are still thinking about their own gain.
So is it possible to have this extraordinary perfume where there is no jealousy, no comparison, no state of antagonism and so on? Where there is love, that love, there is compassion. That is, compassion can only be when there is freedom from sorrow. Can you become passionate when you belong to a country, to a religion, to a group, to a sect, when you are a leader, when you are a guru? You understand all this? And where there is that compassion there is intelligence.
We ought to really go into this question of intelligence. Intelligence is different from interest. Intelligence is different entirely from the activity of thought which has become very clever. One can be extraordinarily clever in manipulating people and call it love - right? You understand this? Have you ever enquired into what is intelligence? You need a great deal of intelligence to put together a motor - right? You need a great deal of intelligence involving perhaps three hundred thousand people to go up to the moon. You need astonishing clever intelligence to create neutron bombs, to build a submarine, to build aeroplanes, but that intelligence is limited - right? It can be mechanical, that is, born of memory, knowledge, experience and thought has its own activity which it calls intelligence - right? But that intelligence is limited because thought is limited. We went into the question of thought. That is, thought is based on memory, memory is the accumulation of knowledge and knowledge is the outcome of experience. And we have had thousands and thousands, perhaps millions of experiences, human beings, but there are more experiences to be had. Therefore every experience stored becomes knowledge and therefore that knowledge is limited. It is clear. And that limited knowledge is retained in the brain as memory and the response of memory is thought. Therefore thought is ever limited. You can imagine a limitless state but it is still limited. You can imagine god to be all powerful, all mercy, all this and all that, but it is still limited. So intelligence is something entirely different. It comes where there is love and compassion. That intelligence is rational, sane, healthy, not limited. And is it possible for us human beings, living on this earth, doing our daily tiresome, boring, or fascinating jobs, to be compassionate, have this extraordinary perfume of love? And where that is there is supreme intelligence.
It is time to stop. So we will have to discuss the question of death and the immense significance of death, and the strength of death, which is as strong as love. And we will also have to talk over together, on Thursday morning, the day after tomorrow morning, what is religion, and what is meditation. The speaker puts death, religion and meditation at the end of the talks, because in the last five talks, and including this talk, we have laid the foundation. And without that foundation well established, strongly built, which means having no fear, having no illusions, having this relationship with another without conflict, the ending of sorrow, that is the foundation, then only we can go into the question of what is meditation, not how to meditate but the actuality of meditation, the actuality of a religious life, and the great significance of death.
May I get up please?