Why does man live in conflict?
Without beauty and love there is no truth
1st Public Talk Saanen
July 07, 1985
I see some old faces I can recognise. What shall we talk about? If one may, one would like to point out that we are a gathering of serious people who are concerned with their daily life. We are not concerned whatsoever with beliefs, ideologies, suppositions, theoretical conclusions or theological concepts, nor are we trying to found a sect, a group of people who follow somebody. We are not, let's hope, frivolous but rather that we are all together concerned with what is happening in the world and our responsibility to it: all the tragedies, the utter misery, poverty - not in this country, there are no slums. We were told the other day you couldn't have slums in this marvellous climate - though it has been raining day after day, but let's hope during these meetings that we have fairly good weather.
And also one would like to point out, if one may, that you and I, the speaker, are walking, taking a journey together, not in an aeroplane high up at 31,000 feet or 40,000 feet, but walking along a quiet road, a long endless road all over the world where one sees appalling terrorism, killing people for no purpose - just to threaten them, terrorise people, kidnapping people, hijacking, murdering, preparing to murder other people, wars, not only in Afghanistan, Beirut, and South America and all over the world. Perhaps most of you know all this. We don't seem to very much care; we are rather indifferent. It is only when it happens very close to us that we become concerned, worried, fearful. Where it is far away from us, each one of us, we are so indifferent - or rather are more indifferent. This is what is happening in the world: economic division, religious division, political division and all the religious, sectarian divisions, and so on. There is a great deal of danger, hazards. One doesn't know what is going to happen in the future, not only in our own life time but also for our grandchildren, children and so on. The whole world is in a great crisis and the crisis is not only out there but also in each one of us, if you are at all aware of all this. And what is our responsibility to all that, on the part of each one of us? One must have asked this question of oneself very often: what is one to do? Where should one begin? Join a political party? Republican, Conservative, Democratic, Communist, following Marx and Stalin and all that group? Where would you all begin? What would each one of us do, facing this terrible society in which we live, each concerned with himself, with his own fulfilment, with his own sorrow, with his own misery, economic struggle, and so on and so on? Each one of us is concerned with himself. And what shall we do? Shall we pray to God? Repeat prayers over and over and over again? Or belonging to some sect, some guru, follow him, escaping from the world; put on some medieval dress or modern robes of peculiar colour and all the rest of it? Can we withdraw from the world at all, like monks both in India and here?
Seeing all this, observing intimately, not as something in the newspapers, or something you have read about, or been told about, or been informed through journalists, novels, television and all the information industry: what is the role of each one of us, the responsibility?
As we said, this is not an entertainment; we are not trying to entertain you, or trying to tell what you should do, each one of us. We have had leaders galore - hundreds, political, religious, those who say, 'We are illumined, we have attained' - whatever they have attained. We have had thousands of leaders, political, economic, religious, sectarian, and they have been utterly helpless. They have their own theories, their own way and there are thousands of people who are following them, all over the world - quantities of money, really enormous wealth, not only the wealth of the Roman Catholic church but also the wealth of the gurus. It all ends up in money.
So if one may ask: what shall we do together? Or what shall we do, a single human being? Are we at all concerned, or are we seeking some peculiar satisfaction, gratification for ourselves? Or we are committed to a certain symbol, religious or otherwise, and we cling to that, hoping that symbol, that - what lies behind that symbol helps us. This is a very serious question. It is becoming much more serious now, for there is the threat of war; there is total uncertainty.
May I, may the speaker inform you of a conversation he had with a Mr.X, may I? A conversation between this Mr.X and the speaker for several days continuously. This Mr.X has travelled all over the world, more or less, he told the speaker. He is fairly well-read, gone to various Institutions; sometimes he joined them, and with a rush he got out of them; he followed one guru or another and gave them up. And for a few weeks he tried to become a monk, and that too he gave up. And he looked at the various political parties: extreme Left, extreme Right, Centre and the spectrum of political activities. And at last he said, I have come to talk with you. I would like to have a conversation with you, at the same level as I am, not, you are pretentious, or your real position. I don't know what you are, I have read something about you. May I go on with this conversation? May I repeat? Does it interest you?
And he said let's talk over things together like two friends, you and I. Like two friends who have lived together in the sense in the world, been through every kind of travail, and he said to the speaker, what is it all about? Why is man born like this? Why has he become after many, many, many millennia what he is now? Through that long period of evolution, long period of time, suffering, anxious, lonely, desperate, disease, death and always the gods somewhere about - among the Olympian mountains, or on the River Nile, or in the ancient city of Benares in India. Let's forget all about those gods and let us talk together as two human beings, living in this world, in this marvellous country, the earth which is so beautiful, which is the mother of all things - right? You are following all this? Mother was worshipped because the earth is the mother. The Greeks had the Athena with several breasts - I think four on each side - representing that she was the mother of the earth - mother as the earth.
And so he gave, this Mr.X, gave something of his inward thoughts, his outward activities. And he said: what is all this about? Why are human beings, who have educated themselves - sophisticated, experts in technology, and can argue the hind legs off a donkey - do you understand all these expressions? - who can invent gods and goddesses and everything, why have human beings all over the world, why are they in perpetual conflict? Not only with the environment, not only with their governments whom they have elected, or dominated by a Politburo, or dominated by some dogma invented by ancient priests, but in spite of all this, why is each human being everlastingly, from the moment he is born till he dies, why does he live in this conflict? That was the first question he asked, this Mr.X. Why? What is the raison d'etre, or the cause of this conflict, not only outwardly but also most deeply, inwardly, subjectively, inside the skin as it were, why is he in conflict? They have talked endlessly about peace. All the religions have preached, long before Christianity, centuries before Christianity: live at peace, be peaceful, be quiet, be gentle, generous, affectionate, loving. In spite of their propaganda, in spite of human beings programmed from their childhood, they are encouraged to be aggressive, or to be gentle, or to go, face the world for themselves, alone, fighting - you know all that. Is there an answer to this question, a final, irrefutable answer? That is, can human beings in this world, living their daily life, going to the office, keeping a house, sex, children and all that, and also this search, this longing for something much more than the mere material things of life. Can this question be ever solved? And apparently man has not solved it, though he has lived on this earth for two or three million years and for forty thousand years, or fifty thousand years as a human being. We have gathered tremendous experience. We have gathered a great deal of knowledge. Mr.X was telling the speaker, we have gathered immense information technologically, but inwardly we remain barbarians trying to kill each other, trying to compete with each other, destroy each other.
So he came all that way, which is a long distance: bus, train, aeroplane, and he said answer this question: is there a cause for this conflict? And if there is a cause then let's discover what the cause is. Not that you are going to lead me, or tell me, but together you, Mr.X and the speaker, together, not that you will tell me and I will accept, or I will go and think about it and come to some kind of my own conclusion, but rather, he said, Mr.X, that together as two human beings, not one is sitting on a platform and the other sitting down below - sorry! (laughs) - but together, as two human beings who have gone through a great deal of life: the loneliness, the desperation, the anxiety, the uncertainty, wanting love and not finding it, or loving and not being satisfied with that, always pushing, pushing, pushing, always wanting to achieve something, whether it is heaven, or illumination, or enlightenment, or become a multimillionaire, which is more or less the same thing. All want to achieve something. They are never content, they never know what peace is, they never sit quietly under a tree looking at the mountains, the rivers, the blade of grass and the beauty of the earth and the sunlight, and the glory of an early morning.
So Mr.X said to the speaker: let's talk, let us question each other, never accepting what he says, or what you say. I won't accept a thing from you, nor will you accept a thing from me. We are on the same level; you may be very clever, you may have a reputation which is nonsense; you may go around the earth, or a certain part of the earth, all that doesn't count; it has no value - with which the speaker agreed wholeheartedly!
So let us explore this curse which man has borne from the beginning of time: why man - which includes woman, please - why man lives this way, why man is in conflict in his own intimate relationship, sexually, in a family, the whole network of conflict - right?
So he came the next day, Mr.X, and we continued. We sat on the veranda on a beautiful day overlooking the valley, the great mountains round us, snow-capped, marvellous valleys, blue and lovely azure skies, and the sun glittering on the leaves, dappled earth, everything seemed so marvellously alive, pulsating, full of energy. There we were, he and the speaker, watching this great beauty and never being with the beauty, always watching it, never feeling the beauty with one's heart and mind, being utterly sensitive to all the glory of the earth. He said we won't talk about beauty, that is your business, you tell me about it. He said we will, a little later. First let us take a journey or explore together into this question of conflict. We are asking: must human beings bear with it, get accustomed to it, hold it, never, never be able to put it completely aside, so that his brain then can function as it should - completely untethered, completely free, not programmed, not conditioned.
So now the speaker is putting this question to you. And also we discussed, talked over, debated this point: what is the cause of it? We are taking a journey together, not asking you to tell me, or I to tell you. What is the cause of it? Everywhere there is struggle. You might say there is struggle in nature, the big animal lives on the smaller animal and so on. In a forest the little tree is struggling against the gigantic trees for light. You might say everywhere on earth, in nature, there is conflict, some kind of struggle going on. So why shouldn't we also go on that way because we are part of nature? There, out there, there is conflict, what human beings call conflict, it may not be, it may be the most natural way of nature acting: the hawk, the eagle kills the rabbit, bears kill salmon, the tiger kills something swiftly, or the cheetahs, it goes on killing, killing, killing, in nature. And one might say we are also part of this whole nature so it is inevitable that we should be in constant struggle. If one accepts that, that it is natural, inevitable, there is nothing more to be said about it, because you say it is natural, we will go on that way because we are part of the whole earth. But if one begins to question it, Mr.X was telling the speaker, if you begin to question it then where are you? That means, are you willing together to find out because we are supposed to be a little more active, intelligent than the trees, the tigers, the elephants - not the elephants fortunately they don't kill too many things, but they destroy trees - and the cheetah and all the rest of it. We may have come from the ape, probably we have - we must be strange monkeys! And if we do not accept that conflict is the way of life then what is one to do? Where does one start to understand the whole movement of conflict? Where does one - how does one feel one's way into all this? Either, the speaker said to Mr.X, either you analyse very carefully all the factors of conflict, one after the other. Through analysis - self analysis or being analysed by another, or accepting the professional advice of professors, philosophers, psychologists, if one begins to analyse, will that bring about the discovery of the cause? Either the discovery will be intellectual - right? - through analysis, or that analysis may bring you certain intellectual conclusions, or you put all the analytical factors together and see the whole. You understand what.? Is that possible? Or is there a different approach to the question? You understand? I wonder if Mr.X understands what the speaker is saying.
So he asks Mr.X: do we - we are still on the same level, same comprehension - that is, the speaker is telling Mr.X, analysis implies one who is analyser - right? Therefore there is an analyser and the analysed, the subject and the object - right? Is there such a difference in oneself as the subject and the object? Are we getting together? That is the first question the speaker asks Mr.X. You are the Mr.X. The analyser has been encouraged through education, through conditioning, through being programmed, that he, the analyser is different completely from that which he analyses - right? Under a microscope, when you look at something very attentively, that very attention gives greater light to that which is being observed - right? I won't go into this. The speaker says I am going to question the whole attitude towards analysis. I am not accepting - the speaker is saying I am not accepting what the professionals said about analysis, including those people who come from Vienna, or the latest American psychologists. I am not accepting any of those - the speaker tells Mr.X - but I question it, I question the - not only the activity of analysis but who is the analyser? If you can understand the analyser first then what need there be for analysis? You understand sirs? Am I going too fast? May we go together in this?
I analyse myself. I have been angry, or greedy, or sexual, whatever it is, and in analysing, that is breaking up and looking at it very carefully step by step, who is the observer? Is not the observer - the speaker is telling Mr.X, don't accept what he says but together question, doubt - is not the analyser all the accumulated past remembrances? He is conditioned through experience, his knowledge, his way of looking at life, his peculiar tendencies, his prejudices (noise of train) his religious programme - being programmed religiously, all this is the past, all this is the background of his life, from childhood. He is the observer, he is the analyser. Whether that background includes communal remembrance, racial remembrance, racial consciousness and so on and so on, he is the observer. And then the observer breaks it up into the observed and the observer - right? Are you following? So that very division in analysis creates conflict. Right? Are we together? You are the Mr.X, I am the speaker. Are we taking the same journey together? That is, the moment there is a division between the analyser and the analysed there must inevitably be conflict of some kind: subtle, fatuous, no meaning, but it is a conflict. Overcome, conquer, suppress, transcend, all these are efforts in minor or major form - right?
So one discovers that where there is division between the Swiss and the Germans, and the French and the English, wherever there is a division there must be conflict: I and you; we and they. Not that there is not division, the rich are very powerful. But if we created subjectively a division: I belong to this and you belong to that; I am a Catholic, you are a Protestant; I am a Jew and you are an Arab - right?
So wherever between two people (noise of train) - so whenever there is this division between man and woman, between God and earth, between 'what should be' and 'what is' - I wonder if you - I am asking Mr.X if he is following all this, not only verbally, intellectually, which is meaningless, but with his heart, with his being, with his vitality, energy and passion, that wherever there is a division: me and you, I am a woman and you are a man.
So one begins to discover the root of conflict. Is it possible for a human being living in a modern world, going to a job, earning a livelihood, business there, family here; I am aggressive there and mild with my wife, submitting, and all that. So that one's life becomes a contradiction. Can that contradiction end, otherwise we will live in conflict, otherwise one becomes a hypocrite? If one likes to be a hypocrite, that is all right too. But if one wants to live very honestly, which is absolutely necessary, to live with great austere honesty, not to someone, to one's country, to one's ideal, but to say exactly what you mean and what you mean you say. Not what others have said and you repeat, that is not honesty. Or believe in something and do quite the opposite - right? All talk about peace. Every government, every religion, and every preacher - including the speaker (laughs) - talks about peace. And to live peacefully demands tremendous honesty and intelligence. So is it possible, living in the twentieth century, or now, to live inwardly first, psychologically first, subjectively, not to have in oneself any kind of division? Please do enquire, search, ask with passion. Passion doesn't include fanaticism, passion doesn't demand martyrdom - right? It is not something you are so attached and that very attachment gives you passion - you understand? That is not passion, it is like being tied to something which gives you the feeling of passion, energy, like a donkey tied to a post: it can wander round and round and round but it is still held there.
So could we, Mr.X and the speaker, not telling each other what they should do, discover for themselves in all honesty, without any sense of deception, without any sense of illusion, whether it is possible - possible, not saying it is possible - whether it is possible to live in this world, wars, you know all the horrors that are going on, without conflict, without division. Don't go to sleep please, it is too early in the morning. If you are asked, you are the Mr.X, if you are asked what would your answer be inwardly? You are a Swiss, a Hindu, an Indian, a Muslim, or follow some clique, or some group, some guru's followers, wouldn't one have to abandon all that completely? You may have a Swiss passport, the speaker has an Indian passport but he is not an Indian - they don't like that in India but we have told them several times not to belong to any cult, to any guru, to anything. You are going to find this terribly difficult. Not, at the end of it you stand alone, but there is the comprehension, the inward awareness, insight, into all that thing, which is really nonsensical. It may give one momentary satisfaction, belonging to something, belonging to a group, belonging to some sect, but that is all becoming rather weary, wretched and ugly.
So can one not be attached to any of this? - including what the speaker is saying specially! So that one's own brain, and strangely your brain is not the brain of another is also the other, you understand? Your brain is like the brain of every other human being. It has immense capacity, immense, incredible energy. Look what they have done in the technological world. All the scientists in America are now concerned with Star Wars. We won't go into all that. The energy, you understand? The brain has this extraordinary energy, if you concentrate on something, give your attention to something. They have given attention to kill other human beings, so the atom bomb came into being. So our brains are not ours, they have evolved through a long period of time. And in that evolution we have gathered tremendous knowledge, experience, and in all that movement, state there is very little what is called love. You understand? I may love my wife, or my children, or my country. My country has been divided by thought. Geographically, it is the world - my world, the world in which one lives is the entire world. So my brain which has evolved through a long period of time, that brain with its consciousness is not mine because my consciousness, Mr.X is saying, I have read something about what you have said, I am not repeating what you have said, but this is what I also feel, see its actuality, that wherever I have been, in every corner of the earth, there are human beings who suffer, pain, anxiety, desperate loneliness (noise of train) - and so our consciousness is shared by all other human beings. Do you realise this? Not up here, not intellectually but actually. If one really feels that then there will be no division. Do you understand? I doubt whether Mr.X - I ask him: do you see this reality, not a concept of it, not an idea of it, not the beautiful conclusion but the actuality of it? The actuality is different from the idea of actuality - right? You are sitting there, that is actual, but I can imagine that you are sitting there which is totally different.
So our brain is the centre of our consciousness, with all the nervous responses, sensory responses, centre of all our knowledge, all experience, knowledge, memory. Your memory may be different from another, but it is still memory. You may be highly educated, the other may have no education at all, doesn't even know how to read and write, but it is still part of that - right? So your consciousness is shared by every human being on this earth. Therefore you are entire humanity. Do you understand sirs? You are in actuality, not theoretically or theologically, or in the eyes of God we are all one - probably gods have no eyes: But in actuality wherever you go there is this strange irrevocable fact that we all go through the same mould, same anxiety, hope, fear, death, loneliness that brings such desperation. So we are mankind. And when one realises that deeply, conflict with another ceases because you are like me.
So that is what we talked about, Mr.X and Mr.K. And also we continued about other things for he was there for several days. But we first established a real relationship which is so necessary when there is any kind of debate, any kind of communication. Not only verbal but words don't convey profoundly what one wants, what one desires to convey. So at the end of the second day, or the first day, we said, where are we? You, Mr.X, and Mr.K, where are we in this? Have we brought about, not change, change implies time - I don't know, we will go into that another time - have we merely gathered - you understand, as we gather harvest? We sow, which is you have come here, which is part of sowing. And you have listened to K and Mr.X what have you gathered? Which means, gathering means accumulation - right? You have gathered so much information - please follow this, we will stop presently, don't get sleepy or nervous. You have gathered so much from professionals, from psychologists, from psychiatrists - you understand? - gathered, gathered, gathered. And Mr.X, K asks him, have you gathered also? If you have gathered then it becomes any other gathering. I know, I have gathered, or rather learnt how to climb a mountain, now I am an expert at climbing the mountain - I am not but... - so the brain is like a magnet, gathering. So K asks Mr.X what have you gathered? Or, are you free from gathering? Please this is very... you understand? Please, if you have the patience, listen to this.
Do we ever stop gathering? Gathering bedsheets, pillowcases - that of course - water, gathering a degree in order to have a good job. For practical things in life one has to gather. But to see where gathering is not necessary, that is where the art of living comes. Because then if you are gathering our brain is never free, is never empty to - we won't go into the question of emptiness but that is a different matter - but are we aware that we are gathering, gathering, gathering? As we gather habits, and when you have gathered so much it is very difficult to get rid of it. This gathering conditions the brain. Born in India, belonging to a certain type of people, tradition, religious, or very, very, very orthodox, and you have gathered all that. And then to be free of all that takes immense enquiry, searching, looking, watching, aware what you say. You follow? So is it possible not to gather at all? Please consider this, don't reject it. Find out. You have to gather knowledge to go to your house, how to drive a car, to speak a foreign language, you have to gather words, verbal irregularities and all the rest of it, but inwardly is it necessary to gather at all? Enlightenment is not gathering. On the contrary it is total freedom from all that. Which is after all love, isn't it? I don't love you because I have gathered you. Right? I have sexually been satisfied with you, or you are companionable, or I am lonely and therefore I depend on you. Then that becomes a marketable thing. Then we exploit each other, use each other, sell each other down the river. Surely that is not love, is it? It is the quality of a brain that doesn't gather anything at all. And then what it says will be what it has discovered, not what other people have said. And in that there is tremendous passion, not lust, passion. But it has no fanaticism. I don't suddenly become a strict vegetarian - now won't touch salt! Or I am a Muslim, fanatical Shi'ites - you understand? They have all passion of a certain type but they have become fanatical, inclined to martyrdom, and all the rest of that business.
So I am asking, the speaker, K is asking Mr.X. find out if you can live without gathering. You can't be told about it. We can enquire into it together, but the actuality of never gathering, never the accumulated memory operating. This is really very, very subtle, it requires a great deal of enquiry.
May we stop now? It is an hour and a quarter we have talked. You haven't talked but K has talked. But we have had a communication with each other, because we have established the basis of a communication in which there is no superior and the inferior, one who knows and one who does not know. May we get up? Apres vous: After you! (laughter)