Why is thought fragmentary?
Thought can never change man
2nd Public Talk, Ojai, California
April 04, 1976
May we go on from where we left off yesterday? We were talking over together the importance of relationship, because that's the basis of our life. And if there is not right relationship there is always conflict. And society, which is in essence relationship, has now become a series of conflicts, a deteriorating factor and so on - which we went into yesterday.
We were going to talk over together this morning the question of thought. All our life is based on thinking. All our actions are the result of thought, either of the deep past, from the deep past, or from immediate necessities according to environment. All thought guides our life. And thought has divided us into nations, classes, into religious sects, beliefs, dogmas, rituals. Thought has built the church, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu and the various Eastern religious structures and propaganda. I think this is irrefutable fact.
What is thought? Why do we exercise one particular part of this whole brain, which is a segment which is thinking, thought, why has it become such an extraordinary important factor in our life? Our education, our relationship as we saw yesterday is based on thought, on image, verbal structure, pictures, all put together by thought. And we are asking why it is that thought has become so persistent, continuous and divisive. As we said yesterday, we are investigating together, we are exploring this fact of thought playing such an extraordinarily important role in our life. And we are going together to examine the importance, or the unimportance, its position, its relative position in our life. So together we are going to share this problem. Together we are going to examine it. So please, it's your responsibility as well as the speaker's, to go into this question meticulously, correctly. Not according to some fanciful philosopher - by the way, the word 'philosophy' means the love of truth, love of life. And in examining this question why thought has become so extraordinarily important, we have also to go into the question of consciousness. Because consciousness is filled with thought, and the things of thought. Whether it is conscious or unconscious, deep down, it is still the movement of thought, from the past, meeting the present, and creating the future. All that is the movement of thought.
Movement implies time. Right? Are we following each other? Movement implies time. Thought, implies measurement. So thought is a movement, time and measure. Right? And what is the process of thought? What is the nature and the structure of thought? Because that's our life. We act, we live according to certain patterns laid down by thought, consciously or unconsciously, deep down. And it seems to one extraordinarily important to understand this question of thought. Because thought has divided people, nationally, geographically, thought has divided people according to their belief, according to their ritual, dogma, thought has built up the whole memorial structure as the 'me' and the 'you', the ego, the personality and so on. All right? Shall we go on with this?
As we said yesterday, this is a serious thing that we are talking about. This is not an entertainment. We are trying to find out if there is another consciousness which is not put together by thought, and therefore we must examine this consciousness as we know it, which is filled with the things of thought. Right?
So what is the nature of thought? What is the source of thinking? And why is thinking, thought, fragmentary? You are following these questions? Is this too much? May I go on? What is the source of thought? From where does it come? What is the nature of consciousness? And why is that consciousness filled with all this movement of thought? So first we are examining what is the source of thinking? Because that seems to guide all our life: in our relationship, in the worship of an ideal, an image, a conclusion, all that is based on thought - the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Christian and so on. So one must discover for oneself what is the beginning of thought. Isn't thought a reaction to memory? Memory is the stored up knowledge, as experience. Right, this is simple. Experience, knowledge of that experience as memory, and the response of that memory is thinking.
So the source of thinking is in the past. So thought springs from the past. So if you examine, all our lives are based in the past, our roots are in the past. Knowledge is the past. There is no knowledge of the future, or of the present. There is a knowledge of the present only when there is a complete understanding of what the structure and the nature of the past is, and ending it - which we will go into presently, if you are so interested in it. So thought is the response of the movement from the past. The past is stored up in the brain as experience and knowledge. And why is thought fragmentary? Do you understand my question? I hope you are following all this. Why has thought built a division between people? As a Christian, Buddhist, this and that, communist, socialist, capitalist, the sectarian, the believer and the non-believer and so on. So we are asking: why is thought fragmentary - because it has created these fragments. You understand? Are we meeting each other?
K: Are you quite sure? Because it's very important to find out. We are going to enquire if there is an action which is not based on thought, which is not divisive, which is not fragmentary - in which there is regret, pain, sorrow and all the rest of it. So it is very important to find this out. Which is: why is thought fragmentary, and this fragmentary process is seen in our daily life as the 'me' and the 'you' the 'we' and 'they', the Christian, the non-Christian, and so on and so on and so on. So thought is fragmentary. Right? Please this is very important to understand. That fragment may think there is god, but god then is still the product of a fragment, which is thought. I wonder if you see all this.
So we are asking: why is it thought is fragmentary, and if it is fragmentary it has filled our consciousness with its own fragments. You understand? And thought says, I must go beyond this fragment. Right? I must find enlightenment, I must find god, I must find truth, I must find Nirvana, whatever you like to call it. A fragment trying to understand that which is whole, that which is sane, healthy, holy - the word 'whole' implies all that. So the fragment has been trying to grasp or come upon that which is whole. So it meditates, it controls, it tries to follow a system in order to arrive at that, but it's still the movement of time as a fragment in measure. Right?
So why is thought a fragment? Why, why has it become a fragment? Why has thought divided you and me, we and they, the Buddhist, communist, socialist. You follow, why? Can thought see the whole? Can thought see itself as a fragment? Or it can never see itself, see its own limitation, see its own fragmentary movement and therefore it can never see the whole. Now leave it for the moment there. We will come to it in a different, another way.
Does one realise, see that one's consciousness is its content? Right? The content of consciousness makes consciousness. If you are a Christian, the content of your consciousness, all the beliefs, the dogmas, the rituals, the reactions to it, the attachments, the anxieties, the fears, the sorrows, the aspirations, the images which you have built about yourself and about others, all your conclusions, your prejudices, all that is your consciousness, the content. Right? It is so. So your consciousness is made up of the things it contains. And the content of consciousness is filled by the things of thought. Right? Your experiences, your scholastic knowledge, the knowledge of your own experiences, prejudices and so on and so on and so on. So your consciousness is fragmentary. Right? And within that area we are trying to find reality, truth within that area. Right? By expanding it, trying to go beyond it, and so on. I wonder if you are getting this? Do you find all this awfully difficult? No? Are you just accepting my words?
K: Are you observing for yourself, watching your own content of your consciousness, and seeing that it is filled with all the things that you have accumulated? Not only you have accumulated, the past generations have accumulated, the traditions, the manner of behaviour and so on and so on, all that is your consciousness. And because it is fragmentary, and therefore divisive, it must always be in conflict. Right? And thought realises this and then says to itself, 'I must go beyond it' - through meditation, through control, through suppression, through various forms of enlarging consciousness. You are following all this? This is the game we are playing all the time, holding on to our content, and trying to go beyond it.
So as thought cannot see the whole, because it's fragmentary - if thought could see the whole it would be the whole, it would not make an effort to be the whole - the whole being healthy, not divisive, sane, and holy. The word 'whole' implies all that. But it's not. Right? Now, the observer is fragmentary. Right? It says, 'I am conscious of the limitations of my thought'. That observer is the past. Right? And therefore the past, which is fragmentary, makes every action fragmentary. I wonder if there is somebody who sees? Right? You see the past is the knowledge, experience, all the things that human beings have gathered together for centuries and centuries, as knowledge. And we think the ascent of man lies through knowledge. Right? One questions that, whether knowledge is the instrument of ascent. Though various professors and experts say knowledge is the way. You are following? And knowledge is the past. So the movement of thought, which is time, we think time will make us progress, evolve, grow. Right? Time is also fragmentary. There are two kinds of time, aren't there? The physical time, the chronological time by the watch, yesterday, today and tomorrow; and also there is time, the psychological time - I will be. There is psychologically tomorrow, where I should be able to achieve enlightenment. Where I will be perfect. Right? So there is chronological time and the psychological time. Now is there psychological time at all? Or it is still the invention of thought? I wonder if you are getting all this?
Please this is rather difficult, because we are trying to find out if there is an action which is not based on the past, and therefore divisive. Is there an action which is complete, whole, not caught in the net of time? Are we meeting each other? A little bit?
Look sirs, and ladies, one wants to find out after seeing the action, the movement that's going on in the world, and in ourselves, which is the world, one wants to find out if there is an action not based on a conclusion. Right? Because conclusion is the movement of thought. Not based on an ideal, which again is fragmentary, action not based on a prejudice, an action which is every moment whole, complete, so that in that action there are no regrets, no sorrow, no pain. Don't you want to find out such an action? Because we live with action which is painful, always there is an uncertainty, regrets, 'I wish I hadn't done that'. So we know such action, action that brings regret, pain, sorrow, confusion, and so on. One wants to find out if there is an action which is whole, therefore complete, in which none of the regrets, or the poisonous movement, enters into it. Right? I think this is whatever is intelligence, say in the human being, demands, and not being able to find it he invents an outside agency. If I can reach god then I will know complete action. And he will never reach god because god is his own invention! Right?
So we are going to find out if there is an action which is whole, sane, healthy, rational, and therefore holy. That is, why has thought invented an ideal? You understand? The ideal is the opposite of 'what is'. Right? Oh, come on! At last! The ideal is in the future, 'what is' is actual. And I do not - one does not know how to deal with the actual, how to understand it, how to go beyond it, and therefore not being able to understand it he projects an ideal, which is fictitious, which is not actual. So there is the division between 'what is' and the ideal, and hence conflict. Thought, being fragmentary, is not capable of understanding 'what is' actually in the present. It thinks it will understand by creating an ideal, and trying to follow that ideal and therefore bringing more and more conflict. Right? But if one is capable of looking at the present, the actual, the 'what is', without the principle, without the ideal, without the observer who is the past - you are following all this? - then you meet the actual. I will point this out; I will show it to you in a minute.
I have been told by the scientists that in observing the molecule or a cell, by merely observing it the very transformation is taking place in the cell. Some of you must know this, scientists and so on. By observing the molecule the very observation is changing it. I have been told this. Now can I, can one look at 'what is' without a prejudice? Pre-judgement. You understand? Prejudice means that, judging before. Right? Can you look at 'what is' without the observer who is the past? I wonder if you follow this? Look: one is envious, which is a common thing, unfortunately. Envious of people, you know what envy is, I don't have to describe it. How do you regard, look at that envy? Are you looking at it as an observer who is different from envy? You understand my question? Please, you look at it as though you are separate from envy, but the fact is you are envy. Right? You are not the observer who is different. The observer himself is that. So the observer is the observed. Right? This, please, this is really very important to understand. When you have grasped the truth of this, that the observer is the observed then that which is observed undergoes radical change. What prevents a radical change of 'what is' is the interference of the observer, who is the past. Have you got it? Have you understood? Do please, this is significantly important because this removes altogether all conflict. We are educated to conform to the division of the observer and the observed, and the observer is trying to do always something about the observed. Right? He says, 'I am envious, I will find it reasonable to be envious; if I am not envious what will happen in this society', or 'I must suppress it, rationalise it, or justify it'. Right? Which are all a process of conflict, but the actual fact is, the observer is the observed. Right? And therefore the division ends. And when there is observation only of the fact, the fact undergoes radical transformation. This is a scientific fact. You understand? When you are angry, which most people are, a form of violence, when you observe that you are angry, in that observation there is the observer who says, 'I must not be angry', or 'It is right to be angry' - isn't there? Right? You are following this? So there is a conflict between the observer and the observed. Right? Out of that conflict we have all kinds of violence and so on and so on. So can one live a life in which there is no conflict whatsoever? Which is to be perfectly sane. It is the unbalanced, the insane that are always in conflict. Right?
So one wants to find out a way of living in which there is no conflict, in which thought, which is the movement in time as measure, which creates division, and whether thought can realise its own limitation, and function where it is absolutely necessary, and not enter into the psychological field at all. Are you getting all this? No. No, please. You understand? Thought has created the psyche. Right? Do you understand that? Thought has built the psyche, the psychological states, which is me, my ego and all the rest of it. And thought is fragmentary, therefore what it has created - the 'me' - is fragmentary. And then thought says, 'I must integrate with the whole' - which is an impossibility.
So that's the thing. And our consciousness is filled with the things of thought. Therefore our consciousness is fragmentary. So is there a consciousness which is not fragmentary? Do you understand my question? And can thought find it? You are getting it now?
K: Good! By Jove, it takes a long time, doesn't it! So can thought realise itself, that it's a fragment, and whatever movement it makes must be a fragment, fragmentary, and is there an action which is not fragmentary and which can only take place when the observer is the observed, and watching, that which is undergoes a radical change.
Now the next point is: is there a consciousness which is not put together by thought? You understand? First we have divided the universe as the 'me' and the 'you', 'we' and 'they', good and bad and evil and all the rest of it. We have divided it, which is, thought has divided it. And then thought says to itself, is there a consciousness which is not put together by me? Right? Now how are you, a human being, going to find out if there is a consciousness which not put together by thought? Man has tried this for millennia. You understand? It isn't just now we are trying it. He has said there must be another consciousness which is not this kind of consciousness. And so he says, 'I must control thought'. Do you follow? 'There must be a system by which thought can be controlled'. Right? 'And then when thought is controlled, held, then perhaps I will know what the other is'. And this is the whole basis of meditation, whether Zen or other forms of meditation. Control thought. And they have never said, 'Who is the controller?' The controller is still the thought. I wonder if you see all this.
So, to find out, to come upon that which is not put together by thought, we not only have to understand the place of thought as knowledge - right? - and where thought has no place whatsoever - not suppressing it. Thought has a place as knowledge in our daily, superficial activities; when you drive a car you must know how to drive a car, you must know, if you work in a factory, and so on, how to write - you know, where knowledge is necessary. And it is only possible to give knowledge its right place when you have understood the whole nature of thinking. That is, psyche, the entity as the 'me', has been put together by thought - me, my virtue, my temperament, my desires, my ambitions, my peculiar idiosyncrasies, my experience as opposed to your experience. Those are all the result of thought. Right? And thought has its right place, otherwise you couldn't speak, you wouldn't be able to understand the English language. Right? Is this clear? That thought as knowledge has its right place, but it has no place in the psyche, which means, can the mind, can this whole structure of the psyche cease to be? Do you understand? Then only there is a totally different kind of consciousness - which you will never find through meditation. You understand? Even though you call it transcendental and all that nonsense. That word 'transcendental', you know it's a good word spoiled, by cheap meditation. Do you understand?
Therefore there is time in the right place, as movement of thought, measurement in the technological field, you must measure otherwise there is no technological activity at all, and all the things that thought has created is reality. Right? All the things that thought has put together is reality. But thought has not put together the mountain or the tree, but that is also a reality. Right? Please follow this carefully. All the gods, all the rituals, all the mischief that is being made in the world by thought is a reality - war is a reality, killing people is a reality, the violence, the brutality, the callousness, the destruction is a reality made by thought, put together by thought. And nature is not reality - is actuality but not put together by thought. Wait, go slowly. I'll show you something else. Right? All the things that thought has put together, including wars, violence, all that is a reality. The mountains, the trees, the rivers, the beauty of the sky is a reality but it's not put together by thought. Belief is a reality put together by thought but it is neurotic. You follow? The neuroticism is a reality. And truth is not reality. I wonder if you get this? Thought can never touch truth. Right? Then what is the relationship between truth and reality? Are you interested in all this? I don't know. You understand?
We have examined the nature of thought. We said thought is a material process, matter, because it is stored up in the brain, part of the cell, which is matter. So thought is a material process in time, a movement. And whatever that movement creates is reality: both the neurotic as well as the so-called fragmentary, they are realities. The actual is a reality, like the microphone. And also nature is a reality. So what is truth? Can thought, which is fragmentary, which is caught up in time, mischievous, violent, all that, can that thought find truth, truth being the whole, that which is sacred, holy? And if it cannot find it, then what place - or what is the relationship of thought, of reality to that which is absolute? You understand?
You know all this demands meditation. This is real meditation, do you understand? Not the things imported into this country by the gurus. Whether consciousness, which is its content, can ever expand to include that consciousness of truth. Or this consciousness of the psyche, the 'me' with all its content has to end before the perception of what is truth. So one has to find out what is the nature of the psyche. Do you understand? Which has been put together by thought. What is me, to which one clings so desperately? The vanity, the arrogance, the desire to achieve, to become successful, you know, be somebody. What is this, the nature of it? How has it come about? Because if that exists the other cannot be. You understand? If I am egotistic, in its total sense, not in parts, the fragmentary sense, totally, because one is totally self-centred. You may pretend but as long as that psychic centre exits truth cannot possibly be, because truth is the whole and so on and so on.
So how is the mind, the mind being all the senses, the emotions, the memories, the prejudices, the principles, the ideals, memories, experiences, the totality of that, which is the psyche, which is the 'me', how is that to end and yet behave in a world which is now? You understand? Is that possible? To find that out I must - one must go very deeply into the question of fear, the very complex problem of pleasure, because pleasure is very complex, fear is fairly simple, pleasure is what one demands. And the question of sorrow; whether sorrow can ever end. Man has lived with sorrow for millennia upon millennia. He hasn't been able to end it. And one must also go into the question of what is death. Because all - and love - all that is the matrix of the 'me'. So this is a very, very serious affair. It is not just a thing to be played with. One must give one's whole life to understand this. To live in this world completely, sanely without the psyche - you understand - not escape, not go off into some monastery or commune, or this or the other, but to live here, in this mad, insane, murderous world where there is so much corruption, where politics are divorced from ethics and therefore there is corruption. To live in this world sanely, without the psyche, the 'me'. Do you understand? This is a tremendous question. That requires a mind that is capable, can think meticulously, correctly, objectively, having all your senses fully awakened, not drugged by alcohol, speed and all the rest of it. Do you understand what all this means? You must have a very healthy mind. And when it is drugged you haven't got a healthy mind - or smoking, drinking, all this destroys the mind, makes the mind dull.
So the next time we meet - what time is it?
Q: Five after.
K: The next time we meet, which will be next Saturday or rather there will be a discussion, a dialogue on Tuesday and Thursday. Next Saturday and Sunday we will go into the whole question of fear. When we go into questions of these kinds, fear, pleasure, you must end it, not carry fear with us afterwards. Whether there is an ending to fear, that's important to find out, not what to do with it, which we will come to. Whether it is possible for a human mind to have no psychological fears at all. And when there are no psychological fears then you will understand the physical fears, which are very simple to deal with. So when we are going into these questions, as we have done this morning, the whole problem of consciousness, its content, the psyche, whether one can live, a human being can live in this world without the psychological structure. I don't know if you have ever put that question to yourself. Probably you have not. If you put that question, don't answer by saying, 'We must all be one. We must love all people'. That's all just the movement of thought still. But to find out the way of living in which the psychological torment, all the movement doesn't exist at all. That requires tremendous examination, accurate thinking. So when we discuss, talk over together next Saturday fear, please bear in mind that we go into it so that we end it that morning, completely. Because otherwise we just, you know, we play with things. Therefore this is a very serious affair. Right.
Are there any questions?
Q: What is your impression of the conclusion that truth is the correct perception of reality?
K: I didn't say that, sir. You are saying that.
Q: I am asking for your impression of that conclusion.
K: Truth is the correct impression of reality?
K: Would you mind repeating it once more.
Q: What is your impression of the conclusion that truth is the correct perception of reality?
K: Truth is the correct perception of reality. What is your impression of that conclusion. If it is a conclusion, it is not worth examining. (laughter, clapping No, don't laugh, please. If it is a conclusion, that is thought has examined it, and come to a conclusion, then whatever it has concluded is still within the realm of fragmentary thought. But perception of reality and giving reality its place, out of that perception comes perhaps, with all the implications of freedom, fear and so on, freedom from fear and so on, then truth is.
Q: When you talk you used the word ‘image’ very often. I would like a definition of it. I know the definition, I took a hypnosis class and the definition in the hypnosis class was an image is the ability to reproduce any of the five senses, taste and so on, without that sense being directly stimulated. So I can see the tree with my eyes closed. I would like to see if your definition of it coincides with this definition.
K: What is your definition of an image. I would rather not give definitions. One can look up in the dictionary and it says that it comes from the imagination, to imagine the tree. Right? To imagine what I think I am. To imagine that I want to be a great man, which are all the process of thought. You know, you have an image, a picture, about yourself, haven't you. No? Then why do you want a definition? Do you want to compare your definition with that of the speaker? Or do you want to compare the image - if the speaker has an image about himself - and see whether your image corresponds with that? No, what is important, it seems to me, is to find out for yourself if you have an image about yourself, why you have it, whether it is an actual reality, you understand, actual, or fictitious, whether put together by thought and therefore neurotic, and act according to that neurosis. You understand? So find out please, for yourself if there is an image, a picture, a conclusion that you have about yourself.
Q: Can a fragmented mind do that?
K: Can a fragmented mind do that. Of course it can. Are you asking a much more complex question, which is: can thought be aware of itself? Right? Watch it. Look at yourself. Can your thought be aware of its thinking? No? Just a minute. Aren't you aware when you tell a lie? Aren't you aware of the beginning of a lie? Aren't you aware at the beginning of anger - if you are alert, if you are a little watchful. So thought can be aware of itself.
Q: In the observation of that is there a change?
K: In the observation of that is there a change. Is that your question? Now we have to go into the question of observation. Do you observe without an idea? You know the word 'idea' means, the root meaning of the word 'idea' is to observe - not what we have made of it: I observe something, make an abstraction of it into an idea. Right? And I live according to that idea, not according to the fact. I don't know if you see this. So to observe implies no idea, no conclusion, no prejudice, that means no observer, who is the past. So to look without the observer, is that possible? Then only that which is observed undergoes a radical transformation. It is the observer that prevents transformation. I wonder if you have caught this. Because the observer is the past.
Q: The observation of truth, is it the observation of thought not the observer, the observation of thought, is that thought observing itself? Or has it has transcended itself in the truth of observing thought?
K: Are you asking, sir, the observation of thought? How do you observe anything?
Q: Not with thought.
K: No, just go slowly, we'll find out. When you say, 'I have observed', what do you mean by that? In the observation are all your senses fully awakened? Or only you observe in a limited way? You understand my question? When you see the tree, which is a part of the observation, are all your senses totally awake, then only you are seeing. But if you merely look with your eyes and the rest gone to sleep, then you are not observing. So to observe oneself: I want to know myself, what I am. I want to have a full knowledge of myself without any deceit, without evasion, to see actually what I am, not condemning it, or accepting, but to observe it. How do I do it? Do I observe it as an outsider looking in? You follow? Or there is no outsider but only observing? You understand? I wonder if you get this.
Q: If we have created an image of ourself, which we have, and we lose that image, we are empty.
K: If we lose the image of ourselves we are empty. So you are filling yourself with a lot of things which are not real, which are just words. So when you remove the words - see what you are doing - when you remove the word, the name, the form, the furniture to which you are attached, you are nothing. So you are the furniture! No, please, see it. So you are frightened to lose the furniture and being nothing. See what you have reduced yourself to - that you are the furniture. Can you look at that fact? Observe that fact. Please do it now. You will see what takes place. You are attached to a furniture, husband, wife, whatever it is, attached. You are attached to something - thing. Are you aware of it, that you are attached? Then are you aware why you are attached? Because it gives you comfort, it helps you to escape from yourself, from your loneliness, from your boredom and so on and so on. So you are attached because of loneliness - suppose that is. Now look at that loneliness, observe it, not translate it saying, 'How ugly it is, how empty it is, how appalling, I am frightened' - just to observe it. Now if you observe it without the observer, which I have explained carefully, then that which is observed, which is loneliness, undergoes a radical transformation. It is the fear, which is the past, that prevents the radical transformation. Right?
I think that is enough, isn't it?