SAANEN 3RD PUBLIC QUESTION & ANSWER MEETING 25TH JULY 1985
There are too many questions to answer, all of them, but we have chosen - some of the questions have been chosen. The speaker has not seen them.
Before we go into those questions may I comment on something? People have been talking a great deal about the art, about what is art. I believe the root meaning of that word is to put everything in its proper place. Can we talk a little bit about that first?
What do you think is the greatest art, the supreme art? Is it the art of listening, the art of seeing, observing, perceiving and so on, and the art of learning? The art of hearing, the art of seeing, the art of learning. And what do we mean by seeing, observing, perceiving? I am asking. Please together we are investigating into these questions, not that the speaker is talking to himself. We are talking over together these questions, these issues that are confronting almost everywhere you go. [Noise of aeroplane] We will have to wait.
So let us begin with the art of hearing. We not only hear with the ears, words conveyed, vibrated and so on to the brain, and surely it is much more than that. The art of hearing something. Like a child who listens to a very good story, he is consumed by the story, he is completely involved with the hero, or the heroine, he is excited, he is listening. Do we ever listen [noise of aeroplane] - we can't do anything I'm afraid - do we ever listen to anybody? Do you listen to your wife or husband, or your girl friend, really listen to what they are conveying, trying to say something? Or do we translate what is being said into our own terminology, compare it with what we already know, judging, evaluating, agreeing, disagreeing, the whole movement that goes on when you listen to another? Is that listening? The speaker is talking now, unfortunately, and are we listening, actually paying attention, to the words, to the meaning of words, to the content of words, not translating, comparing judging, agreeing, disagreeing, just listening? Are we doing that now? And isn't that one of the most important things, how, in what manner we listen to another? The other may be wearing too strong a perfume and you are repelled by it, or you like it, and this like and dislike of a perfume, or other factors, may prevent one from listening, listening to what the other person has to say.
If you have gone into this question rather deeply you will find it is one of the most difficult things to listen to another, completely. Are we doing it now? Or we are fidgety and so on?
So there is an art to listening - right? And there is an art to learn - no the art of seeing, the art of hearing: the art of seeing, seeing things as they are. When you look at a tree, do you translate it immediately into words and say, "Tree"? Or do you look at it, perceive it, see the shape of it, see the beauty of the light on a leaf, see the quality of a tree. It is not man-made fortunately, it is there. So do we see ourselves as we are, without condemnation, without judgement, evaluation and so on, just to see what we are, our reactions and responses, our prejudices, opinions, just to see them, that we indulge ourselves in opinions. Not to do anything about it but just to observe it - right? Can we do it?
So there is an art of seeing things as they are, without naming, without being caught in the network of words, the whole operation of thinking interfering with perception. That's a great art.
And also there is an art of learning. Isn't there? And what do we mean by learning? Generally it is understood that learning means memorizing, accumulating, storing up to use what you have stored up skilfully or not. That is generally called learning, memorizing. School, college, university, or some technological subject, or learning a language, reading, writing, communicating and so on. The modern computers can do all that better than we can. They are extraordinarily rapid. Right? So what is the difference between us and the computer? I am asking you. That's learning, being programmed. [Noise of train] We have also been programmed in various ways: tradition, so-called culture, knowledge and so on. We have also been programmed to be Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Tibetan and all the rest of it, Communist and so on. Is learning that's all? - just memorizing, repeating, is that learning? We are questioning. We are not saying that is not. It is necessary to learn how to drive a car. It is necessary to learn a language, if you are interested in languages and so on. And we are asking is all that learning? Or is learning something much more? Are we together in this? Don't just look at me, please - the person is not very interesting. We are asking something, that is: is learning merely memorizing? And if that is all then the computer can do better than us. And isn't learning something much more? Learning means constantly learning, not accumulating, not gathering in what one has seen, what one has observed, heard, learnt and storing it up.
Learning means, to the speaker, a constant observation, listening, moving, never taking a stand, never taking a position, never going back to memory and let memory act - right? That is a great art.
And the art of discipline. That word means to learn. It comes from the root disciple, one who learns from someone else. Not necessarily from the teacher, from the guru, they are generally rather stupid. But to discipline oneself according to a pattern, like a soldier, like a monk, like a person who wants to be very austere, disciplines his body - you understand? The whole process of control, direction, obedience, subservience and train yourself for that. That is generally understood to be discipline. To me discipline, to the speaker is a terrible thing. Because if you know how to - if there is acute hearing, not only by the ear, but also deeply listening to yourself, to everything that is happening around you, to listen to the birds, to the river to the forest, to the mountain, you follow, listening. And observing the minutest insect on the floor, if you can see it, if you have got good eyes. And learning. All that constitutes a form of living which in itself becomes the discipline, not that there is a person who disciplines himself - you understand? - but a constant movement. This is the art of living, in which there is no conflict whatsoever. So that where there is conflict, that conflict numbs the brain, destroys the brain. By this great art of living it is free, and in that freedom you don't need discipline, there is constantly movement - right?
I will go back to the questions. Phew! It is pretty hot here! We have had most marvellous days, three weeks of it, lovely mornings, beautiful evenings, long shadows and the deep blue valleys and the clear blue sky and the snow. We have had a marvellous three weeks. The speaker has been here for twenty eight years. A whole summer has never been like this. So the mountains, the valleys, the trees and the river, tell us goodbye. Can we go on with our questions?
1st QUESTION: I see that thought is responsible for my confusion. Yet in going into it more thoughtfully - more - going into it more thought is - more thought is generated and there is no end to it. Please comment.
I see thought - that thought is responsible for my confusion. And yet in going into it more thought is generated and there is no end to it. Please comment on this.
Thought is associated with other thoughts. Right? There is no single thought. It is a series of movements which we call thinking - right? I think about my shoes, then how to keep them clean. I polish them, which I do. I look after things and so on. So thought by itself cannot exist - right? By itself, without all the associations in connection with that one thought. And thought is a movement on which we live. It is the very life of us, thinking - right? It is so obvious. You couldn't be there and the speaker couldn't be here if we hadn't thought about it. We thought about it because there have been associations previous, reputation, books and all the 'bla' and you come and I come, the speaker comes. So there is no single thought by itself. This is important to uncover, this. It's always in relation to something else. And in pursuing one thought other thoughts arise. The speaker is polishing his shoes and looks out of the window and he sees those mountains and he is off! And he has to come back and polish his shoes. So that goes on all the time, right? I want to concentrate on something and the thought shoots off in another direction. I pull it back and try to concentrate. This goes on all the time from childhood until we die.
And the more I think about thought, the more thought there is. You understand? I shouldn't think along those lines, I must think rightly, is there right thinking, is there wrong thinking, is there purposeful thinking, what is the purpose of my life, and so on. The whole process of thinking begins. And there is no end to it. It has done the most extraordinary things. Technologically it has done the most appalling things, terrifying things. It has built all the rituals of every religion, and it has tortured human beings - right? It has expelled people from one part of the world to another, and so on and so on. Thought, whether Eastern or Western thinking, is still thinking. It is not Eastern thinking and Western thinking, two separate things. Because thought is the thread. Right? We are together.
So the question is: is there an end to thought? Not your way of thinking, or my way of thinking, or saying we are all thinking together, we are all moving in the same direction. So we are asking whether thought can ever stop. Which is, is there an end to time? Which is thinking is the result of knowledge, memory. To acquire knowledge I need time, one needs time. Even the computer which is so extraordinary, the modern computer, you have to give it just a split second before it trots, gallops out what it wants to say. So thought is time. Right? So when we are asking whether thought can ever end, we are also asking at the same time whether there is a stop to time? It is rather an interesting question if you go into it.
That is, the movement of time. Time, what does that mean to us? Not only psychologically but outwardly, sunset, sunrise, learning a language and so on and so on. You need time to go from here to there. Even the most fastest train needs time to get here, there, or aeroplane and so on. So as long - please follow this - as long as there is a distance between [noise of aeroplane] - as long as there is a distance between 'what is' and 'what might be', 'what I am', 'what I will be', that is a distance. It may be a very short distance, or centuries of distance. That distance can only be covered by time. So time implies evolution - right? You plant the seed in the earth, it takes a whole season to mature, grow, or a thousand years to become a tree and be full - right? Everything that grows, becomes, needs time - right? Everything. So time and thought, they are not two separate movements. They are one solid movement. [Noise of aeroplane] And we are asking whether thought and time have an end, a stop? You understand? - I said I wouldn't say it, I won't say it. How will you find out? This has been one of the problems confronting man from the beginning of man - right? He has asked this question. Can thought, time come to an end? Because he has asked it, in this movement of time, it is a circle - right? Time is a bondage. The hope, I hope, that involves time. So man has asked this question. Not if there is timelessness but rather if there is an end to time. You understand the difference? Right? [Noise of child crying] Shall we cry together?
So this is really a very serious question. [Noise of child crying] - poor mother! We are not enquiring into the timeless. We are enquiring whether time has a stop, which is thought. Now how will you discover that? Through analysis? Through so-called intuition? That word intuition may be most dangerous, it may be my desire. [Noise of aeroplane] We were saying that word intuition may be the most dangerous word, that word has been used so much. [Noise of aeroplane] There are so many valleys in Switzerland, why this one specially?!
The speaker once saw in California ten aeroplanes. The sun had set. Ten aeroplanes coming over the hills, with their exhaust, whatever they call it, I have forgotten the name of it for the moment, lit by the setting sun. It was the most beautiful sight. The whole sky was lit up. There wasn't noise, they were just coming over the mountain. We were saying that the word intuition is rather a risky word because it may be our hidden desire, it may be our unconscious, deeply rooted motive of which we are not aware, it may be the prompting of our own tendency, our own idiosyncrasy, it may be our own particular accumulation of knowledge. So we are asking if you put all that aside, has time a stop? And we asked, how will you find out? You, not the speaker or anybody else, because what others say has no importance. You may like the sound of the word, you may like the person, or you may say, "Well a whole group of us are together" - all that is rather infantile. But when you put this question to yourself, in what manner do you come to find out?
So we have to enquire very, very deeply into the nature of time, which we did during the last few talks. And also we went very deeply into the nature of thinking. So can all that come to an end? Or is it a gradual process? You understand? If it is a gradual process, the very gradualness is time. So it cannot be gradual - right? It cannot be eventually. It cannot be next second either. You understand? It cannot be next weekend or tomorrow, or a few minutes later. All that allows time. If one really grasps all that, deeply comprehends the nature of thought, the nature of time, discipline, the art of living and so on, to stay with it quietly, not cover it up by all kinds of movements, but stay with it, then [Noise of aeroplane] - then there is a glimpse of it, an insight into it, which is not related to memory, nothing. Right? Find out! The speaker can easily say, yes there is. That would be too childish. But to - for the brain to understand its own movement [Noise of aeroplane] - unless we experiment, you understand? - not just say yes, yes, or agree, unless we actually investigate, experiment, push it, go into it deeply, unless you do that you can't come upon a strange sense of timelessness. Right. [Noise of aeroplane] I hope they will go to lunch!
2nd QUESTION: The second question says: Please speak further on time and death.
We have talked a great deal about time, thought, and what relationship has time to death. What relationship has thought, thinking, with this extraordinary thing called death? If one is frightened of death then one will never see the dignity, the beauty and the depth of death. If you are frightened. Fear is caused by thought and time. We have been into that very carefully. Fear doesn't exist by itself. Fear exists where there is a demand for security, not only biological, physical security but much more. Psychologically human beings insist, demand, require, apparently to be psychologically secure. [Noise of child crying] One noise stops the other begins!
So we have not only to enquire into security, that is being safe, protected. When there is security one is clear. Security means protection - right? I have to protect that which gives me security, whether it is security of position, security of power, security of a great many possessions - right? [Tape turns over] To have plenty - millions in the bank gives you great sense of security. To possess a good chalet gives you security. Security also implies having a companion who will stand by you - right - who will help you, who will comfort you, who will give you what you want and what she wants. So in the family we seek security. In the community we seek it. In the nation, in the tribalism we seek it and that very tribalism, nationalism prevents that security because there is war, one tribe killing another tribe, one group destroying another group. So physically it's becoming more and more difficult to be secure. The terrorists might come into this tent and blow all up. I would ask them, "Wait a minute, let's finish it, do it outside."
So we not only need physical security but also psychological security. Psychological security is the greatest demand, not only the physical, right? So we are asking: is there psychological security at all? Please ask yourself this really very, very serious question: is there inwardly, subjectively, inside the skin as it were, psychologically is there security at all? I can rely on you as an audience and you can rely on me as the speaker. If the speaker sought security in you and he has nobody to talk to, then he feels terribly insecure. So is there psychological security at all? When there - or if there is no psychological security - right - then what is physical security, right?
The world is changing constantly from day to day, it is in tremendous flux - right? It is so obvious. And physically also one needs a little security to sit here, talk together, but that is gradually being restricted - right? You cannot do this in Communist countries. [Noise of train] So if one recognizes the fact that psychologically there is no security - right? That is the truth, there is no psychological security. I can believe, I can have faith but you come along and tear it to pieces. You can if I am willing to listen. So the more I strengthen myself in belief the more I am capable of that belief being torn to pieces - right? I may have faith in something, in a symbol, in a person, by argument, logic, sanity, that can be pulled to pieces. So there is no psychological security at all. Though we have sought it, though we have tried to fulfil ourselves in it, all the things we have done, psychologically, to be secure. At the end of it there is death. Right? There is death. And death is the most extraordinary thing. Putting an end to long continuity. In that continuity we hope to find security. See the whole process of it. Because the brain can only function excellently when it is completely secure. Right? Secure in terrorism, as a terrorist, secure in my belief - right? Secure in my knowledge and so on and so on. All that comes to an end when there is death. Right? I may hope next life and all that stuff, but it is really the ending of a long continuity. I have identified myself with that continuity. That continuity is me. And death says, "Sorry old boy that is the end." - right? And one is not frightened of death, really not frightened. That means you are living constantly with death, that is constantly ending - right? Not continuing and ending, but ending every day that which you have gathered, that which you have memorized, that which you have experienced.
So to live every day with that feeling of ending, not merely intellectually ending, but actually ending psychologically. That is time gives us the hope, thought gives us comfort, thought assures us a continuity, and you say, "Well next life". I will be as silly as I am now next life, if I don't end this silliness now - right? This stupidity, the illusions, and all the rest of it, if I don't end it now it will be there next life. If there is a next life.
So time, thought, which gives continuity, and we cling to that continuity and therefore there is fear. And fear destroys love - right? So love, compassion and death. They are not separate movements.
So we are asking: can one live with death and thought and time have a stop? They are all related. Don't separate time, thought and death. It is all one thing.
3rd QUESTION: Is it not violence and corruption to have physical security while others are starving?
Is it not violence and corruption to have physical security while others are starving? Who is asking this question? Please, the speaker is asking you, who has asked this question? The man who has physical security and considering the poor, the starving, or the starving are asking this question? You understand my question? If you and I are comfortable then we can ask this question. If you and I are really very poor would we ask this question? You see there are so many social reformers in the world, the do-gooders. I won't go into it now because we haven't time for it. Look at it carefully. Are they fulfilling themselves in social work, doing something for the poor? This question has been put to the speaker when he is in India, what are you doing for the poor? They are starving, you seem to be well fed, what do you do? You understand these questions? So I am asking who puts this question? I - we are not avoiding or evading this question. We have been brought up, the speaker in poverty. Is that speaker when he was young, living in poverty, asking this question?
So there is poverty in the world, slums, appalling conditions. There are no slums in Switzerland apparently. Thank God! There are slums, ghettos, the very, very, very poor, one meal a day and all that. What do we do about it? That is really the question isn't it? You may be wealthy, I may not be so wealthy, but the question is: what do we human beings seeing all this, what is our responsibility? Are we concerned - please we are not avoiding the question - are we concerned with poverty? Poverty. What does that mean? Where? Physical poverty? Or psychological poverty? You understand? Psychological poverty, psychologically being poor, in the sense you may have a lot of knowledge about the psyche but you are still poor. The analyst, he is poor, poor, and he is trying to correct the other person who is also poor.
So what is poverty? To be poor, not to be sophisticated, ignorant. You understand? So what is ignorance? Is it the lack of reading a book, writing, having one meal a day, one cloth a day? Or poverty begins first psychologically and then you can crack everything outside. You understand? If I am rich inwardly I can do something. If I myself am poor inwardly, poverty means nothing outside. Then I want to help.
So we have not only to understand what is poverty, the poor, sympathy, generosity, all that is involved in this. If you have one shirt you give it. Once the speaker was walking in the rain in India and a little boy came up and said, "Sir, give me some money." The speaker had no money. So then he said "Give me your shirt". I said, "All right". It was pouring. So I gave it to him. Then he said, "Give me your undershirt". I said, "Just a minute. Come with me to the house. You can have anything you like, food, clothes, anything you like, within limits of course." So he came with me, holding my hand, he was very poor, dirty. We walked together to the house. I left him, the speaker left him and went upstairs to get some clothes for the boy. And the boy went round the house, looking into every cupboard, all over the place. The person with whom the speaker was staying caught him and said, "What are you doing in this part of the house?" "Oh", he said, "He asked me to come in." "But he didn't ask you to come upstairs and look into all this. So why are you doing it?" And the boy got rather frightened and he said "My father is a robber." He was casing the house. You understand the phrase?
So we have not only to deal with poverty externally, but also inwardly. Probably there would be no poverty in the world if all the scientists, if all the nations got together and said we must solve this problem. They could. But nationalities divide them, communities divide them, religious beliefs divide them - right? And nepotism, you know, somebody I know, I'll help you. So the whole world is opposed to this kind of action - right? That is to put aside all our nationalities, beliefs, religion and help, really work altogether to solve this problem of external poverty. But nobody will do this - right? We have talked to politicians, to higher people, but they are not interested - right? So begin with ourselves first.
4th QUESTION: How can our limited brain grasp the unlimited, which is beauty and truth? What is the ground of compassion and intelligence and can it really be - can it really become upon each one of us - and can it really become or be upon each one of us?
How can our limited brain grasp the unlimited, which is beauty, love and truth? What is the ground of compassion and intelligence? And can it really come upon each one of us? Right? Question clear?
How can our limited brain grasp the unlimited? It cannot, because it is limited. Once we grasp the significance, the depth of the quality of the brain and recognize the fact, the fact not the idea, the fact that our brains are limited by knowledge, by specialties, by particular discipline, by belonging to a group, nationalism, and all the rest of it, which is the basic - which is self-interest, camouflaged, hidden, all kinds of things, - robes, crowns, rituals. It is essentially, this limitation comes into being when there is self-interest. That is so obvious. When I am concerned with my own happiness, with my own fulfilment, with my own success and all the rest of it, that very self-interest limits the quality of the brain and the energy of the brain. Right?
And, as we explained, not that the speaker is a specialist in brains though he has talked to several people about it, professionals, but it is still the brain, not their brain, but still yours and mine. That brain through millenia, millions of years, has evolved in time, death - right? - and thought. It has evolved. Evolution means, does it not, a whole series of time events. We have been the ape, now we are - that has taken two and a half million years, or more, or less. To put all the religious rituals together needs time. So the brain has been conditioned, limited by its own volition, seeking its own security, keeping to its own backyard, say, "I believe", "I don't believe", "I agree", "I don't agree", "This is my opinion", "This is my judgement" - self-interest. Whether it is in the hierarchy of religion among the various noted politicians who are talking about goodness, peace and all the rest of it, it is part self-interest. The man who seeks power through money, self-interest. And the professor with his tremendous scholastic knowledge, and so on and so on. And essentially the gurus. Face all this.
So our brain has become very, very, very small. Not in the shape of it, in the size of it, but we have reduced the quality of the brain which has immense capacity. Right? Immense. Technological world has improved and also it has got immense capacity to go inwardly, very, very, very deeply. But self-interest limits the brain. To discover for oneself where self-interest is hidden, it is very subtle. Right? It may lie, hide behind an illusion, in neuroticism, in make-belief, in some family name and all the rest of it. To uncover every stone, every blade of grass to find out. Either you take time to find out, which again becomes a bondage, or you see the thing, grasp it, have an insight into it instantly. When you have a complete insight it covers the whole field. Right?
So the questioner says, how can the brain which is conditioned grasp the unlimited, which is beauty, love and truth? What is the ground of compassion and intelligence, and can it come upon us - upon each one of us? Are you inviting compassion? Are you inviting intelligence? Are you inviting beauty, love and truth? Are you trying to grasp it? I am asking you. Are you trying to grasp what is the quality of intelligence, compassion, the immense sense of beauty, the perfume of love and that truth which has no path to it? Is that what you are grasping? Wanting to find out the ground upon which it dwells? Can the limited brain grasp this? You understand my question? You cannot possibly grasp it, hold it. You can do all kinds of meditation, fast, torture yourself. This has all been done. Become terribly austere, having one cloth, or one robe. During the Franciscan days, that is during the days of Florence, they dressed most elegantly. And Assisi, St.Francis of Assisi said, "No" and put on a brown cloth with a white cord. Haven't you noticed all that? There it is. The rich cannot come to the truth, neither the poor. Nor the people who have taken a vow of celibacy, silence, of austerity and so on and so on. Neither can they - right? It is all determined by thought, all put together sequentially in order to - this is all the cultivation of deliberate thought, of deliberate intent. As a person said to the speaker, "Give me twelve years and I'll make you see God."
So as the brain is limited, do whatever you will, sit cross legged, Lotus posture, go off into a trance, meditate, stand on your head, or one leg, or whatever you do, you will never come upon it. Compassion doesn't come to it.
Therefore one must understand what is love. Love is not sensation. Love is not pleasure, desire, fulfilment. Love is not jealousy, hatred. Love has sympathy, generosity, and tact and so on. All the qualities are not love. To understand that, to come to that requires a great sense and appreciation of beauty. Not the beauty of a woman or a man, or the cinema star with all the rest of it. Beauty is not in the mountain, in the skies, in the valleys, or in the flowing river. Beauty exists where the self is not. You can see the great old trees of three to five thousand years old in California, and see the majesty of that tree and say, "How marvellous" but the self hides behind that tree - right? So beauty exists only where there is love. And beauty, love is compassion. There is no ground for compassion, it doesn't stay at your convenience. And that beauty, love, truth is the highest form of intelligence. When there is that intelligence there is action, clarity, tremendous sense of dignity. It is something unimaginable. And that which is not to be imagined, or the unlimited, cannot be put into words. It can be described, philosophers have described it but the philosophers who have described are not that which they have described.
So to come upon this great sense there must be the absence of the me, the ego, egocentric activity, the becoming. There must be the great silence in one. Silence means emptiness of everything. In that there is vast space. Where there is vast space there is immense energy, not self-interested energy, unlimited energy.
May we get up?