SRI LANKA 1ST PUBLIC TALK 8TH NOVEMBER 1980
First of all I would like to point out how difficult it is to communicate to another whose culture, whose background may be totally different. And if one may point out we are not talking about any philosophy, any theories, any new set of ideas or ideals. We are going to talk over together, as two friends, the problem of our daily living. To go into that very carefully, hesitantly and wisely, one must look around what is actually going on in the world, not only in this island, but also In Europe, America, China, Russia and India. There is great chaos in the world, disorder. Society is corrupt, immoral; there is great deal of injustice; there is poverty. All the nations are preparing for war, ready to kill each other in the name of religion, in the name of economics, in the name of their own national survival; they are willing to kill others for their own particular security. There is religious division in this country. You have the Hinayana and the Mahayana. In India there are innumerable gods and divisions, in Christianity also there are a great many divisions; the Catholics, the Protestants and the various other sects. There are national, religious, economic divisions all over the world. There is inflation, overpopulation, poverty, and all kinds of horrible things are happening in the world: nationalism with its technology is going to destroy man. These are facts. These are not the speaker's opinions or ideas. But they are the facts right in front of us, if you are willing to look, listen.
And knowing all this, outwardly, what is the condition of man; not man in abstraction, not as an abstract idea, but man, you and I and another, what is our condition? I think it is important to understand our relationship between man and society. Society as it exists now, which is corrupt, there is a great deal of injustice, we are not properly governed. This society is created by man, by you, by us, by the many, by our great grandfathers and so on. This society is man-made and so it cam be altered, completely, radically. That alteration in society has always been a dream of man. There have been philosophers who have talked about it a great deal, written volumes of what society should be, from the ancient times to modern times. There have been revolutions in the West - the French, and the Communist revolution in Russia. They have all longer and striven, worked for a revolution to bring about an environmental change. The communists are doing it, the socialists and other leftists and in their own way the rightists are doing it, and this physical revolution has not produced any great change. These again are facts. They have brought a new set of hierarchy, a new set of rich people, new set of powerful, dominant, tyrannical people. But the pattern of society has somewhat changed, but essentially it has been as it has always been through millennia.
In observing all these - and we are doing it together, please bear in mind if I might point out throughout these talks that we are thinking, looking, observing together. The speaker is not pointing out for you to listen, or not to listen, to pay attention or to disregard, but together you, each one of you and the speaker, together we are going to investigate, explore, why we live the way we are living, why human beings have deteriorated: there are a great deal of drugs, alcoholism, violence, every form of immoral activity going on. And together, please bear in mind, I'll repeat it many, many, many times that you are not listening to a talk by some strange man from another country, but together as two human beings, quietly, reasonably, sanely, examining, exploring together why man is in such a state - man includes naturally woman.
So we are not talking about theories, beliefs, dogmas, and all that nonsense. To me, to the speaker, they have no basis for nationality. Together we are going to look at the society in which we live, and what to do about it. So the speaker in talking about it, is talking about you. He is not talking about something else, He is talking about a human being which is you, why such a human being who has lived through millennia after millennia, who has evolved through a great deal of experience, has acquired a great deal of knowledge - both technological and psychological knowledge, why we human beings are reduced to this present condition of chaos, misery, confusion. I hope that is very clear. That we are talking not about any theory, or doing any kind of propaganda, but we are talking over together about you; you being the rest of mankind. Mankind suffers, every human being in the world, wherever he lives suffers, goes through a great deal of anxiety, great uncertainty, constant striving, not only within himself, but also outwardly. He has great fears, depression, uncertainty, like you. So we are humanity, you are humanity. Please follow this, if you will kindly, if you will kindly listen to it.
You know, listening is a great art. It is one of the great arts we have not cultivated: to listen completely to another. When you listen so completely to another, as I hope you are doing it now, you are also listening to yourself, listening to your own problems, to your own uncertainties, to your own misery, confusion, your desire for security, the gradual degradation of the mind, which is becoming more and more mechanical. We are talking over together what human beings are, which is you. So you psychologically are the world and the world is you. You may have dark hair, somewhat brown faces, others may be taller, fairer with eyes slanting, but wherever they live, in whatever climate, in whatever circumstances, affluent or not, every human being, like you, goes through all this turmoil, the noise of life without any beauty, never seeing the splendour in the grass, or the glory in the flower. So you and I and the others are the world, because you suffer, your neighbour suffers, whether that neighbour be ten thousand miles away, he is similar to you. Your culture may be different, your language may be different, but basically, inwardly, deeply, you are like another. And that's a fact. This is not a theory, this is not something that you have to believe. It is a fact. And so you u are the world and the world is you. I hope you are listening to it. As we said, we have lost the art of listening. To listen to a statement of that kind that you are the world and the world is you, probably you have never heard this before, and so it might sound very strange, illogical or unreal. So you partially listen and wish that I would go on talking more about other things; so you never actually listen to the truth of anything. If I may request you, please kindly listen not only to the speaker, but also listen to yourself, listen to what is happening, in your mind, in your heart, in your responses and so on. Listen to all that. Listen to the birds, listen to the car going by so that you become sensitive, alive, active. So if you will kindly so listen we can then proceed.
Man has evolved from the ape and so on, according to the scientists, for many, many million years. Our brain is the result of many, many millennia of time. That brain, that human mind, is now so conditioned with fear, with anxiety, with national pride, with linguistic limitations, and so on. So the question then is, to bring about a different society in the world, you as a human being who is the rest of mankind, must radically change. That is the real issue, not how to prevent wars. That's also an issue, how to have peace in the worlds, that is secondary, all these are peripheral, secondary issues. The fundamental issue is, is it possible for the human mind, which is your mind, your heart, your condition, is that possible to be totally, fundamentally, deeply, transformed. Otherwise we are going to destroy each other, through our national pride, through our linguistic limitations, through our nationalism which the politicians maintain for their own benefit and so on.
So I hope I have made the point very clear. That is, is it possible for you as a human being who is the rest of mankind psychologically, inwardly, you are like the rest of other human beings, living in the world, is it possible for your condition to change? Not change to what. Do you understand the question? We say to change, which means what? One asks change from this to what? If you ask that question, as you must, then you are projecting what should be. I wonder if you understand all this. May I go on? May I? I don't know if I am getting any response from anybody. Am I making any sense? Would you kindly tell me. Are we following each other? Or are you merely listening to a series of words, and getting involved in words, or are you following the depth of the meaning of these words? It's up to you. So we are saying, asking, enquiring together, because you are a human being like the rest of mankind, you have to listen to the speaker, what he says about you and you have to also listen, observe, look into yourself as we go along. So communication is possible only if you and the speaker are moving together. Not that you sit there uncomfortably, or comfortably, and just casually listen. This is a very serious matter, this is not an entertainment, nor an intellectual exchange of words or theories. We are dealing with actualities. The actual is what is happening in the world and in you. Right? Can we go on from there?
First of all there are various groups of people in the West and probably in the East who say that man fundamentally cannot be changed. He has lived this way for millennia upon millennia, and it is impossible to change his condition. You can modify it, you can somewhat change it, but the human condition as he is, can never radically be changed. And there are those who say, change the environment, change the social structure, then man will be forced to change. That is what the communists have been saying: change the outward structure, the economic, social and so on, then man living in those conditions will change. Then there are those who say, have faith in god, and the greater the faith, the greater the resolution of your problems. And these three main factors, and of course there are many other minor sayers, they say, man as he is cannot be radically changed. There are those who say change the environment, and man will change, and the others, the so-called religious people, have faith, believe, and attend to all the things that god has said, then perhaps man will bring about a radical change in himself. All these systems have been tried over and over again in different forms, and under different names, but man, you, have remained more or less throughout millennia almost the same, the same in the sense you suffer, you are anxious, you are lonely, uncertain, insecure, fear and so on. When one recognizes these facts and they are facts, then the question is what is a man to do? Do you understand my question? Do you all understand English?
K: At last! This absolute silence, which is good, which means that you are listening, is right, but are we communicating with each other? That is, are we together looking into the mirror which the speaker is putting in front of you and looking into that mirror which is yourself? Because what we are saying is about man's behaviour, man's innumerable turmoils of daily life, his relationship with another and so on. Unless all that is very, very clear, deeply laid, meditation has no meaning whatsoever. You understand? If our house is not in order - the house means you - not in order, you are trying to meditate either according to Zen or Tibetan or the Buddha or the Hindu or some other guru's latest invention of meditation. Then your meditation is merely leading to illusions. It has no reality. What has reality is that we lay in the right foundation, which is order in our life. We live disorderly; we live in contradiction; we say one thing and do another; we believe in something and do quite the opposite. We believe in some kind of god or whatever your deity is, and that belief has no reality in our daily life, whether you are a Christian or a Buddhist or whatever religion one may belong to. Those beliefs, dogmas, sayings, sanctions have no actual daily reality in our life. So you can brush all that aside, brush away ail your religious dogmas, beliefs, concepts, images and face life as it is and not escape through some fanciful romantic images. Perhaps some of you will object to all this. I am glad. If you object it means that at least we are thinking together. But if you object find out. Don't merely object. Obstinate questioning is essential for man's survival. Question not only the speaker, but also question your beliefs, your way of life, why you think this way, why you live this way. Persistent obstinate questioning which means doubting. Doubt is of great importance because if you doubt, it gives you tremendous energy. You begin to throw off the burdens which man, which you, the priests, the analysts, the psychologists, and others have imposed upon you. You begin to be free psychologically, at least somewhat.
So please we are together investigating the human mind, the mind that has evolved through thousands and thousands of years. Now we have come to a point where we are going to destroy each other by our stupid nationalism or we are going to survive; survive in the sense regenerate free human beings without the burden of all the priests that have existed, that have imposed upon us various doctrines, theories, ideas. Nobody is going to save us, neither the priest nor the scientist, nor the politicians, nor the economist or the environmentalist. What will save mankind is you, you transforming yourself. So we begin slowly to go into that.
First of all, life is a movement in relationship. You can't exist without relationship. Life is relationship and action. So we are going first to examine together what we mean by relationship? This is important because man cannot live by himself. He is always related to something or the other. He is related to another human being or related to an idea, to a concept, to an image but all that means a relationship between you and another. Right sirs? Please, come with me. Now, what is your relationship with another? That is one of the problems. Because our relationship with another, however intimate or not, has created this society in which we live. If you are greedy, envious, violent, we create this society of violence, greed and envy. So we must be very clear from the very beginning and find out what is relationship. Right sirs? Does all this interest you? Don't be casual about it. Does it deeply interest you to find out what relationship is? What your actual relationship is, your actual relationship with another? Or are you frightened? What is your relationship based on, whether it is with your wife, with your neighbour, with your government and so on? Because there must be an understanding in this relationship, not verbal or intellectual understanding, but the depth of relationship, the fullness of relationship.
We are enquiring together into the question of relationship. Man cannot exist without relationship. Life is relationship and action. These two are fundamental to man. What is our present relationship with another? What is your relationship with your wife? Or your wife to the husband, or your relationship to the Buddhist priest, or the Hindu priest, or the Christian priest? What is your relationship? When you examine it closely, your relationship is based on images - the image that you have built about god, about Buddha, about your wife, your wife about you. That is a fact, isn't it? Right? Images between you and your wife, which is the most intimate, which is a daily occurrence, that image between the two people, man creates an image about his wife and the wife creates an image about him and the relationship is between these two images. Right? Would you agree to that? Yes? These images are built through daily contact, sex, irritation, comfort, and so on. Each one builds his own image about another and he has also an image about himself. He has also an image about god, about his religious deity, because when you create an image, in that image there is security, however false, however unreal, however insane. In that image that the mind has created there is security. When you create an image about your wife, or your wife about you, the image is not the actual. It is much more difficult to live with the actual and it is much easier to live with the image that you have. So relationship is between images and therefore there no relationship at all. Right? I hope you are following all this. This is a fact. The Christian worships an image. That image is created throughout the centuries by the priest, by the worshipper who says, I need comfort, I need security, I need somebody who will look after me: I am in a mess, I am confused, I am insecure and in the image I find security. We have become image worshippers, not the worshippers of truth, not the worshippers of righteous life, but worshippers of images, the national image with its flag, the image that you have about the scientist, about the government and so on. Image-making is one of the human failings. Is it possible to have no image about anything, but only live with facts, fact being that which is actually happening? You understand? Are we meeting each other? No. Somebody shakes his head! I am delighted, then we can discuss, you and I can go into it.
Why does the mind create image? Life isn't an image. Life is strife, unfortunately. Life is constant conflict. Conflict is not an image. It is a fact, that which is happening, but why does the mind create images? Images mean, the speaker means by an image, a symbol, a concept, a conclusion, an ideal. These are all images - that is, what I should be, I am not this, but I would like to be that. That is an image projected by the mind in time, that is in the future. So that is unreal. What is real is what is actually taking place now in your mind. Can we go on from there?
We are asking why does the mind create an image? Is it because in the image there is security? If I have a wife, which I haven't, I have a wife, I create an image about her. The very word 'wife' is an image. And I create that image because the wife is a living thing, changing, a living, vital human entity. To understand her requires much more attention, greater energy, but if I have an image about her it is much easier to live with that image. Are you following all this?
First of all, have you not an image about yourself, that you are a great man or that you are not a great man, that you are this, that and so on? When you live with images, you are living with illusions, not with reality. Now, what is the mechanism of making images? All organized, accepted, respectable religions have always had some kind of image. And mankind with the help of the priest, has always worshipped the symbol, the idea, the concept and so on. In that worship he finds comfort, safety, security. But the image is the projection of thought. And to understand the nature of it, making images, you must understand the whole process of thinking. May we go into that? Right, sir? Will you come with me? Good!
So we are asking, what is thinking? That's what you are doing all day long. Your cities are built on thinking, your armaments are based on thinking. The politicians are based on thinking, your religious leaders, everything in the world is based on thinking. The poets may write in beautiful words a verse, but the thinking process goes on. So one must enquire, if you are serious, if you are willing to go into the question, what is thinking. You are thinking now.
We were saying image-making has been the habit of man, specially in the world of religion and he has also image about himself and we are asking why does the mind, your mind, make images? Is it because in images there is security, however false the images are, without any reality, in an illusion man apparently seeks security. So to understand image-making, which is so common to mankind, one has to go into the question of what is thought, thinking and the nature of thought. All thought. Thought has not created nature. The tiger, the river, the marvellous trees, the forest and the mountains, the shadows, valleys and the beauty of the earth, man has not created it. But man has created through thought the destructive machinery of war, man has brought about great medical surgical improvement, man has brought about through thought instant communication, and so on. Thought has been responsible for great deal of good and great deal of harm. That is a fact. And a man who is serious wants to enquire if thought is ever capable of reducing any of these problems. So we must ask if you are willing and serious enough to find out for yourself what is thinking.
Thinking is the response of memory, stored up in the brain as knowledge. Knowledge comes from experience. Mankind has had thousands of experiences from which it has derived a great deal of knowledge, factual, illusory, neurotic, accumulated a great deal of knowledge. That knowledge as memory, is stored up in the brain. And when you ask a question, that memory responds as thought. This is a fact. We have discussed this matter with many scientists, some of them don't agree, others do and so on. You can find this out for yourself: that is, you have experience, you remember that experience which is knowledge and that knowledge with its memory projects thought. Is this clear? Right sir? No? Don't agree with me, please. Examine it for yourself. Look into yourself. If you have no experience, no knowledge, no memory, you can't think. So knowledge through experience, memory, and the response to a challenge which is thought, on that thought we live. Knowledge is always limited. There is no complete knowledge about anything. This is a fact. So thought is always limited. However beautiful, thought may build a cathedral, a marvellous statue, a great poem, great epic and so on, thought born of knowledge must always be limited because knowledge is always incomplete, knowledge is always in the shadow of ignorance. Right sirs? So thought has created these images, thought has created the image between you and your wife, thought has created the idea of nationality with its technology which is destroying the world and so on.
Now we are asking is it possible to live a daily life without a single image. Thought must function to go from here to your home. You must have knowledge where your home is, the road you take and so on. That knowledge must exist otherwise you would get completely lost. Knowledge to speak a language is necessary, knowledge is necessary for the speaker to speak English and so on. But is it necessary to create an image at all? You understand my questions, sir? Can we live without a single image which means without any belief, which doesn't mean you lead a chaotic life, without any belief, without any ideal, without any concept which are all projections of thought, therefore all limited? Therefore action - this is a bit more complex, I don't know if you will understand all this. Which is, action based on thought is always complete. Therefore one has to ask, is there an action which under all circumstances is correct. Are we walking together? Yes? Are we keeping in step with each other on the same path or the speaker is walking by himself? Because this is a very serious matter, sir.
Our minds are degenerating, becoming mechanical, lost, and that is why the youth is getting lost too. We are lost human beings; you may have a job, you may have a house, you may have all kinds oF things, but inwardly you are lost, you are uncertain, unclear. You don't know what to believe. So for that reason one must understand the full significance of thought. We have lived on thought. Everything we do is based on thought. And as thought is incomplete, our actions, our life is incomplete. Knowing it is incomplete, we try to fulfil in something which will give us a sense of completeness. So our life is a constant struggle, and we are saying that this conflict, this battle in ourselves and outwardly, it can end. It can end only when you understand yourself, not according to some priest, not according to some psychologist or some professor, but looking at yourself in the mirror. The mirror is your relationship. That is the mirror in which you can study yourself. Without knowing yourself - what you are, why you are, why you think these things, why you behave in such a way, you find in that mirror of relationship, all the answers. Sirs, you are the history of mankind, you are the story of mankind. You are the book in which you can read all about yourself, without any guide, without any priest, without any guru, without any philosopher. You can read that book which is yourself. Unless you read it very carefully, listen to all the nuances, all the activity that goes on, you will always be in constant battle, always suffer, always be afraid. And so it behoves an intelligent, earnest man to read the story of mankind which is the story of you. That story is not an image. It is part of it. You have to look. That means you have to listen very carefully to your thoughts, to your reactions, to your uncertainties, to your unhappiness, you have to listen to it. Find out. In listening is the answer. But you have to learn the art of listening which is not to interpret what you read, what you see, but to observe without any distortion, just to watch it.
Have you ever watched a cloud? You must have. It is full of clouds in this country. Have you ever watched them? There they are, the grandeur, magnificent, with extraordinary light and beauty in them. When you watch a thing, you are always naming it. The very naming prevents the watching. You understand? All right, sirs? Our mind has become a slave to words: words are measurement and to observe without measurement, which is the word, then you see things exactly as they are. So to watch yourself, to see yourself exactly as you are without any distortion, without any direction, without any motive, just to watch it. You hear that statement and then you ask, "Tell me how to do it." Right? Isn't that your question? No? "Tell me how to do it". Now when you ask a question, how, why do you ask such a question? You understand what I am asking you? I have made a statement that in watching, listening to yourself carefully without any direction, without any motive, you begin to read the story of mankind which is yourself. That is real education, not merely acquiring degrees and knowledge of other things. Real education is this, to read your life in the book of mankind which is you, and to read that book, you have to watch every reaction, every thought that is so quickly changing, one thought pursuing another. You have to just watch it, not try to control it, not try to dominate it or push it aside, just watch it. Then you will say, that is very difficult to do it. And as it is difficult, please tell us how to do it. The method. When you ask such a question, what is implied in that? You want to know how to read that book. A child wants to know how to read the alphabet, he has to learn the alphabet. So he goes through, carefully he is taught how to write a, b, c, d and so on. In the same way, there is no 'how', just watch. The moment you. ask 'how', you ask for a system, a method; and when you practise the method, the system, in order to understand yourself, you are becoming mechanical. Yourself is a living thing and a living thing cannot be understood through a system. You have to watch it, move with it, understand it and that is very difficult to do for many people and therefore they say: tell me how to do it quickly. There is no quick way for all this. There is only patient observation of yourself. Patience means not to react quickly, not to project your ideas, your opinions, they are part of you, but observe your opinions. So you need a great deal of patience, a great deal of attention, to attend, but that requires interest. That requires that you are dissatisfied with things as they are.
And so we will consider tomorrow the nature of our life as fear, pleasure, suffering and all that. We will go into it very carefully, and see if we cannot possibly end fear completely. Right sir.