SRI LANKA 4TH PUBLIC TALK 16TH NOVEMBER 1980
This is the last talk. We have been talking over together the last three times that we met here about the problems of human life, of existence, man's many, many psychological problems, political, religious, and worldly. As we said at the beginning of these talks, we are walking along together on the same road. The speaker is not leading you, he is setting the pace as you wish. And we talked about relationship, fear, pleasure and the ending of sorrow. We also talked about relationship and the importance of doubt, the importance of questioning, never accepting.
This evening we would like to go into the question of what is religion, what is the magnitude of the mind, whether there is anything beyond the mind or there is only the things that thought has created, both outwardly and deeply inwardly. Thought has been used as an instrument for technological, scientific, medical purposes; thought has explored the universe, gone as far as Venus, Saturn. Man has landed on the moon and planted his little flag there. Man has gone into the space, under the earth, the seas. Man has exercised his immense capacity in the direction of outward control, controlling of space, controlling nature, the environment and so on. But man, that is you and I, the speaker, have not gone into the magnitude and the depth of the mind. The mind has got extraordinary capacity, as is seen in the world of technology; they are doing the most extraordinary things. And the East is merely imitating, improving, or copying. And we have never questioned what is the mind, what lies beyond the present consciousness. We have been able to fathom the enormous energy that lies in the mind. We are using the mind to mean not only the capacity, the working, the operations of the brain, but also your emotions, sensory responses, affection, love, all the human responses and reactions, and the capacity of the brain to learn, to forget, to record and act upon that which is learnt as knowledge, skilfully or not.
This evening if we can, if you are interested, we will find out for ourselves what is the magnitude of the mind. It is an immense question. You may think it is rather impudent. And to talk about it may be, if we can use the word, sacrilegious. But we human beings, conditioned as we are, living in a small little circle of our own making, in a little corner of the vast earth, and fighting each other over that corner, who rules, who governs, who are the politicians, and the priests and so on. But to enquire very deeply into the immensity of the mind and its capacity, you must first be very clear that to investigate into that, there must be absolute silence. And the silence that is not brought about by thought, the silence that is not brought about as a reward or punishment; that silence has no motive. There are various types of silence, silence between two thoughts, the silence between two noises, the silence between two birds singing and stopping, the silence of the sea when it is utterly calm and the silence of an evening when the sun is about to set, that solemn hour with all its extraordinary sense of coming night. Man has searched for this silence beyond the words. And religion has tried to explain or give a rational meaning, or through many centuries of propaganda - the Christian propaganda, Buddhist propaganda, the Hindu, the Islamic and so on - have made man accept, believe, and so religiously has so conditioned him that he finds it almost impossible to go beyond that conditioning. He makes the best of that condition and tries to escape from that prison into some fanciful images, concepts, theories, theological investigation and so on.
I hope we are following each other. And religion has become now merely a verbal statement, slogan, constant repetition that I am a Buddhist, that I am a Christian with all the different denominations in the Christianity, and the thousand gods of Hinduism or the god of the Islamic world. We have been told over and over again for thousands of years, so our brain is so heavily loaded and the man who enquires into what is truth, obviously cannot belong to any organized religion, to any belief, to any sectarian gods or to only one god. He must be free of all rituals, all the religious symbols, images, the authority of the highest priest and so on. Can the mind, your mind be so free? It is not free because it is seeking constantly security, not only physically but inwardly, psychologically, deeply within the recesses of the mind, thought is always seeking some kind of hope, some kind of comfort, security, a state of permanency. And in its search it falls into the traps of the priests all over the world with their organizations, with their rituals and so on. So can your mind be free of all that? Otherwise you are prisoners, you are not really human beings, you are just machines operating.
We were the other day discussing with a computer specialist: the computer plays with a master chess player. The first two or three games the master beats the computer, and the computer after three or four games beats the master, because it is learning. When it is defeated it learns what move has caused the defeat; so it has experienced, learnt the first mistake, then the second mistake, experiences, learns and so on until it beats the master. You understand what we are saying? And we, the human mind, operates in the same way: experience, knowledge, memory, action; and from that action learn, more knowledge. So we repeat this constant cycle. So we are always moving from the known to the known and acting from the known, like the computer, the latest computers, which have the capacity to correct themselves, which can experience and learn and so go much faster than man in thought, in solving problems. So our minds operate more or less in the same way. Which is, our minds have become mechanical. If you are educated as an engineer, for the rest of your life you are thinking along those lines - how to build bridges, railways, buildings, aeroplanes and so on. Or if you are a surgeon, spend ten years learning medicine, then to operate and so on, and for the rest of your life you are a marvellous or rather shoddy little surgeon. Or you spend years and years reading various religious books of various denotations, and you become an expert at it, capable of arguing, but still moving from the known to the known. I hope you are following all this. Are you?
And our life, our daily life is also mechanical, going to the office from 9 o'clock to 5 o'clock, repeating the same pattern, coming back home, sex, quarrels, ambition, vanity, superstition and so on. This is our life. And our brain, our mind is so conditioned to this and being conditioned we don't see the crisis that is in the conditioning itself. The world is changing so rapidly technologically, but morally, ethically, we are still what we were, perhaps little more modified, little more sophisticated, a little more 'putting on white gloves', treating each other very distantly. We are so heavily conditioned; to believe in god or not to believe in god. And believing in god or not, religions have played an extraordinary part in our life. There have been religious wars in Europe; inquisitions, torture in the name of god, in the name of whatever it is, excommunication. Perhaps only the Buddhist and the Hindu world has not encouraged killing; though I have been told in this country, Sri Lanka, you are eating meat and you call yourself Buddhist. The Buddha was supposed to have said 'don't kill'. You see that is what we are saying; religion is merely a make-believe. It has no reality. It has no depth, it is just a series of words, quotations, authority, which is totally unrelated to our daily life. Our daily life is violence, killing, that which is convenient for us, and we will kill man, animals, to satisfy our appetite. These are facts, not the speaker's invention. Look at your own lives - when you say you are a Buddhist, look at it. You are not Buddhist, you are just a label called Buddhist, but you are a human being like the rest of the world with all the travails, toil, confusion, misery, sorrow, pain and all that. So you are the world and the world is you. There is no discussion or argument about it. Psychologically you are the world and the world is you. When one realizes that fact, you become astonishingly responsible about what you think, what you do, how you behave. And our minds, as we said, has become what we are, we are our minds, we are our consciousness. Our consciousness is its content - fear, pain, pleasure, belief, I want, I don't, you know. Consciousness with its content is what we are.
Now, meditation is the quietening of the content. Meditation is the emptying of our consciousness with all its content. Are the speaker and you going together? Even intellectually, even verbally? And there may be some of you who are not merely intellectually following, or verbally, but going deeper into it. Meditation, the word means to ponder over, think over: that is the dictionary meaning of that word. And a mind that is enquiring into what is meditation, not how to meditate, but what is meditation is far more important than how to meditate. There is the Tibetan meditation, Buddhist, Hindu, Chinese, Zen, all kinds of meditations. Each has its own particular system, with its own practices, breathing, not breathing, sitting in a certain posture, all the things that thought has put together as to what meditation should be.
We are enquiring not only into what is religion, not the organized religion and all that nonsense, but what is a mind that is religious? And also we are enquiring into what is meditation. If a man has, as many of them have, for a couple of years practised Zen meditation, Hindu, and other forms invented or traditionally explained by the gurus, they are all based on control, discipline, practice, and having faith in that which the authority, the establishment, the guru has said. To the speaker all this is not meditation. You can meditate for 20 minutes a day and then for the rest of the day do your mischief. That is not meditation. You can belong to some group which has a peculiar meditation of its own: all kinds of things are happening in the name of meditation, all over the world, specially recently; the Indian gurus have taken this nonsense over to Europe and they are practising it, god knows why, probably to get more money, or to get more health, or to have better control of memory and so on.
If you will kindly listen and go into the question of what is meditation and what is religion. You may remember that story which the speaker has often repeated, probably invented that story: there were two men walking along a street looking at all the trees, the houses, and the shadows and the well-built walls and all that. They were walking along and one of them picks up something, and looks at it and immediately his face becomes radiant, astonishingly beautiful, clear eyed, with a certain dignity, a sense of benediction. And the friend says "What has happened to you, what is it that you have picked up?" And the friend says "I think it is truth, at least part of it and I am going to keep it", and so he puts it into his pocket and the friend says "I think I can help you, we can begin to organize it." Have you understood the meaning of this? Right sirs? You have understood the meaning? That we depend on organizations, the organizations of the Post Office, and so on. Those are all necessary organizations. We depend on organizations for the psychological understanding of ourselves. We depend on groups or teachers, or leaders and so on. Neither the politicians, nor the scientists, nor the established religious people can ever solve the problems of humanity. Never. What you have created, the politicians,the religious organizations, all that is man-made, you have made it in your desire for comfort, for safety, for protection and so on. The man who is enquiring into the depth and meaning of religious mind, doesn't belong to any group or any organization, any so-called religious organization. Now can you abandon those now, not tomorrow, not say I will think about it? Then you will never do it.
Sir, enlightenment is not of time, enlightenment doesn't come through years of practice, through years of renunciation, through years of asceticism. Time has no place for the religious mind. I wonder if you understand all this? And we, every human being in the world says, give me time to achieve that state of paradise, or drink the milk of paradise.
So if we are enquiring, action is perception, seeing and acting immediately. I will explain that statement. What we do is, you makes a statement like, attachment leads to corruption. It is a statement made by the speaker. You hear it, you are attached and you say, of course there is a little corruption, but it is necessary and you are attached because you are lonely, want comfort and all the rest of it. Now when you hear, if you are sensitive, alert, watching, that very moment of perception which is the truth is action. That is giving up all attachment instantly. That is intelligence, not the cunning mind that can argue, put forth various opinions, doctrines, dialectical approach. All that is not intelligence. Intelligence is seeing; seeing for example that nationalism is a poison in the world and seeing the truth of it instantly and being free of nationalism. That freedom in action is intelligence. That intelligence is not yours or mine, it is the intelligence of truth operating in action.
So meditation is the freedom from all measure. Do you understand that statement? Freedom from all measure. Our minds are always measuring; the more, the less, more powerful, less powerful, greedy, and I will be less greedy. Mind and the word meditation means also measure. Can the mind be free of measurement which is comparison, imitation, conformity? That's measurement. Without measurement, the technological world cannot exist. The whole of the west is dominated by the ancient Greek intellect. To them, measurement was absolutely the means of enquiry. Can your minds be free now of measurement - the more, the less, the should be and should not be - so that there is no movement of thought as measure? One wonders how much you are following all this? Or is this too much at one meeting? And as this is the last meeting one has to make a resume, compress everything in an hour and twenty minutes, or so. But if you will give your mind, which is your hearing, seeing, and learning, then you will see that our life is based on measurement.
Ambition is measurement. Affection has become measurement. Love has no measure. But we don't know what love is. We know pleasure, desire, but desire and pleasure is not love. Now you hear that statement and you begin to question because you live on pleasure, desire, you have pictures of sexual activity, and you can't let that go. So you say, is this so, how can one give it up; which means you are not actually listening. You don't want to give up or you find reasons for not. You are moving away from the act of listening. And the speaker says, meditation is a movement without measurement. Do you understand the beauty of it? No. Silence of the mind is not measurable. It is only when the mind is absolutely quiet without a single movement of thought, that can only come about when you have understood the content of your consciousness. When that content, which is your daily life, your reactions, your hurts, your vanities, your ambitions, your subtleties and cunning deceptions, the unexplored part of your consciousness, all that must be observed; not take one by one by one and getting rid of one by one. You understand all this? I wonder. You know, sir, the speaker must go into something which I hope will make things clearer. Perhaps it may make it more difficult, more obscure, but one has to go into it.
We are used to control and conflict. We are accustomed to the idea, to the concept that life is a strife, a struggle. We say, nature is constantly in struggle - the deer being killed by the tiger. So we are always comparing our struggle, our vanities, our violence to nature. Nature is orderly. There is only disorder when man interferes with it. This is so obvious you can see it. Man has killed fifty million whales. Think of such a horror. They are killing baby seals for profit, for money and so on.
Can we go into ourselves very deeply, see the content at one glance, not bit by bit. That requires attention. I am going to go into what is attention. When the speaker says attention, you want to know what it is. He has to explain it. But if your minds were alert, you would know instantly what attention is. You can't cultivate attention. You can cultivate concentration. Concentration is focussing the energy of thought upon a particular point, resisting all other intrusions, directions, keeping thought focussed on one point. That is what is called generally concentration, the schoolboy learns that. He wants to look out of the window, the teacher says, pay attention, concentrate on your book. But the boy is much more interested in seeing the bird on the wing and the fly that is crawling up the wall, the lizard with its four feet hanging down, looking at all that. The looking at all that is attention, but the teacher says, pay attention to the book. Do you see the difference? Come on! So we must discern between attention and concentration. Our minds have been trained to concentrate, more or less. We are rather feeble about that too. As long as it gives you reward or helps avoid pain, you concentrate. That is, in focussing your thought on one point you have to discard every other movement of thought and thought is always pressing in. One wants to concentrate on that, but thought wanders off, and you have to pull it back. So there is constant struggle. There is the controller and the controlled. The controller is always saying that thought must be attentive, must concentrate, must do this, must not do that. There is division between the controller and the controlled. You are following all this? Please, follow, it's your life, don't go to sleep. If you really understand this you will see conflict ends, totally. If you really understand it, not verbally, not intellectually, but see the truth of it that the controller is the controlled, you will see that conflict ends totally. Thought has divided itself into the controller and that which he will control. It is still thought. Be clear on this point. One gets angry and then thought says, control, don't be angry. Is that anger different from the thought, or the mind that is angry? You understand? You are anger, not that you are different from anger. This is clear, isn't it? So the controller has been built by thought, thought which has cultivated this tradition that he is superior, he is different from the thought, from the controlled. Now if you observe it, the controlled is the controller. Thought wanders off and thought says, I must control. Thought says. So thought is the controller. You understand? So there is no control. This is a very dangerous statement if you don't understand it. The speaker has never controlled his emotions, his thoughts, all that, never, because right from the beginning he saw the controller is the controlled. There is conflict only when there is division.
I wonder if you see all this. Do you see all this? Please understand this because meditation is not conflict. It is not that you must control, it is not that you mustn't measure, it is not that you must do this or that. That meditation comes naturally if you have put your house in order - your house, you, in order, which means there is no conflict in you, not a shadow of effort. This is asking the human mind an immense challenge. So meditation is the ending of all measurement. Measurement exists as long as the 'me' exists, as long as the I, me, exists with my pride, with my images, with my hurts, with my vanity, with my ambition, fears and all that, the 'me' that is put together by thought. As long as that me exists, which is the centre of measurement, which is the very centre of conflict, as long as that exists, meditation leads only to further illusion, further mischief. It has no meaning. So the ending of the 'me' is the beginning of wisdom and meditation.
And the mind is completely quiet, not partly quiet. You know, we are always asking for peace of mind. There is no peace in the mind. Peace exists only when there is total absence of violence. There is violence if you are ambitious. Sir, these are all facts. Go into it. There is violence when you belong to any group - religious, national or otherwise. There is violence in your relationship. So putting the house in order is the first responsibility of a man who is really serious and committed to the investigation of meditation. Which means he must have a healthy body because the organism affects the mind. If you have got a heavy untrained body, your mind also becomes rather sloppy. These are all facts. These are common facts.
Then we begin to enquire into what is religion because we may find that a mind that is free in that deep sense of that word is the religious mind. The religious mind has no problems. You understand? No, please, these are words because we are full of problems, not only problems with your family at home, problems when you are in the in office, problems whether you should vote for this person or that person, and all that. You have got so many problems. A problem means unresolved issue. That is, if you have been hurt from childhood, as most of us are, hurt inside, that wound we carry for the rest of our life and that becomes a tremendous problem because with that hurt goes fear, isolation, avoidance, withdrawing, and more fear. That is a problem. To end that problem immediately is to perceive who is hurt, what is hurt. What is hurt is the image that you have built about yourself. And when you see that, as you must see now, as the speaker is explaining, as long as you have an image, noble or ignoble, rather shallow, stupid, whatever it is, as long as you have an image you are going to be hurt. That's a fact. And you create an image about another or about yourself, because in that image you find certain security. You understand? You find security in the image thought has created, which means there is no security at all in that image, but you stick to that. Now you have heard that statement, and to see that image is corruption, and hearing it, end it. That is an act of supreme intelligence. It is the neurotic that sees danger and enters into the danger. A sane man, an intelligent man, in the sense we are using that word intelligent, sees the poison, the danger and acts immediately.
So we are asking, what is religion. Man has always sought something beyond this life, beyond time, beyond all measurement, he has called it eternity, truth, immortality - not immortality - truth, something measureless, nameless, measureless. And there have been those who have said, "I'll lead you to it. We know and you don't know". This has been from the ancient days when the priest has assumed the authority, he knew and the layman didn't. The ancient Egyptians did this with their hierarchical priesthood. And we are doing exactly the same thing now. You want to find that which is nameless, that which has no word, that which has no form, that which is the whole universe, and you come along and say, "I'll lead you to it. I know and you don't". So beware of the man who says, "I know".
So we have come to the point: man has sought something sacred; the serious man, not the superstitious man; the superstitious man worships an image, made by the hand or by the mind; the superstitious man follows certain rituals, accepts dogmas, believes in fantastic romantic nonsense. That is called religion, organized, hierarchical authority, all that. So if you brush aside all that, because that has no validity, because they are the product of thought. Thought may say, we have received it from the highest, it is still part of thought. And thought is limited, never complete because it is always the outcome of knowledge, there is no complete knowledge about anything, therefore it is always within the shadow of ignorance. So if you can brush aside all that, that means complete freedom inwardly, not the freedom not to obey the law, that's stupid. But to have no psychological problem whatsoever, which means you have released tremendous psychological energy. You understand what I am saying? We have got physical energy, which shows itself by going to the office everyday, tremendous energy you have to build a bridge, to do anything physically. But psychologically we are cripples because we have never gone into it, never questioned, never observed. And there must be freedom from all problems, and therefore freedom totally psychologically, in the very structure of the psyche. Silence is that energy. Silence is that emptiness; the emptiness of all the content of your mind. There is no 'how', there is no method; method, how, systems, are all the inventions of thought, therefore they are limited, therefore they are no good. But if you understand this, seeing the truth that no system can ever free the mind, when you see that, act, there is freedom instantly.
And religion is the uncovering of that which is most holy, which has no name, which is the absolute truth, the origin of everything. We haven't time to go into all that for the moment.
So then also you must enquire into what is love. Love is not pleasure, love is not desire. You have heard that: look at it, go into it, see it. When you see the truth of that there is immense beauty. And where there is that love, which has never touched jealousy, dependence, attachment, all that, then there is that love and compassion which is intelligence. So the mind then can go beyond all measure. That is, sir, the scientists are exploring the universe, the astrophysicists are going through thought, through telescopes, through various - you know, Apollo, you know various things going into space, through thought, through measurement, through constant observation of the stars and so on, they are trying to find what is the origin of all this, the universe: that is going outward into vast space and so on. But man has very rarely gone inward. And there he can find an immense immeasurable universe, which is this universe. For that there must be vast space in your mind. All that is meditation: putting the house in order first, complete order so that there is no conflict, no measure, and there in that house there is love, then the content of the mind which is it consciousness can be emptied totally of the 'I', which is me, the you. Then if you have gone that far the mind then becomes - is - it doesn't become, there is no becoming, becoming is still measure - the mind then is totally absolutely quiet, not for some period, or a length of time, but its state is to be quiet. And out of that quietness it can respond to thought and utilize thought. You understand? But it is always in a state of total quietness, emptiness of all its content. If you have gone that far then you will know, then there is that which is eternal, nameless.