WASHINGTON D.C. TALKS 1985 1ST PUBLIC TALK 20TH APRIL 1985
This is not a lecture on any particular subject according to certain disciplines, scientific or philosophical. Lectures are meant to inform on a particular subject or instruct, but we are not going to do that. So this is not a lecture, nor is it a form of entertainment. In this country especially, one is greatly accustomed to being entertained, amused. Rather in these talks, this afternoon and tomorrow morning, we are going to talk together about the whole of our existence from the moment we are born until we die.
In that period of time, whether it be fifty years, ninety years or a hundred years, we go through all kinds of problems and difficulties. We have economic, social, religious problems; problems of personal relationship, problems of individual fulfilment, wanting to find one's roots in some place or other; and we have innumerable psychological wounds, fears, pleasures, sensations. There is a great deal of fear in all human beings, a great deal of anxiety, uncertainty, and a pursuit of pleasure, and also all human beings on this beautiful earth suffer a great deal of pain, loneliness. We are going to talk about all that together. And about what place religion has in modern life. We are also going to talk over together the question of death; and what is a religious mind and what is meditation; is there anything that is beyond thought and is there anything sacred in life, or is everything matter so that we lead a materialistic life?
So, as we said, this is not a lecture. This is a conversation between you and the speaker a conversation in which there is no implication of conversion, making propaganda that would be too terrible or introducing new theories, ideas and exotic nonsense. We are going to, if you will kindly, talk over together our problems as two friends. Though we don't know each other, we are going to talk, discuss, have a conversation which is much more important than being lectured at or being told what to do, what to believe, what to have faith in, and so on. On the contrary, we are going to observe dispassionately, impersonally, not anchored to any particular problem or theory, what mankind has done to the world and what we have done to each other. We are going to take a very long, complex journey together, for it is your responsibility, as well as that of the speaker, that we walk together, investigate together, look together at the world we have created.
The society in which we live is put together by man. Each one of us has contributed to it. And if you are willing, and apparently you must be willing because you are here and I am here, we will take this long complex journey. Life is very complex. We like to look at complexity and get more and more complex. We never look at anything simply with our brains, with our hearts, with our whole being. So let us take the journey together. The speaker is putting into words what is happening, objectively, clearly, and totally dispassionately.
We have lived on this earth for many millennia. And during those long periods of time mankind has suffered loneliness, despair, uncertainty, confusion, multiple choices and therefore multiple complexities; and there have been wars not only physical bloody wars but also psychological wars. And mankind has asked if there can be peace on earth. But apparently this has not been possible. There are about forty wars going on at the present time, ideological, theoretical, economic, social. During historical times, perhaps about five thousand to six thousand years, there have been wars practically every year. And also we are preparing for wars now. Two ideologies the Communist and the so-called democratic at war over what kind of implements we should use, control of armaments and all the rest of it. War seems to be the common lot of mankind. One observes all over the world the piling up of armaments, from the tiny little nation or tribe to the highly sophisticated affluent society like yours. How can we have peace on earth? Is it at all possible?
It has been said that there is no peace on earth, only in heaven. This is repeated in different ways, both in the East, and the West. Christians have killed more than anybody else on earth. We are observing these facts, these actualities, not taking sides. And then there are the different religions: in Buddhism there is no god; in Hinduism somebody calculated there are about three hundred thousand gods. That's rather fun, you can choose whichever god you like. In Christianity and Islam there is only one god, based on two books the Bible and the Koran. So religions have divided man, just as nationalism, which is a form of glorified tribalism, has divided man nationalism, patriotism, religious ardour. And fundamentalists both in India, here and in Europe, are reviving their religious traditions. I wonder if you have ever looked at the word 'reviving'? You can only revive something that is dead or dying. You can't revive a living thing.
Man has always been in conflict, as everyone in this world goes through all kinds of misery, all kinds of sorrow, pain, desperate loneliness; and we long to escape from all that, So we are going to observe together this extraordinary phenomenon: how man, after these thousands of years, still remains a barbarian cruel, vulgar, full of anxiety and hatred. And violence is increasing in the world. So one asks, can there be peace on this earth? Because without peace, inwardly, psychologically first, the brain cannot flower, human beings cannot live completely holistically.
So why are we, after this long evolution - during a period in which we have gathered immense experience, knowledge, a great deal of information - why are we as human beings perpetually in conflict? That's the real question. Because when there is no conflict there is naturally peace. And man that includes the woman, please; when I use the word 'man' I am not shutting out the woman don't get excited about it. And, if one may point out, don't get angry, irritated with what we are investigating together. It's your responsibility to enquire, not merely intellectually, verbally, but with your heart, with your brain, with all your being, and find out why we are what we are.
We have tried various religions, various economic and social systems, and yet we live in conflict. Can this conflict in each one of us end completely, not partially, not occasionally? It's a very serious question. It demands a serious answer. Not say it's possible or not possible, but enquire very deeply why human beings, including you, and the speaker perhaps, live in perpetual conflict, with problems and divisions why we have divided the world into nationalities, religious groups, social behaviours and all the rest of it? Can we seriously this afternoon enquire whether it's possible to end conflict? First psychologically, inwardly, because if there is a certain quality of freedom inwardly, then we shall produce a society in which there will be no conflict. So it is our responsibility as human beings, as so-called individualities, to seriously put our brains, our energy, our passion into discovering for ourselves, not according to any philosopher, or some psychiatrist, but find out for ourselves whether this conflict between human beings can end.
What is conflict? Why have we lived with conflict? Why have we problems? Please enquire with the speaker into these questions. What is a problem? The etymological meaning of that word is 'something thrown at you', a challenge, something you have to answer.
When you are a child, you are sent to school; there you have the problems of writing, mathematics, history, science, chemistry, and all the rest of it. So from childhood you are trained to have problems. Please have patience. Look at it carefully. Your brain is conditioned, trained, educated to have problems. Observe it for yourself, and don't please merely listen to the speaker. We are together investigating, looking into the problems that we have. So from childhood we are trained, educated, conditioned to have problems; and when new problems arise, which they inevitably do, our brain, being full of problems, tries to solve another problem and thereby increases them, which is what is happening in the world. The politicians all over the world are increasing problem after problem. And they have found no answer.
So is it possible to have a brain that is free so that you can solve problems? Not a cluttered brain full of problems. Is that possible? If you say it is not possible or it is possible, you have stopped investigating. What is important in this enquiry is that one must have a great deal of doubt, scepticism, never accepting anything at its face value or according to your pleasure or gratification. Life is much too serious.
So we should enquire not only into the nature of conflict and problems, but also perhaps into something which may be much more important: go all over the world, wherever you will, every human being on this earth, wherever he lives, goes through all kinds of sorrow. Millions have had tears and occasional laughter. Every human being on this earth has had great loneliness, despair, anxiety, been confused, uncertain, like you every human being, black, white, purple or whatever colour you like. Psychologically this is a fact, an actuality, not invented by the speaker. This is observable; you can see it on every face on this earth. And so psychologically you are the rest of mankind. You may be tall, short, black or white, but psychologically you are mankind. Please understand this not intellectually or ideologically or as an hypothesis, but as an actuality,a burning reality, that you psychologically are the rest of mankind. Therefore psychologically you are not individuals. Although religions, except perhaps parts of Hinduism and Buddhism, have entertained, encouraged the sense of individual growth, saving individual souls and all that business, in actuality, your consciousness is not yours. It is the rest of mankind's, because we all go through the same mill, the same endless conflict. When you realize this, not emotionally, not as an intellectual concept but as something actual, real, true, then you will not kill another human being; you will never kill another, either verbally or intellectually, ideologically or physically, because then you are killing yourself. But individuality has been encouraged all over the world. Each one is struggling for himself, his success, his fulfilment, his achievement, pursuing his desires and creating havoc in the world. Please understand this very carefully. We are not saying that each individual is important: on the contrary. If you are concerned with global peace, not just your own little peace in the backyard nations have become the backyard if you are really concerned, as most serious people must be concerned, that you are the rest of humanity that's a great responsibility.
So we must go back and find out for ourselves why human beings have reduced the world to what it is now. What is the cause of all this? Why have we made such a mess of everything we touch? Why is there conflict in our personal relationships? Why is there conflict between gods your god and the other's god? So we must enquire together whether it is possible to end conflict. Otherwise we'll never have peace in this world.
Long before Christianity they talked about peace on earth. Long before Christianity they worshipped trees, stones, animals, lightning, the sun; there was never any sense of god because they considered the earth as the mother to be worshipped, to be preserved, spared, not destroyed as we are doing now.
So let us enquire together into all this please, I mean together, not I enquire and you casually listen, agreeing or disagreeing. Could we this afternoon put aside this whole idea of agreeing or disagreeing? Will you do that so that we can all of us look at things as they are not as you think they are, not your idea or concept of what is, but just look at it? Look at it non-verbally, if that's possible. That's much more difficult.
First of all, this is the actual world we live in. You cannot possibly escape from it through monasteries, through religious experiences and one must doubt all one's experiences. Man has done everything on earth possible to run away from the actuality of daily living with all its complexities. Why do we have conflict in relationship between man and woman sexual, sensory division? In this peculiar relationship man is pursuing his own ambition, his own greed, his own desires, his own fulfilment, and the woman is doing the same. I don't know if you have noticed all this for yourself. So there are two ambitious, driving beings, driven by desire, two parallel lines never meeting except perhaps sexually. How can there be a relationship between two people when each one is pursuing his own desires, ambitions, greeds?
In this relationship, because there is this division, there is no love. That word 'love' is spoilt, spat upon, degraded; it has become merely sensuous, pleasurable. Love is not pleasure. Love is not something put together by thought; it is not something dependent on sensation. So how can there be right, true relationship between two people when each one considers his own importance? Self-interest is the beginning of corruption, destruction, whether it be in the politician or the religious man; self-interest dominates the world and therefore there is conflict.
Where there is duality, separation, as the Jew and the Arab, as the Christian who believes in some saviour and the Hindu who doesn't believe in all this, there is this division: national division, religious division, individual divisions. Where there is division there must be conflict. That's a law. So we live our daily life in a little circumscribed self, a limited self. Self is always limited and that is the cause of conflict. That is the central core of our struggle, pain, anxiety, and all the rest of it.
One becomes aware of it, as most people must naturally, not because you're told to or because you read some philosophical book or psychology, but because it's an actual fact. Each one is concerned with himself. He lives in a separate world all to himself. And therefore there is division between you and another, between you and your religion, between you and your god, between you and your ideologies. So is it possible to understand not intellectually but deeply, that you are the rest of mankind? Whatever you do, good or bad, affects the rest of mankind, because you are mankind.
Your consciousness is not yours. Your consciousness is made up of its content. Without the content there is no consciousness. Your consciousness like that of the rest of humanity is made up of beliefs, fears, faith, gods, personal ambitions. Your whole consciousness is made up of all this, put together by thought.
One hopes that we have taken the journey together, that together we are walking the same road not that you are listening to a series of ideas. We are not pursuing ideas or ideologies, but facing actuality, because in actuality and going beyond that actuality is the truth. And when there is truth it's the most dangerous thing. Truth is very dangerous because it brings a revolution in oneself.
It's good to ask questions. But of whom are you asking the question? Are you asking the question of the speaker? That means you are waiting for an answer from the speaker. Then you depend on the speaker. Then you establish gurus. Have you ever gone into the question of why we ask questions? Not that you should not, but we are enquiring. Suppose you ask the speaker a question and he answers it: either you accept it or deny it. If it is satisfactory to you according to your conditioning or your background, then you say, 'Yes, I agree with you entirely.' Or if you don't agree, you say, 'What nonsense.' But if you begin to enquire into the question itself, is the answer separate from the question? Or does the answer lie in the question itself? The perfume of a flower is the flower. The very flower is the essence of that perfume. But we depend on others so much to be helped, to be encouraged, to solve our problems; therefore out of our confusion we create authority, the gurus, the priests. So please, it's good to ask questions. I don't know if you have gone into this. You know, we have lost the art of investigation, discussion: not taking sides but looking at things. It very complex, maybe this is not the right occasion to go into it.
You should also enquire why from childhood we are hurt psychologically. Most of us psychologically are wounded, and from that wound, whether one is conscious of it or not, many of our problems arise. The wound to a child is by a scolding, by saying something ugly, brutal, violent. When you say 'I am wounded' who is it that is wounded? Is it the image that you have built about yourself that is wounded the psyche? Please, the speaker has not read any of the psychology books or philosophy or religious books, he's just investigating with you. The psyche is the 'me' and the me is the image I have built about myself. There is nothing spiritual about it. That's another ugly word spiritual. So that image gets hurt and we carry that image right through our life. If one image is not pleasant, we put together another image which is pleasant, encourage it; it is worthwhile, significant, giving intellectual meaning to our life.
Is it possible to live on this earth not having a single image, about anybody, including god, if there is such an entity no image about your wife and your children and your husband, and so on? Not to have a single image? Then it is possible never to be hurt.
And also, as our time is limited, we ought to enquire carefully whether it is possible to be free of fear. This is really an important question to ask. Not that I am asking for you, but you are asking this of yourself: whether it is possible, living in a modern society with all the brutality, with all the tremendous violence that is on the increase, to have freedom from fear? This is entirely different from analysis. Just to observe without any distortion: to observe this hall, for example, how many tiers there are to observe your neighbour's dress, face, how he talks; just to observe, not to criticize, not to evaluate, judge, but to observe. Observe a tree, observe the moon and the swift-running waters. When you so observe then you ask yourself, what is beauty?
They talk a great deal about beauty in the magazines: how you must be beautiful, your face, your hair, your complexion and all the rest of it. So what is beauty? Is beauty in the picture, in the painting, in the strange modern structure? Is beauty in a poem? Is beauty merely in the physical face and body? Have you ever asked this question? If you are an artist or a poet or a literary person, you may describe something very beautiful, paint something that's lovely,write a poem that really stirs your very being. So what is beauty? Have you ever noticed that when you give a nice toy, a complicated toy, to a child who is being naughty, shouting, playing, he gets completely absorbed in it and all his naughtiness stops because he is absorbed? Being absorbed in a poem, in a face, in a picture is that absorption beauty? When you look at a marvellous mountain with a snowcap of eternal snows, the line against the blue sky, for a second the immensity of that mountain drives away the self, the 'me', with all my problems, all my anxiety. In the majesty of the great rocks and the lovely valleys and the rivers, at that moment, that second, the self is not. So the mountain has driven away the self, as the toy quietens the child. That mountain, that river, the depth of the blue valleys, dispel for a second all your problems, all your vanities and anxieties. Then you say, 'How beautiful that is.' But is there beauty without being absorbed by something outside? That is, beauty is where the self is not.
Don't go to sleep, please. You might have had a good lunch, I hope you did, but this is not the place to go to sleep. It is your problem, your life, not the speaker's life; it is your life, your vanities, your despairs, your sorrows we are talking about. So keep awake for another twenty or thirty minutes, if you are interested.
So beauty is when the self is not. And that requires great meditation, great enquiry, a tremendous sense of discipline. The word 'discipline' means the disciple who is learning from the master. Learning not disciplining as in conforming, imitating,adjusting, but learning. Learning brings its own tremendous discipline, and for an inward sense of austerity discipline is necessary. So we must enquire together into what is fear.
And now we must enquire together into what is fear. What is fear? Humanity has put up with fear, has never been able to solve fear. Never. There are various forms of fear; you may have your own particular fear: fear of death, fear of gods, fear of the devil, fear of your wife, fear of your husband, fear of the politicians god knows how many fears humanity has. What is fear? Not the mere experience of fear in its multiple forms, but the reality, the actuality of fear? How is it brought about? Why has humanity, which is each one of us, accepted fear as a way of life violence on the television, violence in our daily life and the ultimate violence of organized killing, which is called war?
Is not fear related to violence? We are enquiring into fear the actual truth of fear, not the idea of fear you understand the difference? The idea of fear is different from the actuality of fear; right? So what is fear? How has it come about?
What is the relationship of fear to time, to thought? One may be frightened of tomorrow, or of many tomorrows; the fear of death the ultimate fear or fear of what has happened before, in the past; or fear of what is actually going on now. So we must enquire together please, the speaker keeps on repeating, together; it's no fun talking to myself. Is fear brought about by time? Someone has done something in the past to hurt you, and the past is time. The future is time. The present is time. So we are asking, is time a central factor of fear? Fear has many many branches, many leaves, but it's no good trimming the branches; we are asking, what is the root of fear? Not the multiple forms of fear, because fear is fear. Out of fear you have invented gods, saviours. If you have absolutely no fear psychologically, then there is tremendous relief, a great sense of freedom. You have dropped all the burdens of life. So we must enquire very seriously, closely, hesitantly, into this question: is time a factor? Obviously. I have a good job now, I may lose it tomorrow so I'm frightened. When there is fear there is jealousy, anxiety, hatred, violence. So time is a factor of fear. Please listen to the end of this, don't say, how am I to stop time? That's not the problem; that's a rather absurd question to ask.
Time is a factor and thought is a factor: thinking about what has happened, what might happen; thinking. Is thinking a factor in fear? Has thinking brought about fear? As one sees, time has brought fear, right? Time: not only time by the clock, but psychological time, the inward time: 'I am going to be; 'I am not good, but I will be; 'I will get rid of my violence', which is again the future. All that implies time. We ought to enquire, what is time?
Are you prepared for all this? Do you want to go into all this? Really? I'm rather surprised, because you've all been instructed, you've all been informed, you've been told what to do by the psychologists, by the priests, by your leaders; always seeking help and finding new ways of being helped. So one has become a slave to others. One is never free to enquire, to stand psychologically completely by oneself.
So we are now going to enquire into time. What is time? Apart from the clock, apart from the sunrise and the sunset, the beauty of the sunrise, the beauty of the sunset; apart from the light and the dark, what is time? Please, if one really understands the nature of time inwardly, you will find for yourself an extraordinary sense of having no time at all.
Time is the past, right? Time is the future and time is the present. The whole cycle is time. The past your background, what you have thought, what you have lived through, your experiences, your conditioning, as Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or all the rest of it: without the past you wouldn't be here. You have been programmed for two thousand years, and the Hindus for three to five thousand years. Like a computer, they repeat, repeat, repeat. So the past is the present; what you are now is the result of the past. And tomorrow, or a thousand tomorrows, is what you are now, so the future is now. In the now all time is contained. This is a fact too, an actuality, not a theory. What you are is the result of the past and what you will be tomorrow is what you are now. If I am violent now" tomorrow I'll be violent. So tomorrow is in the now, in the present, unless I radically, fundamentally bring about a mutation. Otherwise I'll be what I have been. We have had a long evolution, evolving, evolving, evolving to what we are now. And if we carry on that game we will be violent, we will be barbarous next day. So as all time is contained in the now which is a fact, an actuality can there be total mutation now in all our behaviour and our way of living, thinking, feeling? Because if we don't radically, psychologically bring about a mutation then we will be exactly what we have been in the past. So is it possible to bring about this psychological mutation at all?
You know, when you have been going north all your life, following a particular direction, or no direction, just wobbling as most people do, if somebody comes along and tells you most seriously that going north leads nowhere, there is nothing at the end of it, you listen seriously, not only with the hearing of the ear but deeply. Go east or south, you are told, and you say, 'I will do it.' At that moment you have taken a new turn and there is a mutation. The speaker is making it very simple. But it is a very complex problem, which is: to realize deeply that we have been going on this way for centuries and we have not changed at all. We are still violent, brutal, and all the rest of it. If we actually perceive that, not intellectually or verbally but deeply, then we turn in another direction. At that second there is the mutation in the very brain cells themselves.
The speaker has discussed these matters with some neurologists. Of course they don't agree completely, but they go part of the way. It's always a game, you understand. We treat life as a game: partially right, and partially wrong; you may be right and you may be wrong. But we never ask ourselves: what is the art of living? which is greater than any art in the world.
Can you put up with this? We'll finish this question. After that we'll meet again tomorrow if you are willing; I'm not inviting you, it's up to you.
We said time is important because we live by time, but we don't live time as a whole, which is the present. In the present all time is contained: the future and the past. If I'm violent today, I'll be violent tomorrow. And can I end that violence today completely, not partially? I can. And also, is fear brought about by thought? Of course it is. Don't accept the speaker's word for it, look at it. I am secure today, but I am frightened of what might happen tomorrow; there might be war, there might be some other catastrophe. So time and thought are the root of fear.
Now what is thinking? You understand my question? If time and thought are the root of fear which they are in actuality what is thinking? Why do we live, act, do everything, on the basis of thought? The marvellous cathedrals of Europe, the beauty, the structure, the architecture have been put together by thought. All religions and their paraphernalia, their dress, their mediaeval robes, are put together by thought. All the rituals are contrived, arranged, by thought. And our relationship with each other, man and woman, is based on thought. When you drive a car, it's based on thought. Recognition is thought. So one has to enquire, if you are not too tired and we'll stop after this what is thinking? Probably very few people have asked this question. The speaker has been asking this question for sixty years. What is thought? If you can find out what is the origin, the beginning of thought, why thought has become so extraordinarily important in our life, there may be in that very enquiry a mutation taking place. So we are asking what is thought, what is thinking? Don't wait for me to answer. Look at it, observe it.
Thinking is the word; the word is important, the sound of the word, the quality of the word; the depth, the beauty of a word. Especially the sound. I won't go into the question of sound and silence. Thinking is part of memory, isn't it? Investigate it with the speaker, please, don't sit there comfortably, or uncomfortably. Thinking is part of memory, isn't it? If we had no memory at all, would we be able to think? We wouldn't. Our brain is the instrument of memory: memory of things that have happened, experience, and so on, the whole background of memory. Memory arises from knowledge, from experience right? So experience, knowledge, memory, and the response of memory is thought. This whole process of experiencing, recollecting, holding, becomes our knowledge. Experience is always limited, naturally.
Is experience different from the experiencer? Give your brains to this, find out! If there is no experiencer, is there an experience? Of course not. So the experience and the experiencer are the same, like the observer and the observed. The thinker is not separate from his thoughts. The thinker is the thought.
So experience is limited, as you can observe in the scientific world or any other field. They are adding more and more and more every day to their knowledge through experience, through experiment on animals and all that horror that is going on. And that knowledge is limited because they are adding to it. So memory is limited. And from that memory thought is limited. So thought, being limited, must invariably bring about conflict. Just see the pattern of it not accept what the speaker is saying, that's absurd. He's not an authority, he's not a guru, thank god. But we can observe this fact together, that thought and time are the root of fear. Time and thought are the same, they are not two separate movements. See this fact, this actuality, that time and thought, time-thought, are the root of fear just observe it in yourself. Don't move away from the reality of it, from the truth of it that fear is caused by time and thought. Hold it, remain with it, don't run away from it. It is so. Then it is like holding a precious jewel in your hand. You see all the beauty of that jewel. Then you will see for yourself that fear psychologically completely ends. And when there is no fear you are free. And when there is that total freedom you don't have gods, rituals, you are a free man.
I don't know why you clap. Perhaps you are clapping for yourself. You are not encouraging the speaker or discouraging him. He doesn't want a thing from you. When you yourself become both the teacher and the disciple - disciple being a man who is learning, learning, learning, not accumulating knowledge - then you are an extraordinary human being.