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10th Public Talk - 28th July 1968
IT MUST HAVE happened to many of us, when we are walking alone in a wood, when the sun is just about to set, that there comes a peculiar quietness. There is no movement of air, the birds have stopped singing and there is not a leaf stirring your own sense of quietness, a sense of aloofness, comes over you. As you watch, as you listen to the beauty of the evening, in that extraordinary quietness when almost everything seems to be motionless, you are then in complete communion, in complete harmony, with everything about you there is no thought, not a word, there is no judgment or evaluation, there is no sense of separateness. I am sure you must have felt all this, walking alone, leaving all your burdens, worries and problems at home, following a path along a river which is always chattering; your mind is very quiet and you feel totally at peace, with an extraordinary sense of beauty and love, a feeling that no words can describe. I am sure you have had such experience, but in describing it, as you are sitting here, in putting into words that peculiar quietness that comes of an evening, you listen with the motive to capture that quality; then because you have a motive, that quality will not come. Similarly, a motive is going to prevent you from listening to the speaker. He is merely describing something he has no motive and if you seek with a motive to possess that which he describes, however subtly, or enviously or aggressively, then communication between the speaker and yourself comes to an end. You have a motive and the speaker has none. He is just telling it; not to amuse you, not to tell you what a wonderful thing he had and so awaken envy in you because you also want to have that kind of experience, for then there is misunderstanding between ourselves.
We live in a world of misunderstanding. One thing is said and it is interpreted according to your background, to your desires, to your complex nature and so there is misunderstanding. This division between a fact and how you interpret that fact creates misunderstanding. And that which we are going to go into, this morning, is of necessity rather complex and yet it must be expressed in words. Words have a form and content, both to you and to the speaker and if that form and content is not very clear between the speaker and your self, there is misunderstanding and you can live in a world apart from that which is being said. So we must be very clear, in communicating with each other, how we listen to the word and as to what kind of design that word creates. After all, one uses words to communicate and if the content, the design, the form of the word, is not very clear to each of us, then we live in separate worlds, we each have a separate understanding which may be misunderstanding or it may not be misunderstanding. So words become extraordinarily dangerous unless we use them without any motive, as when merely telling you that the tree is green, that it is a lovely day. But when I say 'I've had the most marvellous experience of reality', the intention and the motive then, is to awaken in you envy I have had it, you have not. I have had this most precious thing which you also must have. In that case my motive is to awaken your envy, your aggression, or thereby perhaps you will follow me, put me on a pedestal. This is happening all the time around us. Someone says, 'I have realized God' or 'I have had the supreme experience', that is said with the motive (obviously, otherwise he would not say it) to awaken this aggressive envy in you. So both he who says 'I've had the most marvellous experience' and you who are greedy to get it, live in a world of misunderstanding and communication then is not possible. That is fairly clear. Similarly it is not possible for your mind to be very quiet if there is any intent or motive when you walk in the woods by yourself, for then there is no word, there is no sentence, there is no 'observer' with all the complex nature of his conditioning, his demands, his envy, his desire to oppress and exploit, and all that; he is just there walking quietly unaware of himself. There is no 'observer' and hence he is totally relationship with everything about him. In that there is no separativeness, no division, no judgment, but a complete unity which may, perhaps, be called love. And if this is somewhat clear how we invariably misunderstand, every word having a different meaning to each one of us, not only the content of that word, but every word awakening desire and various emotional qualities and if this does not take place, then it is possible to explore. That is what we are going to do if we can this morning; each of us being aware of the dangerous of the word, of the design the mind is going to make out of that word, giving it a content which the speaker may not intend at all; and each of us being aware that there will therefore be misunderstanding between us, you going away with one impression, another individual having a separate meaning; and the speaker may not have what you think he has.
We must be very careful, extraordinarily aware and intelligent, when we explore into the nature of religion. When you hear that word 'religion', obviously, if you are very highly intellectual and live in this modern, sophisticated world, you say 'What rot you're talking, why do you bring the word in? that word is merely a distraction, an invention of the priests, of the capitalists, and so on. So that word 'religion' we are talking of mere words awakens in your mind a certain content, a certain form, which you either accept or reject, whereas for the speaker it has none whatsoever. The word has been used by man, seeking something permanent, for thousands of years. Man says: 'I live in this world of passing things; in this world of impermanence; in this world of chaos, disorder, aggression, violence, wars and oppression, in which everything dies; there must be something permanent'. And so he seeks with the motive to find something permanent, something lasting, something that will give him hope, because in this world there is despair, there is agony and at times a passing joy; his motive is to find some kind of everlasting comfort. So what he seeks he is going to find because he has already predetermined what he wants to find. That is fairly simple. To ask the question, 'What is religion?' to explore that, then the word, when you are using that word, must contain no desire, it must not have loaded content. That again is fairly clear.
In asking, 'What is religion?' in the sense of man wanting to find a reality there are two ways of looking at the question, the negative and the positive way. One must deny completely what religion is not; otherwise one has already made up one's mind, one is already conditioned because one feels utterly hopeless without having something to cling to, intellectually, verbally, emotionally; then one cannot possibly explore; then one lives in a world of misunderstanding which one has created for oneself. And if the speaker says, 'Let us examine this question', 'Let us go into it without any bias' and you do not reject what religion is not, then you live on in a world of misunderstanding and therefore go away with a certain confusion, hoping to find out from somebody else what truth is. That being clear, let us go into it.
First of all, man from the ape up to the most civilized man has always asked if there is something other than this world, this world where there is work, trouble, misery, confusion, endless sorrow, conflict mounting, mounting, mounting, problem after problem, wars, one nation against the other, one ideological group opposed to another ideological group. So, seeing all this outwardly and also seeing his own inward confusion, misery, his utter loneliness, the occasional fleeting jot, and the boredom of life just imagine a man spending years or more going to an office every day, how utterly boring it must be to him, yet it offers also an extraordinary escape, escape from himself, escape from the family, from the struggle, there he is, enclosed tight, in competition with others which he enjoys, that's his life so, seeing all this, right from the beginning of time the ancient Egyptians and so on he has always asked if there is something beyond, something more, something which can be called Truth, to which a name may be given. He went out seeking, wanting to find out and the clever ones came along, the priests, the theologians who said, 'Yes, there is such a thing', or they had a saviour, a master, who would tell them what there is. And this energy which went into seeking, wanting to find out was captured and organized, an 'image' was created which became the embodiment of reality and so on and so on. The energy which is necessary in order to find out, was captured, put into a frame of organized belief 'religion' its rituals, with its priests, with its excitement, with its entertainment, with its images that became the means through which you had to go to find out. Obviously that is not religion. To see that very clearly and to deny it completely demands energy. Can we do this? As we said, what is false must be denied to find out what is true. You cannot have one foot in the false and vaguely put out the other foot to find out what is true. We can see very well that fear has brought this structure about the structure of what is called 'the religious life' the fear of this world and of what is going to happen after one dies, the fear of insecurity. Because life is insecure, nothing is secure, nothing is permanent, neither the wife, nor the husband, the family, the nation even if you have a good bank account, may be for as long as you live. So, one realizes that there is absolutely nothing permanent no relationship, nothing and out of that there is fear. Fear is a form of energy and that energy is captured by those who promise 'I know you don't know', 'I have experienced you have not' 'This is real that is not real', 'Follow this system and you will have that thing you are seeking'. Now to see all that as being completely false you must have energy and that energy is dissipated when you have not understood fear. When there is one part of you which is afraid and another part which says 'I must have something permanent' there is contradiction and that is a waste of energy.
So, can one completely set aside every form of that which is called religious organization or belief? which has become a form of entertainment, a distraction. When one sees that, clearly, can one completely put it aside? so that one is not exploited by anybody who promises, or who says 'I have had this experience which is supreme, I am the saviour' so that one has the energy and the state of mind that is not afraid to find out and which therefore is not accepting any authority, it does not matter who, including the speaker. So, in denying completely what is false, what is not religion, then one can proceed to find out, to explore into what it might be, what it is not as an idea but what it is not according to me, or to you, or to anybody else. If it is according to the speaker, then he lives in a world of misunderstanding which he is trying to convey to you, thereby creating further misunderstanding. Is this fairly clear? Or is it getting rather complicated?
You know, every form of conversation or communication is so very difficult, especially when we are dealing with something rather subtle, dealing with the psychological structure of human thought and feeling. Unless you are aware within yourself, as we are talking, listening, then what we are talking about becomes meaningless verbiage. We are talking about the whole content of life, not just one segment; we are talking of the whole field of action, not of fragmented action.
Religion is an action which is complete, total, which covers the whole life not separated as the business life, sexual life, scientific life and the religious life. We live in a world of fragmented actions in contradiction with each other and that is not a religious life; that breeds antagonism, misery, confusion, sorrow. So one has to explore and find out for oneself, not as a separate individual but as a human being, what this action is that is complete each minute, wherever it acts whether in the family, or in the business world, or whatever it is, in painting, talking a complete, total action, without any contradiction in itself, therefore an action which does not breed misery. That is a way of religious life, that is the positive. We have denied what religion is not and we are saying what it is. Then, if there is such action, there is a life of harmony, a life in which there is unity between man and man, not contradiction, not hate, not antagonism such as one observes every religion to have bred, though they talk of love, though they talk of peace.
Religion is a way of life in which there is inward harmony, a feeling of complete unity. As we said, when you walk in the woods, silently, with the light of the setting sun on top of the mountains or on a leaf, there is complete union between you and that. There is no 'you' at all there is no 'word'. There is no 'observer' which is the word and the content or the design of that word there is no 'observer' at all, therefore there is no contradiction. Please, do not go off into some emotional, speculative state; this means very hard work, to see very clearly the way we are living, fragmentarily, opposed, antagonistic to each other, awakening aggression, violence, hate. In that state there is no possibility of unity and unity means love. So, a religious way of life is the total action in which there is no fragmentation at all, the fragmentation which takes place so long as there is the 'observer', the word, the content of that word, the design and all the memory. So long as that entity, the 'observer', exists, there must be contradiction in action.
It is not possible to end hate by its own opposite you understand? If I hate somebody and out of that hate I say, 'I must not hate, I must love', the love is the outcome of that hate. Every opposite has its roots in that of which it is the opposite.
We live in a world not only outwardly but inwardly with things known. That is, I know the past of my own activity; I know through my past conditioning; I live in the 'known' which is an obvious fact, it does not need great explanation. The intellectual, the scientific, the business, the everyday life, is within the field of the known. We are afraid to move out of that dimension. We feel there is a different dimension, which is not the known, we are afraid of that, and we are afraid to let go of the known, the past, the familiar, the habitual. We are afraid of the unknown; can we be free of that fear and be with the 'unknown' be? If you are afraid of that which you do not know, you begin to create images of it, both outwardly and inwardly. And then there is division, your image and my image however subtle. So, can the mind remain, be, with the unknown, live in it? Because it is only then that there is a renewal of life, that there is something new taking place. But if you always live in the known as most of us do the known projected into tomorrow and you call that the 'unknown', then it is not, it is still the known, as an idea. In that field of the known there is repetition, imitation, conformity, and therefore there is always contradiction.
The 'observer' is the known. When we look at a tree we always look at it with the image of that tree, as that species, as known. You look at your wife, or your husband, or your neighbour, with the image of the known, you never say 'I don't know my wife or my husband; yet remain in that state in which you say 'I really do not know' and see what takes place in that relationship. Then you do not accept, you are sensitive and alert to all the things that are happening to you. and to her; then the relationship is entirely different, there is no image which has been built through habit, through every form of experience and so on through the known. And to live with another in a state of mind without the image, a state in which 'I do not know you and you do not know me', then relationship becomes extraordinarily creative, there is no conflict; then relationship awakens the highest form of sensitivity and intelligence.
So a religious life is a life, in daily existence, of the 'unknown' 'I do not know'. I wonder if you have ever said to yourself 'I really do not know about anything'? You may know through technological knowledge, you may know how to read and so on, but inwardly, psychologically, have you ever said 'I do not know', and meant it, without having become neurotic about it? If you have ever done it, not verbally but actually, then you will have seen that all conditioning disappears. To say to oneself 'I do not know' and live that state, demands immense energy, because everybody around you functions in the 'known' your wife, your husband, everything around you is from within the 'known'. And when you say you do not know you are always in danger and it demands a great deal of energy and intelligence to remain in that state. Therefore the mind is always learning; and learning is not accumulation.
Life is action, to live means to act; the religious life is a life of action, not according to any particular pattern, but action in which there is no contradiction, action which is not segmented, broken up as the business life, the social life, political life, religious life, family life and so on, as a Conservative or as a Liberal. To see that there is an action which is not fragmented, which is total, complete, and to live that way, is the religious life. You can only act in that way when there is love to love. And love is not pleasure, cultivated and sustained by thought; love is not a thing to be cultivated. It is only love that brings about this total action and that can possibly bring about this complete sense of unity.
The 'unknown' is not something extraordinary; living within the 'known' makes the 'unknown' into its opposite, something contradictory. But when you understand the nature of the 'known', the past experiences, the images that one has built up about the world, as the nations, as the races, the differentiation between various religious dogmatic beliefs, those are all the known and if the mind is not caught in it there can be love; otherwise, do what you will, have innumerable organizations to bring about peace in the world, there will be no peace.
Then one asks further, can a human being, you and I, or another, can we come upon life that has no death? can we come upon a life that is really timeless? which means a life in which thought, which creates the psychological time with its fear, comes to an end. Thought has its own importance, but psychologically it has no importance whatsoever. Thought is a mischief maker, thought is always seeking pleasure, inwardly; love is not pleasure, love is bliss, something entirely different. And when all that is seen very clearly and one lives that way not verbally, not in a world of misunderstanding, but when all that is very clear, very simple then perhaps there is a life that has no beginning and no end, a life of timelessness.
28th July 1968