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8th Public Talk - 23rd July 1968
I think every human being asks for some experience that will be transcendental, some feeling, or a state of mind, that is not caught in the everyday monotony, in the loneliness and the boredom of life. We all want something to live for. We want to give a meaning to life, for we find it rather weary full of turmoil and apparently meaningless; so we invent a purpose, a significance; we fill our lives with words, with symbols, with shadows. Most of us unwillingly accept a superficial life yet giving to it a great mystery.
There is a mystery something quite incredible which is not to be captured through belief, not through an experience or any longing. There is a 'mystery' really one should not use that word there is something that cannot be put into words; it has nothing whatever to do with sentiment, with an emotional explosion and it can come only when we are not caught in 'the known'. And most of us do not even know what 'the known' is and so without basically understanding our nature with its crude animal instincts, its violence and aggression we try to reach out, mentally, or through some meditative process to a vision, a feeling of an 'otherness'. I think that is what most of us it does not matter what we are, Communist, or Catholic, or belonging to some little sect as an entertainment grope after; we all want something that will be incredibly beautiful, inviolable, not in the net of time.
We are caught in 'the known' and 'the known', the knowledge of ourselves, is so difficult to understand. It is so difficult to look at ourselves, face to face, without the mediation of any prejudice, of any opinion, any judgment just to look at ourselves as we are. We have inherited, from the animal, the ape, all the instincts and reactions; we have grown with all the traditions and cultures; those are the things at which we are unwilling to look those are the known'.
If we could only look into ourselves. Most of us, unfortunately seem unwilling to do so, we want to find something extraordinarily beautiful, something noble, yet without being willing to acknowledge what actually is, the actual conscious or unconscious known, though most of us do not know it. We are so frightened to go beyond this 'known; to go beyond it we must examine it, we must be completely intimate with it familiar with it, understand the structure and the nature of it. The mind cannot go beyond the facts of the known if it has not completely, totally, understood and lived in intimate contact with all the movements of thought, of feeling, with the brutality, the animal instincts. Then only can one go beyond and find something which may be called the truth and a beauty that is not separate from love, a state, a different dimension, where there is a movement which is always new, fresh young, decisive.
Why is it that we are so prone to accept? it does not matter what it is why is it that we so easily acquiesce, say 'Yes' to things? To follow is one of our traditions; like the animals in a pack, we all follow the leader, the teachers and gurus; and thereby there is the 'authority'. Where there is authority' there must obviously be fear. Fear gives a certain drive and the energy to achieve success, to achieve a certain promise, hope, happiness and so on. So, is it possible never to accept, but to examine, to explore?
You know, when you are sitting there and the speaker is up on the platform, it is one of the most difficult things not to give him a certain authority. Inevitably this relation high and low, physically brings about a certain quality of acceptance, 'You know, we don't know', 'You tell us what to do, we will follow if we can'. And this, it seems to me, is the most deadly action a mind could ever undertake, to follow anybody, to imitate a pattern set by another. A formula, given by another, leads inevitably to conflict, to misery, to being psychologically afraid; and that is the way in which we live. Part of that framework of authority is the acceptance of that way in which we live and of not being able to go beyond it; we want somebody else to tell us what to do.
To examine ourselves, actually as we are and that actuality is really quite fantastic we need humility; not the harsh humility cultivated by a vain man, not that harshness of the priest or the disciplinarian. We need humility to look, otherwise we cannot look. We are not by nature humble, we are rather arrogant, we think we know a great deal. The older we grow the more arrogant we become, the more assured. Where there is a judgment, an evaluation, a hypothesis of what we should be, or an ideology, a formula, there is no humility.
One of our greatest problems is sorrow. We have accepted sorrow as a way of life, just as we have accepted war as a way of life war not only on the battlefield but war within ourselves the everlasting struggle, both inwardly and outwardly. We have accepted sorrow as a way of life, yet we have never asked if it is at all possible to end sorrow, completely.
I wonder why we suffer at all? We suffer, perhaps, because we are physically unwell, we have a great deal of pain and there is perhaps no remedy; or, the pain is so excruciating, so penetrating that it drives away all reason. In that there is great sorrow, as there is in the whole question of physical disease, physical incapacity, physically growing old, with the pain and the fear of old age. Then there is all the ache and pain in the field of psychological existence; the sorrow that comes when we have no love when we want to be loved, that comes when there is no clarity, when we cannot look at 'what is' with unspotted eyes. There is the sorrow of ignorance, not of books, not of technology - the computers are extraordinarily well informed, but they are ignorant machines - the ignorance with regard to the understanding of what one actually is. That ignorance causes great sorrow, not only within oneself, but with the whole community, with the race, with the people of the world. There is the sorrow of accepting time, time as a means of achieving, gaining some future benediction. And there is, of course, the sorrow of life coming to an end, of death, the death of another, the death of oneself.
The sorrow of physical pain, the sorrow of having no love and the frustrations of self-expression, the sorrow of tomorrow which never comes, the sorrow of living in the world of the known and being always frightened of the unknown all that is the way we live. We have accepted such a way of life and the very acceptance of it creates a barrier to going beyond it. It is only when the mind does not accept, but is always questioning, doubting, demanding, finding out, that it can face what actually is, both outwardly and inwardly and perhaps go beyond this everlasting suffering of man.
So let us explore together and find out if it is possible to end sorrow now not verbally, intellectually, or through reasoning. Thought can never end sorrow; thought can only breed sorrow; to think is to invite sorrow. Thought, the intellectual capacity to reason, however sanely, does not end sorrow; for this we must have a totally different capacity not a capacity that is cultivated through time the capacity to look.
Why do we suffer? First, let us look at psychological suffering, the ache, the loneliness, the pain, the anxiety, the fear, the passing enthusiasms which breed their own troubles. If we can understand those psychological sorrows then perhaps we shall be able to deal with physical pain, with physical disease and old age in which there is incapacity, failing energy, the lack of drive and so on. We will first go into the psychological sorrow and then, in the very act of understanding that, the physical thing will also be understood.
What is sorrow, what would you say? You surely must have had sorrow, the sorrow which expresses itself in tears, in a sense of isolation, a sense of having no relationship, the sorrow in which there is an abundance of self-pity. If you look into yourself and ask that question, 'What is sorrow?', I wonder how you would answer? We are not asking what physical sorrow is, but the feeling of grief, the feeling of utter misery, helplessness, the blank wall that one faces.
I wonder what sorrow means to you or do you avoid it and never come into touch with it at all? The very avoidance of it is another form of sorrow; and that is all that we know. Take death dying. The very avoidance of that word, never looking at it, never facing the inevitable, the very avoidance of it, is it not? a form of sorrow, a form of fear which breeds sorrow. So, what is sorrow? Please do not wait for an explanation. Most of us have felt sorrow in different ways; the demand for self-expression and its fulfilment, yet not being able to achieve that fulfilment, breeds sorrow; wanting to be famous and not having the capacity to achieve fame, that also brings sorrow; the sorrow of loneliness, the sorrow of not having loved and wanting always to be loved; the sorrow of a hope for the future and always being uncertain of that hope. Do look at it, please, for yourself. Do not wait for a description from the speaker.
We know, most of us, what sorrow is, a thwarted emotion, a loneliness, an isolation, a sense of being cut off from everything, a feeling of emptiness, the utter incapacity to face life and the everlasting struggle all that breeds sorrow. We realize that, and we say 'Time will cure it', 'I shall forget it'. 'Some other incident will take place which will be more important, an experience which will be much more real' and so we are always escaping from the actual fact of sorrow, through time. That is, one lives in the memory of the pleasant days that one has had in the past, the recollection of pleasant experiences; one lives in that, which is in time. And also one lives in the future; one avoids the sorrow which is actually there and lives in some future ideology, future hope, belief. From this cycle we have never been able to escape, we have never been able to end it and break through; on the contrary, the whole Western world worships sorrow go into any church and you will see sorrow worshipped; in the East they explain by various Sanskrit words which really have no meaning at all as cause and effect, therefore you suffer and so on and on. When you realize all this, when you see it very clearly, factually, touch it, taste it, then you ask yourself whether it is possible to go beyond all this. And how are you to go beyond it? This is really a very important question which each one of us must answer.
You know, when you first see those mountains, distant, majestic, completely aloof from the ugliness of life, the beauty of the line and the light of the sunset on it, then the very magnificence of it makes the mind silent. You are stunned by it. But the silence which those hills, mountains and green valleys produce is quite artificial. It is like a child with a toy. The toy absorbs the interest of the child and when the toy has been sufficiently played with and broken up he loses interest in it and then becomes wandering, mischievous. Similarly, we are awakened by something great, some great challenge, a great crisis, it makes us suddenly quiet, then we come out of that silence which may last for a few minutes or a few days and we are back again.
There is this enormous fact of sorrow which man has never been able to go beyond; he may escape from it through drink, through all the various forms of escapes, but that is not going beyond, that is avoiding it. Now, there is the fact as the fact of death, as the fact of time can you look at it with complete silence? Can you look at your own sorrow with complete silence; not that the thing is so great, of such magnitude, of such complexity that it forces you to be quiet, but the other way round, can you look at it, knowing the magnitude, knowing how extraordinarily complex life and living and death are? Can you look at it completely objectively and silently? I think that is the way out. I use the words 'I think' hesitatingly, but really that is the only way out.
If the mind is not silent, quiet, how can it understand anything, how can it grasp, look at, be completely intimate and familiar with death, with time or with sorrow? And what is that which says 'I am in sorrow', 'I am miserable', 'I have spent days in conflict, in misery, in hopeless despair'? What is that thing which keeps on repeating, 'I can't sleep', 'I've not been well', 'I am this, I am that', 'I am unhappy', 'You have not looked at me', 'You have not loved me', what is that thing which keeps on talking to itself? Surely, it is thought. We come back to that primary thing, thought, which has sought pleasure and been thwarted, which complains 'I have lost somebody whom I loved, and I'm lonely, I'm miserable, full of sorrow, which is self-pity, pitying oneself. Again it is thought, as the memory of companionship, the memory of pleasant days which have gone, which had hidden the loneliness, the emptiness within oneself; and thought begins to complain 'I am unhappy' which is the very nature of self-pity.
So can you look at yourself, yourself being the whole of that complex entity, thought with its self-pity, with its pain, with its anxieties, fears, aggressions, brutality, sexual demands, urges can you look at yourself completely, silently? And when you have so looked at yourself then you can perhaps ask, what is death?
(Sound of aircraft overhead) Did you listen to the marvellous sound of that plane, the roar of it? Can one listen with that same beatitude of silence to the whole noise of life?
If one can look, listen, then one can honestly ask, what is death? What does it mean, to die? this is not only a question for the old but for every human being as one asks, what is love? What is pleasure? What is beauty? What is the nature of real human relationship in which there is no image interfering? So also must one ask this fundamental question as of love and beauty what is death? We dare not ask it, probably because we are a little frightened. One may say to oneself 'I would like to experience that state of dying to be really conscious as one dies', so one takes drugs to keep awake, to watch for the very moment when the breath ceases, because one wants to experience that extraordinary moment when life is not. So, what is death, what is dying, coming to an end? not 'what happens after', that is so irrelevant, that you can invent so many theories, beliefs, hopes, formulas. To die not with old age or disease, as when the whole organism wears down and one slips off, not at that last moment but actually to die as one is living, full of vitality, energy, intensity, the capacity to explore. So, what is it, 'to die', not tomorrow but today, to find out? It is not a morbid question. Do you not want to know, deeply, for yourself, through all your nerves, brain, through everything that you have, do you not want to know what it means to love? Do you not want to know what it means, to have that extraordinary blessing and to know with the same eagerness, vitality, what death is? How are you going to find out? To die, implies does it not? the quality of innocence. But we are not innocent people, we have had a thousand experiences, a thousand years, it is all there, in the very brain cells themselves. Time has cultivated aggression, brutality, violence, the sense of domination and oh! so many experiences. Our minds are not innocent, clear, fresh, young, they have been spotted, tortured, twisted.
To ask what innocency is one has to live it and to know what death is. Surely, it is only when you die to everything that you know, psychologically, inwardly, when you die to your past, die to it naturally, freely, happily, that out of that death there is innocency, there is a freshness eyes that have never been spotted. Can one do that? Can one put away, easily, without effort, the things that one has clung to? The pleasant and the unpleasant memories, the sense of 'my family' 'my children', 'my God', 'my husband', 'my wife' and all the self-centred activity that goes on and on, can one put all that away? voluntarily, not through compulsion, through fear, through necessity, but with the ease that comes when you look at the problem of living a living which is full of strife, a battlefield. To end all that, to step out of it, to be an 'outsider' as regards all that can one do it? Do listen to the question. Can one do it? You may say 'No, I can't, it's not possible'. When you say it is not possible you mean that it is possible only if you know what will happen when all that ends. That is, you will give up one thing when you are assured of another. You say that it is not possible only because you do not know what the 'impossible' is. And to find that, is to be aware of both the possible and the 'impossible' and to go beyond. Then you will see for yourself that all that psychological accumulation that you have gathered can be put aside with such ease; only then you know what living is. Living is to die, to die every day to everything that you have fought with and gathered, the self-importance, the self-pity, the sorrow, the pleasure and the agony of this thing called living. That is all we know and to see it all the mind must be extraordinarily quiet. The very seeing of the whole structure is the discipline the very seeing disciplines. And then, perhaps, we will know what it means to die; we will know then what it means to live, not this tortured life, but a life which is entirely different, a life that has come into being through a deep psychological revolution that is not a deviation from life.
I would like to talk next time, if I may, of a thing which is really as important as love and the beauty of love and the significance of death; it is meditation. What we should do, if it is possible, is to go into this question of how we can live totally, differently, of how to bring about this immense psychological revolution, so that there is no aggression, but intelligence. Intelligence can be above both aggression and non-aggression because it understands the way of aggression and violence. Such a revolution brings about a life of highest sensitivity and therefore highest intelligence. I think that is the only question, how to live a life of great bliss, of great intensity, so that knowing the very nature and structure of one's being which is rooted in the animal, in the ape one goes beyond it.
23rd July, 1968