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Amsterdam 3rd Public Talk - 18th May 1968
Amsterdam 3rd Public Talk - 18th May 1968
WE WERE CONSIDERING the question of thought, how it divides and brings about fragmentation in life. If I may, this morning I would like to go into the question of thought in relationship between man and man. What place has thought? As one observes, right through the world, we have brought about fragmentation in life. We regard business as something different from daily life. The religious people are different from the scientists. The socialist is different from the communist. The individual is opposed to the community, or the community is opposed to various forms of nationalities. As one observes, throughout the world there is this fragmentation going on, both outwardly and inwardly. And where there is fragmentation there must be opposition, resistance. One is aware of that. And seeing this fragmentation one wonders if it is all possible to bring about so-called integration, whether there is such a thing as integration at all. Or is that entirely a false idea?
You can't put black and white together and integrate it, you will produce some other colour. So there must be an action that cannot ever be fragmented, broken up, as political, religious, family, individual, community and so on. And it seems to me that it is very important to find out, whether it is at all possible to act so totally, so completely, that the religious life is not in opposition to the family and business life; that one particular course of action is not opposed to another. Many people consider that given the proper economic and social environment everything will come right, and then man will live happily ever after; that it is all a matter of political arrangement.
So life is broken up into fragments, one can observe it in oneself. One hates and loves, one wants to be good, and there is always this resistance against temptation, evil and so on. And one asks oneself whether an action that is never broken up, never fragmentary but always complete, is at all possible. If we may, this morning, we are going to find out - not intellectually, not as an idea or as a theory, but actually find out for ourselves in daily life whatever we are doing - whether it is possible to act so completely, so wholly, that there is no fragmentation whatsoever.
To go into this question fully, one has to understand, it seems to me, the question of pleasure and the discipline that is entailed in all living. For most of us, pleasure is the guide to almost everything. We give up one pleasure for a greater pleasure, the minor satisfaction for a greater one, and so on. And each pleasure, each gratification brings its own discipline, a discipline conforming to a pattern set by previous pleasure, previous remembrance of an experience, which moulds the activity of thought. As one observes, most of us, probably ninety nine point nine per cent, act according to the dictates of pleasure. And that pleasure takes the form of morality, righteousness, virtue, an ideal and so on. Is there not fragmentation when pleasure is the principle of life? Because inevitably pleasure must breed fear. One can see very simply and very clearly how pleasure operates: the remembered experience of a great delight yesterday, the demand for its continuance, the fear that it may not continue - and there already the fragmentation of life has begun.
Not that we are opposed to pleasure - that would be absurd - but we have to understand the nature and the structure of pleasure. That is really very important, because pleasure does bring about this breaking up of life, as the religious life and the social life and so on. When you see a leaf fluttering in the wind - and there is a great deal of wind in Holland - you see the beauty of that leaf rejoicing, dancing in the wind; that is a great delight, a great pleasure. When you see a sunset, full of light and glory, or when you see a beautiful flower, a lovely face, there is an enjoyment. You cannot deny or suppress or transmute that pleasure; it is there, one has to accept it as one accepts the blue sky, the green earth, the desert, the mountain. But when it becomes the dominating demand of life, as it is with most of us, an insistent conscious or unconscious demand, then there is this constant breaking up of life into compartments, into fragments.
In asking what pleasure is, one also has to ask what love is. What is the place of pleasure in human relationship and is pleasure love? For most of us - unless we indulge in absurd ideologies and theories which have no meaning whatsoever - love is pleasure. And one has to go into this question fairly deeply to find out what place thought has in the relationship between human beings, and if relationship is based on pleasure, or if it is the outcome of love, affection. This is what we are going to talk over together, if we may; that is, we are going to commune together. Verbal explanation may bring about a certain quality of communication, one must use words to communicate, but words in themselves have no reality; they are a means of telling each other what we feel, what we think, what we understand, what we perceive. But perhaps we could establish a relationship not of words, so that we could commune with each other at a different level altogether, not at the verbal level, though words must be used. This communion in discussing a very complex problem like relationship and all the things involved in it, is not a mental process; it is not something you understand intellectually, gather a few ideas about and think that you have understood. On the contrary, to understand any complex human problem one must be completely in communion with it; that is, one must give one's mind and one's heart to the understanding of this question. Therefore one has to listen with a great deal of attention, care and affection; not merely live at an intellectual level - then all communication and communion comes to an end.
So we are going to talk this over together very seriously, not casually, not listening or giving importance to a speaker, to a lot of words and ideas, which is all too absurd and infantile. But if we could this morning, go into the question of relationship, perhaps we should come upon that action which is always total whatever you are doing; whether you are going to the office, working in a factory, cooking, washing dishes or digging in a garden, milking a cow, holding the hand of another, or looking at a tree or a cloud, seeing the beauty of a bird; it is all one action, stemming from one source. So, in examining, enquiring into this question of relationship, one must also ask, what place has thought in relationship - thought being the response or the reaction to memory, knowledge, experience, which is the past. What place has the past in relationship? If the past controls all action in human relationship - as it does with most people - then is it relationship at all? Relationship surely is the whole movement of life between people, a movement, not a static state which is remembered, and which acts from that remembrance.
Is all this too verbal? Let us put it differently, if we may. Relationship means to be related, to be in contact, to touch, to feel, to see what the other human being is, to be intimately in contact with the other (the other may be a person, an idea, a propagandist ideology) - to be related implies that. That is, to be related is always in the present; otherwise you are not related. Unless you are in constant contact with the reality of a human being, with all his peculiarities and so on, unless you are completely in contact in the present, there is no relationship at all. If I am related to you according to an image which has been built by the remembrance of a thousand yesterdays, and according to which I act, is that relationship?
You have an image about me, a symbol, an idea, and according to that image, idea, symbol, you act in this relationship with me. So you are acting according to a remembrance of things past - pleasurable or painful - and I am also doing the same; we are living in the past. An action springing from the past is what we generally call relationship.
And we are questioning this whole thing altogether. You know, it is very important to question everything, to doubt everything anybody says, including the speaker - especially the speaker - because you are so easily influenced, especially when teachers come from the East! (Laughter). You think they have got a mysterious philosophy, or mission, an extraordinary oriental mysticism - all that childish rubbish! It has no validity at all, it only breeds authority and superstition and hero worship, which has no place whatsoever in understanding what truth is. And that is what we are trying to do, to find out for ourselves - not through somebody else, not through some guru, some teacher - but find out absolutely for ourselves what truth is: not an abstract truth, but truth of life, truth in everyday-living, so that one is tremendously honest with oneself.
So do not, please, accept what the speaker is saying, but use him as a mirror in which you see yourself as you are. That may be rather frightening. But one has to see in order to find what is true - not according to some opinion, not according to the experience of another or the theory of another, but actually see yourself in that mirror. We are discussing this question of relationship, which is tremendously important, because all life is relationship; life ceases when you have no relationship, like a monk who withdraws into a solitary cave, or a room, or whatever it is - he is still related, though he may pretend not to be. He may be related to an idea, a concept, a formula but he is still related. And to be related means to be active in the present, otherwise there is no relationship. For most of us relationship means a remembrance of some pleasure or pain, accumulated in relationship with another, between the husband and the wife, between the children and so on. So all our relationship - if one observes - is based on an image. And the image is the past, adding to it or taking away from it, but always the core of it is the past.
You can see very easily for yourself how this relationship, how this image is built. One hasn't got to go into it - the mechanism of it is fairly obvious: thought thinking over the insult, the pleasure, the sexual demands and appetites and their fulfilment and so on; thought has gradually built it up as pleasure and pain and that is the core of all our relationship, whether it be between man and woman; or between the individual and the community, or the community, the nation and the world. So when one is examining this question of relationship one naturally has to understand the whole process of thinking. Is there any relationship in love, in the sense that we have accepted it? What is the place of thought in love? Is there love when there is thought?
And what place has pleasure in relationship? - whether it be sexual pleasure or the pleasure of companionship, of being together, living together, and all the problems involved in that. Do please observe it in yourself, don't merely listen to me. Because if love is pleasure, when that pleasure is thwarted there is pain, there is jealousy, there is hatred, there is anger. And can jealousy exist when there is love? Yet that is what we have; we say, 'I love you' and with it comes all the agony, the fear, the anxiety, the domination, possessing, being possessed, giving, in which there is pleasure. Possessing is also a form of pleasure. All this exists in what one calls love. If there is no love, then what is relationship? And we have no love, obviously. If there were love we would have a totally different kind of education, we wouldn't destroy our children. So one has to go into this question of pleasure, and in enquiring into the question of pleasure there is also the question of pain and fear. Pleasure is sustained and nourished by thought, which is fairly simple to see for oneself: remembrance of a pleasurable incident, thought giving it continuity today and looking forward to it tomorrow. In this process there is the fear of not having it tomorrow and wanting it guaranteed.
So thought has an immense importance in our life, in relationship. Thought breeds envy, comparison, jealousy, and when thought breeds these things, we are not related at all. When each human being lives in his own isolation, in his own self-centred activity - though he may be married, have children, sex, and all the rest of it, he is still isolated - how can there by any relationship?
So when one sees that actually - not theoretically - either you accept it as it is, cherish it, polish it, give a tremendous significance to it when it has none whatsoever, or you completely deny the whole structure of it, deny this whole tradition of relationship, which inevitably breeds such hatred, such jealousy, such antagonism. And then one also has to ask: why is there so much sorrow in this relationship? Why does the human heart carry this burden right through the world, from the most backward village to the most highly sophisticated town? Can sorrow ever end?
This is a very important question to ask; not get used to sorrow - that is what most of us do. We put up with it, accept it, or worship it, as the Christians do, symbolized in the Church. But one never asks why this sorrow exists; not only the individual sorrow, but the sorrow of man, the sorrow of humanity, the sorrow of the world - the man who has very little to eat, has no shelter, is oppressed, he is in great sorrow. And the oppressor also is in great sorrow. The man at the altar is in sorrow as well as the businessman - every human being has this enormous burden of sorrow. And we have accepted it as part of our existence. When you accept anything - whether it is the most beautiful thing which you see in a picture, or the line of the mountain, or the flowering tree - when you accept it and get used to it your mind and heart become dull, stupid. And in that there is no innocence.
So is it possible to end sorrow? As a human being living in this world, living with a family, with children, living in loneliness, despair, anxiety, guilt-ridden and so on, which all bring sorrow - is it possible to be free of it? Which means, is it possible to analyse the whole problem of sorrow - how it comes, from what source it springs, how it has continuity in our life, darkening our eyes, our heart, our speech, our outlook? Must one analyse it step by step, examine it, discover the cause? And when you do discover the cause, and understand it, does sorrow end? Apparently it doesn't - it never has. So there must be a different approach to the ending of sorrow, to the understanding of this sorrow, the sorrow that love brings, the sorrow when you are not loved by the one whom you want to love, the sorrow in your own heart. Can all that come to an end so that we are human beings living in delight, in beauty, in happiness, in truth. This is not something mysterious out of the dark East; it is a human problem.
First of all, to end it one must understand the nature of time, because we accept time as a way of overcoming things, of resolving things. There is sorrow and we say: gradually, through the process of time we will somehow put it away from us. Does sorrow end through time - psychological time, and also chronological time? Through chronological time one may get used to it, gradually day after day put up with it. But psychologically, inwardly, we say to ourselves, I will get rid of it, slowly, or try to forget it, rationalize it, escape from it. Surely there is only one way to end sorrow, not through analysis, not through escape, not through rationalization, but to meet it, to look at it, to be in complete communion with it, to be utterly related to it.
Do please listen to this. You know, when you look at a tree, you never look at it except with the image you have of that tree, the botanical knowledge of it. Your eyes see through the image of knowledge, of remembrance or of pleasure, but you never look at it without the image, without thought - merely look. And I'm sure you never looked at your wife or husband, looked in that sense, without the image which you have about her or about him. And when you look at the cloud, at the bird, the light on the water, without the image, then you are directly in contact with it, there is no space between you and the thing that is observed. Do it sometime and you will see it for yourself. The time interval between the observer and the thing observed, the distance, the space, undergoes a tremendous change. In the same way, look at sorrow without avoiding it, without naming it, without cherishing it, but look at it, be completely in contact with it. And you can only be in contact with it when you give complete attention to it, care, and you cannot attend to it completely unless your mind is quiet. When there is no resistance to sorrow then you will see that it undergoes a total change - which doesn't mean you accept sorrow, it doesn't mean that you identify yourself with it. You are the sorrow: there is not you and sorrow. The observer, the thinker, is the thought. And when you realize that tremendously - not as an idea but as an actuality, something that you feel, touch, see - then you will find that fear, as well as sorrow, comes to an end when you come directly into contact with it.
We also have to find out for ourselves what love is. You know, they talk so much about it! How that word has been spoilt by the politician, by the theoretician, by the priest, by the husband, by the wife - how human beings have destroyed that lovely word! It is heavily loaded. And to find out what it means - not intellectually, but to come upon it - one must not do anything about it. You understand? If you do anything about it, it's the action of thought and thought is old. Thought operates always in the field of the known. And only in freedom from the known is there innocence, which is love. You understand? You may learn this phrase, but the word is not the actuality; which means really, to love there must be no fear, no sorrow. It is not a matter of the love of the one or the many, it is just love. And that comes about only when you understand the whole activity of the self, of the me, with all its contrivances, cunningness and absurdities; when you actually come into contact with the absurdity of thought.
Thought has its place; technologically unless you know where you are going to you won't be able to get to your house; you have to know it. But if love is the product of thought, then there is in it pain, hate, envy, division. So really to love means to die, doesn't it? To die to everything that you have known as the 'me'. And one doesn't want to die in that sense. We are all much too egotistical, much too self-centred, with our opinions and judgments, with our country, with our Gods and our beliefs. If one could completely set aside all that, not through will, not through determination, but merely see it very clearly with eyes that have never been touched by the past, so that you see it totally anew! That is to see the self, the 'me', with eyes that are innocent. It is one of our problems that we are all very old, perhaps not in body, but we are old in tradition, deep down historically. Being very old we are not innocent - innocency is not of time, it is the ending of yesterday. And when yesterday ends then there is love in relationship.
18th May 1968