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Amsterdam 4th Public Talk - 19th May 1968
ONE CAN TALK endlessly, describing, piling words upon words, coming to various conclusions. But out of all this verbal confusion, if there is one clear action, that action is worth ten thousand words. Most of us are afraid to act, because we ourselves are confused, disorderly, contradictory and miserable. We hope, despite this confusion, this disarray, that some kind of clarity may come into being, a clarity that can never be clouded over, a clarity that is not given or induced or taken away, a clarity that maintains itself without any effort, volition, without any motive; a clarity that has no end and therefore no beginning. Most of us, if we are at all aware of our inward confusion, do desire this; we want such clarity.
This morning, if we may, (and I'm sorry you have to sit in a hall when there are lovely clouds, sunshine and waving trees outside) let us see if each one of us can come upon this clarity, so that when you leave this hall your mind and your heart are very clear, undisturbed, with no problems and no fear. If we could go into this it would be immensely worthwhile for each one of us to see if one could be a light to oneself, a light that has no dependence on another and that is completely free. To go into this one has to explore rather a complex problem. Either one can explore it intellectually, analytically, taking off layer after layer of confusion and disorder, taking many days, many years, perhaps a whole lifetime - and then perhaps not finding it. Either you do that, this analytical process of cause and effect; or perhaps you can sidestep all that completely and come to it directly - without the intermediary of the authority of the intellect, or of a norm. To do that requires that much abused word 'meditation'. That word has unfortunately become a monopoly of the East and therefore utterly worthless. I don't know why the Orient has this peculiar dominance over the West about spirituality, as though they have got it in their pocket and can give it out to you. Most of them do so at a considerable expense, you have to pay for it! Or they use it as a means of exploiting you in the name of an idea or a promise. I don't know why it is so, both in India and with those unfortunate people who come out of that country, including myself (though I am not an Indian, I refuse to have any nationality; there is a peculiar feeling that being an old civilization, having talked a great deal about this peculiar quality of spirituality, that they therefore have this authority. But I'm afraid they haven't - they are just like you and me, they are just as confused and dull - though perhaps clever with their tongues, and they have learnt one or two tricks and can try to convey to others a system, a method of meditation.
So that word meditation has become rather spoilt; like love, it has been besmirched. But it is a lovely word, it has a great deal of meaning, there is a great deal of beauty, not in the word itself but the meaning behind that word. And we are going to see for ourselves, each of us, if we cannot come upon this state of mind that is always in meditation. To lay the foundation for that meditation one must understand what living is - living and dying. The understanding of life and the extraordinary meaning of death is meditation. It is not searching out some deep mystical experience; not - as it is done in the East - a repetition of words, as the Catholics and others also do, a constant repetition of a series of words, however hallowed, however ancient. That only makes the mind quiet, but it also makes the mind rather dull, stupid, mesmerized. You might just as well take a tranquilizer, which is much easier. So the repetition of words, self-hypnosis, the following of a system or a method - that is not meditation.
I think we should be very clear about these two facts, experience and following a method, a system, that promises a reward of some vast transcendental experience. When one talks about experience, the word itself means, does it not, to go through something, to be pushed through? And to experience also implies, doesn't it, a process of recognition? I had an experience yesterday, and it has either given me pleasure or pain. To be entirely with that experience one must recognize it. Recognition means something that has already happened before and therefore experience is never new. Do please bear this in mind. It can never be new because it has already happened and therefore there is a recollection, a remembrance, a memory of it and therefore a person who says, 'I've had great transcendental experience, a tremendous experience', such a person is exploiting others, because he thinks he has had a marvellous experience, which already has happened and therefore is utterly old. Truth can never be experienced, that is the beauty of it, because it is always new, it is never what happened yesterday. That must be totally, completely, forgotten or gone through - what happened yesterday - the incident of yesterday must be finished with yesterday. But to carry that over as an experience to be measured in terms of achievement, or to convey to others that extraordinary something, to impress, to convey, to convince others, seems to me so utterly silly.
One must be very cautious, guarded, about this word experience, because you can only remember an experience when it has already happened to you. That means, there must be a centre, a thinker, an observer, who retains and holds the thing that is over; therefore it is something already dead; it is nothing new. It is like a Christian steeped in his particular conditioning, burdened with two thousand years of propaganda; when he has a vision of his Saviour, whatever he may call him, it is merely a projection, it is his own conditioning, his own wish, his own desire. It is the same with Krishna or whoever it is.
So one must be tremendously cautious about this word. You cannot possibly experience truth as long as there is a centre of recollection as the 'me', as the thinker; then truth is not. And when another says that he has an experience of the real, distrust him, don't accept his authority. We all want to accept somebody who promises something, because we have no light in ourselves, but nobody can give you that light, no one - no guru, no teacher, no Saviour, no one. Because we have accepted so many authorities in the past, have put our faith in others, either they have exploited us or they have utterly failed. So one must distrust, deny all spiritual authority. Nobody can give us this light that never dies.
There is another thing involved in this acceptance of authority - the following of another who promises, through a certain system, method, or discipline, the eventual, ultimate reality. To follow another is to imitate. Please do observe all this, listen to all this simply. Because that is what one has to do: one has to deny completely the authority of another, however pretentious, however convincing, however Asiatic he be! To follow implies not only the denying of one's own clarity, of one's own investigation, one's integrity and honesty, but also it implies that in following, your motive is the reward. Truth is not a reward. If one is to understand it, every form of reward and punishment must be totally set aside. Authority implies fear. And to discipline oneself according to that, fear of not gaining what the exploiter in the name of truth or experience says, is to deny one's own clarity and honesty. So if you say you must meditate, you must follow a certain path, a certain system, obviously you are conditioning yourself according to that system or method. Perhaps you will get what that method promises, but it will be nothing but ashes. For the motive is achievement, success and at the root of that is fear, and fear is connected with pleasure.
So have we clearly understood that between yourself and myself there is no authority? The speaker has no authority whatsoever. He is not trying to convince you of anything, nor asking you to follow. You know, when you follow somebody you destroy that person. The disciple destroys the master and the master destroys the disciple. You can see this happening historically and also in daily life, when the wife or the husband dominate each other they destroy each other. In that there is no freedom, there is no beauty, there is no love. So, having set that our clearly, we can now proceed to meditate about life, about death, about love. Because if we do not lay the right foundation, a foundation of order, of clear line and depth, then thought must inevitably become tortuous, deceptive, unreal, and therefore valueless.
So the laying of this foundation, this order, is the beginning of meditation. Our life, the daily life which we lead, from the moment we are born until we die - through marriage, children, jobs, achievements - our life is a battlefield, not only within ourselves but also outwardly, in the family, in the office, in the group, in the community and so on. Our life is a constant struggle: that is what we call living. Pain, fear, despair, anxiety, with sorrow constantly our shadow, that is our life. Perhaps a small minority can observe this disorder without finding external excuses (though there are external causes for this confusion). Perhaps a small minority can observe it, know it, look at it, not only at the conscious level but also at a deeper level, neither accepting nor denying this disorder, this confusion, this frightening mess in ourselves and the world - and it is always the small minority that brings about a vital change.
You know a great deal has been written about the unconscious, especially in the West. Extraordinary significance has been given to it. But it is as trivial, as shallow as the conscious mind. You can observe it for yourself; if you observe it you will see that what is called the unconscious is the residue of the race, of the culture, of the family, of your own motives and appetites - it is there, hidden. And the conscious mind is occupied with the daily routine of life, going to the office, sex and all the rest of it. To give importance to the one or to the other seems to me so utterly sterile. Both have very little meaning, except that the conscious mind has to have technological knowledge in order to earn a livelihood.
This constant battle, both within at the deeper level as well as at the superficial level, is the constant way of our life. It is a way of disorder, a way of disarray, contradiction, misery. And such a mind trying to meditate, by means of some school in the East, is meaningless, infantile. Yet many do, as though they will escape from life, put a blanket over their misery and cover it up. But meditation is bringing about order in this confusion, not through effort, because every effort distorts the mind. That one can see: to see truth the mind must be absolutely clear, without any distortion, without any compunction, without any direction. So this foundation must be laid; that is, there must be virtue. Order is virtue. This virtue has nothing whatever to do with the social morality, which we accept. Society has imposed on us a certain morality, but the society is the product of every human being. Society with its morality says you can be greedy, you can kill another in the name of God, in the name of your country, in the name of an ideal; you can be competitive, envious, within the law. Such morality is no morality at all. You must totally deny that morality within yourself in order to be virtuous. And that is the beauty of virtue; virtue is not a habit, it is not something that you practise day after day in order to be virtuous. That is mechanical, a routine, without meaning. But to be virtuous means, does it not, to know what is disorder - disorder which is this contradiction within ourselves, this tearing of various pleasures and desires and ambitions, greed, envy, fear - all that. Those are the causes of disorder within ourselves and outwardly. To be aware of it! That is, to come into contact or to be in contact with this disorder. And you can only come into contact with it when you don't deny it, when you don't find excuses for it, when you don't blame others for it.
In the denial of that disorder there is order. Order isn't a thing that you establish; virtue which is order comes out of disorder, to know the whole nature and structure of disorder. This is fairly simple if you observe in yourself how utterly disorderly and contradictory we are. We hate, yet we think we love. There is the beginning of disorder, of this duality. And virtue is not the outcome of duality. Virtue is a living thing, to be picked up daily, it is not the repetition of something which you called virtue yesterday. That becomes mechanical, worthless. So there must be order. And that is part of meditation. Order means beauty, and there is so little beauty in our life. Beauty is not man made; it is not in the picture, however modern, however ancient it is; it is not in the building, in the statue, nor in the cloud, the leaf or on the water. Beauty is where there is order - a mind that is unconfused, that is absolutely orderly. And there can be order only where there is total self-denial, when the 'me' has no importance whatsoever. The ending of the 'me' is part of meditation. That is the major, the only meditation.
Also we have to understand another phenomenon of life, which is death - death from old age, or disease, and accidental death, through disease or naturally. We grow old inevitably and that age is shown in the way we have lived our life, it shows in our face, whether we have satisfied our appetites crudely, brutally. We lose sensitivity, the sensitivity one had when one was young, fresh, innocent. And as we grow older we become insensitive, dull, unaware and gradually enter the grave.
So there is old age. And there is this extraordinary thing called death, of which most of us are dreadfully frightened. If we are not frightened, we have rationalized this phenomenon intellectually and have accepted the edicts of the intellect. But it is still there. And obviously there is the ending of the organism, the body. And we accept that naturally, because we see everything dying. But what we do not accept is the psychological ending, the 'me', with the family, with the house, with success, the things I have done, and the things I have still to do, the fulfilments and the frustrations - and there is something more to do before I end! And the psychological entity, we're afraid that will come to an end - the me, the I, the soul, in the various forms, words, that we give to the centre of our being.
Does it come to an end? Does it have a continuity? The East has said it has a continuity, there is reincarnation, being born better next life if you have lived rightly. If you believe in reincarnation, as the whole of Asia does (I don't know why they do, but it gives them a great deal of comfort), then in that idea is implied, if you observe it very closely, that what you do now, every day, matters tremendously. Because in the next life you're going to pay for it or be rewarded - how you have lived. So what matters is not what you believe will happen next life, but what you are and how you live. And that is implied also when you talk about resurrection. Here you have symbolized it in one person and worship that person, because you yourself don't know how to be reborn again in your life now (not in Heaven at the right hand of God, whatever that may mean).
So what matters is, how you live now - not what your beliefs are - but what you are, what you do. But we are afraid that the centre, called the 'I', may come to an end; and we ask: does it come to an end? Please listen to this!
You have lived in thought, that is, you have given tremendous importance to thinking; but thinking is old, thinking is never new, thinking is the continuation of memory. If you have lived there, obviously there is some kind of continuity. And it is a continuity that is dead, over, finished, it is something old; therefore only that which ends can have something new. So dying is very important to understand: to die, to die to everything that one knows. I don't know if you have ever tried it? To be free from the known, to be free from your memory, even for a few days; to be free from your pleasure, without any argument, without any fear, to die to your family, to your house, to your name, to become completely anonymous. It is only the person who is completely anonymous who is in a state of non-violence; he has no violence. And so to die every day, not as an idea but actually! Do do it sometime.
You know, one has collected so much, not only books, houses, the bank account, but inwardly, the memories of insults, the memories of flattery, the memories of neurotic achievements, the memory of holding on to your own particular experience, which gives you a position. To die to all that, without argument, without discussion, without any fear, just to give it up. Do it sometime, you'll see. It used to be the tradition in the East, that a rich man every five years or so, gave up everything, including his money and began again. You can't do that nowadays, there are too many people, everyone wanting your job, the population explosion and all the rest of it. But to do it psychologically - not giving up your wife, your clothes, your husband, your children or your house, but inwardly - is not to be attached to anything. In that there is great beauty. After all, it is love, isn't it? Love is not attachment. When there is attachment there is fear. And fear inevitably becomes authoritarian, possessive, oppressive, dominating.
So meditation is the understanding of life, which is to bring about order. Order is virtue, which is light; this light is not to be lit by another, however experienced, however clever, however erudite, however spiritual. Nobody on earth or in heaven can light that, except yourself, in your own understanding and meditation.
To die to everything within oneself! For love is innocent and fresh, young and clear. Then, if you have established this order, this virtue, this beauty, this light in yourself, then you can go beyond. This means that the mind, having laid order, which is not of thought, the mind then becomes utterly quiet, silent - naturally, without any force, without any discipline. And in the light of that silence all actions can take place, the daily living, from that silence. And if one were lucky enough to have gone that far, then in that silence there is quite a different movement, which is not of time, which is not of words, which is not measurable by thought, because it is always new; it is that immeasurable something that man has everlastingly sought. But you have to come upon it; it cannot be given to you. It is not the word, nor the symbol, those are destructive. But for it to come, you must have complete order, beauty, love, therefore you must die to every thing that you know psychologically, so that your mind is clear, not tortured; so that it sees things as they are, both outwardly and inwardly.
19th May 1968