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Chapter 22 - Thought is the root of all our sorrow, all our ugliness
It is the concern of these schools to bring about a new generation of human beings who are free from self-centred action. No other educational centres are concerned with this. It is our responsibility as educators to bring about a mind that has no conflict within itself, and to end the struggle and conflict in the world about us.
Can the mind, which is a complex structure and movement, free itself from the network it has woven? Every intelligent human being asks whether it is possible to end the conflict between man and man. Some have gone into it very deeply, intellectually; others, seeing the hopelessness of it, become bitter, cynical, or look to some outside agency to deliver them from their own chaos and misery. When we ask whether the mind can free itself from the prison it has created, it is not an intellectual or rhetorical question. It is asked in all seriousness; it is a challenge to which you have to respond, not at your convenience or comfort, but according to the depth of that challenge. It cannot be postponed.
A challenge is not asking whether it is possible or not, whether the mind is capable of freeing itself. The challenge, if it is worth anything at all, is immediate and intense. To respond to it you must have that quality of intensity and immediacy, the feeling of it. When there is this intense approach, then the question has great implications. The challenge is demanding the highest excellence from you, not just intellectually but with every faculty of your being. This challenge is not outside you. Please do not externalize it, which is to make a concept of it. You are demanding of yourself the totality of all your energy. That very demand wipes away all control, all contradiction and any opposition within yourself. It implies a total integrity, complete harmony. This is the essence of not being selfish.
The mind with its emotional responses, with all the things that thought has put together, is our consciousness. This consciousness with its content is the consciousness of every human being. It is modified, not entirely similar, different in its nuances and subtleties, but basically the roots of its existence are common to all of us. Scientists and psychologists are examining this consciousness, and the gurus are playing with it for their own ends. The serious ones are examining consciousness as a concept, as a laboratory process; they are examining the responses of the brain, alpha waves and so on, as something outside themselves. But we are not concerned with the theories, concepts and ideas about consciousness; we are concerned with its activity in our daily life. In understanding these activities, the daily responses, the conflicts, we will have an insight into the nature and structure of our own consciousness. As we pointed out, the basic reality of this consciousness is common to us all. It is not your particular consciousness or mine. We have inherited it, and we are modifying it, changing it here and there, but its basic movement is common to all mankind.
This consciousness is our mind with all its intricacies of thought, the emotions, the sensory responses, the accumulated knowledge, the suffering, the pain, the anxiety, the violence. All that is our consciousness. The brain is ancient and it is conditioned by centuries of evolution, by every kind of experience, increased by more recent accumulations of knowledge. All this is consciousness in action in every moment of our life. It is the relationship between humans with all the pleasures, pains, confusion of contradictory senses and the gratification of desire with its pain. This is the movement of our life. We are asking- and this must be met as a challenge-whether this ancient movement can ever come to an end? For this has become a mechanical activity, a traditional way of life. In the ending there is a beginning, and then only is there neither ending nor beginning.
Consciousness appears to be a very complex affair, but actually it is very simple. Thought has put together all the content of our consciousness, its security, its uncertainty, its hopes and fears, the depression and elation, the ideals, the illusions. Once it is grasped that thought is responsible for the whole content of our consciousness, then the inevitable question arises whether thought can be stopped. Many attempts have been made, religious and mechanical, to end thought. The very demand for the ending of thought is part of the movement of thought. The very search for super- consciousness is still the measure of thought. The gods, the rituals, all the emotional illusions of churches, temples and mosques, with their marvellous architecture, is still the movement of thought. God is put in heaven by thought. Thought has not made nature; that is real. The chair is also real, and it is made by thought; all the things technology has brought about are real. Illusions avoid the actual- that which is taking place now-but illusions become real because we live by them. The dog is not made by thought, but what we wish the dog to be is the movement of thought. Thought is measure. Thought is time. The whole of this is our consciousness. The mind, the brain, the senses are part of it. We are asking if this movement can come to an end.
Thought is the root of all our sorrow, all our ugliness. What we are asking for is the ending of these things that thought has put together; not the ending of thought itself, but the ending of our anxiety, grief, pain, power, violence. With the ending of these, thought finds its rightful, limited place-the everyday knowledge and memory one must have. When the contents of consciousness, which have been put together by thought, are no longer active, then there is vast space and so the release of immense energy which was limited by consciousness. Love is beyond this consciousness.