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Chapter 32 - Thought uses and destroys

Human beings throughout the world have made the intellect one of the most important factors in our daily life. The ancient Hindus, the Egyptians and the Greeks have all considered intellect the most important function in life. Even the Buddhists have given importance to it. In every university, college and school throughout the world, whether under totalitarian regimes or in so-called democracies, intellect has played a dominant role.

We mean by the intellect, the capacity to understand, to discern, to choose, to weigh-as in all the technology of modern science. Isn't the essence of the intellect the whole movement of thought? Thought dominates the world in both the outer life and the inner life. Thought has created all the gods of the world, all the rituals, the dogmas, the beliefs. Thought has also created the cathedrals, the temples, the mosques, with their marvellous architecture, and the local shrines. Thought has been responsible for the never-ending and expansive technology, the wars and the material of wars, the division of people into nations, into classes and into races. Thought has been, and probably still is, the instigator of torture in the name of God, of peace, of order. It has also been responsible for revolution, for the terrorists, for [conceiving an] ultimate principle and pragmatic ideals. By thought we live. Our actions are based on thought; our relationships are also founded on thought. So intellect has been worshipped throughout the ages.

But thought has not created nature-the heavens with their expanding stars, the earth with all its beauty, with its vast seas and green lands. Thought has not created the tree, but thought has used the tree to build the house, to make the chair. Thought uses and destroys.

Thought cannot create love, affection and the quality of beauty. It has woven a network of illusions and actualities. When we live by thought alone, with all its complexities and subtleties, with its purposes and directions, we lose the great depth of life, for thought is superficial. Though it pretends to delve deeply, the very instrument is incapable of penetrating beyond its own limitations. It can project the future, but that future is born of the roots of the past. The things which thought has created are actual, real-like a table, like the image you worship. The image, the symbol that you worship and many romantic, idealistic, humanitarian illusions are put together by thought. Human beings accept and live with the things of thought-money, position, status and the luxury of a freedom that money brings. This is the whole movement of thought and the intellect, and through this narrow window of our life we look at the world.

Is there any movement that is not of the intellect and thought? This has been the inquiry of many religious, philosophical and scientific endeavours. When we use the word religion, we do not mean the nonsense of belief, rituals, dogma and hierarchical structure. We mean by religious men or religious women those who have freed themselves from centuries of propaganda, from the dead weight of tradition, ancient or modern. The philosophers who indulge in theories, in concepts, in ideational pursuits cannot possibly explore beyond the narrow window of thought, nor will the scientist with his extraordinary capacities, with his perhaps original thinking, with his immense knowledge. Knowledge is the storehouse of memory, but there must be freedom from the known to explore that which is beyond it. For that there must be freedom to inquire without any bondage, without any attachment to one's experience, to one's conclusions, to all the things man has imposed upon himself. For that exploration, the intellect must be still in absolute quietness without a murmur of thought.

Our education now is based on the cultivation of the intellect, of thought and knowledge, which are necessary in the field of our daily action; but they have no place in our psychological relationship with each other; for the very nature of thought is divisive and destructive. When thought dominates all our activities and all our relationships, it brings about a world of violence, terror, conflict and misery.

In these schools the dominance of thought must be a concern of all of us, the young and the old.