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Chapter 4 - 2nd Public Talk at Madras - 27th December 1981
Chapter 4 - 2nd Public Talk at Madras - 27th December 1981
We were talking yesterday about conflict. We were saying that we human beings have lived on this beautiful earth, with all its vast treasures, with its mountains, rivers and lakes, during millennia and yet we have lived in perpetual conflict. Not only in outward conflict with the environment, with nature, with each other, but also inwardly, so-called spiritually. And we are still in constant conflict, from the moment we are born until we die. We put up with it; we have become accustomed to it; we tolerate it. We find many reasons to justify why we should live in conflict; we think conflict, struggle, ever striving, means progress outward progress, or inward achievement towards the highest goal. There are so many forms of conflict: the man who is struggling to achieve some result, the man who is struggling with nature, trying to conquer it.
What we have reduced this world to! Such a beautiful world it is, with its lovely hills, marvellous mountains, tremendous rivers. After three thousand years of human suffering, human struggle, obeying, accepting, destroying each other, this is what we have reduced it to; a wilderness of wild thoughtless human beings who do not care for the earth, nor for the lovely things of the earth, nor the beauty of a lake, a pond, of the swift running river; none seem to care. All that we are concerned with is our own little selves, our own little problems, and this, after three to five thousand years of so-called culture.
We are going to face facts this afternoon. Life has become extraordinarily dangerous, insecure, utterly without any meaning. You may invent a lot of meaning, of significance, but actual daily Life, be it lived for thirty, forty or a hundred years, has lost all meaning except to gather money, to be somebody, to be powerful and so on. I am afraid this has to be said.
No politician, nor any form of politics, whether of the left, right or centre, is going to solve any of our problems. Politicians are not interested in solving problems; they are only concerned with themselves and with keeping their position. And the gurus and the religions have betrayed man. You have read the Upanishads, the Brahma sutras, the Bhagavad-Gita to no effect. It is the guru's game to read them aloud to audiences that are supposed to be enlightened, intelligent. You cannot possibly rely on the politicians, on the government, nor upon the religious scriptures, nor upon any guru whatsoever, because they have made this country what it is now. If you seek further for leadership it will also lead you up the wrong path. And, as no one can help you, no one, you have to be responsible for yourselves totally, completely responsible for your conduct, for your behaviour, for your actions.
It is necessary and important to find out whether we can live without any conflict in our lives both inwardly and outwardly. We must ask, why, after all these millennia, human beings have not solved the problem of conflict, with each other and in themselves? This is a very important question to ask: why do we submit to, and succumb to conflict, which is the struggle to become something, or not to become something, the struggle to achieve a result, personal advancement, personal success, trying to fulfil something of your desires, the conflict of war, the preparations for war of which you may not be aware? There is conflict between man and woman, sexually and in their daily relationships. Apparently, this conflict is not only at the conscious level, but also deep down in the very recesses of the mind. There is conflict in pretension, in trying to be something which you are not and the conflict that exists in trying to achieve heaven, god, or whatever you like to call that thing that you adore and worship; the conflict in meditation, struggling to meditate, struggling against lethargy, indolence. Our life from the very beginning, from the time we are born until we die, is in perpetual conflict.
We must find out together why man, you as a human being, representing all the world, has tolerated conflict, put up with it, become habituated to it. We are considering together most seriously whether it is possible to be completely free of all conflict; because conflict, consciously or unconsciously, inevitably brings about a society that is ourselves extended, a society in conflict. Society is not an abstraction, it is not an idea, society is relationship between man and man. If that relationship is in conflict, painful, depressing and anxious, then we create a society which represents us. It is a fact. The idea of society, the idea, is not actual society. Society is what we are with each other. And we are asking whether this conflict can ever end?
What is conflict? When we do not accept that which actually is, when we escape to something called an ideal, the opposite of that which is, then conflict is inevitable. When one is incapable of looking at and observing what one is actually doing and thinking, one avoids that which is and projects an ideal, then there is conflict between 'that which is' and 'what should be'. I am not talking for my own pleasure but to convey, if you are serious, that there is a way of living in which there is no conflict whatever. If you are interested in it, if you are concerned about it, if you want to find out a way of living that is without that sense of vain effort, then please do listen carefully, not to what the speaker is saying, but listen to the fact, the truth of what is being said, so that it is your own observation. It is not that the speaker is pointing something out but that we are looking together. It is no use for the speaker just to talk to blank faces, or to people who are bored. Since you have taken the trouble to come and sit here under the beautiful trees, then do pay attention, for we are talking over together serious matters.
We were saying: conflict exists when we disregard what is actually taking place and translate what is taking place into terms of an ideal, into terms of 'what should be', into a concept which we have accepted, or which we ourselves have created. So when there is this division between 'what is' and 'what should be' there must inevitably be conflict. This is a law not the speaker's law but it is a law. So we are going to investigate why human beings have never faced that which is and have always tried to escape from it.
This country has always talked about non-violence. Non-violence has been preached over and over again, politically, religiously, by various leaders that you have had non-violence. Non-violence is not a fact; it is just an idea, a theory, a set of words; the actual fact is that you are violent. That is the fact. That is 'what is'. But we are not capable of understanding 'what is' and that is why we create this nonsense called non-violence. And that gives rise to the conflict between 'what is' and 'what should be'. All the while you are pursuing non-violence you are sowing the seeds of violence. This is so obvious. So, can we together look at 'what is' without any escape, without any ideals, without suppressing or escaping from 'what is'? We are by inheritance from the animal from the ape and so on violent. Violence takes many forms, not merely brutal action, striking each other. Violence is a very complicated issue; it includes imitation, conformity, obedience; it exists when you pretend to be that which you are not.
We are violent. That is a fact. We get angry, we conform, we imitate, we follow, we are aggressive and aggression takes many forms, the polite, gentle aggressiveness, with a kid glove, persuading you through affection. That is a form of violence. Compelling you to think along a particular line, that is violence. Violence is also the acceptance of yourself as something that you are not. Understand that violence is not just getting angry or beating each other up, that is a very shallow form of violence. Violence is very, very complex and to understand it, to go into the very depths of it, one must see the fact first and not just affirm 'We should be non-violent'.
There is only that which is, which is violence. Non-violence is non-fact, not a reality, it is a projection of thought in order to escape from, or to accept violence and pretend that we are becoming non-violent. So, can we look at violence free from all that, free from escape, free from ideals, from suppression, and actually observe what violence is?
So we have to learn together how to observe. There is no authority in this investigation, but when your mind is crippled by authority, as it is, it is very difficult to be free and so able to look at violence. It is important to understand how to observe, to observe what is happening in the world the misery, the confusion, the hypocrisy, the lack of integrity, the brutal actions that are going on, the terrorism, the taking of hostages and the gurus who have their own particular concentration camps. Please, do not laugh, you are part of all that. It is all violence. How can anyone say: 'I know, follow me'. That is a scandalous statement. So we are asking: what is it to observe? What is it to observe the environment around you, the trees, that pond in the corner there, made beautiful within this year, the stars, the new moon, the solitary Venus, the evening star by itself, the glory of a sunset? How do you watch such beauty, if you have ever watched it at all? You cannot watch, observe, if you are occupied with yourself, with your own problems, with your own ideas, with your own complex thinking. You cannot observe if you have prejudice, or if there is any kind of conclusion which you hold on to, or your particular experience that you cling to it is impossible. So how do you observe a tree, this marvellous thing called a tree, the beauty of it, how do you look at it? How do you look now, as you are sitting there, surrounded by these trees? Have you ever watched them? Have you seen their leaves, fluttering in the wind, the beauty of the light on the leaf; have you ever watched them? Can you watch a tree, or the new moon, or the single star in the heavens, without the word, moon, star, sky without the word? Because the word is not the actual star, the actual moon. So can you put aside the word and look that is, look outwardly?
Now can you look at your wife, your husband, without the word, without all the remembrance of your relationship, however intimate it has been, without all the built up memory of the past, be it ten days, or fifty years? Have you ever done it? Of course not. So will you please let us learn together how to observe a flower. If you know how to look at a flower, that look contains eternity. Do not be carried away by my words. If you know how to look at a star, a dense forest, then you see in that observation that there is space, timeless eternity. But to observe your wife, or your husband, without the image you have created about her or him you must begin very close. You must begin very close in order to go very far. If you do not begin very close you can never go very far. If you want to climb the mountain, or go to the next village, the first steps matter, how you walk, with what grace, with what ease, with what felicity. So we are saying that to go very, very far, which is eternity, you must begin very close, which is your relationship with your wife and husband. Can you look, observe, with clear eyes, without the words 'My wife', or 'My husband', 'My nephew', or 'My son', without the memory of all the accumulated hurts, without all the remembrance of things past? Do it now as you are sitting there, observe. And when you are capable of observing without the past, that is observing without all the images you have built about yourself and about her, then there is right relationship between you and her. But now, as you have not observed each other, you are like two railway lines, never meeting. That is your relationship. I wonder if you are aware of all this?
We are learning together how to observe that tree, to sit next to your neighbour observing the colour of his shirt, the colour of her sari, the type of face; observing without criticism, without like or dislike, just observing. Now with such observation can you look at your violence, that is, at your anger, irritation, conformity, acceptance, getting used to the dirt and the squalor around your houses, can you so observe all that? When you do you bring all your energy to observing; and when you so observe your violence you will find, if you have gone into it, if you do it, that that violence because you have brought all your energy to observe totally disappears. Do not repeat if I may most respectfully request do not repeat what you have just heard. By repeating what the speaker has said it becomes second-hand; just as by repeating the Upanishads, the Brahmasutras and all the printed books, you have made yourselves second-hand human beings. You do not seem to mind, do you? You are not even ashamed of it, you just accept it. That acceptance is part of this complex problem of violence.
So we are saying that when there is no duality it is possible to live without conflict. There is no actual duality when you reach a certain state of consciousness there is only 'what is'. Duality only exists when you try to deny, or to escape from, 'what is' into 'what is not'. Is this clear? Are we all together in this matter? People have talked to me a great deal about all these matters, your philosophers, Vedanta pundits and scholars. But these, like ordinary people, live in duality. (Not physical duality, man and woman, tall and short, light and dark skin, that is not duality.) And there is the idea that conflict is necessary because we live in duality and therefore those who are free from the opposites are the enlightened people. You invent a philosophy around that. You read about it, accept it; you read all the commentaries and you are stuck where you are. Whereas the speaker is saying there is actually no duality now; freedom from duality is not when you reach some 'spiritual heights; you will never reach 'spiritual heights' if you have dualities now, nor yet in some future reincarnation or at the end of your life. The speaker is saying there is only 'what is', there is nothing else. 'What is' is the only fact. Its opposite is non-fact, it has no reality. I hope this is very clear, even if only logically, with reason. If you are exercising your reason, your capacity to think logically, 'what is', is obviously more important to understand than 'what should be'. And we cling to 'what should be' because we do not know how to deal with 'what is'. We use the opposite as a lever to free ourselves from 'what is'.
So there is only 'what is' and therefore there is no duality. There is only greed and not non-greed. When you understand the depth of violence without escaping from it, without running away to some idiotic ideals of non-violence, when you look at it, when you observe it very closely, which is to bring to it all the energy you have wasted in pursuing the opposite when you try to suppress it, it is a wastage of energy which is conflict there is no conflict. Please understand this.
Suppose one is envious, envious of another who is very clever, bright, intelligent, sensitive, who sees the beauty of the earth and the glory of the sky, who enjoys this lovely earth, yet to oneself it means nothing. One wants to be like him. So one begins to imitate him, the way he walks, the way he looks, the way he smiles; yet one is still greedy. Though one has been educated from childhood not to be greedy one has not understood that 'not' is merely the opposite of what one is. One has been educated, conditioned; the books one has been given have said there is duality, and one has accepted that. It is very difficult to break that conditioning. One's conditioning from childhood prevents the understanding of this very simple fact, which is: there is only 'what is'. Good is not the opposite of bad. If good is born out of bad then the good contains the bad. Think it out, work at it, exercise your brains, so as to live always with 'what is', with that which is actually going on, outwardly and inwardly. When one is envious, live with that fact, observe it. Again, envy is a very complex process, it is part of competition, the desire for advancement, politically, religiously and in business. One has been brought up with that, and to break that tradition, demands a great deal of observation; not making of it the opposite of tradition; just observe what tradition is. I hope the speaker is making it very clear. You are all traditional people and you repeat psychologically, even intellectually, what you have been told; your religions are based on that.
So when once you see the fact, that there is only 'what is', and observe with all the energy that you have, then you will see that 'what is' has no value or importance, it is totally non-existence.
One has been told from childhood to be good. The word 'good' is an old fashioned word, but it is really a beautiful word. Good means to be correct, correct in your speech, correct in your behaviour not according to an idea of what is correct. Correct means to be precise, accurate, not pretentious. But one is not good. And one's parents, teachers and educators say, 'Be good', so there is created a conflict between what one is and what one should be. And one does not understand the meaning of that word; that word is again very, very subtle, it demands a great deal of investigation. Good means also to be completely honest, which means one behaves not according to some tradition or fashion, but with the sense of great integrity, which has its own intelligence. To be good also means to be whole, not fragmented. But one is fragmented, brought up in this chaotic tradition. What is important is not what goodness is, but why one's brain is caught in tradition. So one has to understand why the brain, which is again very subtle, which has great depth in itself, why such a brain has followed tradition. It has followed it because there is safety, security, because one is following what one's parents have said and so on. That gives one a sense of safety, protection a false safety and protection. One thinks it is safe but it is unreal, it is illusory. One will not listen to the speaker because one is frightened to be without tradition and to live with all one's attention.
Your belief in god is your ultimate security. See what thought has done! It has created an image of god which you then worship. That is self-worship. Then you begin to ask who created the earth, who created the heavens, the universe and so on. So your tradition begins to destroy the human mind. It has become repetitive, mechanical, it has no vitality, except to earn money, go to the office every morning for the rest of your life and then die at the end of it. So it is important to find out whether you can be free of tradition and so live without a single conflict, living every day with 'what is' and observing 'what is', not only out there but inwardly. Then you will create a society that will be without conflict.
27 December 1981