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Chapter 7 - 1st Public Talk at Ojai - 1st May 1982
Chapter 7 - 1st Public Talk at Ojai - 1st May 1982
From the very beginning, understand that we are not instructing anybody about anything; we are not bringing up some kind of idea, belief or conclusion, to convince you of anything; this is not propaganda. Rather, I think it would be good if we could, during these talks, think over together, observe and listen together to the whole movement of one life, whether it is in South Africa, South America, North America, Europe or Asia. We are dealing with a very complex problem that needs to be studied most carefully, hesitantly, without any direction, without any motive, so as to observe, if we can, the whole outward happening of our life. What is happening outside of us is the measure by which we will be able to understand ourselves inwardly. If we do not understand what is actually going on in the external world, outside the psychological field, we will have no measure by which to observe ourselves.
Let us together observe without any bias, as American, Argentinian, British, French, Russian, or Asian; let us observe without any motive which is rather difficult and see clearly, if we can, what is going on. As one travels around the world, one is aware that there is a great deal of dissension, discord, disagreement, disorder; a great deal of confusion, uncertainty. One sees the demonstrations against one particular form of war and the extensive preparations for war; the spending of untold money on armaments; one nation against another preparing for eventual war. There are the national divisions. There is the national honour, for which thousands are willing and proud to kill others. There are the religious and sectarian divisions: the Catholic, the Protestant, the Hindu, the Mohammedan, the Buddhist. There are the various sects, and the gurus, with their particular following. There is the spiritual authority in the Catholic and the Protestant world, there is the authority of the book in the Islamic world. So everywhere there is this constant division leading to disorder, conflict and destruction. There is the attachment to a particular nationality, a particular religion, hoping thereby to find some kind of outward or inward security. These are the phenomena that are taking place in the world, of which we are all part I am sure that we all observe the same thing. There is isolation taking place, not only for each human being, but the isolation of groups which are bound by a belief, by a faith, by some ideological conclusion; it is the same in totalitarian states and in the so-called democratic countries with their ideals. Ideals, beliefs, dogmas and rituals are separating mankind. This is actually what is going on in the external world and it is the result of our own inner psychological living. We are isolated human beings and the outward world is created by each one of us.
We each have our own particular profession, our own particular belief, our own conclusions and experiences, to which we cling and thereby each one is isolating himself. This self-centred activity is expressed outwardly as nationalism, religious intolerance, even if that group consists of seven hundred million people, as in the Catholic world and at the same time each one of us is isolating himself. We are creating a world divided by nationalism, which is a glorified form of tribalism; each tribe is willing to kill another tribe for their belief, for their land, for their economic trade. We all know this; at least, those who are aware, who listen to the radio, see the television, the newspapers and so on. 4 There are those who say that this cannot be changed, that there is no possibility of this human condition being transformed. They say that the world has been going on like this for thousands and thousands of years and is created by the human condition and that condition can never possibly bring about a mutation in itself. They assert that there can be modification, slight change, but that man will ever be basically what he is, bringing about division in himself and in the world. There are those all over the world who advocate social reform of various kinds, but they have not brought about a deep fundamental mutation in the human consciousness. This is the state of the world.
And how do we look at it? What is our response to it, as human beings? What is our actual relationship, not only with each other but with this external world; what is our responsibility? Do we leave it to the politicians? Do we seek new leaders, new saviours? This is a very serious problem which we are talking over together. Or do we go back to the old traditions; because human beings, unable to solve this problem, return to the old habitual traditions of the past. The more there is confusion in the world, the greater is the desire and urge of some to return to past illusions, past traditions, past leaders, past so-called saviours.
So if one is aware of all this, as one must be, what is one's response, not partial, but total response, to the whole phenomenon that is taking place in the world?
Does one consider only one's own personal life, how to live a quiet, serene, undisturbed life in some corner; or is one concerned with the total human existence, with total humanity? If one is only concerned with one's own particular life, however troublesome it is, however limited it is, however much it is sorrowful and painful, then one does not realize that the part is of the whole. One has to look at life, not the American life or the Asiatic life, but life as a whole; holistic observation; an observation that is not a particular observation; it is not one's own observation, but the observation that comprehends the totality, the holistic view of life. Each one has been concerned with his own particular problems - problems of money, no job, seeking one's own fulfilment, everlastingly seeking pleasure; being frightened, isolated, lonely, depressed, suffering, and creating a saviour outside who will transform or bring about a salvation for each one of us. This has been the tradition in the Western world for two thousand years; and in the Asiatic world the same thing has been maintained in different words and symbols, different conclusions; but it is the same individual's search for his own salvation, for his own particular happiness, to resolve his own many complex problems. There are the specialists of various kinds, psychological specialists, to whom one goes to resolve one's problems. They too have not succeeded.
Technologically the scientists have helped to reduce disease, to improve communication; but also they are increasing the devastating power of the weapons of war; the power to murder vast numbers of people with one blow. The scientists are not going to save mankind; nor are the politicians, whether in the East or West or in any part of the world. The politicians seek power, position, and they play all kinds of tricks on human thought. It is exactly the same thing in the so-called religious world; the authority of the hierarchy; the authority of the Pope, the archbishop, the bishop and the local priest, in the name of some image which thought has created.
We, as human beings separated, isolated, have not been able to solve our problems; although highly educated, cunning, self-centred, capable of extraordinary things outwardly, yet inwardly, we are more or less what we have been for thousands of years. We hate, we compete, we destroy each other; which is what is actually going on at the present time. You have heard the experts talking about some recent war; they are not talking about human beings being killed, but about destroying airfields, blowing up this or that. There is this total confusion in the world, of which one is quite sure we are all aware; so what shall we do? As a friend some time ago told the speaker: 'You cannot do anything; you are beating your head against a wall. Things will go on like this indefinitely; fighting, destroying each other, competing and being caught in various forms of illusion. This will go on. Do not waste your life and time.' Aware of the tragedy of the world, the terrifying events that may happen should some crazy person press a button; the computer taking over man's capacities, thinking much quicker and more accurately what is going to happen to the human being? This is the vast problem which we are facing.
One's education from childhood as one passes through school, college and university, is to specialize in some way or another, to accumulate a great deal of knowledge, then get a job and hold on to it for the rest of one's life; going to the office, from morning till evening and dying at the end of it all. This is not a pessimistic attitude or observation; this is actually what is going on. When one observes that fact, one is neither optimistic nor pessimistic, it is so. And one asks, if one is at all serious and responsible: what is one to do? Retire into a monastery? form some commune? Go off to Asia and pursue Zen meditation or some other form of meditation? One is asking this question seriously. When one is confronted with this crisis it is a crisis in consciousness, it is not over there outside of one. The crisis is in oneself. There is a saying: we have seen the enemy and the enemy is ourselves.
The crisis is not a matter of economics, of war, the bomb, the politicians, the scientists; the crisis is within us, the crisis is in our consciousness. Until we understand very profoundly the nature of that consciousness, and question, delve deeply into it and find out for ourselves whether there can be a total mutation in that consciousness, the world will go on creating more misery, more confusion, more horror. Our responsibility is not in some kind of altruistic action outside ourselves, political, social or economic; it is to comprehend the nature of our being. to find out why we human beings who live on this beautiful earth have become like this.
Here we are trying, you and the speaker, together, not separately, together, to observe the movement of consciousness and its relationship to the world, and to see whether that consciousness is individual, separate, or if it is the whole of mankind. We are educated from childhood to be individuals, each with a separate soul; or we have been trained, educated, conditioned to think as individuals. We think that because we each have a separate name, separate form, that is, dark, light, tall, short, and each with a particular tendency, that we are separate individuals with our own particular experiences and so on. We are going to question that very idea, that we are individuals. It does not mean that we are some kind of amorphous beings, but actually question whether we are individuals, though the whole world maintains, both religiously and in other ways, that we are separate individuals. From that concept and perhaps from that illusion, we are each one of us trying to fulfil, to become something. in that effort to become something we are competing against another, fighting another, so that if we maintain that way of life, we must inevitably continue to cling to nationalities, tribalism, war. Why do we hold on to nationalism with such passion behind it? which is what is happening now. Why do we give such extraordinary passionate importance to nationalism which is essentially tribalism? Why? Is it because in holding on to the tribe, to the group, there is a certain security, an inward sense of completeness, fullness? If that is so, then the other tribe also feels the same; and hence division and hence war, conflict. If one actually sees the truth of this, not as something theoretical and if one wants to live on this earth which is our earth, not yours or mine then there is no nationalism at all. There is only human existence; one life; not your life or my life; it is living the whole of life. This tradition of individuality has been perpetuated by the religions both of the East and the West; salvation for each individual, and so on.
It is very good to have a mind that questions, that does not accept; a mind that says: 'We cannot possibly live any more like this, in this brutal, violent manner'. Doubting, questioning, not just accepting the way of life we have lived for perhaps fifty or sixty years, or the way man has lived for thousands of years. So, we are questioning the reality of individuality. Is your consciousness really yours? to be conscious means to be aware, to know, to perceive, to observe the content of your consciousness includes your beliefs, your pleasures, experiences, your particular knowledge which you have gathered either of some particular external subject or the knowledge you have gathered about yourself; it includes your fears and attachments; the pain and the agony of loneliness, the sorrow, the search for something more than mere physical existence; all that is the content of your consciousness. The content makes the consciousness; without the content there is not consciousness as we know it. Here there is no room for argument. It is so. Now, your consciousness which is very complex, contradictory, with such extraordinary vitality is it yours? Is thought yours? Or is there only thinking, which is neither Eastern nor Western thinking, which is common to all mankind, whether rich or poor, whether the technician with his extraordinary capacity or the monk who withdraws from the world and is consecrating himself to an idea?
Wherever one goes, one sees suffering, pain, anxiety, loneliness, insanity, fear, the seeking after security, being caught in knowledge and the urge of desire; it is all of the ground on which every human being stands. One's consciousness is the consciousness of the rest of humanity. It is logical; you may disagree; you may say, my consciousness is separate and must be separate; but is it so? If one understands the nature of this then one sees that one is the rest of mankind. One may have a different name, one may live in a particular part of the world and be educated in a particular way, one may be affluent or very poor, but when one goes behind the mask, deeply, one is like the rest of mankind aching, lonely, suffering, despairing, neurotic; believing in some illusion, and so on. Whether in the East or the West, this is so. One may not like it; one may like to think that one is totally independent, a free individual, but when one observes very deeply, one is the rest of humanity.
One may accept this as an idea, an abstraction, as a marvellous concept; but the idea is not the actuality. An abstraction is not what is actually taking place. But one makes an abstraction of that which is, into an idea, and then pursues the idea, which is really non-factual. So; if the content of my consciousness and yours is in itself contradictory, confused, struggling against another, fact against non-fact, wanting to be happy, being unhappy, wanting to live without violence and yet being violent then our consciousness in itself is disorder. There is the root of dissension. Until we understand that and go into it very deeply and discover total order, we shall always have disorder in the world. So a serious person is not easily dissuaded from the pursuit of understanding, the pursuit of delving deeply into himself, into his consciousness, not easily persuaded by amusement and entertainment which is perhaps sometimes necessary pursuing consistently every day into the nature of man, that is, into himself, observing what is actually going on within himself. From that observation, action takes place. It is not: what shall I do as a separate human being but an action which comes out of total holistic observation of life. Holistic observation is a healthy, sane, rational, logical, perception that is whole, which is holy. Is it possible for a human being, like any one of us who are laymen, not specialists, laymen, is it possible for him to look at the contradictory, confusing consciousness as a whole; or must he look at each part of it separately? One wants to understand oneself, one's consciousness. One knows from the very beginning that it is very contradictory; wanting one thing, and not wanting the other thing; saying one thing and doing another. And one knows that beliefs separate man. One believes in Jesus, or Krishna or something, or one believes in one's own experience which one holds on to, including the knowledge which one has accumulated through the forty or sixty years of one's life, which has become extraordinarily important. One clings to that. One recognizes that belief destroys and divides people and yet one cannot give it up because belief has strange vitality. It gives one a certain sense of security. One believes in god, there is an extraordinary strength in that. But god is invented by man. God is the projection of our own thought, the opposite to one's own demands, one's own hopelessness and despair.
Why does one have beliefs at all? A mind that is crippled by belief is an unhealthy mind. There must be freedom from that. So, is it possible for one to delve deeply into one's consciousness not persuaded, not guided by psychologists, psychiatrists and so on to delve deeply into oneself and find out; so that one does not depend on anybody including the speaker? In asking that question, how shall one know the intricacies, the contradictions, the whole movement of consciousness? Shall one know it bit by bit? Take for instance the hurt that each human being suffers from childhood. One is hurt by one's parents, psychologically. Then hurt in school, in university through comparison, through competition, through saying one must be first-class at this subject, and so on. Throughout life there is this constant process of being hurt. One knows this and that all human beings are hurt, deeply, of which they may not be conscious and that from this all the forms of neurotic action arise. That is all part of one's consciousness; part hidden and part open awareness that one is hurt. Now, is it possible not to be hurt at all? Because the consequences of being hurt are the building of a wall around oneself; withdrawing in one's relationship with others in order not to be hurt more. In that there is fear and a gradual isolation. Now we are asking: is it possible not only to be free of past hurts but also never to be hurt again, not through callousness, through indifference, through total disregard of all relationship? One must inquire into why one is hurt and what is being hurt. This hurt is part of one's consciousness; from it various neurotic contradictory actions take place. One is examining hurt, as one examined belief. It is not something outside of us, it is part of us. Now what is it that is hurt and is it possible never to be hurt? Is it possible for one to be a human being who is free, totally, never hurt by anything, psychologically, inwardly?
What is it that is hurt? One says, that it is I who am hurt. What is that 'I'? From childhood one has built up an image of oneself. One has many, many images; not only the images that people give one, but also the images that one has built oneself; as an American, that is an image, or as a Hindu or as a specialist. So, the I is the image that one has built about oneself, as a great or a very good man and it is that image that gets hurt. One may have an image of oneself as a great speaker, writer, spiritual being, leader. These images are the core of oneself; when one says one is hurt, one means the images are hurt. If one has an image about oneself and another comes along and says: don't be an idiot, one gets hurt. The image which has been built about oneself as not being an idiot, is 'me' and that gets hurt. One carries that image and that hurt, for the rest of one's life always being careful not to be hurt, warding off any statement of one's idiocy.
The consequences of being hurt are very complex. From that hurt one may want to fulfil oneself by becoming this or that so as to escape from this terrible hurt; so one has to understand it. Now is it possible to have no image about oneself at all? Why does one have images about oneself? Another may look very nice, bright, intelligent, clear-faced, and one wants to be like him; and if one is not, one gets hurt. Comparison may be one of the factors of being hurt, psychologically; then, why does one compare?
Can one live a life in the modern world without a single image? The speaker may say it is possible that it can be done. But it requires a great deal of energy if one is to find out whether it is possible never to be hurt and further whether it is possible to live a life without a single belief; for it is belief which is dividing human beings so that they are destroying each other. So, can one live without a single belief and never have an image about oneself? That is real freedom.
It is possible, when one is called an idiot and has an image about oneself, to give total attention to that statement as it is said, for when one has an image about oneself and one is called an idiot, one reacts instantly. As the reaction is immediate, give attention to that immediacy. That is, listen very clearly to the suggestion that one is an idiot, listen to it attentively, when one listens with complete attention, there is no reaction. It is the lack of listening acutely that brings up the image and hence the reaction. Suppose I have an image about myself, because I have travelled all over the world, etcetera. You come along and say, look, old boy, you're not as good as the other guru, or the other leader, or some other teacher, some other idiot; you are yourself an idiot. I listen to that completely, give complete attention to what is being said. When there is total attention, there is no forming of a centre. It is only inattention that creates the centre. A mind which has been slack, a brain which has been confused, disturbed, neurotic, which has never actually faced anything, which has never demanded of itself its highest capacity, can it give such total attention? When there is total attention to the statement that one is an idiot it has totally lost all significance. Because when there is attention there is not a centre which is reacting.
1st May 1982