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Chapter 9 - 3rd Public Talk at Brockwood Park - 4th September 1982

Chapter 9 - 3rd Public Talk at Brockwood Park - 4th September 1982

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The Flame of Attention

Consider what is happening on this earth where man has brought about such chaos, where wars and other terrible things are going on. This is neither a pessimistic nor an optimistic point of view; it is just looking at the facts as they are. Apparently it is not possible to have peace on this earth or to live with friendship and affection for each other in our lives. To live at peace with oneself and with the world, one needs to have great intelligence. It is not just to have the concept of peace and strive to live a peaceful life which can merely become a rather vegetating life but to enquire whether it is possible to live in this world, where there is such disorder, such unrighteousness if we can use that old fashioned word with a certain quality of mind and heart that are at peace within themselves. Not a life everlastingly striving, in conflict, in competition, in imitation and conformity; not a satisfied or a fulfilled life; not a life that has achieved some result, some fame, some notoriety, or some wealth; but a life that has a quality of peace. We ought to go into it together to find out if it is at all possible to have peace not just peace of mind which is merely a small part to have this peculiar quality of undisturbed though tremendously alive tranquillity, with a sense of dignity and without any sense of vulgarity. Can one live such a life?

Has one ever asked such a question, surrounded as one is by total disorder? One must be very clear about that fact; that there is total disorder outwardly every morning one reads in a newspaper of something terrible, of aircraft that can travel at astonishing speed from one corner of the earth to the other without having to refuel, carrying a great weight of bombs and gases that can destroy man in a few seconds. If one observes all this and realizes what man has come to, one may feel that in asking this question one has asked the impossible and say that it is not at all possible to live in this world inwardly undisturbed, having no problems, living a life utterly un-self-centred. Talking about this, using words, has very little meaning unless one finds, or comes upon, through communicating with each other, a state that is utterly still. That requires intelligence, not phantasy, not some peculiar day-dreaming called meditation, not some form of self-hypnosis, but intelligence.

What is intelligence? It is to perceive that which is illusory, that which is false, not actual, and to discard it; not merely to assert that it is false and continue in the same way, but to discard it completely. That is part of intelligence. To see, for example, that nationalism, with all its patriotism, isolation, narrowness, is destructive, that it is a poison in the world. And seeing the truth of it is to discard that which is false. That is intelligence. But to keep on with it, acknowledging it as stupid, is essentially part of stupidity and disorder it creates more disorder. Intelligence is not the clever pursuit of argument, of opposing contradictory opinions as though through opinions, truth can be found, which is impossible but it is to realize that the activity of thought, with all its capacities, with all its subtleties, with its extraordinary ceaseless activity, is not intelligence.

Intelligence is beyond thought.

To live peacefully one has to examine disorder. Why do we human beings, who are supposed to be extraordinarily evolved, extraordinarily capable in certain directions, why do we live with and tolerate such disorder in our daily lives? If one can discover the root of this disorder, its cause and observe it carefully, then in the very observation of that which is the cause is the awakening of intelligence. Observation of disorder, not the striving to bring about order. A confused disorderly mind, a state of mind which is contradictory, yet striving to bring about order, will still be disorder. One is confused, uncertain, going from one thing to another, burdened with many problems: from such a way of living, one wants order. Then what appears to be order is born out of one's confusion and therefore it is still confused.

When this is clear, what then is the cause of disorder? It has many causes: the desire to fulfil, the anxiety of not fulfilling, the contradictory life one lives, saying one thing, doing something totally different, trying to suppress one thing and to achieve something else. These are all contradictions in oneself. One can find many causes, the pursuit of causes is endless. Whereas one could ask oneself and find out if there is one root cause. Obviously there must be. The root cause is the-'self' the 'me', the 'ego', the personality put together by thought, by memory, by various experiences, by certain words, certain qualities which produce the feeling of separateness and isolation; that is the root cause of disorder. However much the self tries not to be the self it is still the effort of the self. The self may identify with the nation, but that very identification with the greater is still glorified self. Each one of us does that in different ways. The self is put together by thought; that is the root cause of this total disorder in which we live. When one observes what causes disorder and one has become so accustomed to disorder and has always lived in such disorder, that one accepts it as natural one begins to question it and go into it and see what is the root of it. One observes it, not doing anything about it, then that very observation begins to dissolve the centre which is the cause of disorder.

Intelligence is the perception of that which is true; it puts totally aside that which is false; it sees the truth in the false and realizes that none of the activities of thought is intelligence. It sees that thought itself is the outcome of knowledge which is the result of experience as memory and that the response of memory is thought. Knowledge is always limited that is obvious-there is no perfect knowledge. Hence thought, with all its activity and with all its knowledge, is not intelligence. So one asks: what place has thought in life considering that all our activity is based on thought? Whatever we do is based on thought. All relationships are based on thought. All inventions, all technological achievement, all commerce, all the arts, are the activity of thought. The gods we have created, the rituals, are the product of thought. So what place have knowledge and thought in relation to the degeneration of man?

Man has accumulated immense knowledge, in the world of science, psychology, biology, mathematics and so on. And we think that through knowledge we will ascend, we will liberate ourselves, we will transform ourselves. Now, we are questioning the place of knowledge in life. Has knowledge transformed us, made us good? again, an old fashioned word. Has it given us integrity? Is it part of justice? Has it given us freedom?

It has given us freedom in the sense that we can travel, communicate from one country to another. We have better systems of learning, as well as the computer and the atom bomb. These are all the result of vast accumulated knowledge. Again we ask: has this knowledge given us freedom, a life that is just, a life that is essentially good?

Freedom, justice and goodness; those three qualities formed one of the problems of ancient civilizations, who struggled to find a way to live a life that was just. The word 'just' means to have righteousness, to act benevolently, with generosity, not to deal with hatred or antagonism. To lead a just, a right kind of life, means to lead a life not according to a pattern, not according to some fanciful ideals, projected by thought; it means to lead a life that has great affection, that is true, accurate. And in this world there is no justice; one is clever, another is not; one has power, another has not; one can travel all over the world and meet prominent people; another lives in a little town, in a small room, working day after day. Where is there justice there? Is justice to be found in external activities? One may become the prime minister, the president, the head of a big intercontinental corporation, another may be for ever a clerk, way down below. So, do we seek justice externally, trying to bring about an egalitarian state all over the world that is being tried, thinking that it will bring about justice or, is justice to be found away from all that?

Justice implies a certain integrity, to be whole, integral, not broken up, not fragmented. That can only take place when there is no comparison. But we are always comparing better cars, better houses, better position, greater power and so on. Comparison is measurement. Where there is measurement there cannot be justice. And where there is imitation and conformity, there cannot be justice. Following somebody, listening to these words, we do not see the beauty, the quality, the depth of these things; we may superficially agree but we walk away from them. But the words, the comprehension of the depth of them must leave a mark, a seed; for justice must be there, in us.

Talking to a fairly well known psychologist the speaker used the word goodness. He was horrified! He said: 'That is an old-fashioned word, we do not use it now.' But one likes that good word. So what is goodness? It is not the opposite of that which is bad. If it is the opposite of that which is bad then goodness has its roots in that opposite. So goodness is not related to the other, that which we consider bad. It is totally divorced from the other. One must look at it as it is, not as a reaction to the opposite. Goodness means a way of life which is righteous, not in terms of religion, or morality or an ethical concept of righteousness, but in terms of one who sees that which is true and that which is false, and sustains that quality of sensitivity that sees it immediately and acts.

The word 'freedom' has very complex implications. When there is freedom there is justice, there is goodness. Freedom is considered to be the capacity to choose. One thinks one is free because one can choose to go abroad, one can choose one's work, choose what one wants to do. But where there is choice, is there freedom? Who chooses? And why does one have to choose? When there is freedom, psychologically, when one is very clear in one's capacity to think subjectively, impersonally, very precisely, not sentimentally, there is no need for choice. When there is no confusion then there is no choice.

So what is freedom? Freedom is not the opposite of conditioning; if it were, it would merely be a kind of escape. Freedom is not an escape from anything. A brain that has been conditioned by knowledge is always limited, is always living within the field of ignorance, is always living with the machinery of thought so that there can be no freedom. We all live with various kinds of fear - fear of tomorrow, fear of things that have happened in many yesterdays. If we seek freedom from that fear, then freedom has a cause and is not freedom. If we think in terms of causation and freedom, then that freedom is not freedom at all. Freedom implies not just a certain aspect of one's life but freedom right through; and that freedom has no cause.

Now, with all this having been stated let us look at the cause of sorrow and enquire whether that cause can ever end. All have suffered in one way or another, through deaths, through lack of love, or, having loved another, receiving no return. Sorrow has many, many faces. Man from the ancient of times, has always tried to escape from sorrow, and still, after millennia, we live with sorrow. Mankind has shed untold tears. There have been wars which have brought such agonies to human beings, such great anxiety and apparently they have not been able to be free from that sorrow. This is not a rhetorical question, but, is it possible for a human brain, human mind, human being, to be totally free from the anxiety of sorrow and all the human travail with regard to it?

Let us together walk along the same path to find out if we can, in our daily life, put an end to this terrible burden which man has carried from time immemorial. Is it possible to come upon the ending of sorrow? How do you approach such a question? What is your reaction to that question? What is the state, the quality of your mind, when a question of that kind is put to you? My son is dead, my husband is gone, I have friends who have betrayed me; I have followed in great faith, an ideal and it has been fruitless after twenty years. Sorrow has such great beauty and such pain in it. How does one react to that question? Does one say, 'I don't want even to look at it. I have suffered, it is the lot of man, I rationalize it and accept it and go on.' That is one way of dealing with it. But one has not solved the problem. Or one transmits that sorrow to a symbol and worships that symbol, as is done in Christianity; or as the ancient Hindus have done, it is one's lot, one's karma. Or in the modern world one says one's parents are responsible for it, or society, or it is the kind of genetically inherited genes that have caused one's suffering, and so on. There have been a thousand explanations. But explanations have not resolved the ache and the pain of sorrow. So, how do you approach this question? Do you want to look at it face to face, or casually, or with trepidation? How do you approach, come near, very near, such a problem? Is sorrow different from the observer who says,-I am in sorrow: When he says, 'I am in sorrow', he has separated himself from that feeling, so he has not approached it at all. He has not touched it. Can you cease to avoid it, not transmute it, not escape from it, but come with greatest closeness to it? Which means, you are sorrow. Is that so?

You may have invented an ideal of freedom from sorrow. That invention has postponed, separated you further from sorrow; but the fact is, you are sorrow. Do you realize what that means? It is not that somebody has caused you sorrow, not that your son is dead therefore you shed tears. You may shed tears for your son, for your wife, but that is an outward expression of pain or sorrow. That sorrow is the result of your dependence on that person, your attachment, your clinging, your feeling that you are lost without him. So, as usual, you try to act upon the symptom, you never go to the very root of this great problem, which is sorrow. We are not talking about the outward effects of sorrow if you are concerned with the effects of sorrow you can take a drug and pacify yourself. We are trying together to find for ourselves, not be told and then accept, but actually find for ourselves the root of sorrow. Is it time that causes pain the time that thought has invented in the psychological realm? You understand my question?

Questioner: What do you mean by psychological time?

K: Do not ask me what psychological time is. Ask that question of yourself. Perhaps the speaker may prompt you, put it into words, but it is your own question. One has had a son, a brother, a wife, father. They are gone. They can never return. They are wiped away from the face of the earth. Of course, one can invent a belief that they are living on other planes. But one has lost them; there is a photograph on the piano or the mantelpiece. One's remembrance of them is in psychological time. How one had loved them, how they loved me; what help they were; they helped to cover up one's loneliness. The remembrance of them is a movement of time. They were there yesterday and gone today. That is, a record has been formed in the brain. That remembrance is a recording on the tape of the brain; and that tape is playing all the time. How one walked with them in the woods, one's sexual remembrances, their companionship, the comfort one derived from them. All that is gone and the tape is playing on. This tape is memory and memory is time. If you are interested, go into it very deeply. One has lived with one's brother or son, one has had happy days with them, enjoyed many things together, but they are gone. And the memory of them remains. It is that memory that is causing pain. It is that memory for which one is shedding tears in one's loneliness. Now, is it possible not to record? This is a very serious question. One enjoyed the sunrise yesterday morning, it was so clear, so beautiful among the trees casting a golden light on the lawn with long shadows. It was a pleasant lovely morning and it has been recorded. Now the repetition begins. One has recorded that which happened, which caused one delight and later that record like a gramophone or tape recorder is repeated. That is the essence of psychological time. But is it possible not to record at all? The sunrise of today, look at it, give one's whole attention to it, the moment of golden light on the lawn with the long shadows, and not record it, so that no memory of it remains, it is gone. Look at it with one's whole attention and not record; the very attention of looking negates any act of recording.

So, is time the root of sorrow? Is thought the root of sorrow? Of course. So memories and time are the centre of one's life, one lives on them and when something happens which is drastically painful, one returns to those memories and one sheds tears. One wishes that he or she whom one has lost had been here to enjoy that sun when one was looking at it. It is the same with all one's sexual memories, building a picture, thinking about it. All that is memory, thought and time. If one asks: how is it possible for psychological time and thought to stop? it is a wrong question. When one realizes the truth of this not the truth of another but your own observation of that truth, your own clarity of perception will that not end sorrow?

Is it possible to give such tremendous attention that one has a life without psychological recording? It is only where there is inattention that there is recording. One is used to one's brother, son or wife; one knows what they will say; they have said the same thing so often. One knows them. When one say 'I know them' one is inattentive. When one says, 'I know my wife', obviously one does not really know her because you cannot possibly know a living thing. It is only a dead thing, the dead memory, that one knows.

When one is aware of this with great attention, sorrow has a totally different meaning. There is nothing to learn from sorrow. There is only the ending of sorrow. And when there is an ending of sorrow then there is love. How can one love another love, have the quality of that love when one's whole life is based on memories; on that picture which one has hung over the mantelpiece or placed on the piano; how can one love when one is caught in a vast structure of memories? The ending of sorrow is the beginning of love.

May I repeat a story? A religious teacher had several disciples and used to talk to them every morning about the nature of goodness, beauty and love. And one morning, just as he is about to begin talking, a bird comes on to the window sill and begins to sing, to chant. It sings for a while and disappears. The teacher says: 'The talk for this morning is over'.