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Paris 2nd Public Talk - 18th April 1968
WHEN WE MET here the other day, we were saying that it is essential to find out for ourselves what truth is, and not depend on others. We are so easily influenced, our minds are so eager to accept, we fear the loss of security psychologically and we are always eager to follow and to obey. And we are apt to create heroes out of those people who say they know, or they have experienced. I think there is a great danger in the relationship between the speaker and yourselves. The speaker is utterly unimportant - he is like any other instrument, like a telephone. One obviously doesn't make a hero out of a telephone, one is not influenced by the outward aspect of the speaker. So we are not in any way trying to do propaganda, influence, or shape your minds to think in a certain way. But one can see by observing the events of the world (and also the accidents within ourselves that take such deep root), one can observe the monumental chaos of the world, where technology has advanced so well with its computers and other devices. Human beings are becoming more and more mechanical, more and more superficial, filled with all the latest information, following the latest exhibitions, news, novels. And the more mechanical we are, the more superficial we become. But when we are together we are exploring a realm in which all influence, propaganda, obedience, and following, must completely cease. This implies that one has to stand completely alone. Because to find reality, all influence, all imitation, all obedience to a principle, or to an example, or to a guru, or to anyone else, has no value whatsoever. I think that must be made very clear between ourselves, that we are not laying down a law, a method, a system, but rather taking a journey together and in that journey we may come upon certain obvious facts for ourselves, which we have hitherto neglected.
And so the responsibility of journeying together is yours as well as the speaker's. You can either take that journey casually out of curiosity, or out of intellectual amusement; or you can be very earnest and pursue it without any deviation. You will then enquire profoundly, take every step fully aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it, and so become aware in that choiceless, clear, awareness, seeing exactly what is taking place. Then you may find or come upon, this truth that has no name, that is not measurable, and without which man has no meaning. Man can go to the moon and write extraordinarily clever books, perfect his technology, establish a moral relationship, but this is all mechanical, vain and has very little significance. So it is essential for each one of us, if we are at all earnest to pursue this essential enquiry; then we shall see that there are certain things one must, not only enquire into, but also be free of. And we must be earnest, not only because the times demand it, but because, unless we are serious, we are not alive. You know, our minds are very distorted, we can't see anything very clearly, or hear anything directly - we only hear what we want to hear and we see things that please us. We are incapable of looking at something directly, without hedging, trying to escape from what is.
Most minds are prejudiced; they may not be prejudiced about colour, racial differences and so on, but they are very prejudiced deep down because all pleasure brings about that quality of mind that is ever seeking deep abiding satisfaction and demanding experiences that will be totally sufficient. That's what we all want - wider, deeper experiences, because our daily life is such an awful bore, our daily life is a routine with endless repetitions, a self-centred activity - the ego, the 'me', expressing itself in every direction. And such a life is rather tawdry, stupid, empty - although you may write clever books, poems, have a certain quality of expression, feeling, make pictures and so on, indefinitely, it is all rather superficial. And so we want wide, profound, lasting experience of something which will be utterly real, that is not touched with illusion. That's what most of us want and probably the majority who are here want that kind of experience.
Now, a mind that is seeking experience must invite illusion, because truth, reality, that thing that cannot be put into words, is not an experience and that's the beauty of it; it is not a thing that you can recognize, put in your pocket, or organize - you can't say 'I have got it' - it is much too vast to be captured, to be held in the fist of a hand. And yet that is what most of us want, to experience that bliss, that loveliness, a beauty that cannot be destroyed.
To come upon this strange reality we must first understand the nature of experience and why human beings want experience at all. Experience in English surely means, to go through: to go through a thing. And when you 'go through', there must be no memory of what you have been through, otherwise you are not through the experience. Do please understand this. We do not go through any form of thought, or feeling (which is to experience the fullness of thought or feeling) if we don't go right through it; it must leave no mark, no imprint. That imprint, that mark, that memory otherwise directs the next experience, shapes the next experience. You can see this in yourself, it is not very complex psychologically, it doesn't need great intellectual or analytical capacity. We have a thousand experiences and each experience leaves a mark and that mark leaves the memory which recognizes the next experience, and so shapes that experience, conditions it so that the mind becomes more and more conditioned by the past. In this experience there is always a recognition.
If you don't recognize an experience it is not an experience, you must recognize it, name it, feel it, enjoy it or not, whatever it be; and such an experience, when it is recognized, is very limited. I recognize you because I met you yesterday, you said flattering or insulting things; that remains in the mind and next time I meet you that memory meets you. So the experience is the response of that memory.
But truth is not something of time, memory. It isn't something that you can invite, hold and say 'I have experienced it'. Like the beauty of yesterday's sunset; when you saw it there was the great joy of the light on the trees, which has left an imprint, and tomorrow you see the sunset through that imprint, you don't see the sunset afresh, anew, it isn't something totally new. Experience can never bring about that quality of freshness, of innocence. And a mind must be completely innocent to see what truth is. And so a mind that practises a discipline, in order to find reality, to experience that reality, such a mind is a dull, stupid mind; it can never possibly understand that unnameable thing. Yet, there must be discipline.
So one discovers as one takes this journey for oneself that every form of experience has its own limitation. We have had thousands and thousands of wars; we have had millions of years of sorrow and we are not free from it. So one wonders, psychologically, if experience teaches anything at all, or only toughens the mind, makes the mind more dull. A mind that is seeking reality through experience, will never find it. And that is what those people who take drugs do and by so doing they hope to expand their mind and experience a certain state: obviously they do experience through heightened sensitivity a semblance of the real, but it is not the real. One can see all this very simply; you see according to your own conditioning. If you take a drug, and if you are an artist you see colours more brightly, more intensely, alive, vivid; or if you are conditioned by religious dogmas about a saviour, or the Masters, obviously when you take that drug, you will see your own projection. And what you project out of your conditioning is the furtherance of your own pleasure and it may superficially change the manner of your life but it is not, obviously, that thing which man has sought endlessly. So one discovers, for oneself, or rather understands, that truth is not to be experienced - that's a tremendous discovery. It can only be seen, not experienced. You know, to see something is one of the most difficult things: to see a leaf, a cloud, the light on the water, without naming it, without saying 'how beautiful it is', without being caught in the emotional prejudice of like and dislike - just to see the fact, without the interference of thought, is one of the most difficult, but necessary, things to do.
Now, as we travel together we begin to see what is necessary; that order, absolute order, inwardly, is essential. There are two kinds of order; the first is the order that discipline brings about, the order that a soldier has, who has been drilled for months to obey, to conform, to destroy himself in order to carry out instructions and that brings about the order of death, which is utterly mechanical and meaningless. But there is another totally different kind of order, which is not dependent on any conformity, imitation, any pattern, which is not repetitive of things that were seen yesterday and followed through to today. I hope that we are not merely listening to a lot of words but rather seeing the truth, the fact, for ourselves as we go along - seeing it for ourselves independently of the speaker and what he says. Because freedom is absolutely necessary. And freedom is not at the end but at the very first step that is taken. And freedom doesn't come through discipline, it comes through order. This order (not the mechanical order of respectability, the order which society tries to impose upon man, the order of a rotten, corrupt society) the order we are talking about is of a totally different kind and dimension. This order comes out of under- standing what disorder is. You know the positive comes into being when that which is not true is denied.
Peace cannot exist if we are at war with each other, not only outwardly but inwardly; when I am aggressive, when I am violent, demanding fulfilment at any price for myself, I may talk about order, I may talk about peace, but I am a violent human being. And when I discover this violence, not only physical violence but the violence of the word, of the gesture, the violence of cruelty to other men, to animals, the slaughtering of them and so on - when I see violence, I deny it. Out of this negation of what is, peace comes.
So, we go on to discover for ourselves what is disorder; the whole social structure as it exists is based on disorder, with its class and other divisions. When each man is out for himself, competing, worshipping success and fame - that's part of this disorder, both outwardly and inwardly. Disorder means conflict deep within the psychological structure; and conflict outwardly, conflict with your neighbour, conflict with your wife or husband, conflict must exist as long as there is self-centred activity. And conflict is bound to create disorder; there is disorder, nationally, linguistically, the disorder that religions have brought about, dividing those within the house of truth from those outside it, and saying: 'There is only one saviour and nobody else' 'You must go through this door for salvation and not through any other door'. The worship of nationalities, the worship of the flag are all disorder. And to find out what is absolute order (and there is such a thing as absolute order within oneself, not a relative order, circumstantial order but complete total order) - we must understand what is disorder; we shall then see what this disorder is in the world with its national, religious, class competition, this everlasting pursuit of pleasure and envy. These breed disorder, and you cannot put aside all that without understanding it, without understanding the enormous complex structure of pleasure.
So order is virtue. And order isn't a thing to be cultivated; you can't say 'I will be orderly', 'I will do this and I won't do that' - then you are merely disciplining yourself, becoming more and more rigid, mechanical; such a mind is totally incapable of coming upon this beauty that has no name, no expression. Order, like virtue, cannot be cultivated - if you cultivate humility you are obviously not humble; you can cultivate vanity, but to cultivate humility is not possible any more than to cultivate love - so order which is virtue cannot be practised. All that one can do is to see this total disorder within and outside oneself - see it! You can see this total disorder instantly and that is the only thing that matters - to see it instantly. You know you cannot see disorder through explanations, through analysis of the various causes of disorder. There it is; walk down any street, watch any culture, any society in action, watch your own mind, your own heart, the way you think, the way you feel, your contradictions, your desires tearing at you and what you see is an endless corridor of opposites. There is disorder. But you can see this at a glance. You can see it at a glance - and it is only with a swift glance that the truth of disorder is seen - you cannot see it if you are intellectually analyzing its causes; it's fairly simple to discover the cause of this enormous inner and outer confusion, disorder and dishonesty - any analytical mind can see what brings about this appalling chaos in the world. But such analytical observation, and descriptions of the cause of disorder, do not eradicate disorder. So to see at a glance the truth of disorder, the fact has to be seen instantly, as you see the beauty of a cloud when you look at it casually.
Out of this perception of disorder there is instant deep order, which is not cultivable, and that's why it is very important to understand what it is to see. This is part of meditation - to see. I am not speaking of visions such as those a Christian sees when his own Saviour appears to him (he has been conditioned to this for two thousand years). What he sees is his own conditioning, like the Hindu who sees his own God, his own Krishna; such perception is the projection of his own demand, it has nothing whatsoever to do with reality.
We are so unbalanced; and an unbalanced mind can see a lot of things, though its possessor may lead a saintly life. I do not know if you have noticed what odd creatures saints are! They conform to a pattern, otherwise they wouldn't be saints, they must be recognized as saints, they must follow the pattern set by the church, or by the public, or by tradition - otherwise they are regarded as mere eccentrics. And seeing - to see the fact as it is, without any distortion due to thought, prejudice, or your own conditioning - is necessary, completely necessary, as that is the whole process of meditation.
I do not know if there is time this evening to go into this question of meditation. A meditative mind is the most religious mind. Such a meditative mind does not belong to any church, dogma, or group, to any pattern of thought, it has no religion because it has no belief, it is free to look, as the scientist looks through his microscope to see what is. So the meditative mind looks without any distortion. Distortion always takes place when there is desire and the pursuit of pleasure. And the understanding of pleasure is part of meditation. This does not mean denying pleasure, as monks and saints have done throughout the world, abandoning the world, denying pleasure, and becoming hard, ugly human beings, who adopt different kinds of pleasure and are wedded to the image of their God and of their saints.
I do not know if you have ever looked at pleasure - just looked at it, when you are enjoying something, looked at it. While you are enjoying a drink, to be aware of the whole meaning of that pleasure, to enjoy, to have a great pleasure in something that is over, dead, gone, to remember it, to resuscitate it because it gave you pleasure yesterday - now, that's the whole process of sex, the building of that image, the remembrance of it and getting terribly excited over it and its fulfilment, which is the pleasure built up by thought. Please do follow all this - this pleasure built up by thought, intensified and sustained by thought, of the thing that happened yesterday, and is now the continuance of that dead thing of yesterday. So to understand the nature and the structure of desire and pleasure is to understand the whole mechanism of thought, not to deny pleasure.
To come upon this reality, you cannot possibly invite it because our minds are too small; you cannot contain the ocean in your fist, you can have the image of the ocean in your mind but it is not the ocean, it is not the restless, blue depth of that water. As you cannot invite reality, as you cannot possibly know what it is, all that you can do is to see what is the truth of falsehood, the truth of disorder, the truth of what virtue is, the truth of pleasure and the structure and the nature of experience; just to see these facts - that's all one can do, nothing else - that is to deny totally what one is, because each one of us is a bundle of memories, memories creating future hope or despair, agony or guilt, or mounting sorrow - that's what we are. We may invent out of that we are God, that we are divine, that we are everlasting, but to see the actual naked fact of what we are, with our ambitions, with our greed, our pursuit of pleasure and success and all that - to see the truth of this is enough.
When you see the truth, then you avoid all danger. But we have become so accustomed to danger that we have accepted it. We have accepted war as the way of life and war is the most deadly thing, which has become very normal to us - to kill somebody - organized killing, patriotism, nationalism, the leader, propaganda, all that dangerous rubbish. It is important to see the truth in that danger, the truth of that fact, that as our civilization, our culture is a most deadly thing, every sane man must revolt against it, must totally deny it, inwardly, psychologically. You cannot deny if you don't see the danger, and to see the danger is to see the truth of it, not intellectually, not verbally, not emotionally, but factually. Then, if you are lucky, the mind may come upon that truth; then there is an explosion of something that cannot be put into words. Without understanding that, without having a life there, a life in which your heart and mind are living at a different dimension, your ordinary life, however noble, however good, however helpful, has no meaning. This is so because the social good (of course there must be social reform and all that) but the 'social good' and the striving to improve ourselves and society has no meaning; what has meaning is the coming upon reality and from there living in society, living in this world; then there is beauty and love - otherwise there is nothing.
Then meditation comes into being (not that eastern monopoly, of which gurus talk endlessly, that's not meditation at all) and it is the meditative mind that sees, without time, what is truth. And perhaps when we next meet we can go into this.
18th April 1968