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Paris 3rd Public Talk - 21st April 1968

Paris 3rd Public Talk - 21st April 1968

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Talks in Europe 1968

I THINK WE said when we last met here that we would go into this question of meditation. And if we may this morning we shall consider together one of the most important things in life.

When one sees, beyond the intellectual level, the utter chaos in the world, the tremendous confusion and misery that man is inflicting upon man throughout the world, it behoves each one of us, if we are at all serious, to find out if it is possible to change radically the whole human structure of thinking and of living. We seem to carry on indefinitely for century after century within the same pattern, within the same mould or prison, in which we suffer agony, despair, guilt and every form of violence as well as the desire to dominate and to possess power. We have lived like that, and each generation seems to fall into the trap of the previous generation. This pattern has been set for a million years or more. When one observes the condition of the whole world at the present time, any serious man must inevitably ask if it is possible to break through this conditioning, this way of life, this mechanical existence which is utterly superficial, with its loneliness, old age, despair and the constant battle of life.

To bring about a radical revolution within oneself one needs tremendous energy. This summation of energy is meditation. That word is used a great deal, especially in the East; and there they seem to treat it as a monopoly. There are various schools established where people are drilled to meditate under the direction of teachers and gurus. There is the whole of Zen meditation, with its many methods. I don't think I exaggerate when I say that this is utterly vain, stupid and without meaning, because what we are concerned with is not having marvellous visions, nor trivial personal experiences - and all personal experiences are very trivial. We are not concerned with 'the expansion of consciousness', which can be attained very easily through will, through drugs, through a certain form of meditation - but that is still within the prison walls of consciousness, and all consciousness is limitation; always in it there is a centre and a circumference which binds, limits.

What is important is this deep radical, essential revolution in the mind. And, as we said, this demands great energy. Meditation is the summation of all energy without distortion. To change from a certain habit to another series of habits demands energy - to give up a trivial thing like smoking demands energy, to get rid of envy needs that quality of driving energy, to put an end to the various cravings and appetites that culture, civilization and society have developed in each one of us, and for which we are responsible - to change the pattern of those habits requires a great deal of energy. Because what we are concerned with is not mystical, unusual experiences - they don't change man, they don't make him kind, gentle, with an abundance of love. They may help him to be a little more gentle, a little more socially minded - but that is part of the daily convenience of life. But to break that pattern radically, profoundly, in the very brain cells which have been conditioned through centuries and millennia, to live at a different dimension altogether, in which there is no conflict whatsoever, in which the mind is tremendously alert, sensitive, highly intelligent - that demands an energy, not of will, not of desire, but an energy that comes of itself, which has no motivation whatsoever. Bringing about, or gathering together this energy is meditation. And, if we may, we will go into that this morning.

We are considering this non-verbally, non-intellectually; that is, you are not merely listening to a speaker, this is not a talk of a Sunday morning where you have nothing particular to do and come out of curiosity, or to fish out something that will be pleasant to carry home. We are here to discuss a very serious thing, to consider together an immense problem that has been confronting man for millions of years - the ending of sorrow and the beginning of a new life. And as you are responsible for every action, for every misery in the world, (but there need be no 'guilt' in this) it behoves us to listen, not only to the speaker but to listen to the whole movement of life; it is necessary to listen to the empty words of the politicians, of the propagandist, to the clever theoretician whether he be a Communist, or a theologian who, anchored in a belief, invents innumerable ideas. You are listening to find out what is true. Because, when you see what is true, then there is no problem. It is like seeing danger clearly with your naked eyes.

And so it matters very much how one listens because we are going to go into something very complex that demands care, affection, not merely intellectual argument or agreement - we are not propagating ideas, that would be terrible. What we are actually doing together is to unfold, expose, the whole process of thought, of life and see what is actually the truth about them. And so it matters enormously how you listen, whether you listen casually, or whether you listen with a mind that is comparing what is being said with what you already know, or have already read - such a mind is not listening. A mind that listens gives complete attention. It is only when there is inattention that the whole mischief begins.

So we are participating together, you are not merely listening to a series of words, or formulas, or concepts, but actually sharing this problem that has confronted man; whether he believes or doesn't believe, he has always wanted to know whether there is some reality which is not a plaything of the mind, a reality that is beyond time, a reality that has no concept, that is not based on a formula. And if we can so listen perhaps we shall come upon it, naturally, without any effort. Effort is waste of energy. We are used to effort from the moment we go to school until we die, we are always making effort, struggling, adjusting, competing. Effort in any form is a waste of energy. But what is not a waste of energy is actually to see what is, without any distortion, to see a mind that is afraid, to see it without any distortion, without any escape, without trying to go beyond it, but actually to observe it - then quite a different activity comes into being, because then there is no wastage of energy and the mind can tackle this problem of fear, whatever its form may be.

A mind that is caught in the network of effort at any level of its being, brings about its own wastage of energy. After all, all our action, psychologically speaking, is self-centred action. Please do observe it in yourselves, see for yourself the whole pattern, the whole map, of your life; it is self-centred, its activities, however much they are expanding, are the outcome of that centre, with all its efforts to fulfil, to become, to change, to acquire power, position, prestige, to be somebody in a stupid world, everything spins round this self-centred movement. This self-centred activity is essentially a waste of energy. You know in that self-centred activity there is the operation of will. Will is the heightened form of acute desire, the strong urge of a certain reaction, of a certain demand for pleasure. All action of will is separative and when there is separation there must be conflict. Where there is duality in any form there must be a wastage of energy, in which conflict, pain, pleasure, suffering are involved. And all our activities, psychological murmurings, psychological demands and appetites, are centred round this 'me', the 'I', the 'ego'. All its activity, if one observes, is a wastage of energy because this leads to isolation. Though you may be married and have a family, father, mother, husband and wife live their own lives, have their own separate life - they may meet in bed, but their life is separate. He in the office is ambitious, driving for a position, prestige and all the rest of it; and she has her own ambitions, her own envy. So relationship is denied by this self-centred activity.

You can see all this very clearly in your life, if you are at all aware of your own life. You go on your own way, isolating yourself psychologically, becoming aware of your loneliness, your emptiness, your sense of aloofness, isolation, from which there comes sorrow. And then the process of getting rid of the sorrow, or identifying yourself with something greater - all that is a form of the isolating process. And every culture throughout the world is based on this - isolation, then identification and then, not being able to identify oneself with something greater, the invention of something else. This process goes on and on and on, which is again a wastage of energy. For in all this, conflict and pleasure which breed pain are involved. One knows all this more or less, if one has thought a little bit about it, or if one is aware of it all. If one is very clever one will invent a philosophy, or a new formula, a new concept and try to live according to that concept; but again, living according to a principle, to a pattern, to a formula breeds more conflict. So we are caught endlessly in conflict, pleasure, pain, sorrow and all the misery and travail of man. That's our lot!

And you see, if you really observe, or are aware that there must be a different state of life, a different kind of living, you get occasionally an intimation of it, a hint, and that hint, that intimation, becomes a memory, and you cling to that memory; then you want that intimation to be repeated, to have continuity, duration and again there is the battle between what has been and what is.

And so, realizing this enormously complex problem, both at the level of the conscious and the unconscious mind, one realizes or one asks what one can do, whether there is any- thing to be done at all, or whether one is everlastingly bound to time, to sorrow and confusion. I don't know why we divide consciousness into the outer and the inner, the surface consciousness and that below the conscious level. Why do we make so much fuss about the unconscious? I know it is the fashion to talk about it, a great many books are written about it, all the analysts thrive on it! Why does one give such enormous importance to the unconscious? The unconscious is as trivial, as stupid, as ugly, brutal, as the conscious mind; the 'unconscious' is the thing that you have not examined, or you don't know how to examine, it is the residue of all the past, the tradition, the culture, the racial inheritance, the family, and so on. And obviously it is very limited, very small. Surely one can put it all aside, brush it away. But you cannot brush it away by merely saying 'I will brush it away; it must be done with one glance. And that glance must be very swift, not an analytical glance, but a thing that makes you see immediately. And the immediacy of that perception is the summation of energy which is demanded so that you can wipe away the whole thing.

So one sees all this, the misery, the agony, the aggression, the violence and the occasional beauty of love, and the occasional sense of something other than the daily monotonous routine of life. And the demand to capture that otherness, that something which man has always sought after, asked for, has been exploited by the churches throughout the world, by the religions, the clever people who say 'this is the door through which you must go, there is only one Saviour and we are his representatives', or 'there is only one organization we know the truth and nobody else does'. There are others who say 'Come to this Ashrama, to this centre, to this concentration camp, we will drill you so that you will find it'. Man's greed for the otherness has been exploited. And all of them in varying degrees teach such things as the control of thought, because you know if you would see anything very clearly (the flower, the cloud, the bird on the wing, or the clear line of a beautiful mountain), you must look with fresh eyes, with an unspotted, innocent look, which means you must give attention.

Concentration is a waste of energy. Perhaps what we are saying is completely contradictory to what you already have heard or learnt - and I hope it is contradictory - because you will see as we go into this question of concentration how terribly easy it is to let it waste one's energy. After all, concentration is a process of exclusion - I want to concentrate on an image, on a book or something, but my mind wanders off and I pull it back to concentrate; this battle of trying to concentrate on something when the mind is interested in something else is a waste of energy, it is a process of exclusion. So one can put aside concentration completely.

But you need attention, which is entirely different from concentration. I do not know if you have ever given your attention to anything. Perhaps you may go to a museum and look at a picture or statue. Does one attend or is one always comparing, judging, evaluating? Attention comes only when you give your mind, your heart, your nerves, your eyes and ears to something completely, when you listen to truth, or to a falsehood. When you give your complete attention then there is no more problem. It is only when there is inattention, that is when there is no attention that a problem arises. And attention has nothing whatsoever to do with will and concentration. Because a mind that is inattentive is a mind that is full of thought. Do you accept what is being said, or do you deny it? What we said just now was: a mind is inattentive, is not completely attentive, when thought is operating. We said thought is inattention. I do not know if you have ever given attention. When you give attention completely with all your being there is no thought at all. It is only when we are not in that state of complete attention that thought begins. And thought is a waste of energy, because thought is the response of memory, the response of experience, knowledge, which is necessary in the technological field but totally unnecessary and a waste of energy at a different level, at the psychological level.

So, thought is never new, thought is never free; it is always old because it is the outcome of the past, as experience, as knowledge, as memory. A computer, the electronic brain cannot produce a new thing, it repeats, it gives the answers according to what it has been told, informed; it may learn after a few experiments, as when it plays chess, it learns the moves and since it has already learnt the moves, they belong to the past. And so with us, our brains have been conditioned for centuries and centuries to live in a certain pattern of thought, a certain way and because of that thought is always old, and can therefore never bring energy. It can excite, it can give pleasure, and the pleasure and the pursuit of pleasure give us some energy, but that energy is wasted through pain.

So thought, however much it may struggle to acquire attention, can never do it, because attention is always new. It cannot be practised, or learnt step by step. A mind that has been trained, drilled, conditioned, that has lived a life of sorrow and misery is wasting its own energy. So all that it can do is to be aware of its own states, its own mood, to be aware of its own fear, of its own demands, of its own urges - just to see them without wanting to change them. The moment you say 'I must change' you bring in conflict, and then you are caught in its whole pattern. But if you actually see the thing, the fear, the loneliness, the intense sorrow that one has in which there is so much self-pity - just to be aware of that, choicelessly - if you are so aware then you will see that you have a different energy altogether, untouched by the past and therefore able to deal with that problem immediately and end it instantly, without carrying it over.

So, as we said, meditation is the summation of energy.

And you must have this energy completely so as to bring about a radical revolution within yourself. After all, it is only a young mind that can revolt, that can bring about a revolution within itself, not an old mind, not a mind that has lived sixty, seventy years within its own boundaries and has suffered and invented a lot of escapes - such a mind is a wasted mind. Such a mind can never find a way out. And such a mind generally ends in death and misery and confusion and disease in old age. As we said, it is only a young mind that has this quality of an energy that is not contaminated. It is only such a mind that is an innocent mind. It may live a thousand experiences but each experience is gone through, finished, it is not carried over, it doesn't leave a mark.

In enquiring into this way of meditation, one also has to enquire into the whole structure of thought. What is thinking, what is its worth, its meaning? Does it have any meaning at all except for technological purposes? I know thought has become very important; for us, thought, the intellect, the brain is of tremendous significance. Because you will say 'If I do not think what shall I do, what shall I become?' You can't stop thinking by will, but you can understand its nature and its structure and how it comes into being. Without understanding thought you will never be free of fear. Without understanding the nature of thought sorrow has no ending.

So when you begin to enquire into thought you have also to enquire into the nature of pleasure, of our evaluations, our morality, our way of life which is based on pleasure. The very search for truth, for God, or whatever you like to call it, is based on pleasure - the desire to be secure, to be certain - from which we derive tremendous pleasure. So in enquiring into this question of pleasure one has to ask oneself: is love pleasure? Is love a thing of pleasure, a thing of thought? You had an experience yesterday, it gave you great delight, it was that delight, that pleasure that has left a mark, and thought builds upon that pleasure, sustains it, nourishes it, gives it vitality, gives it a continuity and you demand to have that pleasure again - that's what you do sexually. And this demand of thought, of pleasure, is what is generally called love. When you do so love, in it there is pain, jealousy, anxiety, fear, lack of companionship, loneliness. So, is love pleasure? Or if you love is there no pleasure? When you see something very beautiful, the cloud of an evening lit by the setting sun, the looking at it is a great delight - provided that you give your whole attention to it and you can only give your whole attention to it when you don't say, 'How beautiful', or when you aren't thinking how you can put it into words, put it on a canvas and so on - when you can look at it attentively, non-verbally. So is love a word, a symbol, an image, which gives you great pleasure? Having given you great pleasure, to be denied that pleasure is fear. Thought creates pleasure, gives it continuity, as thought gives continuity to fear. You can see that in yourself, you don't have to read any books about it, it's all there if you can look directly and very simply.

So thought is seen as the beginning of sorrow and we wish to discover for ourselves how thought comes into being. One asks oneself: 'Can thought, which belongs to time, come to an end?' Because thought and time are a waste of energy; they lead to inattention. So the question arises: 'Can the mind be completely quiet, completely still?' - not made still by thought, not made still by will and concentration - this is not stillness at all, it is mere stagnation. It is only a very still mind that can see; if you want to see a tree, a flower, if you want to see the face of your wife or husband, or friend (whatever you want to see) you have to look at it without thought, to look at it completely, with a still mind, a mind that has no association; then you will see - but you can only see when the mind is completely quiet. You know all this; and so we say 'How am I to keep this stillness all the time?'

Then begins again the problem - the 'how', which is to find a way of keeping the mind very quiet. So you invent systems, methods, gurus, practices and all the rest of it.

What is important is not how to keep the mind still - that comes naturally, easily, effortlessly if you understand, if you know how to look at the whole structure and the nature of thought, not intellectually, but actually look at the machinery of thought. And to look has its own discipline. That is the beauty of it. You know beauty and love go together; and neither love nor beauty is the product of thought and pleasure. A mind that is seeking pleasure doesn't know what it means to love, and without love there is no meditation, there is no understanding of truth.

21st April 1968