You are here

Part II - Chapter 19 - 2nd Public Dialogue, Brockwood Park - 1st September 1977 - ‘How is one to know oneself?’

Part II - Chapter 19 - 2nd Public Dialogue, Brockwood Park - 1st September 1977 - ‘How is one to know oneself?’

Facebook iconTwitter icon
The Wholeness of Life

What is the nature of thought that it ceases when there is complete attention and when there is no attention it arises? One has to understand what it is to be aware otherwise one will not be able to understand completely the full significance of attention.

Is there an idea of awareness or is one aware? There is a difference. The idea of being aware, or being aware. “Aware” means to be sensitive, to be alive, to the things about one, to nature, to people, to colour, to the trees, to the environment, to the social structure, the whole thing, to be aware outwardly of all that is happening and to be aware to what is happening inside. To be aware is to be sensitive, to know, to observe, what is happening inside psychologically and also what is happening outside, environmentally, economically, socially and so on. If one is not aware of what is happening outwardly and one begins to be aware inwardly then one becomes rather neurotic. But if one begins to be aware of what is exactly happening in the world, as much as possible, and then from there moves inwardly, then one has a balance. Then there is a possibility of not deceiving oneself. One begins by being aware of what is happening outwardly and then one moves inward – like the ebb and flow of the tide, there is constant movement – so that there is no deception. If one knows what is happening outside and from there moves inward one then has criteria.

How is one to know oneself? Oneself is a very complex structure, a very complex movement; how is one to know oneself so that one does not deceive oneself? One can only know oneself in one’s relationship to others. In one’s relationship to others one may withdraw from them because one does not want to be hurt and in relationship one may discover that one is very jealous, dependent, attached and really quite callous. So relationship acts as a mirror in which one knows oneself. It is the same thing outwardly; the outer is a reflection of oneself, because society, governments, all these things, are created by human beings fundamentally the same as oneself.

To find out what awareness is one must go into the question of order and disorder. One sees outwardly that there is a great deal of disorder, confusion and uncertainty. What has brought about this uncertainty, this disorder; who is responsible? Are we? Be quite clear as to whether we are responsible for the disorder outwardly; or is it some divine disorder out of which divine order will come? So, if one feels responsible for the outward disorder then is not that disorder an expression of one’s own disorder?

One observes that disorder outwardly is created by our disorder inwardly. As long as human beings have no order in themselves there will be disorder, always. Governments may try to control that disorder, outwardly; the extreme form is the totalitarianism of Marxism – saying it knows what order is, you do not, it is going to tell you what it is and suppress you, or confine you in concentration camps and psychiatric hospitals and all that follows.

The world is in disorder because we are in disorder, each one of us. Is one aware of one’s disorder or has one but a concept of disorder? Is one aware that one is in disorder or is it merely an idea which has been suggested that one accepts? The acceptance of an idea is an abstraction, an abstraction from “what is”. The abstraction is to move away from “what is” – and one mostly lives in ideas and moves away from facts. Is one accepting a concept of disorder or is one aware that one is oneself in disorder? Does one understand the difference between the two? Does one become aware, per se, for itself?

What does one mean by disorder? There is contradiction; one thinks one thing, and does another. There is the contradiction of opposing desires, opposing demands, opposing movements in oneself – duality. How does this duality arise? Is it not that one is incapable of looking at “what is”? One would rather run away from “what is” into “what should be”, hoping somehow, by some miracle, by some effort of will, to change “what is” into “what should be”. That is: one is angry and one “should not” be angry. If one knew what to do with anger, how to deal with anger and go beyond it, there would be no need for “what should be”, which is “do not be angry”. If one can understand what to do with “what is”, then one will not escape to “what should be”. Because one does not know what to do with “what is”, one hopes that by inventing an ideal that one can somehow through the ideal change “what is”. Or, because one is incapable and does not know what to do, one’s brain becomes conditioned to living always in the future – the “what one hopes to be”. One is essentially living in the past but one hopes by living for an ideal in the future to alter the present. If one were to see what to do with “what is” then the future does not matter. It is not a question of accepting “what is”, but remaining with “what is”.

One can only understand something if one looks at “what is” and does not run away from it – not try to change it into something else. Can one remain with, observe, see, “what is” – nothing else? I want to look at “what is”. I realize that I am greedy but it does not do anything. Greed is a feeling and I have looked at that feeling named greed. The word is not the thing; but I may be mistaking the word for the thing. I may be caught in words but not with the fact – the fact that I am greedy. It is very complex; the word may incite that feeling. Can the mind be free of the word and look? The word has become so important to me in my life. Am I a slave to words? – knowing that the word is not the thing. Has the word become so important that the fact is not real, actual, to me? I would rather look at a picture of a mountain than go and look at a mountain; to look at a mountain I have to go a great distance, climb, look, feel. Looking at a picture of a mountain is looking at a symbol, it is not reality. Am I caught in words, which are symbols, thereby moving away from reality? Does the word create the feeling of greed? – or is there greed without the word? This requires tremendous discipline, not suppression. The very pursuit of the enquiry has its own discipline. So I have to find out, very carefully, whether the word has created the feeling, or if the feeling exists without the word. The word is greed, I named it when I had that feeling before therefore I am registering the present feeling by a past incident of the same kind. So the present has been absorbed into the past.

So I realize what I am doing. I am aware that the word has become extraordinarily important to me. So then, is there a freedom from the word greed, envy or nationality, Communist, Socialist and so on – is there a freedom from the word? The word is of the past. The feeling is the present recognized by the word from the past, so I am living all the time in the past. The past is me. The past is time; so time is me. The me says: “I must not be angry because my conditioning has said: do not be greedy, do not be angry.” The past is telling the present what it should do. So there is a contradiction because fundamentally, very deeply, the past is dictating the present, what it should do. The me, which is the past with all its memories, experiences, knowledge, a thing put together by thought, the me, is dictating what should happen.

Now, can I observe the fact of greed without the past? Can there be observation of greed without naming, without getting caught in the word, having understood that the word can create the feeling and that if the word creates the feeling then the word is ‘me’, which is of the past, telling me “do not be greedy”? Is it possible to look at “what is” without the me – which is the observer? Can I observe greed, the feeling, its fulfilment and action, without the observer which is the past?

The “what is” can only be observed when there is no me. Can one observe the colours and forms around one? How does one observe them? One observes through the eye. Observe without moving the eye; because if one moves the eye the whole operation of the thinking brain comes into being. The moment the brain is in operation there is distortion. Look at something without moving one’s eyes; how still the brain becomes. Observe not only with one’s eyes but with all one’s care, with affection. There is then an observation of the fact, not the idea, but the fact, with care and with affection. One approaches “what is” with care, with affection; therefore there is no judgement, no condemnation; therefore one is free of the opposite.