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Public Talk 1 Bombay (Mumbai), India - 19 February 1967
It seems to me that it is always good to be serious, especially when we are sitting down here talking about serious things. We need a certain attention, a certain quality of penetration and a deep enquiry into the various problems that each one of us has and into the problems that the world is facing. As one observes, not only in this country but right throughout the world, there is chaos, a great deal of confusion and human misery in every form that does not seem to diminish. Though there is great prosperity in the West, the West has many problems, not only at the economic and social levels but at a much deeper level. There is a revolt going on there among the young; they no longer accept the tradition, the authority, the pattern of society.
And when one comes to this country, as we do every year, one sees the rapid decline, the poverty, the utter disregard for human beings, the political chicanery, the absolute cessation of any religious, deep enquiry, the tribal warfare between various groups, and fasting over some trivial affair. When the house is burning, when there is such chaos, when there is such misery, to spend one's life or even make an exhibition of oneself over some trivial affair indicates the state of mind of those who are supposed to be leaders, religious or political.
When one observes all these facts, not only outwardly, organizationally, economically, socially, but also inwardly, apart from all the repetition of traditions, apart from the accepted norms of thought and the innumerable platitudes that one utters, and when one goes deeply beyond all this inwardly, one will find that there is also great chaos, contradiction.
One does not know what to do. One is always seeking endlessly, going from one book to another, from one philosophy to another, from one teacher to another. And what we are really seeking is not clarity, is not the understanding of the actual state of mind, but rather we are searching for ways and means to escape from ourselves. Religions in different forms throughout the world have offered this escape, and we are satisfied in trying to find out a convenient, pleasurable, satisfying retreat. When one observes all this - the increasing population, the utter callousness of human beings, the utter disregard for others' feelings, for others' lives, the utter neglect of the social structure - one wonders if order out of this chaos can be brought about. Not political order - politics can never bring about order; neither an economic structure nor a different ideology can bring about order. But we do need order. For, there is a great deal of disorder, both outwardly and inwardly, of which one is vaguely, speculatively, casually aware. One feels the problems are too immense. The population is exploding so fast that one asks oneself, "What can I do as a human being living in this chaotic misery, violence, stupidity? What can I do?" Surely, you must have asked this question of yourself if you are at all serious. And if one has asked oneself this very serious question, "What can one do oneself?", the invariable answer is: "I am afraid I can do very little to alter the structure of society, to bring about order, not only within but also outwardly".
And generally one asks the question "what can I do?", and invariably the answer is "very little". There one stops. But the problem demands a much deeper answer. The challenge is so great that every one of us must respond to it totally, not with some conditioned reply - not as a Hindu, as a Buddhist, as a Muslim, as a Parsi, as a Christian; all these are dead, gone, finished; they have no longer any meaning except for the politician who exploits ignorance and superstition. The scriptures, what has been said by the philosophers, by the authorities in religion with their sanctions and with their demands that you obey, that you follow - these have totally lost all meaning for any man who is aware, who is conscious of the problems of the world.
You know, man has lost faith in what he has believed; he no longer follows anybody. You understand what is happening politically when the audience throws shoes and stones at the speaker? It means that they are discarding leadership, they do not want to be told what to do any more. Man is in despair. Man is in confusion. There is a great deal of sorrow. And no ideology, whether of the left or the right, has any meaning. All ideologies are idiotic anyhow. They have no meaning, when they are faced with the actual fact of what is. So we can disregard not only the authority of leadership but also the authority of the priest, the authority of the book, the authority of religion; we can totally disregard all these and we have to disregard them in order to find out what is true. Nor can you go back to what has been. You know, one hears often in this country about the heritage of India, what India has been. They are everlastingly talking about the past, what India was. And the people who generally talk about the cultures of the past, have very little thought; they can repeat what has been, what the books have said, and it is a convenient dope with which to lull the people. So we can disregard all those, sweep them completely away; we have to, because we have problems that demand tremendous attention, deep thought and inquiry, not a repetition of what somebody has said, however great he may be. So, when you put away all the things that have been, that have brought about this immense misery, this utter brutality and violence, then we are confronted with facts, actually with what is, both outwardly and inwardly, not with what should be. The `what should be' has no meaning.
You know, revolutions - like the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution; the Communist Revolution - have been made on ideologies of `what should be'. And after killing millions and millions of people they are discovering that people are tired of ideologies. So you are no longer ideologists, no longer leaders; you have no longer anybody to tell you what to do. You are now facing the world by yourself, alone, and you have to act. So our problem becomes immensely great, frightening. You as a human being, alone, without any support from anybody, have to think out the problems clearly, and act without any confusion, so that you become an oasis in a desert of ideas. Do you know what an oasis is? It is a place with a few trees, water and a little pasturage, in a vast desert where there is nothing but sand and confusion. That is what each one of us has to be at the present time - an oasis, where we are - so that each one of us is free, clear, not confused, and can act, not according to personal inclination or according to one's temperament or compelled by circumstances.
So the challenge is very great and you cannot reply to it by running away from it. It is at your door. So you have got to take stock. You have got to look around. You have got to find out what to do for yourself. And that is what we are going to do together. The speaker is not going to tell you what to do, because there is, for him, no authority. And this is very important for you to understand: that all spiritual authority has come to an end, because it has led to confusion, to endless misery, to conflict. It is only the most foolish that follow.
So if we can put aside all authority, then we can begin to investigate, to explore. And to explore you must have energy, not only physical energy but mental energy, where the brain functions actively, not made dull by repetition. It is only when there is friction, that energy is wasted. Please follow this a little bit. Don't accept what the speaker says, because that has no meaning. We are concerned with freedom, not a particular kind of freedom but the total freedom of man. So we need energy, not only to bring about a great psychological, spiritual revolution in ourselves, but also to investigate, to look, to act. And as long as there is friction of any kind, friction in relationship between husband and wife, between man and man, between one community and another community, between one country and another country, outwardly or inwardly, as long as there is conflict in any form however subtle it may be, there is a wastage of energy. And there is the summit of energy when there is freedom.
Now we are going to enquire and discover for ourselves how to be free from this friction, from this conflict. You and I are going to take a journey into it, exploring, enquiring, asking - never following. Therefore, to enquire there must be freedom. And there is no freedom when there is fear. We are burdened with fear, not only outwardly but inwardly. There is the outward fear of losing a job, of not having enough food to eat, of losing your position, of your boss behaving in an ugly manner. Inwardly also there is a great deal of fear - the fear of not being, of not becoming a success; the fear of death; the fear of loneliness; the fear of not being loved; the fear of utter boredom; and so on. So there is this fear; and it is this fear that prevents the enquiry into all the problems and being free from them. It is this fear that prevents a deep enquiry within ourselves.
So our first problem, our really essential problem, is to be free from fear. You know what fear does? It darkens the mind. It makes the mind dull. From fear there is violence. From fear there is this worship of something which you know nothing about; therefore, you invent ideas, images - images made by the hand or by the mind and various philosophies. And the more you are clever, the more you have authority in your voice and in your gesture, the more the ignorant follow you. So our first concern is: is it possible to be totally free from fear? Please put that question, and find out.
During these four talks what you are trying to do is to bring about an action on the part of a human being in a world that is a desert, that is in confusion, that is of violence, so that each one of us becomes an oasis. And to discover that and to bring about that clarity, that precision, so that the mind is capable of going far beyond all thought, there must be, first, freedom from all fear.
Now, first, there is the physical fear that is the animal response. Because we have inherited a great deal of the animal; a great part of our brain structure is the heritage of the animal. That is a scientific fact. It is not a theory, it is a fact. The animals are violent; so are human beings. The animals are greedy; they love to be flattered, they love to be petted; they like to find comfort; so do human beings. The animals are acquisitive, competitive; so are human beings. The animals live in groups; so do human beings like to function in groups. The animals have a social structure; so have human beings. We can go on much more in detail. But it is sufficient to see that there is a great deal in us which is still of the animal.
And is it possible for us not only to be free of the animal, but also to go far beyond that and find out - not merely enquire verbally but actually find out - whether the mind can go beyond the conditioning of a society, of a culture in which it is brought up? To discover, or to come upon, something which is totally of a different dimension, there must be freedom from fear.
Obviously self-protective reaction is not fear. We need food, clothes and shelter - all of us, not only the rich, not only the high. Everybody needs them, and this cannot be solved by politicians. The politicians have divided the world into countries, like India, each with its separate sovereign government, with its separate army, and all this poisonous nonsense about nationalism. There is only one political problem, and that is to bring about human unity. And that cannot be brought about if you cling to your nationality, to your trivial divisions as the South, the North, the Telegu, the Tamil, the Gujarati and what not - it all becomes so infantile. When the house is burning, sir, you don't talk about the man who is bringing the water, you do not talk about the colour of the hair of the man who set the house on fire; but you bring water. Nationalism has divided man, as religions have divided man, and this nationalist spirit and the religious beliefs have separated man, put man against man. And one can see why it has come into being. It is because we all like to live in a little puddle of our own.
And so, one has to be free from fear; and that is one of the most difficult, things to do. Most of us are not aware that we are afraid, and we are not aware of what we are afraid. And when we know of what we are afraid, we do not know what to do. So we run away from it. You understand, sir? We run away from what we are, which is fear, and what we run away to, increases fear. And we have developed, unfortunately, a network of escapes. So one has to become aware not only of the fears one has, but also of the network which one has developed and through which one runs away.
Now, how does fear come into being? You are afraid of something - afraid of death, afraid of your wife, husband; afraid of losing a job, afraid of so many things. Now, take one particular fear that you have, and become conscious of it. We will proceed to examine how it comes into being and what we can do about it, how to resolve it completely. Then we shall establish a right relationship between you and the speaker. This is not mass psychology or mass self psycho-analysis, but an enquiry into certain facts which we have to face together. How does fear come about - fear of tomorrow, fear of losing a job, fear of death, fear of falling ill, fear of pain? Fear implies a process of thought about the future or about the past. I am afraid of tomorrow, of what might happen. I am afraid of death; it is at a distance still, but I am afraid of it. Now, what brings about fear? Fear always exists in relation to something. Otherwise, there is no fear. So one is afraid of tomorrow or of what has been or what will be. What has brought fear? Isn't it thought? I think that I might lose my job tomorrow; therefore, I am afraid. I might die, and I do not want to die; I have lived a wretched, monstrous, ugly, brutal, insensitive life without any feeling, and yet I do not want to die; and thought creates the future as death, and I am frightened of that.
Do you follow all this? Please, do not merely accept words. Don't merely listen to certain words. But rather listen, because it is your problem. It is your everyday problem, whether you are asleep or awake - this matter of fear. You have to solve it yourself, nobody is going to solve it for you. No mantras, no meditation, no gods, no priests, no Government, no analysts, nobody is going to solve it for you. So you have to understand it, you have to go beyond it. Therefore, please listen. Not with your cunning mind; don't say, "I will listen and compare what he says with what I already know, or with what has been said" - then you are not listening. To listen you must give your complete attention. To give complete attention means care. There can be only attention when you have affection, when you have love; which means that you want to resolve this problem of fear. When you have resolved it, you become a human being, a free man who can create an oasis in a world that is decaying.
So thought breeds fear. I think about my losing a job or I might lose a job and thought creates the fear. So thought always projects itself in time, because thought is time. I think about the illness I have had and I do not like pain, and I am frightened that the pain might return again. I have had an experience of pain; thinking about it and not wanting it create fear. Fear is very closely related to pleasure. Most of us are guided by pleasure. To us, like the animals, pleasure is of the highest importance, and pleasure is part of thought. By thinking about something that has given me pleasure, that pleasure is increased. Isn't it? Have you not noticed all this? You have had an experience of pleasure - of a beautiful sunset, or of sex - and you think about it. The thinking about it increases pleasure, as thinking about what you have had as pain brings fear. So thought creates pleasure and fear. Doesn't it? So thought is responsible for the demand for, and the continuation of pleasure; and thought is also responsible for engendering fear, bringing about fear. One sees this; this is an actual experimental fact.
Then one asks oneself, "Is it possible not to think about pleasure or pain? Is it possible to think only when thought is demanded, but not otherwise?" Sir, when you function in an office, when you are working at a job, thought is necessary; otherwise you could not do anything. When you speak, when you write, when you talk, when you go to the office, thought is necessary. There, it must function precisely, impersonally. There, thought must not be guided by inclination, a tendency. There, thought is necessary. But is thought necessary in any other field of action?
Please follow this. For us thought is very important; that is the only instrument we have. Thought is the response of memory which has been accumulated through experience, through knowledge, through tradition; and memory is the result of time, inherited from the animal. And with this background we react. This reaction is thinking. Thought is essential at certain levels. But when thought projects itself as the future and the past psychologically, then thought creates fear as well as pleasure; and in this process the mind is made dull and, therefore, inaction is inevitable. Sir, fear, as we said, is brought about by thought - thinking about losing my job, thinking my wife might run away with somebody, thinking about death, thinking about what has been and so on. Can thought stop thinking about the past psychologically, self-protectively, or about the future?
You understand the question? You see, sir, the mind in which is included the brain, can invent and can overcome fear. To overcome fear is to suppress it, to discipline it, to control it, to translate it in terms of something else; but all that implies friction, doesn't it? When I am afraid, I say to myself, "I must control it", "I must run away from it", "I must go beyond it" - all that implies conflict, doesn't it? And that conflict is a waste of energy. But if I understood how fear comes into being, then I could deal with it. I see how thought creates fear. So I ask myself, "Is it possible for thought to stop as otherwise fear will go on?" Then I ask myself, "Why do I think about the future?", "Why do I think about tomorrow?", or "Why do I think about what has been as pain or pleasure yesterday?"
Please listen quietly: we know that thought creates fear. One of the functions of thought is to be occupied, to be thinking about something all the time. Like a housewife who thinks about the food, the children, the washing up - that is all her occupation; remove that occupation, and she will be lost, she will feel totally uncomfortable, lonely, miserable. Or take away the God from the man who worships God, who is occupied with God; he will be totally lost. So thought must be occupied with something or the other, either about itself or about politics, or about how to bring about a different world, a different ideology and so on; the mind must be occupied. And most of us want to be occupied; otherwise we shall feel lost, otherwise we do not know what to do, we will be lonely, we will be confronted with what we actually are. You understand? So, you are occupied, thought is occupied - which prevents you from looking at yourself, at what you actually are.
We are concerned with bringing about a different world, a different social order. We are concerned not with religious beliefs and dogmas, superstitions and rituals, but with what is true religion. And to find that out there must be no fear. We see that thought breeds fear, and that thought must be occupied with something as otherwise it feels itself lost. One of the reasons why we are occupied with God, with social reform, with this, with that, or with something or the other, is because in ourselves we are afraid to be lonely, in ourselves we are afraid to be empty. We know what the world is: a world of brutality, ugliness, violence, wars, hatreds, class and national divisions, and so on. Knowing actually what the world is - not what we think it should be - our concern is to bring about a radical transformation in that. To bring about that transformation, the human mind has to undergo tremendous mutation; and the transformation cannot take place if there is any form of fear.
Therefore, one asks oneself, "Is it possible for thought to come to an end so that one lives completely, fully?" Have you ever noticed that when you attend completely, when you give your attention completely to anything, there is no observer and therefore no thinking, there is no centre from which you are observing? Do it some time, give your attention completely - not `concentration'. Concentration is the most absurd form of thought; that any schoolboy can do. What we are talking about is `attention' - that is, to give attention. If you are listening now with all your being, with your mind, with your brain, with your nerves, with your total energy, listening; not accepting, not contradicting, not comparing, but actually listening with complete attention - is there an entity who is listening who is observing? You will find that there is no observer at all. Now, when you look at a tree, look with complete attention. There are so many trees here, look at them. When you listen to the sound of the crows going to bed at night, listen to it completely. Don't say, "I like that sound", or "I don't like that sound". Listen to it with your heart, with your mind, with your brain, with your nerves, completely. So also see the tree without the interference of thought - which means: no space between the observer and the observed. When you give such total and complete attention, there is no observer at all. And it is the observer that breeds fear: because the observer is the centre of thought, it is the me, the I, the self, the ego; the observer is the censor. When there is no thought, there is no observer. That state is not a blank state. That demands a great deal of enquiry - never accepting anything.
You know you have accepted all your life; you have accepted tradition, you have accepted the family, you have accepted society as it is. You are merely an entity who says "yes". You never say; "no" to any of these things; and when you do say "no", it is merely a revolt. And revolt creates its own pattern which then becomes habit, tradition. But if you have understood the whole social structure, you will see that it is based on conflict, on competition and on the ruthless assertion of oneself at any price, either in the name of God, or in the name of the country, in the name of peace and so on.
So to be free of fear, give complete attention. Next time fear arises in your mind - fear of what is going to happen, or fear that something that has happened might come back again - give your complete attention; do not run away from it, don't try to change it, don't try to control it, don't try to suppress it, be with it totally, completely, with complete attention. Then you will see that because there is no observer there is no fear at all.
One of our peculiar fallacies is that we think there is the unconscious, a deep-rooted thing which is going to bring fear in different forms. You understand? All consciousness has its limitations. And to go beyond the limited conscious, conditioned entity, it is no good dividing it as the `conscious', and the `unconscious'. There is only the conscious field; and if you give attention at any moment completely, then you will wipe away the unconscious as well as the limited consciousness.
Attention cannot be cultivated. There is no method, no system, no practice by which you can have attention. Because when you practise a method to become attentive, it shows that you are cultivating inattention; what you are concerned with, then, is to cultivate attention through being inattentive. When you follow a system, a method, what are you doing? You are cultivating mechanically certain habits, repeating a certain activity which only dulls the mind; it does not sharpen the mind. Whereas if you give attention even for a second or a minute, completely, then you will see that momentary total attention wipes away that which you have been afraid of. In that attention there is neither the observer nor the observed. The observer then is the observed. But to understand that, to go into that, one has to enquire into the whole problem of time and space.
But, you see, our difficulty is we are so heavily conditioned, that we never look, never ask, never question, never doubt. We are all followers, we are all yes-sayers. And the present crisis demands that you do not follow anybody. You, out of your confusion, cannot follow anybody; for, when you are confused and you follow somebody, you are following out of confusion, not out of clarity. If you are clear, you will never follow anybody. And when you follow somebody out of your confusion you will create more confusion. So what you have to do is to stop first, enquire, look, listen.
Unfortunately, this country is very old in its so-called culture. "Culture" is a very good word, but it has been spoilt by the politicians, by the people who have very little thought, or very little of something original to say. So they have used this word `culture' to cover up their own thoughtlessness. But to bring about a different culture - which means to grow, to flower, not to remain in a static state - and to understand that, one has to begin with oneself. Because you are the result of this culture, the culture of India, with all the traditions, with all the superstitions, with all the fears, the culture in which there is religion, social divisions, linguistic divisions. You are a part of all that, you are that; you are not separate from that. So the moment you are aware of, and give your total attention to, what you are, then you will see that you have dropped all that instantly. Then you are free from the past completely. It is only when you are aware of your conditioning that it falls away from you naturally - not through any volition, not through any habit, not through any reaction; but it just drops away because you are giving your attention.
But most of us walk through life inattentively. We are rarely attentive. And when we are attentive, generally we react according to our conditioning as a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Communist, a socialist, or what you will. And therefore we answer from the background in which we have been brought up. Therefore, such reaction only creates further bondage, further conditioning. But when you become aware of your conditioning - just be aware, just give a little attention then you will see that your mind is no longer divided as the conscious and the unconscious; then you will see that your mind is no longer chattering endlessly. Therefore the mind becomes extraordinarily sensitive. And it is only a very sensitive mind that can be silent - not a brutalized mind, not a mind that has been tortured through discipline, control, adjustment, or conformity; such a mind can never be quiet through repetition which it calls meditation. Meditation is something entirely different - which subject we will perhaps go into another time.
As we said, a mind that is afraid, do what it will, will have no love whatsoever; and without love you cannot construct a new world. Without love there can be no oasis. And you, as a human being, have created this social structure in which you are caught. To break away from that - and you have to break from it completely - you have to understand yourself, just to observe yourself as you actually are. Then out of that clarity comes action. And then you will find out for yourself a different way of living, a way of life which is not repetitive, which is not conforming, which is not imitating, a life which is really free and therefore a life that opens the door to something which is beyond all thought.
February 19, 1967