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Rome 1st Public Talk - 10th March 1968
Rome 1st Public Talk - 10th March 1968
SURELY ALL HUMAN problems are interrelated; there is no separate, isolated problem by itself. And in this there is neither West nor East. Human problems are common to all mankind whether one is born in India, Russia, America or England. We are, I am afraid, apt to consider one problem isolated from other problems instead of understanding the totality of all problems. And this can only be done if we are capable, earnest enough to investigate, to go deeply into one problem; then we shall see that all the other problems are related to it. And this is, I feel, rather important to understand; there is no problem by itself, every problem is related to all the other problems and we have, as human beings, innumerable problems. Apparently whatever we touch becomes a problem.
So this morning, and during the next two talks, we have to consider the many problems, the many issues that confront each one of us as a human being. You know exactly what is happening in the world; throughout society there is a tremendous amount of violence, uncertainty and fear, a form of organized, flourishing anarchy. Society has become a structure in which there are wars, separate religions and different nationalities, each in conflict with the other. And all over the world man has lost faith; he no longer trusts anybody, neither the priests nor the politicians, nobody, not even his own parents because the older generation has created such a monstrous society, a world in which there is constant war, insecurity and therefore fear. Religion, whether it is the religion of this country, of India or the Far East, which is
Buddhism, has no meaning any more. And although the priests in all the organized religions talk everlastingly about being kind, loving, in the name of God, in the name of Christ, in the name of all manner of deity, the fact remains that there is a great deal of envy, hatred, greed, brutality, antagonism and violence. So man is beginning to realize that there is no one he can turn to, no one to help him out of this chaos and misery.
We are, therefore, going to examine the facts, not the supposed facts nor what we think we should be, because ideologies have very little meaning. Whether you believe in God, or do not believe, is surely a matter of conditioning. In this country, as in India or elsewhere - except in Russia and the Communist world - the church through two thousand years of propaganda has conditioned man to believe in God, in a saviour. And in the Communist world they are conditioned not to believe in all that nonsense. So, through propaganda, through clever intellectual groups throughout the world - in the past as well as in the present - human beings are being conditioned by words, by various formulas, by ideologies which divide societies, the Capitalist ideology and the Communist ideology. The world is not only divided religiously but nationally as Italy, France, America, Russia and so on. Ideologies are always absurd, idiotic; they have no meaning whatsoever. The thing that has meaning and is of great significance is what is - not what should be or what might have been in the past. You know, when one is terribly confused as we all are, one resorts to the past, to the culture in which one was brought up, hoping thereby to shape one's thoughts differently.
So ideologies have failed, education has failed. Education can give marvellous technological knowledge which will help man get to the moon, show him how to run a computer, or kill thousands of people from a great distance, but we haven't solved human problems, that is how to live together as human beings, how to co-operate with one another and find unity in relationship between man and man. And that's the only thing that matters - nothing else! Not belief in God, in the church with its rituals, dogmas and priests, but how to live together peacefully as human beings, with love, with generosity and without violence. That is the basic problem, otherwise we are going to destroy each other, as we are doing. We have all become so colossally selfish and self-centred because society is organized to function anarchistically, in chaos.
So every human being is concerned with this primary issue, which is to live in this world, earning a livelihood, having great technological skill, and yet not to destroy one another. To live at peace because peace is necessary. I do not mean the politician's peace between two wars, but peace in our daily life in which there is no competition, no destructive ambition that separates the black from the white, the brown from the yellow. And is this possible? To live with a mind that is capable, highly intelligent and therefore sensitive, a mind that knows, in which there is no hatred, jealousy or envy. This has been the major problem throughout the ages - to find a right relationship between man and man, to live peacefully without hate. And man hasn't been able to do this; we have probably lived many millions of years and we haven't been able to solve this problem. Religion has offered an escape from the central issue because religions have always permitted wars as a way of life and we have come to accept this conflict and battle in relationship. These are all facts.
We are living in a period when man has actually lost faith and trust in everything organized. I am not referring, of course, to the organization which brings the milk and delivers your letters, but to the superstructure that society has built with its wars, its riots, the divisions which one must totally reject. And there is a revolt against this society by the young, by the hippies, the Beatles and all the rest of those people; they are in revolt against the structure of a society which breeds war, hatred and antagonism.
There are two kinds of activity; either one is a total revolutionary or one merely revolts. We are not using the word 'revolutionary' in the Communist sense, the bloody revolution to overthrow the government and effect an economic change; we are not talking of that at all. By total revolution we mean that a man - who has been so heavily conditioned for centuries by words and propaganda - can free himself completely from the structure of a society which he himself has created psychologically through ambition, greed, envy and brutality. And this is the highest form of revolution, a revolution in the psyche itself, a total mutation of the mind. If this does not take place, then the revolution today of the young people throughout the world has very little meaning. First it is essential to understand the whole structure of society; how man has put it together, invented gods and therefore has created a corrupt society divided into countries, nations, different religions and so on. Without understanding this structure, merely to revolt against it is to fall into another trap. So we are faced with this problem of youth revolting against society and possibly falling into a new trap. And he will, because he does not understand the psychological structure which has brought it about. A real revolutionary is the man who understands completely, not intellectually, this social order which is himself because he is part of that social order.
The problem then is that for man to change radically, fundamentally, there must be a mutation in the very brain cells of his mind. And that has been going on; people have said you must change, you must act, you must change your mind, your heart, you must be something totally different. This has been preached for thousands of years by men who were very serious, very earnest, as well as by the charlatans who were out to exploit people. And we have reached a point when we have no time at all. Please understand this. We haven't time to make this change gradually. The intellectuals throughout the world have realized this, that man is on the edge of a precipice, that he is going to destroy himself. No religions, no gods, no saviours, no masters and all the nonsense of the gurus, are going to prevent it. The intellectuals say we must invent a new drug, a golden drug that will bring about a complete chemical change; and the scientists are probably going to find such a drug. I do not know if you are aware of all this. Now although the whole physical organism is a biochemical result, can a drug, a super drug make you love, make you kind, generous, gentle, non-violent? I do not think so; a drug cannot make one human being love another. Love is not a product of thought. Love is not something which can be cultivated as you would cultivate a flower in a garden. Love cannot be bought in a drugstore and love is the only thing that is going to save man, not all the religious tricks, neither the rituals nor the army. One may escape to concerts, museums, to various kinds of entertainment, all to no avail for man is now facing a tremendous problem; whether he can radically change, bring about a total mutation in his whole consciousness - not tomorrow, nor a few years hence, but now! That is the main issue; whether man, whatever country he inhabits, with all the beauty of the land, can bring about such a radical mutation within himself immediately. That is the problem, not your beliefs, ideologies, gods, saviours, priests and rituals; they no longer have any meaning.
So, during these talks, if you are at all serious, we are going to try to find out if it is at all possible for man - that is you and I - to change our whole way of thinking, our whole way of living, not verbally, not intellectually but actually because life is relationship; and without relationship there is no life. Even the monk in his monastery, which is really a mode of escape, even he is related. Relationship means life, and when there is conflict in that relationship, whether it be within yourself, or with your husband, your wife, your neighbour or with anybody, then life becomes a battlefield. We have made of our life the daily living which ultimately ends in Vietnam; and we are all responsible for this, not just the Americans, but the Italians, the Russians, the Indians, everybody! Everybody is responsible for war because we are human beings and we have created wars; that's part of our life. And to say the Americans are dreadful people, violent people - so are you! You don't feel this responsibility at all!
The other day we were walking through a wood; it was spring-time and there wasn't a single bird in sight. And two men passed by carrying guns. Your whole life is violent; you are brought up to kill animals to eat. I don't think you realize how terribly serious this whole thing is; if each one of you felt totally responsible for every war, then you would create a different kind of society with a different form of education, with different history books. But you're not interested, you don't feel responsible. And that's why the younger generation are revolting against it - they must! Unfortunately they don't understand the nature of human beings so they will create another society which will be corrupt and destructive in a different way. The problem is: how to bring about this change in the human mind and the human heart and whether the intellect can ever bring about this change. There is this capacity to think very clearly, very sanely, logically, objectively; that is the function of the intellect. But the intellect, as we now see, has brought about this destructive society in the world; it has invented guns, it has invented class distinction, and seeking security it has created gods and the organization of belief which is called religion. So thought has brought about this structure which is called society and thought is responsible for it. The intellect is responsible for the war within yourself, the war in Vietnam, the war between you and your wife or husband, and the war with your neighbour.
The intellect through the function of thought has produced all this; it has also invented the atomic bomb, the computer, the jet, the nuclear missiles that can destroy thousands of people. And, at the same time, it has provided modern man with comfort. So man - if he is at all aware - asks whether thought can by itself bring about this change? Thought being the response of memory which is the accumulation of experience as knowledge. And can that knowledge, that experience, which is memory, bring about a radical revolution in our minds and hearts?
Please, this is not a lecture given by a professor to which you casually listen, agreeing or disagreeing, accepting what you like and rejecting what you don't like. This is not that kind of a talk; here we are sharing the problems together as two human beings. We are trying to take a journey together into this enormously complex problem of living, so it's your responsibility how you listen and what you do with what you have listened to, because when you listen with full attention - and you can only listen that way if you are really serious - you will see the enormous danger, then you will become serious. But if you listen with your prejudices as a Catholic, as a Protestant, as a Hindu or as a Buddhist, whatever you are, then you are not listening at all. You can only listen when you are not translating what is being said into your own terminology, your own background. Listening is an act, an immediate act, which reveals the whole problem. It's like seeing. I do not know if you have ever tried to look at flower, a cloud or a tree. Are you looking at that flower, that cloud or that tree through the images you have about them? If you are, then you are not really looking at the flower, but at the image you have built about that flower. In the same way you look at another through the image, the wife looking at the husband with the image she has built throughout the years of marriage or non-marriage. And he has built an image about her, the image being the pleasure and the pain, the flattery and sexual gratification, the arguments and insults; you know how one builds in relationship. So neither do you look at the flower without the image nor at your husband, your wife or your neighbour - so you never look! You never look at a flower nor at a beautiful statue; you have an image, a symbol, you want to find out who made it, only then do you begin to admire. So when you are listening to this talk, please listen - don't have images! Then you will see that if you actually give your whole mind and heart to it, you will have nothing whatever to do, you will have done it. Therefore an enormous change takes place
So, as we were saying, this is not a talk in which your intellect merely indulges in the clever tricks of argument, opinion and judgment. We are examining very seriously this complex problem of living which is your life, not the life of the speaker or the life which he may describe. It is your life and your life is responsible for the wars, for the misery, for the agony of every human being. And our question is whether or not it is possible to change.
Certain things are involved in bringing about this change. We must find out what it means; again this is a very complex problem. You see, for most of us, change means a gradual process. I am this; I am violent - if you are aware at all of your own violence. I am violent and gradually, day by day I will get rid of it. And therefore man has invented the ideology of non-violence. But the fact is I am violent, in my life, the way I act. I am violent in my speech, the way I talk to people and in my manner, the way I look at people; every part of me is violent. That's a fact, that's what is And I don't know what to do about it, how to try and change it so I invent an ideology which is - I must not be violent. And I hope by asserting I must not be violent, or by using the ideology of non-violence as an inspiration, that I'll get rid of violence. So, there is an interval between the fact of what is and what should be; is that quite clear? Now when there is this ideology of what should be, which is totally different from what is, then begins the conflict of duality. And man has invented this as a means of escape from what is, man indulges in escapes. In India they are everlastingly talking of non-violence, the ideology; they have preached it up and down the land. And here in Italy you have, too, in your own way. And that leads to great hypocrisy, because if you avoid the fact of what is, then you're bound to be a hypocrite. So ideologies such as non-violence only lead to greater conflict.
Please follow this step by step because I am going into it. I don't know what to do with violence. I've always been taught not to be violent or to indulge in violence and find reasons for it; after all, violence is our heritage from the animals, you are the result of the animal, and with one or two rare exceptions, all animals are predators. But the opposite of 'what is', always breeds conflict; please understand this very simple psychological fact. If you see this, not intellectually but actually, then you will have no ideals, no opposites, then you are faced with the fact of 'what is'. The question then arises: is it possible to change 'what is'? And if there is no opposite, then 'what is' is all right. Let me explain this a little more fully if I may. I am angry or I dislike something; this is a form of violence, there is a great deal of violence in me as a human being. Now if I am not the opposite, how do I know I am violent? Are you following all this? Do I know violence only because I know non-violence? This is very important to understand because we are going into the question of complete change, how to be completely free from violence, not only consciously but also at the unconscious level, so one must be very clear about all this. If you have no opposite as non-violence, how do you know you are violent? Do you know it only because you have the word which says you are violent? We live on words, to us the word means the very thing; the word God to a believer is tremendously important. But the word is not the thing; the word 'door' is not the door. The word 'microphone' is not the microphone, the thing you touch, but to us the symbol has become the reality; in a temple or church the image is to us the reality. So we must be very clear when we are looking into this question of violence, whether or not it is the word that makes us violent. And, because we have the opposite therefore we know we are violent and if we have neither the word nor the opposite what is violence? Take your own violence for instance - I am sure you are all violent in your own little ways - and look at it! Is that state of anger, hatred, the result of the opposite or is it evoked by the word, the word being thought? You cannot think without the word, without the symbol; there is no thinking at all without the word. If you have no word, there is no thought. So thought recognises - thought being memory and all the rest of it - this is violence because it has experienced violence before; when there is a violent reaction, thought recognises it as violent. That's simple. Thought through the word says this is violent; but thought is always old, thought can never be new, thought being memory, experience, knowledge whether that memory, experience, knowledge is conscious or unconscious. So thought, always being old, recognises the response as violence, but can thought remain silent when the response of anger comes?
This requires a great deal of meditation which perhaps we will go into another time. As Christians - believing in certain symbols, beliefs and dogmas - you have been conditioned through two thousand years of propaganda as they have been in India for more than five thousand years. So you are the result of all this organized thinking. The problem then is: can you look at yourself without the symbol of thought because when you look at yourself through thought - thought being the old - you are looking at yourself in the old pattern; therefore you are establishing more and more the tradition of what you are. So can you look at yourself, can you look at what you have called violence without the whole mechanism of thought? This doesn't mean you go to sleep or become blank; on the contrary, it means awareness of the highest attention.
If I may ask, have you ever given complete attention to anything? Complete attention, that is with your eyes, your ears, your nerves, your heart, with everything. And in that attention, is there thought? When we give complete attention - in the sense we are using it - to that feeling which we have called 'violence', is there violence? If you have followed what has been said, not verbally or intellectually, but actually using the speaker as a mirror in which you are looking at yourself, then you will see that when you give complete attention to something, thought is wholly absent; therefore the thing which was is totally changed.
You know, we are used to change through will; I want to do this, I must change that. That's the way we have been taught to try and do it, but will is the product of desire. We are not saying desire is right or wrong, we are looking at the fact. When you look at a fact there is no judgement; it is a fact. Will is the result of desire, strengthened and hardened, and through will we hope to change. When we examine will - which is the very essence of desire - we see that in will there is involved pleasure. So we say I want to change because the other state will be more pleasurable, more secure. Will then is not the way to bring about a change because in it is involved thought, desire and pleasure. Our whole social morality, which is really immoral, is based on pleasure. I don't know if you have observed this but it is fairly obvious. So thought cannot possibly change the human mind because thought is memory, thought is always the old; and will is also the old. Do look at it, examine it; then you will find out for yourselves. The habits we have cultivated through thought, through will, as a means of bringing about a change are completely useless because man has tried all that. Then what is one to do? If neither thought nor will can change violence - and it is a proven fact, not a theory, that neither of these two has ever brought about a radical revolution in the human mind - then what can?
I hope you have followed so far, not in abstraction but actually. You know, to look at anything one must have new eyes, eyes that are innocent, eyes that are seeing things for the first time. And to understand this violence, you must look at it totally anew, not in the old way. To look at a flower or a marvellous cloud, you must have a clear, unspotted eye, an eye that has lived and seen a thousand experiences and yet is free of all experience; it is only then that you can see. And you can see totally with innocent eyes only when you give complete attention. You know, this attention is not the result of will. You can't say I will attend, I will give my heart to this attention; if you do then you have brought conflict to that attention. But if you see, actually see sensuously with your eyes, with your ears, with your heart and your mind, that it is only possible to bring about a radical revolution in the psyche itself when you give complete attention to every word, every gesture, every feeling, to your meals, the way you sit, to everything, then you will see that there is a radical mutation in the mind and the heart; and it comes into being without any ideology, without struggle, without effort. Such change is immediate because one has seen clearly the danger of violence.
There is another question to be considered; whether the unconscious, which is the residue of all the past, will interfere with immediate action. You know, we have given such extraordinary importance to the unconscious. I wonder why. Of course, I know it's the fashion; it's been introduced by the analysts, by the psychologists, but why has man given such extraordinary importance to it? The unconscious is as stupid, as trivial, as nonsensical as the conscious because the unconscious is the past, the residue of the racial inheritance, and so also is the conscious brain. And you can wipe away the whole of the unconscious with a single sweep when you know, when you realize the great importance of looking at things without the image, without the past; that means to look without fear. We will go into that next time we meet.
1Oth March 1968