Furthermore, society does not want individuals who are alert, keen, revolutionary, because such individuals will not fit into the established social pattern and they may break it up. That is why society seeks to hold your mind in its pattern, and why your so-called education encourages you to imitate, to follow, to conform. The mind is the result of habit, is it not? It is the result of tradition, the result of time–time being repetition, a continuity of the past. And can the mind, your mind, stop thinking in terms of what has been–and of what will be, which is really a projection of what has been? Can your mind be free from habits and from creating habits? For such a mind there is no death because there is no longer a process of accumulation. It is the process of accumulation that creates habit, imitation, and for the mind that accumulates there is deterioration, death. But a mind that is dying each day, each minute–for such a mind there is no death. It is in a state of infinite space. So the mind must die to everything it has gathered–to all the habits, the imitated virtues, to all the things it has relied upon for its sense of security. Then it is no loner caught in the net of its own thinking.

Questioner: How can we put into practice what you are telling us?

You hear something which you think is right and you want to carry it out in your everyday life; so there i a gap between what you think and what you do, is thre not? You think one thing, and you are doing something else. But you want to put into practice what you think, so there is this gap between action and thought; and then you ask how to bridge the gap, how to link your thinking to your action. Now, when you want to do something very much, you do it, don’t you? When you want to go and play cricket, or do some other thing in which you are really interested, you find ways and means of doing it; you never ask how to put it into practice. You do it because you are eager, because your whole being, your mind and heart are in it. But in this other matter you have become very cunning, you think one thing and do another. You say, “That is an excellent idea and intellectually I approve, but I don’t know what to do about it, so please tell me how to put it into practice”–which means that you don’t want to do it at all. What you really want is to postpone action, because you like to be a little bit envious, or whatever it is. You say, “Everybody else is envious, so why not I?”, and you go on as before. But if you really don’t want to be envious and you see the truth of envy as you see the truth of a cobra, then you cease to be envious and that is the end of it; you never ask how to be free of envy. So what is important is to see the truth of something, and not ask how to carry it out–which really means that you don’t see the truth of it. When you meet a cobra on the road you don’t ask, “What am I to do?” You understand very well the danger of a cobra and you stay away from it. But you have never really examined all the implications of envy; nobody has ever talked to you about it, gone into it very deeply with you. You have been told that you must not be envious, but you have never looked into the nature of envy; you have never observed how society and all the organized religions are built on it, on the desire to become something. But the moment you go into envy and really see the truth of it, envy drops away. To ask, “How am I to do it?” is a thoughtless question, because when you are really interested in something which you don’t know how to do, you go at it and soon begin to find out. If you sit back and say, “Please tell me a practical way to get rid of greed,” you will continue to be greedy. But if you inquire into greed with an alert mind, without any prejudice, and if you put your whole being into it, you will discover for yourself the truth of greed; and it is the truth that frees you, not your looking for a way to be free. Is it not a very strange thing in this world, where there is so much distraction, entertainment, that almost everybody is a spectator and very few are players? Whenever we have a little free time, most of us seek some form of amusement. We pick up a serious book, a novel, or a magazine. If we are in America we turn on the radio or the television, or we indulge in incessant talk. There is a constant demand to be amused, to be entertained, to be taken away from ourselves. We are afraid to be alone, afraid to be without a companion, without a distraction of some sort. Very few of us ever walk in the fields and the woods, not talking or singing songs, but just walking quietly and observing things about us and within ourselves. We almost never do that because, you see, most of us are very bored; we are caught in a dull routine of learning or teaching, of household duties or a job, and so in our free time we want to be amused, either lightly or seriously. We read, or go to the cinema–or we turn to a religion, which is the same thing. Religion too has become a form of distraction, a kind of serious escape from boredom, from routine. I don’t know if you have noticed all this. Most people are constantly occupied with something–with puja, with the repetition of certain words, with worrying over this or that–because they are frightened to be alone with themselves. You try being alone, without any form of distraction, and you will see how quickly you want to get away from yourself and forget what you are. That is why this enormous structure of professional amusement, of automated distraction, is so prominent a part of what we call civilization. If you observe you will see that people all over the world are becoming more and more distracted, increasingly sophisticated and worldly. The multiplication of pleasures, the innumerable books that are being published, the newspaper pages filled with sporting events–surely, all these indicate that we constantly want to be amused. Because we are inwardly empty, dull, mediocre, we use our relationships and our social reforms as a means of escaping from ourselves. I wonder if you have noticed how lonely most people are? And to escape from loneliness we run to temples, churches, or mosques, we dress up and attend social functions, we watch television, listen to the radio, read, and so on. Do you know what loneliness means? Some of you may be unfamiliar with that word, but you know the feeling very well. You try going out for a walk alone, or being without a book, without someone to talk to, and you will see how quickly you get bored. You know that feeling well enough, but you don’t know why you get bored, you have never inquired into it. If you inquire a little into boredom you will find that the cause of it is loneliness. It is in order to escape from loneliness that we want to be together, we want to be entertained, to have distractions of every kind: gurus, religious ceremonies, prayers, or the latest novels. Being inwardly lonely we become mere spectators in life; and we can be the players only when we understand loneliness and go beyond it. After all, most people marry and seek other social relationships because they don’t know how to live alone. Not that one must live alone; but, if you marry because you want to be loved, or if you are bored and use your jobs as a means of forgetting yourself, then you will find that your whole life is nothing but an endless search for distractions. Very few go beyond this extraordinary fear of loneliness; but one must go beyond it, because beyond it lies the real treasure. You know, there is a vast difference between loneliness and aloneness. Some of the younger students may still be unaware of loneliness, but the older people know it: the feeling of being utterly cut off, of suddenly being afraid without apparent cause. The mind knows this fear when for a moment it realizes that it can rely on nothing, that no distraction can take away the sense of self-enclosing emptiness. That is loneliness. But aloneness is something entirely different; it is a state of freedom which comes into being when you have gone through loneliness and understand it. In that state of aloneness you don’t rely on anyone psychologically because you are no longer seeking pleasure, comfort, gratification. It is only then that the mind is completely alone, and only such a mind is creative. All this is part of education: to face the ache of loneliness, that extraordinary feeling of emptiness which all of us know, and not be frightened when it comes; not to turn on the radio, lose oneself in work, or run to the cinema, but to look at it, go into it, understand it. There is no human being who has not felt or will not feel that quivering anxiety. It is because we try to run away from it through every form of distraction and gratification that we never understand that anxiety when it comes upon us. So, when the pain of loneliness comes upon you, confront it, look at it without any thought of running away. If you run away you will never understand it, and it will always be there waiting for you around the corner. Whereas, if you can understand loneliness and go beyond it, then you will find there is no need to escape, no urge to be gratified or entertained, for your mind will know a richness that is incorruptible and cannot be destroyed.

What is the difference between awareness and sensitivity?

I wonder if there is any difference? You see a lovely tree with its leaves sparkling after the rain; you see the sunlight shining on the water and the gray-hued features of the birds; you see the villagers walking to town carrying heaven burdens, and hear their laughter; you hear the bark of a dog, or a calf calling to its mother. All this is part of awareness, the awareness of what is around you, is it not? Coming a little closer, you notice your relationship to people, to ideas and to things; you are aware of how you regard the house, the road; you observe your reactions to what people say to you, and how your mind is always evaluating, judging, comparing or condemning. This is all part of awareness, which begins on the surface and then goes deeper and deeper; but for most of us awareness stops at a certain point. We take in the noises, the songs, the beautiful and ugly sights, but we are not aware of our reactions to them. We say, “That is beautiful” or “That is ugly” and pass by; we don’t inquire into what beauty is, what ugliness is. Surely, to see what your reactions are, to be more and more alert to every movement of your own thought, to observe that your mind is conditioned by the influence of your parents, of your teachers, of your race and culture–all this is part of awareness, is it not? The deeper the mind penetrates its own thought processes, the more clearly it understands that all forms of thinking are conditioned; therefore the mind is spontaneously very still–which does not mean that it is asleep. On the contrary, the mind is then extraordinarily alert, no longer being drugged by mantrams, by the repetition of words, or shaped by discipline. This state of silent alertness is also part of awareness; and if you go into it still more deeply you will find that there is no division between the person who is aware and the object of which he is aware.

Now, what does it mean to be sensitive? To be cognizant of colour and form, of what people say and of your response to it; to be considerate, to have good taste, good manners; not to be rough, not to hurt people either physically or inwardly and be unaware of it; to see a beautiful thing and linger with it; to listen tentatively without being bored to everything that is said, so that the mind becomes acute, sharp–all this is sensitivity, is it not? So is there much difference between sensitivity and awareness? The people who are sensitive in life may suffer much more than those who are insensitive; but if they understand and go beyond their suffering they will discover extraordinary things.

Why are we fundamentally selfish?

I think it is very important not to call oneself either selfish or unselfish, because words have an extraordinary influence on the mind. Call a man selfish and he is doomed; call him a professor and something happens in your approach to him; call him a Mahatma and immediately there is a halo around him. Watch your own responses and you will see that words like “lawyer,” business man,” “governor,” “servant,” “love,” “God,” have a strange effect on your nerves as well as on your mind. The word which denotes a particular function evokes the feeling of status; so the first thing is to be free of this unconscious habit of associating certain feelings with certain words, is it not? Your mind has been conditioned to think that the term “selfish” represents something very wrong, unspiritual, and the moment you apply that term to anything your mind condemns it. So when you ask this question, “Why are we fundamentally selfish?”, it has already a condemnatory significance. It is very important to be aware that certain words cause in you a nervous, emotional, or intellectual response of approval or condemnation. When you call yourself a jealous person, for example, immediately you have blocked further inquiry, you have stopped penetrating into the whole problem of jealousy. Similarly, there are many people who say they are working for brotherhood, yet everything they do is against brotherhood; but they don’t see this fact because the word’ brotherhood’ means something to them and they are already persuaded by it; they don’t inquire any further and so they never find out what are the facts irrespective of the neurological or emotional response which that word evokes. So this is the first thing: to experiment and find out if you can look at facts without the condemnatory or laudatory implications associated with certain words. If you can look at the facts without feelings of condemnation or approval, you will find that in the very process of looking there is a dissolution of all the barriers which the mind has erected between itself and the facts.

Why is it that, from birth to death, the individual always wants to be loved?

You want to be loved because you do not love; but the moment you love, it is finished, you are no longer inquiring whether or not somebody loves you. As long as you demand to be loved, there is no love in you; and if you feel no love, you are ugly, brutish, so why should you be loved? Without love you are a dead thing; and when the dead thing asks for love, it is still dead. Whereas if your heart is full of love, then you never ask to be loved, you never put out your begging bowl for someone to fill it. It is only the empty who ask to be filled, and an empty heart can never be filled by running after gurus or seeking love in a hundred other ways.

You said one day that we should sit quietly and watch the activity of our own mind; but our thoughts disappear as soon as we begin consciously to observe them. How can we perceive our own mind when the mind is the perceiver as well as that which it perceives?

Now, is there a perceiver, or only perception? Is there a thinker, or only thinking? Surely, the thinker does not exist first. First there is thinking, and then thinking creates the thinker–which means that a separation in thinking has taken place. It is when this separation takes place that there comes into being the watcher and the watched, the perceiver and the object of perception. As the questioner says, if you watch your mind, if you observe a thought, that thought disappears, it fades away; but there is actually only perception, not a perceiver.

When you look at a flower, when you just see it, at the moment is there an entity who sees? Or is there only seeing? Seeing the flower makes you say, “How nice it is, I want it”; so the “I” comes into being through desire, fear, greed, ambition, which follow in the wake of seeing. It is these that create the “I,” and the “I” is non-existent without them.

If you go deeper into this whole question you will discover that when the mind is very quiet, completely still, when there is not a movement of thought and therefore one experiencer, no observer, then that very stillness has its own creative understanding. In that stillness the mind is transformed into something else. But the mind cannot find that stillness through any means, through any discipline, through any practice; it does not come about through sitting in a corner and trying to concentrate. That stillness comes when you understand the ways of the mind. It is the mind that has created the stone image which people worship; it is the mind that has created the Gita, the organized religions, the innumerable beliefs; and, to find out what is real, you must go beyond the creations of the mind.

Advertisements