Love, Freedom, Goodness, Beauty Are One
Transcript of Talk 4, Bombay, 12 February 1984
This is the last talk. We were talking about the art of living yesterday. I think we ought to go much more into it. Most of us have given very little thought to that, we have hardly enquired into the nature of what life is, and how to live it. Our daily life, with all its ugly turmoil, passing pleasures, and a great deal of entertainment, both religious and otherwise. We have studied almost all the academic subjects, spent years to become a doctor, a surgeon or an engineer, and the engineer never asks how. He has studied perhaps five or six years, has learnt a great deal of information, stresses, strains and the material and so on – he never asks how to build a bridge, because that is his job. But we, ordinary people like us, we are always asking how. How am I to live a life without any conflict, without any of the problems that are involved in our daily unfortunate lives. We are always striving, reaching out, getting somewhere, and when a question, a challenge is put before you, like: is it possible to live a life in which there is no problem, in which there is no conflict – when you hear that question, you say ‘Yes, sounds good, but tell me how to do it,’ what is the method, what is the system, so that we can live a life of great tranquillity, great inward sense of wonder, a sense of great beauty. Then we say, ‘Tell me how’. I think we ought to banish from our minds, not in the academic subjects, but in the psychological world we should never ask, if one may most respectfully point out, how – never ask anybody how. They only can offer you a system, a method, which then becomes another bondage, another trap in which you are caught.
So we ought to, this evening, go into this question. We have talked about wars, we have talked about human beings psychologically hurt from their childhood, hurt by their parents, by their schools, colleges and universities, by their families, and so on – they are wounded people. And that wound inevitably breeds fear. We talked about fear a great deal. And we also talked about time. Not only the chronological time by the watch but also time as a psychological means of achievement: I am this, but I will be that; I am violent, I will one day be non-violent. This constant becoming from ‘what is’, to ‘what should be’ is also the element of time. Because time is very important for us, not only the physical time to get from here to there, but also the ideal which thought has invented. To achieve an ideal also requires time. So we are bound to time. And writers and some other people have asked, is there an end to time, is there a stop to time.
And as we said yesterday, and during all the other talks here, we are sharing this together. This is not – I’ll repeat it ten times – this is not a lecture. Please kindly pay attention to that. This is not in any way to inform you, to instruct you about various academic subjects, which is what a lecture is. But this is a conversation between you and the speaker, a conversation about life, about the extraordinary complexity of life, the great sense of travail, anxiety, desperate loneliness, and innumerable tears that human beings have shed, wanting to be loved and never finding it, or if one loves you, there’s always the danger and the pain of his leaving.
So we have talked about all this. And if some of us, perhaps a few, even ten, who are really serious in the sense honest, an honesty that is unshakeable, an integrity that can never be broken under any circumstances, and if there were such people, a few at least, then we could bring about a radical change in society. We talked about society. Society is what we are. We have made this society, this ugly, brutal, venomous – you know what this modern society is. We are responsible for it, each one of us. And to bring about a radical, fundamental mutation in the structure and the nature of society, we have to undergo a tremendous examination into ourselves, not theoretical, not problematical or philosophical, but to see what actually we are. And face that fact, not escape from it. Go into it very deeply, and then perhaps a few of us could really bring about a different culture.
And, as we said yesterday, for at least this evening, let us be serious, honest. That is, the word is not the thing, the explanation is not the actual, the description of a mountain, however beautiful, writing a great poem about a mountain in the blue sky and the lovely shadows, all those descriptions and the painting is not the actual mountain. But most of us are satisfied with the description, with the explanation, and then we make of that explanation into an ideal, and then strive to live up to that ideal, which then again becomes a series of conflicts. We went into all this during the last few years, and in the last three talks here. So please kindly remember that you and the speaker are investigating together deeply, seriously and with great honesty, how to live a life which is really a great art.
So let’s begin to enquire more. Humility is necessary, isn’t it, to learn. Humility. Not humbleness, not a sense of remote acceptance, but one needs a great deal of humility to learn. But most of us have not that quality of humility – not to somebody whom you respect, that’s not humility, that’s merely acceptance of authority, and you worship the authority. You saw what is happening this morning. So, humility is one of the factors in life, not arrogance, not vanity. A man who knows a great deal, that gives him a sense of self-importance, and he is a vain man, a man who has achieved a position, a status, power, money, and then that vanity tries to become humility. Don’t you know all this? And humility is not born out of vanity. Humility is necessary to understand the extraordinary complexity of living. And humility with freedom.
We think we are all very free to do what we want to do, what we want, our desire, to fulfil our desires – this is one of the structures of society, each one of us is free to do exactly what he wants to do. Right? You are all doing that. You want to be rich, you want to express yourself, you want to have your own particular way, you are very strong on your opinions, your conclusions. You are free to choose. And we call this freedom. And if you observe what that freedom has done in the world, brought about great confusion, brought about havoc in the world, each one expressing his own particular desire – competitive. And we call this freedom. So we ought to enquire what is freedom. Please ask this question of yourself. Is freedom a matter of choice? You are free to choose, free to go from here to there, free to have different kinds of job – if you don’t like one you go to the other. Freedom to express yourself, free to think what you want, to express it, perhaps in a democratic society, not in the totalitarian states – there freedom is denied. So what is freedom? Because that is part of our life. As we talked yesterday, death is part of our life. The living and the dying. We went into it very carefully, whether the two, death and life live together. That requires, as we pointed out yesterday, a great deal of attention, a great deal of enquiry and great intelligence – the art of living with death. We talked about that. And in the same way we ought to talk over together what is freedom. Does it really exist? The word ‘freedom’, also, some of its root meaning, is love. And is love a matter of choice? And so we ought to find out for ourselves what is actual freedom. Freedom from something – from pain, from anxiety. And is there freedom? Not from something. Do you understand? If it is freedom from something it is merely a reaction. It is like a man in prison saying ‘I must get out of my prison’. We live psychologically in a prison, and when it is painful, ugly, not satisfactory then you want freedom from that. So we are saying freedom from something is the same thing as being in prison (inaudible). Do we meet each other, or am I talking to myself?
So what is freedom? This sense of inward authentic, deep sense of unshakeable freedom – not from something – what is that freedom? Can we together enquire into this, not accept what the speaker is saying, because we went into that. If you accept what the speaker is saying then you are back again to the old pattern of following an authority. The speaker then becomes your guru, and the speaker abhors all gurus. In the world of, if one can use the word ‘spirit’, or ‘spiritual’, authority is a sin. So together let’s enquire what is freedom.
Probably you have never asked that question. You all want to escape from something. I am lonely – and most people are very, very lonely, they want to escape from it through various forms of entertainment, religious and otherwise. But is there a freedom which is not a reaction? And to find out that, one has to enquire what is love. Is love a reaction? Is love attraction, whether it be sexual or otherwise? Please ask these questions of yourself to find out the right answer. How do you find the right answer to a question? I ask the question… the speaker asked the question, you naturally reply to that question, if you are at all thinking, going along with the question, then you respond to that question. Then the speaker then answers to your response. This is real dialogue. Answers to your response, then you respond to my response. Right? Are we following this a little bit? So that there is both question and answer, answer and question. If we maintain this answer, question, question, answer seriously, intensely, then in that process you disappear and the speaker disappears, only the question remains. Do you understand this? Then that very question has vitality. Don’t agree please, test it out for yourself. It’s like a bud, a rose bud. If the question is left in the air, as it were, then it is like a bud which gradually unfolds and shows its nature, the depth of that question, it has its own vitality, energy, drive. That is a dialogue, not just accepting what the other fellow is saying.
So we are asking, is freedom – not from something – is it love? And is love a reaction? That is, I see a beautiful woman or a man, or a marvellous statue – I’d love to have it, I’d love to have it in my room, look at it day after day, and each time I look at it, it is different, that’s a great masterpiece. And for most of us love perhaps may not exist. Please, I am just asking this, I am not saying it does not exist. For most of us perhaps we don’t know what it is. We know attraction, we know tenderness, we know pity, we know guilt, remorse and jealousy. The crows are making an awful lot of noise – I am sorry. Is all that love? Do you understand my question? If it is not love, then love has no reaction. Then that is freedom, which is not born out of a reaction. You may be a Christian, and being intellectual you might become a Buddhist. You have chosen, you are free to become a Buddhist, because Buddhism is much more intellectually active, interesting, it has got great depth and all the rest of it. And you are free from one and trapped in the other. And you may love the Buddha, rejecting your own particular deity. And this is called freedom. The crows are free! (Laughter) This is very important to understand, not intellectually, not verbally, but the depth and the beauty of it.
And we also should ask when we are talking about the art of living, what is beauty. The great architecture, the cathedrals of Europe, the great temples and the mosques of the world, constructed with great architects, the great painters, the great sculptors – Michelangelo – ah! When you see all that, that’s beautiful. So is beauty manmade? Please exercise your brains to find out. A tiger is not manmade. Thank the lord! A tree in a field alone, solitary, with all the dignity of a marvellous old tree – that’s not manmade. But the moment you paint that tree it’s manmade, and you admire, go to a museum to see that tree painted by a great artist. So in our life, which is part of the art of living, is to understand the depth and the beauty of freedom, and the goodness of it. And beauty – not the picture, the poem, the marvellous writer – but what is beauty? A beautiful man, a beautiful woman, a face that has depth. And without that aesthetic quality in life, which is born of sensitivity, which is born out of all the senses in action, not one particular, or two, or three senses, but the whole movement of the senses. Surely beauty is when the self is not. When I am not, beauty is. When the self is not, love is. And so love, freedom, goodness, beauty, are one. Not something separate, not something pursued, one pursues what is beauty and spends the rest of your life on that. But they are all interrelated. Goodness, that word, though it is very old fashioned, that very word has an extraordinary depth to that word. To feel the depth of goodness, and that can only be when there is freedom, when there is love, beauty.
And we ought to also talk over together this extraordinary problem, as we dealt with yesterday about death and suffering, we ought to enquire together what is religion, because that is part of our life. And to find out what is true religion – not all this phoney stuff that is going on in the world – sorry if you are Christians, don’t be upset by what the speaker is saying, nor the Hindus, please don’t get upset, or get angry – it is all a network of superstition, a network of beliefs, hopes born out of fear – you invent god. All that: the ceremonies, all the things that are in the churches, in the cathedrals, in the temples and mosques, are put together by thought. Nobody can deny that. And thought, as we pointed out, is a material process, because thought is based on experience, knowledge, memory, stored in the brain and contained in the cells, therefore it is a material process. That which thought creates is nothing to do with sacredness. You may worship the things that thought has invented, you may worship your guru and your scriptures – the Bible, the Koran, whatever books you read, so-called religious literature – but they are all the product of thought, not straight from god’s mouth, or the horse’s mouth. All that is not religion. Right? It is very difficult for most people to see this clearly because we always have hope in our heart for something which will give us strength, which will free us from our mortal travail. We want somebody to comfort us, the great father, up there. I’d love to tell you a good joke, but I won’t – it’s not the moment.
So we want somebody to comfort us, somebody to tell us what to do, somebody to worship, somebody to cling to in our loneliness and despair. When we are shedding tears we want somebody to hold our hand. And so thought invents all these extraordinary illusions, like god, all the rituals, all the things you worship in temples and mosques, and churches – it’s all the product of thought. And so we are saying, all that is not religion. Would you see that? Not just intellectually, then it becomes a game, rather a stupid game, but if you actually see that it has no meaning, it is a sense of deception, hypocrisy, because that has nothing to do with our daily living. You have had every kind of god from the most ancient of times, pre-history, and these gods and their goddesses and their rituals have not changed the human brain, human brutality, human wars. You may worship your gurus, follow them, but you are not going to stop any war, you are not going to change your whole being.
So we ought to enquire what is religion. To enquire one must be free of all superstitions, naturally, from all authority. Will you do that? The authority of the book, the authority of tradition, the authority which you create for yourself based on your own experience. You understand all this? So that your mind, your brain is free from every kind of illusion. Is that possible? Because the brain invents illusions, myths. All the mythology of Greece, of ancient Egypt, and your own Christian and Hindu mythology, they are all the inventions of thought – super-star and so on. Can the brain be actually free of all that? And the brain has been conditioned for centuries upon century – through propaganda, through tradition, through books – what religion is. Will you be free of that? Not become an atheist, which is another reaction but to have a brain that’s completely free. That requires a great deal of investigation into oneself, a great deal of attention to every thought, every movement of action, so that your whole being is completely denuded of every kind of illusion, which is not easy because we don’t understand the nature of desire. It is the desire for comfort, for some help – you understand? – that creates illusions. To desire illumination, that’s what you all want.
So we ought to investigate what is desire. You understand this? We ought to enquire seriously, honestly – at least for this hour – honestly find out for yourself what is desire, why desire has made us what we are, fighting each other, competitive, hating each other, the desire for power. Power, whether it is political power or the power of a priest, or the power of the image in the temple, the power of a husband over his wife, over his daughter in-laws – you follow? – power. A man having great knowledge is releasing great power. Power in any form is evil, ugly, brutal. And we all want power – power means money. Money means freedom to do what you want to do. So one has to have a brain that is free from all authority and power. Will you do it? Will you study this? Will you go into it? Or you are just listening, spending an hour listening to something that is true and then forget it as you leave this place. That’s what you are going to do. And therefore you shouldn’t be here if you are going to do that, because that will act as a poison – hearing something true and not living it. Then you have a conflict, and conflict destroys, degenerates the brain. So either don’t listen, or listen with all your heart and mind so that the word is the action. The two are not separate. So can you have a brain that is totally free from all tradition, all authority – including your own authority, which is having confidence in yourself, which gives you an authority. You understand this, a very complex problem. The authority of the policeman, the authority of the government, the law – which you apparently disregard totally – the authority of taxes. Is that all right, may I…
So, can your brain be free from all this, and that freedom is not a reaction, because you understand the nature of authority, you understand the nature of tradition – that is mere following mechanically accepting, which degenerates the brain. You see that, and therefore you put it away, it is not a reaction. If you react then you back again into the old pattern.
So then one can ask, what is religion. You understand? Only then you can find out. And that implies meditation. May I use that word? Because that word has been used by every kind of guru, and the money-makers of gurus, with their power, position, they teach you, there are many schools in different parts of the world, teaching you meditation – Tibetan meditation – oh god, it all sounds so silly, all this – Tibetan, the Buddhist, the Hindu, Zen, and your own guru invents a particular form of meditation, and you are caught in it. But you never enquire, because you are too greedy to get something, you never enquire what is meditation. What does it mean? Not how to do meditate. If you ask how to meditate, then it is very simple: do this and don’t do that, sit for ten hours on your head… stand on your head, sit in a certain posture, breathe in a certain way, control your mind, thought. And who is the controller to control the thought? Have you asked that? Who is the controller when you want to control your thought in meditation, or when you are in business, or anywhere else – who is the controller? Isn’t he also part of thought? Right? Isn’t he? So, controller, who is also thought, controls thought. You understand the game we play?
So, what is meditation? The meditation that we do is born of desire. No? We want to achieve peace of mind – I don’t know whatever that may mean. We want to achieve illumination, we want to reach nirvana, we want to become something. Right? We’re always… That’s part of meditation – climb the ladder – ladder to heaven – which is climbing the ladder of success – same thing, not much different. The man who is born a clerk wants to arrive, become the manager; you meditate in order to become god knows what. So you meditate. So if you can put all that aside, what is meditation? To find that out let’s go briefly into what is desire.
What is desire? What is the source of desire? How does the desire – spring from? Is desire born from the object perceived? I see a beautiful car, the seeing creates the desire. Right? Just go, please, careful, don’t agree what I’m saying. We are going to contradict all that presently, so don’t be caught in a trap. Does the object create desire? I see a beautiful house and I want it. I see an extraordinarily intelligent, beautiful depth of it (inaudible), and say ‘My god, I wish I had that’. So we ought to enquire very carefully into what is desire. Not suppress desire. We are not saying suppress desire, or give in to desire. Like the monks suppress desire, and the others indulge in desire. So we ought together find out for ourselves – for ourselves, not be told, and the speaker is not telling you, for god’s sake he is not telling you – find out what is desire. The object – a car, or a woman, or a beautiful tree, all that which you see in a lovely garden: the green lawn, the border of flowers, the scent of early morning, spring in a garden – you see all that and you say, ‘My god, I wish I had a garden like that’. Don’t you all know that kind of desire? Yes, sir. So, we are not suppressing or indulging, we are enquiring into what is desire. If one can understand the nature and the structure of desire then you can deal with it. You see the car – I am taking that silly example, you can take your own particular example – you see something mechanical, a car, a good watch; seeing, that is visual, seeing, then from that seeing, sensation – right? – from that sensation what takes place? Contact, is part of sensation – right? – then – just a minute – then what takes place? Don’t repeat – if you have heard this before from the speaker, don’t repeat it, because then that means nothing. Repetition. I saw a parrot once, beautiful parrot, lovely plumes, it was chattering away what the master had been talking about. And that’s what you generally do – repeat, repeat, repeat… So please don’t repeat, then you become second-hand human beings without dignity. So, seeing, contact, sensation. Now what takes place after that? Go very slowly, find out. I see this very good watch a friend gave, I see this in the window. I go inside, examine it, touch it, feel it, see the weight of it, who made it – and then what happens? Then thought comes in, creates an image and says, ‘I wish I had it’. That is, seeing, contact, sensation, then thought immediately creates the image – right? – and then that very second when thought creates the image of you in the car, or you having that watch, at that second desire is born. Right? Are we clear on this matter? At least intellectually.
Now, if you see that, can there be an interval between seeing, contact, sensation? An interval before thought takes shape of it, makes a shape of it. You understand? You understand? You understand? An interval. Can you do it? It’s all so rapid. So when you slow it down, like a motion picture, slow it down, then you see everything in detail. And that’s desire. So extend the gap. Because you are desire, you are the very structure of thought and desire. So if you understand, if you look into the nature of thought and your reactions, you can slow the whole mechanism down, very quiet, slow; or you understand this instantly. That requires attention, that requires passion to find out.
So, let’s go back to meditation. That is, if you have understood, not verbally, if you understand the nature and the structure of desire, then we can go back and find out what is meditation. Is conscious meditation meditation? You understand my question? Is it? Obviously not. If I consciously sit down for ten minutes a day, or twenty minutes in the morning, twenty minutes in the afternoon, twenty minutes in the evening, then it becomes a relaxation, siesta, nice comfortable, enjoyable ‘go to bed’ – that’s what is called, I won’t name it, you know all that business. So what is meditation? If you consciously meditate it has a direction, a motive, a desire to achieve. Surely that is not meditation, is it? That’s like the clerk becoming the manager – he is working, working, working. The two things are the same. You call that business, the other calls it religious achievement. Both are exactly the same thing. Do we see that? Gentlemen, do you see it, who meditate? Of course not. That means giving up your pet enjoyment, pet entertainment. So we are saying conscious meditation is no meditation because it is born of desire. Therefore it is born out of a desire to achieve, to become something, which is the self becoming something. The self, the ‘me’ becoming god. It sounds so silly. Forgive me for using that word. Then what is meditation, if it is not conscious meditation then what is meditation? You understand?
The word ‘meditation’ means also to ponder, to think over, and also measure – to measure. That’s part of the meaning, the root meaning of that word ‘meditation’, both in Sanskrit, and so on. Now, can your brain stop measuring? You understand? I am this, I will be that. I am comparing myself with you, you are so beautiful, you have grace, you have brains, you have got quality, depth, you are aesthetically wearing something extraordinary – I want that. You are measuring, which is comparison. Right? Can you stop comparing? Don’t agree – stop comparing, find out what it means to live without a movement of comparison.
So you understand? Love is not a reaction, therefore it is free – not to express what you want, that’s a reaction. And freedom is part of that love. Where there is love there is intelligence, not born out of thought. Intelligence is something outside the brain – I won’t go into all this, it’s too complicated, I’ll just… Like compassion. Compassion, love, freedom is outside the brain. I know, I could go into it – there is no time. Because the brain is conditioned, it can’t contain this.
So, meditation is not conscious deliberate act. There is a totally different kind of meditation which has nothing whatsoever to do with thought and desire. And that means a brain that is really, if I may use the word, empty. Empty of all the things that thought, man has made. And where there is space – because freedom means that, love means that, space, vast, limitless space – and where there is space there is silence and energy. If you are thinking about yourself all day long, which most of us are, then you have reduced the extraordinary capacity of the brain to such a small issue about yourself, therefore you have no space. And so the brain, though it has its own rhythm – not that the speaker is a specialist on brains, but he has lived a long time, studied in time himself, watched others – the brain has its own rhythm that can be left alone. But when the brain is silent, not chattering, quiet, utterly… then there is that which is not measurable by words, that which is eternal, nameless.