The Ending of Sorrow

Transcript of Talk 3, Calcutta, 27 November 1982

We ought to talk over together this evening why human beings who have lived for over four thousand years, are behaving as they are, what has happened to them, what has happened to each one of us that we don’t lead an orderly, sane, balanced life. We have created this society which is immoral, unethical, corrupt, destructive. Each one of us has contributed to it, and if there is to be a radical change in the social structure, we have to begin with ourselves, not with politics, not with Marxism or some kind of retreat from the present. We have to put order in our house first. We are disorderly, violent, confused, lonely. So we are going to talk over this evening what is total order, if there is any kind of love, what is compassion, whether sorrow can ever end, the sorrow of human beings right throughout the world.

We are talking over together – you and the speaker – our problems amicably, without any resistance, not agreeing but exploring, investigating, seeing why we live such disorderly lives and why we accept things as they are. We are not advocating or talking about physical violence, physical revolution. On the contrary, such revolutions have never produced a good society. We are talking about human behaviour, why man is what he is. We cannot blame the environment, we cannot blame the politicians or the scientists. That is a very easy escape, but what we ought to be concerned with is why somewhat intelligent people, somewhat educated people, lead such disorderly lives. So our question is, what is disorder? A confused mind, a confused life, cannot find what is order. Could we together find out for ourselves what causes disorder in our lives, what brings about a society which is utterly disordered? What is disorder? What is the nature and the structure of disorder? There is disorder, isn’t there? Where there is contradiction – saying one thing and doing something totally different – there is bound to be disorder. I wonder if one is aware of this. Then, there is conflict, disorder, when we are pursuing ideals – whether political ideals, religious ideals or our own projection of what we think we ought to be. That is, where there is division between actually what is happening in ourselves and neglecting that and pursuing an ideal, that is one of the causes of disorder. Another cause in the psychological, so-called inward life, is to pursue authority, the authority of a book, the authority of a guru, the authority of so-called spiritual people. We accept very easily authority in our inward life. Of course, you have to accept the authority of the scientists, of the technocrat, the doctor, the surgeon. But inwardly, psychologically, why do we accept authority at all? This is an important question to ask. We will come back to it.

We are asking what are the causes of disorder. We said pursuing an ideal is disorder, accepting authority of another in the world of the mind, the inward psychological state, is disorder. One of the other causes of disorder is the everlasting attempt to become something inwardly. So, perhaps these and other causes bring about disorder. We are going to investigate each one of them. Why do we have ideals at all? What is an ideal? Originally the root meaning of that word ‘idea’ was to observe, to look, to seek. But we have translated it as a projection of a particular concept brought about by thought, and that is the ideal and the ideal is far more important and the pursuit of that ideal becomes all-consuming when you totally neglect ‘what is.’ ‘What is’ is important. not the ideal. We are using the word, ‘what is,’ in the sense what is actually happening, both outwardly and inwardly. We are violent, as most human beings are. To have an ideal of non-violence has no reality, has no validity, but what has validity, reality, is the fact that we are violent, and to deal with that violence not in terms of ideals and patterns. Perhaps, in this country, the pursuit of non-violence which is an illusion has deprived us of our energy to look at actually what is going on.

We never look at ‘what is’. We want to change what is taking place to something else. This has been the process of centuries upon centuries. The political ideal, the religious ideal, the ideal that one has created for oneself, an end, a goal – and the goal, the end, the ideal, becomes extraordinarily important and not what is actually happening. That is, the ‘what is’ is being transformed into ‘what should be’. Then there is struggle, there is disorder. Whereas, if we give our attention to ‘what is’, and the ‘what is’ is violence, hatred, antagonism, brutality, we can deal with it. We are concerned to discover the causes of disorder. We are saying that one of the major factors of disorder in life is trying to transform or change ‘what is’ into ‘what should be’. The ‘what should be’ is totally unreal, but ‘what is’ is all-important. If I am greedy, I have to enquire into the nature of greed, whether that greed can really have an end or it must continue and not have the ideal of non-greed. To see the illusory nature of ‘what is’, is the beginning of intelligence.

Then there is division in us, there is duality, the opposite. Is there an opposite at all? There is opposite as light and darkness, tall and short, and so on. Basically, is there an opposite at all? We say there is an opposite in the world of psyche, in the world of spirit. We say there is the good and the bad, the good and the evil. Is good the opposite of evil? If it is the opposite, then it has its root in its own opposite. If evil is the opposite of the good, then that evil has a relationship with the good. The opposite is put together by thought. Either the good is totally divorced from evil or it is the outcome, the opposite, the invention, of thought as the good. So what is the good? Let us enquire into that.

What is the good? According to the dictionary, the common usage of that word means good behaviour, good in the sense of being whole, not fragmented but having that sense or understanding of the nature of the wholeness of life, and in that there is no fragmentation as the evil. But if evil is the outcome of the good, then that evil has a relationship with the good. We are enquiring together if there is an opposite in our life, if there is hate and love. Can love have a relationship with hate, with jealousy? If hate has a relationship with love, then it is not love. Obviously. If I hate someone, and at the same time talk about love, it is incompatible. The two don’t meet. We are questioning, is there an opposite at all? Where there is an opposite, there must be conflict. I hate, and also I think I love him. The opposite of hate is not love. The opposite of hate is still hate.

So, that is one of the factors of disorder in our life: the ideal, the opposite and the acceptance of so-called spiritual authority. There is the authority of law, the authority of government, the authority of a policeman, the authority of a good surgeon. But psychologically, inwardly, why do we accept authority – the authority of the priest, the authority of a book, the authority of a guru? When we follow somebody and be guided by somebody, guided what to believe and what not to believe, to accept his system of enlightenment and so on, what is happening to our own brain, to our own inward state? You are my guru. You tell me what to do, what to think, what to believe and the various steps I must take to attain enlightenment or whatever they call it, and I, rather gullible, want to escape from my life which is disorderly, corrupt, insecure. I trust the guru. I give him my life and say I surrender, I give part of my life in attaining that enlightenment. Why do I do that? Because I want some kind of security, some kind of assurance, that I will have some day some kind of happiness, some kind of release from my daily worries and misery. The guru gives you an assurance and you feel satisfied. But you never question the guru, you never doubt what he is saying, you never discuss with him; you accept. That has been the condition of human beings right throughout the world for millions of years. The interpreter between god and you, between that which is holy and you – and you, wanting comfort, security, will accept him without a single doubt.

Now, to question spiritual authority – whether it is Christian authority or the spiritual authority of Islam with their book, or your guru with his statement – to question, to doubt it, is to rely entirely on yourself, be a light to oneself, and that light cannot be lit by another. It requires your questioning, your demanding, of not only the outer, the spiritual authority, but of yourself – why you believe – so that your own mind becomes clear, strong, vital, so that there is energy for creative activity. But when you follow somebody, your brain becomes dull, routine, mechanical, which is the very destructive nature of the human mind, or human brain. So please see why this disorder exists in our life, and when you begin to investigate into this disorder, then out of that disorder comes order. When there is the dissipation of causes of disorder, there is order. Then you don’t have to pursue what is order. Order is virtue, order means freedom.

We have to enquire also into what is freedom. We have said that where there is order in our life, total order, that order is virtue and that very order is freedom. The word ‘freedom’ is misused by everybody. There is freedom from something and there is freedom. Freedom from something is not freedom. We will go into that. I am a prisoner, prisoner of my own ideas, of my own theories, of my own conceptions, and my brain is a prisoner to that. Then freedom is, to be free from my prison to fall into another prison. I free myself from one particular conditioning and, unknowingly or unconsciously, fall into another conditioning. So freedom is from something; from anger, from jealousy; all that is not freedom at all. Freedom means free, not from something. This requires a great deal of enquiry, which is, our brain is conditioned like a computer, programmed to be a Hindu, programmed to be a Muslim, Christian, and so on. The computer is programmed; our brain has been programmed for thousands of years, which is our conditioning. Freedom is the ending of that conditioning. Where there is an end to conditioning, then only there is freedom. Without having that freedom, there must be disorder. So the ideal, the opposite, the pursuit of spiritual authority and accepting the conditioning that we are Hindus, Muslims and so on – all that brings disorder. When there is an end to that, there is order. You will say that it is impossible, impossible not to follow somebody because you are so uncertain, so insecure, and you are willing to follow somebody so easily, which means your brain is becoming dull, inactive. You may be active physically, but psychologically, inwardly, you cease to be active.

We ought to talk over together sorrow, whether there is an end to sorrow. When there is an end to sorrow, then only there is love, then only there is compassion. What is sorrow, grief, pain, a feeling of loneliness, the sense of isolation? What is the nature of sorrow? What is the cause of sorrow. which is pain, fear, a sense of desperate loneliness? Why have human beings, from time immemorial, suffered and are still suffering, not from physical pain, some fatal disease or a feeling of utter rejection, but from the nature of suffering inwardly – the pain, the fears and the escape from it? I wonder if we have realized that for the last thousand years there have been many wars, and how many people have cried, mothers have shed tears! The pain, the anxiety, the hope, all that constitute sorrow, and this sorrow exists in all the days of our life, and we never seem to be free of it, completely ending that sorrow.

We together will go into this because, there is an end to sorrow. Sorrow comes with the loss of somebody, with the death of somebody. My son – I have lost him; there is grief and tears and great sense of loneliness. Then, in that state of shock, in that state of pain, anxiety, loneliness, I seek comfort, I want to escape from this agony. I escape through every form of entertainment, whether it is the drug, the alcohol, the temple, mosque or the church. I begin to invent all kinds of fanciful concepts. I lost him, he is dead, gone, and there is that pain. Can one remain with that pain? Can I look at that pain, hold it, hold it as a precious jewel – not escape, not suppress, not rationalize it, not seek the cause of it, but hold it as a vessel holds water? Hold this thing called sorrow, the pain, that is, I have lost my son and I am lonely, not to escape from that loneliness, not to suppress it, not to intellectually rationalize it, but to look at that loneliness, understand the depth of it, the nature of it. Loneliness is total isolation which is brought about through our daily activity of selfish ambitions or ideological ambitions, competitions, each one out for himself. Those are the activities which bring about loneliness. But if you run away from it, you will never solve sorrow. The very word ‘sorrow’ etymologically means passion. Most of us have no passion. We may have lust, we may have ambition, we may want to become rich; we donate our energies to all that. But that does not bring about passion. Only with the ending of sorrow there is passion. That is total energy, not limited by thought. So it is important to understand the nature of suffering and the ending of it. The ending of it is to hold that sorrow, that pain, too. Look at it. It is a marvellous thing to know how to hold the pain and look at it, be with it, live with it, not get bitter, cynical, but to see the nature of sorrow. There is beauty in that sorrow, depth in that sorrow.

We also have to talk over together what is love. What does that word mean to you? If you are asked in a drawing room what is the meaning of that word to you, what would you answer? What do you mean by that? I love playing golf, I love to read, I love my wife, I love god. Is that love? Do you love your wife? Do you love your husband? Do you love your friend? We are enquiring into what is love. This is very important to enquire because without love, life is empty. You may have all the riches of the earth, you may be a great banker, great scientist, mathematician, great technician, capable of great technology, but without love you are lost, an empty shell. Together we are going to find not what love is, but what is not love. That is, through negation come to the positive. Is jealousy love, jealousy in which there is attachment, anxiety? In jealousy there is hate. Is that love? You are attached to your family, you are attached to a person or an idea or a concept or a conclusion. What are the implications of your attachment? Suppose I am married, I am attached to my wife. What does it mean? Where there is attachment, there is fear. Where there is attachment, there is possessiveness. When there is attachment to an ideal, to a concept, to a belief, or to a person with all the consequences of jealousy, anger, hatred, suspicion, surely all that is not love. To understand the nature of love, is it possible to be totally free from attachment? Please ask this question of yourself.

You are all attached to something or the other. If I may suggest, most respectfully, become aware of the consequences of that attachment. If you are attached to an ideal, you are always on the defensive, or aggressive. If you come to a conclusion, to hold on to that conclusion is to end all further enquiry. Where there is attachment, there must be pain. I am attached to my wife and she may run away, she may look at another man, or she may die. In attachment, there is always fear, there is always anxiety, suspicion, watching. Surely, that is not love. So, can one be totally free of all attachment? It is up to you, but when you are attached, there is no love. Because, in that attachment there is fear. Fear is not love. And the ambitious man who wants to climb the ladder of success has no love because he is concerned with himself, with his achievements, which is the gathering of power, position, prestige. How can such a man love another? He may have a family, children, but in that man there is no love. When you say, ‘I love god as the highest principle’, is that also love? That god, that principle, the highest principle ‘Brahman’, is the result of thought. God is invented by man. I am sure you won’t like this. But you are attached to that concept: god exists. Then you ask who is the creator of all this misery. God hasn’t created all this, has he? If he has, he must be an odd god, he must be a sadist god. All the gods in the world are invented by thought, and to find out what love is, there must be an end to sorrow, end to attachment, end to everything we are committed to inwardly. Where the self, the ego, the me is, love is not. You hear all this, and you will walk away from here with the same attachment, with the same convictions, and never enquire further because the more you enquire about all this, the more life becomes dangerous. Because you may have to give up a lot of things naturally, easily, not as self-sacrifice. You have to understand the nature of attachment and be free from it. You have to realize that when you see the truth of something, you are standing completely alone, and that you may perceive that, and of that you are frightened. You may believe, see the truth inwardly of the nature of attachment, but as you don’t want to quarrel with your wife, or husband, you accept. Gradually you become hypocrites.

Also we should discuss the nature of intelligence. Compassion has its own intelligence, love has its own intelligence. We are going to enquire into what is intelligence. Surely, it cannot be bought in books. Knowledge is not intelligence. Where there is love, compassion, it has the beauty of its own intelligence. Compassion cannot exist if you are a Hindu, or a Catholic, Protestant or a Buddhist, or a Marxist. Love is not the product of thought. In understanding the nature of love, compassion, which is to deny all that which is not, to see that which is false as false, is the beginning of intelligence. To see the truth in the false is the beginning of intelligence. To see the nature of disorder and end it, not carry on day after day but to end it – the ending is the immediate perception which is intelligence.

We are enquiring into what is intelligence. Cleverness is not intelligence. Having a great deal of knowledge about various subjects – mathematics, history, science, poetry, painting – that is not the activity of intelligence. The investigator into the atom may have an extraordinary capacity of concentration, imagination, probing, questioning, formulating hypothesis after hypothesis, theory, after theory, but all that is not intelligence. Intelligence is the activity of the wholeness of life, and that intelligence is not yours or mine. It does not belong to any country or to any people, like love is not Christian love or Hindu love, and so on. So, please enquire into all this because our life depends on all this. We are unfortunate miserable people, always in travail, always in conflict. We have accepted it as the way of life. But in enquiring into all this, there is awakening of that intelligence, and when that intelligence is in operation, in action, there is only right action.