Man is searching for something more than the transient. Probably from time immemorial he has been asking himself if there is something sacred, something that is not worldly, that is not put together by thought, by the intellect. He has always asked if there is a reality, a timeless state not invented by the mind, not projected by thought, but a state of mind where time does actually not exist: if there is something “divine”, “sacred”, “holy” (if one can use those words), that is not perishable. Organized religions seem to have supplied the answer. They say there is a reality, there is a God, there is something which the mind cannot possibly measure. Then they begin to organize what they consider to be the real and man is led astray. You may remember the story about the devil who was walking down the street with a friend; they saw a man ahead stoop down and pick up something from the road. And as he picked it up and looked at it there was a great delight in his face; the friend of the devil asked what it was that he had picked up and the devil said, “It is truth”. The friend said, “Isn’t that a very bad business for you?” The devil answered, “Not at all, I am going to help him organize it. (Laughter)
The worship of an image made by the hand or by the mind and the dogmas and rituals of organized religion, with their sense of beauty, have become something very holy, very sacred. And so man, in his search for that which is beyond all measure, all time, has been caught, trapped, deceived, because he always hopes to find something which is not entirely of this world. After all, what actually have traditional, bureaucratic, capitalist, or Communist societies to offer? Very little except food, clothes and shelter. Perhaps one may have more opportunities for work or can make more money, but ultimately, as one observes, these societies have very little to offer; and the mind, if it is at all intelligent and aware, rejects it. Physiologically one needs food, clothes and shelter, that is absolutely essential. But when that becomes of the greatest importance, then life loses its marvellous meaning. So this evening it might be worthwhile spending some time to find out for ourselves if there really is something sacred, something which is not put together by thought, by circumstances, which is not the result of propaganda. It would be worthwhile, if we could, to go into this question, because unless one finds something that is not measurable by words, by thought, by any experience, life – that is, everyday living – becomes utterly superficial. Perhaps that is why (though maybe not) the present generation rejects this society and is looking for something beyond the everyday struggle, ugliness, brutality.
Can we inquire into the question, “What is a religious mind? What is the state of the mind which can see what truth is? You may say “there is no such thing as truth, there is no such thing as God, God is dead, we must make the best of this world and get on with it. Why ask such questions when there is so much confusion, so much misery, starvation, ghettos, racial prejudices; let’s be concerned with all that, let’s bring about a humanitarian society”. Even if this were done – and I hope it will be done – this question must still be asked. You may ask it at the end of ten, fifteen, fifty years, but this question will inevitably be asked. It must be asked: whether there is a state which puts an end to time.
First of all there must be freedom to look, freedom to observe if there is such a state or not; we cannot possibly assume anything. So long as there is any assumption, any hope, any fear, then the mind is distorted, it cannot possibly see clearly. So freedom is absolutely necessary in order to find out. Even in a scientific laboratory you need freedom to observe; you may have an hypothesis, but if it interferes with the observation then you put it aside. It is only in freedom that you can discover something totally new. So if we are going to venture together, not only verbally but nonverbally, then there must be this freedom from any sense of personal demand, any sense of fear, hope or despair; we must have clear eyes, unspotted, unconditioned, so that we can observe out of freedom. That is the first thing.
In the past three talks we have found that there is the question of fear and pleasure. If that is no clear and if one has not applied oneself to the question of fear, then it will not be possible to follow further into what we are going to explore. Obviously our minds are conditioned by beliefs – Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and so on. Unless there is complete freedom from belief of any kind, it is not possible to observe, to find out for oneself if there is a reality which cannot be corrupted by thought. And one must also be free from all social morality, because the morality of society is not moral. A mind that is not highly moral, a mind that is not embedded in righteousness, is not capable of being free. That’s why it is important to understand oneself, to know oneself, to see the whole structure of oneself – the thoughts, the hopes, the fears, the anxieties, the ambitions, and the competitive, aggressive spirit. Unless one understands and deeply establishes righteous behaviour, there is no freedom, because the mind gets confused by its own uncertainty, by its own doubts, demands, pressures.
So to enquire into this fundamental question as to what is the religious mind, and whether there is such a thing, there must be this freedom, not only at the conscious level, but also at the deeper levels of one’s consciousness. Most of us have accepted that there is an unconscious, that it is something hidden, dark, unknown. Without understanding the totality of that unconscious, merely to scratch the surface by analytical examination has very little meaning, whether it is done by the professionals or through one’s own enquiry. So one has to look into this also, into the conscious mind as well as into the mind that is deep down, secret, hidden, which has never been exposed to the light of intelligence, to the light of enquiry. Can we also go into the question whether the conscious mind – that is the everyday mind, the mind that has sharpened itself through competition, through so-called education – whether such a mind can examine the deeper, unconscious layers.
What is this treasured unconscious which everybody talks about? Must one go through all the volumes written by the specialists to find out? Must one go to an expert to tell us what it is? Or can one find out for oneself – completely, not partially, not in fragments? It is said that you must dream, otherwise you will go mad, because dreams are the hints, the intimations of the unconscious and the secret, unexplored layers of the mind. Dreams therefore are an expression of these deeper layers, and in this way, if you or the analyst are capable of interpreting the dreams, then you can expose, empty the unconscious. No one has ever asked why one should dream at all. It is said that you must dream, that it is healthy, normal; but one can question the validity of that statement because one must doubt everything. (This doubt gives you energy, vitality, passion to find out.) We must ask why one should have dreams at all, because if the mind is working all the time, is endlessly in movement night and day, then it has no rest, it cannot refresh itself, it cannot make itself anew. It is like a machine that is constantly working; it wears itself out. So one asks, as we are doing now, “What is the need for dreams?” It may be possible not to dream. After asking that question we are going to find out if it is possible not to dream, because the unconscious is the storehouse of the past, the racial and family inheritance, the tradition of society, the various formulas, sanctions and motives, the inheritance from the animal – it is all there. Through dreams these are revealed bit by bit and one must be capable of interpreting them rightly. That, of course, is quite impossible. There are experts who will translate all those dreams – but according to their conditioning, according to their knowledge, according to the information which they have derived from others.
So we are asking: is there a need for dreams? Is it possible not to dream? Consciousness is obviously not only of what is above, but also of what is below – the total thing. If during the waking day the content of the mind can be observed, watched, then when you sleep there will be no necessity for dreams. That is, if during the waking hours you are aware of your thoughts, of your feelings, of your reactions, your motives, the tradition, the inhibitions, the various forms of compulsion, the tensions – if you watch them, not correct them, not force them to be different, not translate them, but if you are actually choicelessly aware during the day – then the mind is so alert, so sensitive to every reaction, to every movement of thought, that the motives, the racial inheritance and all the rest of it are thrown up and exposed. Then you will see, if you do it seriously, with intensity, with a passion to find out, that your nights are peaceful, without a dream, so that the mind upon waking is fresh, clear, without distortion. The personal element is dissolved so that it can observe completely; this is possible, not by applying what the experts say, but through studying yourself as you watch yourself in the mirror when you shave, or when you comb your hair. Then you will find out that the whole of the unconscious is as petty, shallow, dull, as the superficial mind; there is nothing holy about the unconscious. Then the mind, being free from fear, from all the pain brought by pleasure, is not looking for pleasure. Bliss is not pleasure, bliss is something entirely different. Pleasure, as we pointed out, brings with it pain and therefore fear, but the mind is looking for pleasure – ultimate pleasure – because the pleasures that we have in this world are so worn out, they have become so dull and faded, and so one is always looking for new pleasures. But such a mind is always in a state of fear. A mind that is seeking everlasting pleasure, or wanting experiences that will assure great pleasure, such a mind is in darkness. You can observe this as a very simple fact.
So the mind, without being free from fear and the search for the deepening and the widening of pleasure – which brings pain and anxiety and all the burden and travail of pleasure – such a mind is not free. And a mind which believes that there is a God, or that there is no God, is equally a conditioned, prejudiced mind.
I hope you can do all that! The speaker is emphatic but don’t be persuaded by him, for he has no authority at all. In this matter of finding out, there is no authority, there is no guru, there is no teacher. You are the teacher and the disciple yourself. If only one could put all authority aside, for that is the greatest difficulty – to be free and yet be established in righteousness, in virtue, because virtue is order. We live in great disorder; the society in which we live is in utter disorder, with social injustice, racial differences, economic, nationalistic divisions. As you observe in yourself, we are also in disorder, and the disordered mind cannot possibly be free. So order, which is virtue, is necessary; order, not according to some blueprint or according to the priests or those who say “We know and you don’t know”. Order is virtue and this order can only come about when we understand what is disorder. Through the negation of what is disorder, order comes into being. In denying the disorder of society there is order, because society encourages acquisitiveness, competition, envy, strife, brutality, violence. Look at the armies, the navies – that is disorder! When you deny – not society, but inwardly in yourself – fear, ambition, greed, envy, the search for pleasure and prestige – which breeds inward disorder – then in the total denial of that disorder there comes the order which is beauty, which is not merely the result of environmental pressures or environmental behaviour. There must be order and you will find that order is virtue.
If one has done all this – and one must – then one can ask: “What is meditation?” It is only the meditative mind that can find out, not the curious mind, not the mind that is everlastingly searching. It is a peculiar thing, that when the mind is searching, it will find what it is searching for. But what; it searches for and finds is already known, because what it finds must be recognizable – mustn’t it? Recognition is part of this search, and experience and recognition come from the past. So in the experience which comes through search in which recognition is involved, there is nothing new, it has already been known. That’s why people take drugs of various kinds; this has been done in India for thousands of years, it is an old trick to bring about the sharpening of the mind, to have new experiences; but one has never examined what experience itself means. One says one must have new experience; new visions. When one has an experience, a new vision, say of Christ or of Buddha or Krishna, that vision is the projection of your own conditioning. The Communist, if he has visions at all, will see the perfect state all beautifully arranged where everything is bureaucratically laid down. Or if you are a Catholic, you will have your visions of Christ or the Virgin and so on; it all depends on your conditioning. And when you recognise that vision, you recognise it because it his already been experienced, already known. So there is nothing really new in the recognition of a vision. A mind that is influenced by drugs, Though it may temporarily become sharp and see something very clearly, what it sees is its own conditioning, its own pettiness, enlarged.
If you have done all this – and I hope you have done it for your own sake – we are now ready to enter into something that demands a great sense of perception, beauty and sensitivity. The word “meditation” has been brought to this country from the East. The Christians have their own words, contemplation and so on, but “meditation” has now become very popular. It is said by the yogis and gurus that meditation is a means to discover, to go beyond, to experience the transcendental. But have you asked who is the experiencer? Is the experiencer different from the thing he experiences? Obviously not, because the experiencer is the past with all its memories and when he experiences, transcends through meditation, or through taking a drug, he projects from the past, recognizes it and says, “this is a marvellous vision”. It is nothing of the kind, because a mind burdened with the past cannot possibly see what is new.
We have now come to the point of finding out what meditation is. When you examine a method, a system, what is implied in it? Somebody says “Do these things, practise them day after day, for twelve, twenty, forty years and you will ultimately come to reality”. That is, practise a method, whatever it is, but in practising a method what happens? Whatever you do as a routine every day, at a certain hour, sitting cross-legged, or in bed, or walking, if you repeat it day after day your mind becomes mechanical. So when you see the truth of that, you see that what is implied in all that is mechanical, traditional, repetitive, and that it means conflict, suppression, control. A mind made dull by a method cannot possibly be intelligent and free to observe.
They have brought Mantra Yoga from India. And you also have it in the Catholic world – Ave Maria repeated a hundred times. This is done on a rosary and obviously for the time being quiets the mind. A dull mind can be made very quiet by the repetition of words and it does have strange experiences, but those experiences are utterly meaningless. A shallow mind, a mind that is frightened, ambitious, greedy for truth or for the wealth of this world, such a mind however much it may repeat some so-called sacred word remains shallow. If you have understood yourself deeply, learnt about yourself through choiceless awareness and have laid the foundation of righteousness, which is order, you are free and do not accept any so-called spiritual authority whatsoever (though obviously one must accept certain laws of society).
Then you can find out what meditation is. In meditation there is great beauty, it is an extraordinary thing if you know what meditation is – not “how to meditate”. The “how” implies a method, therefore never ask “how; there are people only too willing to offer a method. But meditation is the awareness of fear, of the implications and the structure and the nature of pleasure, the understanding of oneself, and therefore the laying of the foundation of order, which is virtue, in which there is that quality of discipline which is not suppression, nor control, nor imitation. Such a mind then is in a state of meditation.
To meditate implies seeing very clearly and it is not possible to see clearly, or be totally involved in what is seen, when there is a space between the observer and the thing observed. That is, when you see a flower, the beauty of a face, or the lovely sky of an evening, or a bird on the wing, there is space – not only physically but psychologically – between you and the flower, between you and the cloud which is full of light and glory; there is space – psychologically. When there is that space, there is conflict, and that space is made by thought, which is the observer. Have you ever looked at a flower without space? Have you ever observed something very beautiful without the space between the observer and the thing observed, between you and the flower? We look at a flower through a screen of words, through the screen of thought, of like and dislike, wishing that flower were in our own garden, or saying “What a beautiful thing it is”. In that observation, whilst you look, there is the division created by the word, by your feeling of liking, of pleasure, and so there is an inward division between you and the flower and there is no acute perception. But when there is no space, then you see the flower as you have never seen it before. When there is no thought, when there is no botanical information about that flower, when there is no like or dislike but only complete attention, then you will see that the space disappears and therefore you will be in complete relationship with that flower, with that bird on the wing, with the cloud, or with that face.
And when there is such a quality of mind, in which the space between the observer and the thing observed disappears and therefore the thing is seen very clearly, passionately and intensely, then there is the quality of love; and with that love there is beauty. 18 You know, when you love something greatly – not through the eyes of pleasure or pain – when you actually love, space disappears, both physically and psychologically. There is no me and you. When you come so far in this meditation, then you will find that quality of silence which is not the result of “thought seeking silence”. They are two different things – aren’t they? Thought can make itself quiet – I don’t know if you have ever tried it. We struggle against thought because we see very well that unless it is quiet there is neither peace in the world nor inwardly – there is no bliss. So we try in various ways to quiet the mind through drugs, through tranquilizers, through the repetition of words. But the silence of the mind that is made quiet by thought is not comparable with the silence which freedom brings – freedom from all the things that we have talked about. In that silence, which is of quite a different quality than the silence brought about by thought, there is a different dimension. This is a different state which you have to find out for yourself; nobody can open the door for you, and no word, no description can measure that which is immeasurable. So unless one actually takes this long journey – which is not long at all, it is immediate – life has very little meaning. And when you do it you will find out for yourself what is sacred.
Do you want to ask any questions? Isn’t this silence better than questions? If you are inwardly quiet, isn’t that better than any question and answer? If you are really quiet, then you have love and beauty – the beauty that is not in the building, in the face, in the cloud, in the wood, but in your heart. That beauty cannot be described, it is beyond expression. And when you have that, no question need ever be asked.