Learning Is Never Accumulative
Learning is one thing and acquiring knowledge is another. Learning is a continuous process, not a process of addition, not a process which you gather and then from there act. Most of us gather knowledge as memory, as idea, store it up as experience, and from there act. That is, we act from knowledge, technological knowledge, knowledge as experience, knowledge as tradition, knowledge that one has derived through one’s particular idiosyncratic tendencies; with that background, with that accumulation as knowledge, as experience, as tradition, we act. In that process there is no learning. Learning is never accumulative; it is a constant movement. I do not know if you have ever gone into this question at all: what is learning and what is the acquisition of knowledge? … Learning is never accumulative. You cannot store up learning and then from that storehouse act. You learn as you are going along. Therefore, there is never a moment of retrogression or deterioration or decline.
Learning Has No Past
Learning is always in the active present; it has no past. The moment you say to yourself, “I have learned,” it has already become knowledge, and from the background of that knowledge you can accumulate, translate, but you cannot further learn. It is only a mind that is not acquiring, but always learning—it is only such a mind that can understand this whole entity that we call the “me,” the self. I have to know myself, the structure, the nature, the significance of the total entity; but I can’t do that burdened with my previous knowledge, with my previous experience, or with a mind that is conditioned, for then I am not learning, I am merely interpreting, translating, looking with an eye that is already clouded by the past.
Virtue Has No Authority
Can the mind be free from authority, which means free from fear, so that it is no longer capable of following? If so, this puts an end to imitation, which becomes mechanical. After all, virtue, ethics, is not a repetition of what is good. The moment it becomes mechanical, it ceases to be virtue. Virtue is something that must be from moment to moment, like humility. Humility cannot be cultivated, and a mind that has no humility is incapable of learning. So virtue has no authority. The social morality is no morality at all; it’s immoral because it admits competition, greed, ambition, and therefore society is encouraging immorality. Virtue is something that transcends morality. Without virtue there is no order, and order is not according to a pattern, according to a formula. A mind that follows a formula through disciplining itself to achieve virtue creates for itself the problems of immorality.
Authority Corrupts Both Leader and Follower
Self-awareness is arduous, and since most of us prefer an easy, illusory way, we bring into being the authority that gives shape and pattern to our life. This authority may be the collective, the State; or it may be the personal, the Master, the savior, the guru. Authority of any kind is blinding, it breeds thoughtlessness; and as most of us find that to be thoughtful is to have pain, we give ourselves over to authority. Authority engenders power, and power always becomes centralized and therefore utterly corrupting; it corrupts not only the wielder of power, but also him who follows it.
Self-Knowledge Is a Process
Obviously, to know oneself is essential; but to know oneself does not imply a withdrawal from relationship. And it would be a mistake, surely, to think that one can know oneself significantly, completely, fully, through isolation, through exclusion, or by going to some psychologist, or to some priest; or that one can learn self-knowledge through a book. Self-knowledge is obviously a process, not an end in itself; and to know oneself, one must be aware of oneself in action, which is relationship. You discover yourself, not in isolation, not in withdrawal, but in relationship—in relationship to society, to your wife, your husband, your brother, to man; but to discover how you react, what your responses are, requires an extraordinary alertness of mind, a keenness of perception.
The Function of Relationship
By seeking security in relationship you are hindering its function, which brings its own peculiar actions and misfortunes. Surely, the function of relationship is to reveal the state of one’s whole being. Relationship is a process of self-revelation, of self-knowledge. This self-revelation is painful, demanding constant adjustment, pliability of thought-emotion. It is a painful struggle, with periods of enlightened peace … But most of us avoid or put aside the tension in relationship, preferring the ease and comfort of satisfying dependency, an unchallenged security, a safe anchorage. Then family and other relationships become a refuge, the refuge of the thoughtless.
Face-to-Face with the Fact
Are we afraid of a fact or of an idea about the fact? Are we afraid of the thing as it is, or are we afraid of what we think it is? Take death, for example. Are we afraid of the fact of death or of the idea of death? The fact is one thing and the idea about the fact is another. Am I afraid of the word death or of the fact itself? Because I am afraid of the word, of the idea, I never understand the fact, I never look at the fact, I am never in direct relation with the fact. It is only when I am in complete communion with the fact that there is no fear. If I am not in communion with the fact, then there is fear, and there is no communion with the fact so long as I have an idea, an opinion, a theory, about the fact; so I have to be very clear whether I am afraid of the word, the idea, or the fact. If I am face-to-face with the fact, there is nothing to understand about it: the fact is there, and I can deal with it. If I am afraid of the word, then I must understand the word, go into the whole process of what the word, the term, implies.
The Quality of Desire
What happens if you do not condemn desire, do not judge it as being good or bad, but simply be aware of it? I wonder if you know what it means to be aware of something? Most of us are not aware because we have become so accustomed to condemning, judging, evaluating, identifying, choosing. Choice obviously prevents awareness because choice is always made as a result of conflict. To be aware when you enter a room, to see all the furniture, the carpet or its absence, and so on—just to see it, to be aware of it all without any sense of judgment—is very difficult. Have you ever tried to look at a person, a flower, at an idea, an emotion, without any choice, any judgment? And if one does the same thing with desire, if one lives with it—not denying it or saying, “What shall I do with this desire? It is so ugly, so rampant, so violent,” not giving it a name, a symbol, not covering it with a word—then, is it any longer the cause of turmoil? Is desire then something to be put away, destroyed?
A Passionate Mind Is Inquiring
Obviously there must be passion, and the question is how to revive that passion. Do not let us misunderstand each other. I mean passion in every sense, not merely sexual passion, which is a very small thing. And most of us are satisfied with that because every other passion has been destroyed—in the office, in the factory, through following a certain job, routine, learning techniques—so there is no passion left; there is no creative sense of urgency and release. Therefore sex becomes important to us, and there we get lost in petty passion which becomes an enormous problem to the narrow, virtuous mind, or else it soon becomes a habit and dies. I am using the word passion as a total thing. A passionate man who feels strongly is not satisfied merely with some little job—whether it be the job of a prime minister, or of a cook, or what you will. A mind that is passionate is inquiring, searching, looking, asking, demanding, not merely trying to find for its discontent some object in which it can fulfill itself and go to sleep. A passionate mind is groping, seeking, breaking through, not accepting any tradition; it is not a decided mind, not a mind that has arrived, but it is a young mind that is ever arriving.
Passion Without a Cause
In the state of passion without a cause there is intensity free of all attachment; but when passion has a cause, there is attachment, and attachment is the beginning of sorrow. Most of us are attached, we cling to a person, to a country, to a belief, to an idea, and when the object of our attachment is taken away or otherwise loses its significance, we find ourselves empty, insufficient. This emptiness we try to fill by clinging to something else, which again becomes the object of our passion. Examine your own heart and mind. I am merely a mirror in which you are looking at yourself. If you don’t want to look, that is quite all right; but if you do want to look, then look at yourself clearly, ruthlessly, with intensity—not in the hope of dissolving your miseries, your anxieties, your sense of guilt, but in order to understand this extraordinary passion which always leads to sorrow. When passion has a cause it becomes lust. When there is a passion for something—for a person, for an idea, for some kind of fulfillment—then out of that passion there comes contradiction, conflict, effort. You strive to achieve or maintain a particular state, or to recapture one that has been and is gone. But the passion of which I am speaking does not give rise to contradiction, conflict. It is totally unrelated to a cause, and therefore it is not an effect.
The very first thing to do, if I may suggest it, is to find out why you are thinking in a certain way, and why you are feeling in a certain manner. Don’t try to alter it, don’t try to analyze your thoughts and your emotions; but become conscious of why you are thinking in a particular groove and from what motive you act. Although you can discover the motive through analysis, although you may find out something through analysis, it will not be real; it will be real only when you are intensely aware at the moment of the functioning of your thought and emotion; then you will see their extraordinary subtlety, their fine delicacy.
One Must Have Great Feelings
In the modern world where there are so many problems, one is apt to lose great feeling. I mean by that word feeling, not sentiment, not emotionalism, not mere excitement, but that quality of perception, the quality of hearing, listening, the quality of feeling, a bird singing on a tree, the movement of a leaf in the sun. To feel things greatly, deeply, penetratingly, is very difficult for most of us because we have so many problems. Whatever we seem to touch turns into a problem. And, apparently, there is no end to man’s problems, and he seems utterly incapable of resolving them because the more the problems exist, the less the feelings become. I mean by “feeling” the appreciation of the curve of a branch, the squalor, the dirt on the road, to be sensitive to the sorrow of another, to be in a state of ecstasy when we see a sunset. These are not sentiments, these are not mere emotions. Emotion and sentiment or sentimentality turn to cruelty, they can be used by society; and when there is sentiment, sensation, then one becomes a slave to society. But one must have great feelings. The feeling for beauty, the feeling for a word, the silence between two words, and the hearing of a sound clearly—all that generates feeling. And one must have strong feelings, because it is only the feelings that make the mind highly sensitive.
Memory Negates Love
For the being of love, the process of memory must come to an end. Memory comes into being only when experience is not fully, completely understood. Memory is only the residue of experience; it is the result of a challenge which is not fully comprehended. Life is a process of challenge and response. Challenge is always new but the response is ever old. This response, which is conditioning, which is the result of the past, must be understood and not disciplined or condemned away. It means living each day anew, fully and completely. This complete living is possible only when there is love, when your heart is full, not with the words nor with the things made by the mind. Only where there is love, memory ceases; then every movement is a rebirth.
Do Not Name a Feeling
What happens when you do not name? You look at an emotion, at a sensation, more directly and therefore have quite a different relationship to it, just as you have to a flower when you do not name it. You are forced to look at it anew. When you do not name a group of people, you are compelled to look at each individual face and not treat them all as a mass. Therefore you are much more alert, much more observing, more understanding; you have a deeper sense of pity, love; but if you treat them all as the mass, it is over. If you do not label, you have to regard every feeling as it arises. When you label, is the feeling different from the label? Or does the label awaken the feeling?
The Interval Between Thoughts
Now, I say it is definitely possible for the mind to be free from all conditioning—not that you should accept my authority. If you accept it on authority, you will never discover, it will be another substitution and that will have no significance…. The understanding of the whole process of conditioning does not come to you through analysis or introspection, because the moment you have the analyzer, that very analyzer himself is part of the background and therefore his analysis is of no significance…. How is it possible for the mind to be free? To be free, the mind must not only see and understand its pendulum-like swing between the past and the future but also be aware of the interval between thoughts…. If you watch very carefully, you will see that though the response, the movement of thought, seems so swift, there are gaps, there are intervals between thoughts. Between two thoughts is a period of silence that is not related to the thought process. If you observe you will see that that period of silence, that interval, is not of time; and the discovery of that interval, the full experiencing of that interval, liberates you from conditioning—or rather it does not liberate “you” but there is liberation from conditioning…. It is only when the mind is not giving continuity to thought, when it is still with a stillness that is not induced, that is without any causation—it is only then that there can be freedom from the background.
The distance between here and your hostel, between the bridge and your home, between this bank of the river and the other—all that is space. Now, is there also space in your mind? Or is it so crowded that there is no space in it at all? If your mind has space, then in that space there is silence—and from that silence everything else comes, for then you can listen, you can pay attention without resistance. That is why it is very important to have space in the mind. If the mind is not overcrowded, not ceaselessly occupied, then it can listen to that dog barking, to the sound of a train crossing the distant bridge, and also be fully aware of what is being said by a person talking here. Then the mind is a living thing, it is not dead. JUNE 8 Attention
Attention Free of Effort
Is there attention without anything absorbing the mind? Is there attention without concentrating upon an object? Is there attention without any form of motive, influence, compulsion? Can the mind give full attention without any sense of exclusion? Surely it can, and that is the only state of attention; the others are mere indulgence, or tricks of the mind. If you can give full attention without being absorbed in something, and without any sense of exclusion, then you will find out what it is to meditate; because in that attention there is no effort, no division, no struggle, no search for a result. So meditation is a process of freeing the mind from systems, and of giving attention without either being absorbed or making an effort to concentrate.
In awareness there is no becoming, there is no end to be gained. There is silent observation without choice and condemnation, from which there comes understanding. In this process when thought and feeling unfold themselves, which is only possible when there is neither acquisition nor acceptance, then there comes an extensional awareness, all the hidden layers and their significance are revealed. This awareness reveals that creative emptiness which cannot be imagined or formulated. This extensional awareness and the creative emptiness are a total process and are not different stages. When you silently observe a problem without condemnation, justification, there comes passive awareness. In this passive awareness, the problem is understood and dissolved. In awareness there is heightened sensitivity, in which there is the highest form of negative thinking. When the mind is formulating, producing, there can be no creation. It is only when the mind is still and empty, when it is not creating a problem—in that alert passivity there is creation. Creation can only take place in negation, which is not the opposite of the positive. Being nothing is not the antithesis of being something. A problem comes into being only when there is a search for result. When the search for result ceases, then only is there no problem.
How should we act in order not to trouble others? Is that what you want to know? I am afraid then we should not be acting at all. If you live completely, your actions may cause trouble; but what is more important: finding out what is true, or not disturbing others? This seems so simple that it hardly needs to be answered. Why do you want to respect other peoples feelings and points of view? Are you afraid of having your own feelings hurt, your point of view being changed? If people have opinions that differ from yours, you can find out if they are true only by questioning them, by coming into active contact with them. And if you find that those opinions and feelings are not true, your discovery may cause disturbance to those who cherish them. Then what should you do? Should you comply with them, or compromise with them in order not to hurt your friends?
How do you meet sorrow? I’m afraid that most of us meet it very superficially. Our education, our training, our knowledge, the sociological influences to which we are exposed, all make us superficial. A superficial mind is one that escapes to the church, to some conclusion, to some concept, to some belief or idea. Those are all a refuge for the superficial mind that is in sorrow. And if you cannot find a refuge, you build a wall around yourself and become cynical, hard, indifferent, or you escape through some facile, neurotic reaction. All such defenses against suffering prevent further inquiry…. Please watch your own mind; observe how you explain your sorrows away, lose yourself in work, in ideas, or cling to a belief in God, or in a future life. And if no explanation, no belief has been satisfactory, you escape through drink, through sex, or by becoming cynical, hard, bitter, brittle…. Generation after generation it has been passed on by parents to their children, and the superficial mind never takes the bandage off that wound; it does not really know, it is not really acquainted with sorrow. It merely has an idea about sorrow. It has a picture, a symbol of sorrow, but it never meets sorrow—it meets only the word sorrow.
There Is Only One Fact: Impermanence
We are trying to find out if there is, or is not, a permanent state—not what we would like, but the actual fact, the truth of the matter. Everything about us, within as well as without—our relationships, our thoughts, our feelings—is impermanent, in a constant state of flux. Being aware of this, the mind craves permanency, a perpetual state of peace, of love, of goodness, a security that neither time nor events can destroy; therefore it creates the soul, the Atman, and the visions of a permanent paradise. But this permanency is born of impermanency, and so it has within it the seeds of the impermanent. There is only one fact: impermanence.
I must love the very thing I am studying. If you want to understand a child, you must love and not condemn him. You must play with him, watch his movements, his idiosyncrasies, his ways of behavior; but if you merely condemn, resist, or blame him, there is no comprehension of the child. Similarly, to understand what is, one must observe what one thinks, feels, and does from moment to moment. That is the actual.
Why Is One Thoughtless?
The thinker thinks his thoughts through habit, through repetition, through copying, which brings ignorance and sorrow. Is not habit thoughtlessness? Awareness creates order, but it never creates habit. Settled tendencies only bring about thoughtlessness. Why is one thoughtless? Because to think is painful, it creates disturbances, it brings opposition, it may cause one’s actions to go contrary to the established pattern. To think-feel extensionally, to become choicelessly aware may lead to unknown depths, and the mind rebels against the unknown; so it moves from the known to the known, from habit to habit, from pattern to pattern. Such a mind never abandons the known to discover the unknown. Realizing the pain of thought, the thinker becomes thoughtless through copying, through habit; being afraid to think, he creates patterns of thoughtlessness. As the thinker is afraid, his actions are born of fear, and then he regards his actions and tries to change them. The thinker is afraid of his own creations; but the deed is the doer, so the thinker is afraid of himself. The thinker is fear itself; the thinker is the cause of ignorance, of sorrow. The thinker may divide himself into many categories of thought, but the thought is still the thinker. The thinker and his efforts to be, to become, are the very cause of conflict and confusion.
Outside the Field of Thought
You have changed your ideas, you have changed your thought, but thought is always conditioned. Whether it is the thought of Jesus, Buddha, X, Y, or Z, it is still thought, and therefore one thought can be in opposition to another thought; and when there is opposition, a conflict between two thoughts, the result is a modified continuity of thought. In other words, the change is still within the field of thought, and change within the field of thought is no change at all. One idea or set of ideas has merely been substituted for another. Seeing this whole process, is it possible to leave thought and bring about a change outside the field of thought? All consciousness, surely, whether it is of the past, the present, or the future, is within the field of thought; and any change within that field, which sets the boundaries of the mind, is no real change. A radical change can take place only outside the field of thought, not within it, and the mind can leave the field only when it sees the confines, the boundaries of the field, and realizes that any change within the field is no change at all. This is real meditation.
Live the Four Seasons in a Day
Is it not essential that there should be a constant renewal, a rebirth? If the present is burdened with the experience of yesterday there can be no renewal. Renewal is not the action of birth and death; it is beyond the opposites; only freedom from the accumulation of memory brings renewal, and there is no understanding save in the present.
If you have lived an experience fully, completely, have you not found that it leaves no traces behind? It is only the incomplete experiences that leave their mark, giving continuity to self-identified memory. We consider the present as a means to an end, so the present loses its immense significance. The present is the eternal. But how can a mind that is made up, put together, understand that which is not put together, which is beyond all value, the eternal? As each experience arises, live it out as fully and deeply as possible; think it out, feel it out extensively and profoundly; be aware of its pain and pleasure, of your judgments and identifications. Only when experience is completed is there a renewal. We must be capable of living the four seasons in a day; to be keenly aware, to experience, to understand and be free of the gatherings of each day.
Only One Hour to Live
If you had only one hour to live, what would you do? Would you not arrange what is necessary outwardly, your affairs, your will, and so on? Would you not call your family and friends together and ask their forgiveness for the harm that you might have done to them, and forgive them for whatever harm they might have done to you? Would you not die completely to the things of the mind, to desires and to the world? And if it can be done for an hour, then it can also be done for the days and years that may remain… Try it and you will find out.
Die Every Day
What is age? Is it the number of years you have lived? That is part of age; you were born in such and such a year, and now you are fifteen, forty, or sixty years old. Your body grows old—and so does your mind when it is burdened with all the experiences, miseries, and weariness of life; and such a mind can never discover what is truth. The mind can discover only when it is young, fresh, innocent; but innocence is not a matter of age. It is not only the child that is innocent—he may not be—but the mind that is capable of experiencing without accumulating the residue of experience. The mind must experience, that is inevitable. It must respond to everything—to the river, to the diseased animal, to the dead body being carried away to be burned, to the poor villagers carrying their burdens along the road, to the tortures and miseries of life—otherwise it is already dead; but it must be capable of responding without being held by the experience. It is tradition, the accumulation of experience, the ashes of memory, that make the mind old. The mind that dies every day to the memories of yesterday, to all the joys and sorrows of the past—such a mind is fresh, innocent, it has no age; and without that innocence, whether you are ten or sixty, you will not find God.
To Climb High One Must Begin Low
Religious organizations become as fixed and as rigid as the thoughts of those who belong to them. Life is a constant change, a continual becoming, a ceaseless revolution, and because an organization can never be pliable, it stands in the way of change; it becomes reactionary to protect itself. The search for truth is individual, not congregational. To commune with the real there must be aloneness; not isolation, but freedom from all influence and opinion. Organizations of thought inevitably become hindrances to thought. As you yourself are aware, the greed for power is almost inexhaustible in a so-called spiritual organization; this greed is covered over by all kinds of sweet and official-sounding words, but the canker of avariciousness, pride, and antagonism is nourished and shared. From this grow conflict, intolerance, sectarianism, and other ugly manifestations. Would it not be wiser to have small informed groups of twenty or twenty-five persons, without dues or membership, meeting where it is convenient to discuss gently the approach to reality? To prevent any group from becoming exclusive, each member could from time to time encourage and perhaps join another small group; thus, it would be extensive, not narrow and parochial. To climb high one must begin low. Out of this small beginning one may help to create a more sane and happy world
If you have followed this inquiry into what is meditation, and have understood the whole process of thinking, you will find that the mind is completely still. In that total stillness of the mind, there is no watcher, no observer, and therefore no experiencer at all; there is no entity who is gathering experience, which is the activity of a self-centered mind. Don’t say, “That is samadhi”—which is all nonsense, because you have only read of it in some book and have not discovered it for yourself. There is a vast difference between the word and the thing. The word is not the thing; the word door is not the door. So, to meditate is to purge the mind of its self-centered activity. And if you have come this far in meditation, you will find there is silence, a total emptiness. The mind is uncontaminated by society; it is no longer subject to any influence, to the pressure of any desire. It is completely alone, and being alone, untouched, it is innocent. Therefore there is a possibility for that which is timeless, eternal, to come into being. This whole process is meditation.
Meditation Is Essential to Life
To understand this whole problem of influence, the influence of experience, the influence of knowledge, of inward and outward motives—to find out what is true and what is false and to see the truth in the so-called false—all that requires tremendous insight, a deep inward comprehension of things as they are, does it not? This whole process is, surely, the way of meditation. Meditation is essential in life, in our everyday existence, as beauty is essential. The perception of beauty, the sensitivity to things, to the ugly as well as to the beautiful, is essential—to see a beautiful tree, a lovely sky of an evening, to see the vast horizon where the clouds are gathering as the sun is setting. All this is necessary, the perception of beauty and the understanding of the way of meditation, because all that is life, as is also your going to the office, the quarrels, miseries, the perpetual strain, anxiety, the deep fears, love, and starvation. Now the understanding of this total process of existence—the influences, the sorrows, the daily strain, the authoritative outlook, the political actions, and so on—all this is life, and the process of understanding it all, and freeing the mind, is meditation. If one really comprehends this life then there is always a meditative process, always a process of contemplation—but not about something. To be aware of this whole process of existence, to observe it, to dispassionately enter into it, and to be free of it, is meditation.