Jiddu Krishnamurti The Only Revolution

– India 1969 –
India Part 1
MEDITATION IS NOT an escape from the world; it is not an isolating self-
enclosing activity, but rather the comprehension of the world and its ways. The
world has little to offer apart from food, clothes and shelter, and pleasure with
its great sorrows.
Meditation  is  wandering  away  from  this  world;  one  has  to  be  a  total
outsider. Then the world has a meaning, and the beauty of the heavens and
the earth is constant. Then love is not pleasure. From this all action begins that
is not the outcome of tension, contradiction, the search for self-fulfilment or the
conceit of power.
The room overlooked a garden, and thirty or forty feet below was the wide,
expansive river, sacred to some, but to others a beautiful stretch of water open
to the skies and to the glory of the morning. You could always see the other
bank with its village and spreading trees, and the newly planted winter wheat.
From this room you could see the morning star, and the sun rising gently over
the trees; and the river became the golden path for the sun.
At night the room was very dark and the wide window showed the whole
southern sky, and into this room one night came – with a great deal of fluttering
– a bird. Turning on the light and getting out of bed one saw it under the bed. It
was an owl. It was about a foot-and-a-half high with extremely wide big eyes
and a fearsome beak. We gazed at each other quite close, a few feet apart. It
was frightened by the light and the closeness of a human being. We looked at
each other without blinking for quite a while, and it never lost its height and its
fierce dignity. You could see the cruel claws the light feathers and the wings
tightly held against the body. One would have liked to touch it, stroke it, but it
would  not  have  allowed  that.  So  presently  the  light  was  turned  out  and  for
some time there was quietness in the room. Soon there was a fluttering of the
wings – you could feel the air against your face – and the owl had gone out of
the window. It never came again.    4
It was a very old temple; they said it might be over three thousand years
old, but you know how people exaggerate. It certainly was old; it had been a
Buddhist temple and about seven centuries ago it became a Hindu temple and
in place of the Buddha they had put a Hindu idol. It was very dark inside and it
had  a  strange  atmosphere.  There  were  pillared  halls,  long  corridors  carved
most beautifully, and there was the smell of bats and of incense.
The worshippers were straggling in, recently bathed, with folded hands, and
they  walked  around  these  corridors,  prostrating  each  time  they  passed  the
image, which was clothed in bright silks. A priest in the innermost shrine was
chanting  and  it  was  nice  to  hear  well-pronounced  Sanskrit.  He  wasn’t  in  a
hurry,  and  the  words  came  out  easily  and  gracefully  from  the  depths  of  the
temple.  There  were  children  there,  old  ladies,  young  men.  The  professional
people had put away their European trousers and coats and put on dhotis, and
with folded hands and bare shoulders they were, with great devotion, sitting or
And there was a pool full of water – a sacred pool – with many steps leading
down to it and pillars of carved rock around it. You came into the temple from
the dusty road full of noise and bright, sharp sunshine, and in here it was very
shady, dark and peaceful. There were no candles, no kneeling people about,
but only those who made their pilgrimage around the shrine, silently moving
their lips in some prayer.
A  man  came  to  see  us  that  afternoon.  He  said  he  was  a  believer  in
Vedanta. He spoke English very well for he had been educated in one of the
universities and had a bright, sharp intellect. He was a lawyer, earning a great
deal of money, and his keen eyes looked at you speculatively, weighing, and
somewhat  anxious.  He  appeared  to  have  read  a  great  deal,  including
something  of  western  theology.  He  was  a  middle-aged  man,  rather  thin  and
tall, with the dignity of a lawyer who had won many cases.
He said: «I have heard you talk and what you are saying is pure Vedanta,
brought up to date but of the ancient tradition.» We asked him what he meant
by  Vedanta.  He  replied:  «Sir,  we  postulate  that  there  is  only  Brahman  who   5
creates  the  world  and  the  illusion  of  it,  and  the  Atman  –  which  is  in  every
human  being  –  is  of  that  Brahman.  Man  has  to  awaken  from  this  everyday
consciousness of plurality and the manifest world, much as he would awaken
from  a  dream.  Just  as  this  dreamer  creates  the  totality  of  his  dream  so  the
individual  consciousness  creates  the  totality  of  the  manifest  world  and  other
people. You, sir, don’t say all this but surely you mean all this for you have
been born and bred in this country and, though you have been abroad most of
your life, you are part of this ancient tradition. India has produced you, whether
you like it or not; you are the product of India and you have an Indian mind.
Your gestures, your statue-like stillness when you talk, and your very looks are
part of this ancient heritage. Your teaching is surely the continuation of what
our ancients have taught since time immemorial.»
Let  us  brush  aside  whether  the  speaker  is  an  Indian  brought  up  in  this
tradition, conditioned in this culture, and whether he is the summation of this
ancient  teaching.  First  of  all  he  is  not  an  Indian,  that  is  to  say,  he  does  not
belong to this nation or to the community of Brahmins, though he was born in
it. He denies the very tradition with which you invest him. He denies that his
teaching is the continuity of the ancient teachings. He has not read any of the
sacred books of India or of the West because they are unnecessary for a man
who  is  aware  of  what  is  going  on  in  the  world  –  of  the  behaviour  of  human
beings  with  their  endless  theories,  with  the  accepted  propaganda  of  two
thousand or five thousand years which has become the tradition, the truth, the
To such a man who denies totally and completely the acceptance of the
word, the symbol with its conditioning, to him truth is not a secondhand affair.
If you had listened to him, sir, he has from the very beginning said that any
acceptance of authority is the very denial of truth, and he has insisted that one
must be outside all culture, tradition and social morality. If you had listened,
then you would not say that he is an Indian or that he is continuing the ancient
tradition  in  modern  language.  He  totally  denies  the  past,  its  teachers,  its
interpreters, its theories and its formulas.    6
Truth is never in the past. The truth of the past is the ashes of memory;
memory is of time, and in the dead ashes of yesterday there is no truth. Truth
is a living thing, not within the field of time.
So, having brushed all that aside, we can now take up the central issue of
Brahman,  which  you  postulate.  Surely,  sir,  the  very  assertion  is  a  theory
invented  by  an  imaginative  mind  –  whether  it  be  Shankara  or  the  modern
scholarly theologian. You can experience a theory and say that it is so, but that
is like a man who has been brought up and conditioned in the Catholic world
having visions of Christ. Ob- viously such visions are the projection of his own
conditioning; and those who have been brought up in the tradition of Krishna
have  experiences  and  visions  born  of  their  culture.  So  experience  does  not
prove a thing. To recognise the vision as Krishna or Christ is the outcome of
conditioned  knowledge;  therefore  it  is  not  real  at  all  but  a  fancy,  a  myth,
strengthened through experience and utterly invalid. Why do you want a theory
at all, and why do you postulate any belief? This constant assertion of belief is
an indication of fear – fear of everyday life, fear of sorrow, fear of death and of
the utter meaninglessness of life. Seeing all this you invent a theory and the
more  cunning  and  erudite  the  theory  the  more  weight  it  has.  And  after  two
thousand  or  ten  thousand  years  of  propaganda  that  theory  invariably  and
foolishly becomes «the truth».
But if you do not postulate any dogma, then you are face to face with what
actually is. The «what is», is thought, pleasure, sorrow and the fear of death.
When you understand the structure of your daily living – with its competition,
greed,  ambition  and  the  search  for  power  –  then  you  will  see  not  only  the
absurdity  of  theories,  saviours  and  gurus,  but  you  may  find  an  ending  to
sorrow, an ending to the whole structure which thought has put together.
The penetration into and the understanding of this structure is meditation.
Then you will see that the world is not an illusion but a terrible reality which
man, in his relationship with his fellow man, has constructed. It is this which
has to be understood and not your theories of Vedanta, with the rituals and all
the paraphernalia of organized religion.    7
When man is free, without any motive of fear, of envy or of sorrow, then
only is the mind naturally peaceful and still. Then it can see not only the truth
in  daily  life  from  moment  to  moment but  also  go  beyond  all  perception;  and
therefore  there  is  the  ending  of  the  observer  and  the  observed,  and  duality
But beyond all this, and not related to this struggle, this vanity and despair,
there is – and this is not a theory – a stream that has no beginning and no end;
a measureless movement that the mind can never capture.
When you hear this, sir, obviously you are going to make a theory of it, and
if you like this new theory you will propagate it. But what you propagate is not
the  truth.  The  truth  is  only  when  you  are  free  from  the  ache,  anxiety  and
aggression  which  now  fill  your  heart  and  mind.  When  you  see  all  this  and
when you come upon that benediction called love, then you will know the truth
of what is being said.    8
India Part 2
What is important in meditation is the quality of the mind and the heart. It is
not what you achieve, or what you say you attain, but rather the quality of a
mind  that  is  innocent  and  vulnerable.  Through  negation  there  is  the  positive
state.  Merely  to  gather,  or  to  live  in,  experience,  denies  the  purity  of
meditation. Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the
end.  The  mind  can  never  be  made  innocent  through  experience.  It  is  the
negation of experience that brings about that positive state of innocency which
cannot be cultivated by thought. Thought is never innocent. Meditation is the
ending of thought, not by the meditator, for the meditator is the meditation. If
there is no meditation, then you are like a blind man in a world of great beauty,
light and colour.
Wander by the seashore and let this meditative quality come upon you. If it
does, don’t pursue it. What you pursue will be the memory of what it was – and
what  was  is  the  death  of  what  is.  Or  when  you  wander  among  the  hills,  let
everything tell you the beauty and the pain of life, so that you awaken to your
own sorrow and to the ending of it. Meditation is the root, the plant, the flower
and the fruit. It is words that divide the fruit, the flower, the plant and the root.
In  this  separation  action  does  not  bring  about  goodness:  virtue  is  the  total
It  was  a  long  shady  road  with  trees  on  both  sides  –  a  narrow  road  that
wound through the green fields of glistening, ripening wheat. The sun made
sharp shadows, and the villages on both sides of the road were dirty, ill-kept
and poverty-ridden. The older people looked ill and sad, but the children were
shouting and playing in the dust and throwing stones at the birds high up in the
trees.  It  was  a  very  pleasant  cool  morning  and  a  fresh  breeze  was  blowing
over the hills.
The  parrots  and  the  mynahs  were  making  a  great  deal  of  noise  that
morning. The parrots were hardly visible among the green leaves of the trees;
in the tamarind they had several holes which were their home. Their zig-zag
flight  was  always  screechy  and  raucous.  The  mynahs  were  on  the  ground,   9
fairly tame. They would let you come quite near them before they flew away.
And the golden fly-catcher, the green and golden bird, was on the wires across
the road. It was a beautiful morning and the sun was not too hot yet. There
was a benediction in the air and there was that peace before man wakes up.
On  that  road  a  horse-drawn  vehicle  with  two  wheels  and  a  platform  with
four posts and an awning was passing by. On it, stretched across the wheels,
wrapped up in a white and red  cloth,  was  a  dead  body  being  carried  to  the
river  to  be  burnt  on  its  banks.  There  was  a  man  sitting  beside  the  driver,
probably  a  relative,  and  the  body  was  jolting  up  and  down  on  that  not  too
smooth road. They had come from some distance for the horse was sweating,
and the dead body had been shaking all the way and it seemed to be quite
The  man  who  came  to  see  us  later  that  day  said  he  was  a  gunnery
instructor  in  the  navy.  He  had  come  with  his  wife  and  two  children  and  he
seemed a very serious man. After salutations he said that he would like to find
God.  He  was  not  too  articulate,  probably  he  was  rather  shy.  His  hands  and
face looked capable but there was a certain hardness in his voice and look –
for, after all, he was an instructor in the ways of killing. God seemed to be so
remote from his everyday activities. It all seemed so weird, for here was a man
who said he was in earnest in his search for God and yet his livelihood forced
him to teach others the art of killing.
He said he was a religious man and had wandered through many schools
of different so-called holy men. He was dissatisfied with them all, and now he
had taken a long journey by train and bus to come and see us for he wanted to
know  how  to  come  upon  that  strange  world  which  men  and  saints  have
sought. His wife and children sat very silent and respectful, and on a branch
just outside the window sat a dove, light brown, softly cooing to itself. The man
never  looked  at  it,  and  the  children  with  their  mother  sat  rigid,  nervous  and
You can’t find God; there is no way to it. Man has invented many paths,
many religions, many beliefs, saviours and teachers whom he thinks will help   10
him to find the bliss that is not passing. The misery of search is that it leads to
some  fancy  of  the  mind,  to  some  vision  which  the  mind  has  projected  and
measured by things known. The love which he seeks is destroyed by the way
of his life. You cannot have a gun in one hand and God in the other. God is
only a symbol, a word, that has really lost its meaning, for the churches and
places of worship have destroyed it. Of course, if you don’t believe in God you
are like the believer; both suffer and go through the sorrow of a short and vain
life; and the bitterness of every day makes life a meaningless thing. Reality is
not at the end of the stream of thought, and the empty heart is filled by the
words  of  thought.  We  become  very  clever,  inventing  new  philosophies,  and
then there is the bitterness of their failure. We have invented theories about
how  to  reach  the  ultimate,  and  the  devotee  goes  to  the  temple  and  loses
himself in the imaginations of his own mind. The monk and the saint do not
find that reality for both are part of a tradition, of a culture, that accepts them
as being saints and monks.
The dove has flown away, and the beauty of the mountain of cloud is upon
the land – and truth is there, where you never look.    11
India Part 3
It  was  an  old  Mogul  garden  with  many  great  trees.  There  were  big
monuments, dark inside with marble sepulchres, and the rain and the weather
had made the stone dark and the domes still darker. There were hundreds of
pigeons  on  these  domes.  They  and  the  crows  would  fight  for  a  place,  and
lower down on the dome were the parrots, coming from everywhere in groups.
There were nicely kept lawns, well trimmed and watered. It was a quiet place
and surprisingly there were not too many people. Of an evening the servants
of the neighbourhood with their bicycles would gather on a lawn to play cards.
It was a game they understood, but an outsider looking on couldn’t make head
or tail of it. There were parties of children playing on a lawn of a different tomb.
There  was  one  tomb  which  was  especially  grand,  with  great  arches,  well
proportioned,  and  a  wall  behind  it  which  was  asymmetrical.  It  was  made  of
bricks and the sun and the rain had made it dark, almost black. There was a
notice not to pick flowers but nobody seemed to pay much attention to it for
they picked them all the same.
There  was  an  avenue  of  eucalyptus,  and  behind  it  a  rose  garden  with
crumbling  walls  around  it.  This  garden,  with  magnificent  roses,  was  kept
beautifully,  and  the  grass  was  always  green  and  freshly  cut.  Few  people
seemed  to  come  to  this  garden  and  you  could  walk  around  it  in  solitude,
watching  the  sun  set  behind  the  trees  and  behind  the  dome  of  the  tomb.
Especially  in  the  evening,  with  the  long  dark  shadows,  it  was  very  peaceful
there, far from the noise of the town, from the poverty, and the ugliness of the
rich. There were gypsies uprooting the weeds from the lawn. It was altogether
a beautiful place – but man was gradually spoiling it.
There was a man sitting cross-legged in one of the remote corners of the
lawn, his bicycle beside him. He had closed his eyes and his lips were moving.
He was there for more than half an hour in that position, completely lost to the
world, to the passers-by and to the screech of the parrots. His body was quite
still. In his hands there was a rosary covered by a piece of cloth. His fingers
were  the  only  movement  that  one  could  see,  apart  from  his  lips.  He  came   12
there daily towards the evening, and it must have been after his day’s work. He
was rather a poor man, fairly well fed, and he always came to that corner and
lost  himself.  If  you  asked  him  he  would  tell  you  that  he  was  meditating,
repeating some prayer or some mantra – and to him that was good enough. He
found  in  it  solace  from  the  everyday  monotony  of  life.  He  was  alone  on  the
lawn. Behind him was a flowering jasmine; a great many flowers were on the
ground, and the beauty of the moment lay around him. But he never saw that
beauty for he was lost in the beauty of his own making.
Meditation is not the repetition of the word, nor the experiencing of a vision,
nor the cultivating of silence. The bead and the word do quieten the chattering
mind, but this is a form of self-hypnosis. You might as well take a pill.
Meditation  is  not  wrapping  yourself  in  a  pattern  of  thought,  in  the
enchantment of pleasure. Meditation has no beginning, and therefore it has no
If  you  say:  «I  will  begin  today  to  control  my  thoughts,  to  sit  quietly  in  the
meditative posture, to breathe regularly» – then you are caught in the tricks with
which one deceives oneself. Meditation is not a matter of being absorbed in
some grandiose idea or image: that only quietens one for the moment, as a
child  absorbed  by  a  toy  is  for  the  time  being  quiet.  But  as  soon  as  the  toy
ceases  to  be  of  interest,  the  restlessness  and  the  mischief  begin  again.
Meditation  is  not  the  pursuit  of  an  invisible  path  leading  to  some  imagined
bliss.  The  meditative  mind  is  seeing  –  watching,  listening,  without  the  word,
without comment, without opinion – attentive to the movement of life in all its
relationships throughout the day. And at night, when the whole organism is at
rest, the meditative mind has no dreams for it has been awake all day. It is
only  the  indolent  who  have  dreams;  only  the  half-asleep  who  need  the
intimation  of  their  own  states.  But  as  the  mind  watches,  listens  to  the
movement of life, the outer and the inner, to such a mind comes a silence that
is not put together by thought.
It is not a silence which the observer can experience. If he does experience
it and recognise it, it is no longer silence. The silence of the meditative mind is   13
not within the borders of recognition, for this silence has no frontier. There is
only silence – in which the space of division ceases.
The hills were being carried by the clouds and the rain was polishing the
rocks, big boulders that were scattered over the hills. There was a streak of
black  in  the  grey  granite,  and  that  morning  this  dark  basalt  rock  was  being
washed by the rain and was becoming blacker.
The ponds were filling up and the frogs were making deep-throated noises.
A  whole  group  of  parrots  was  coming  in  from  the  fields  for  shelter  and  the
monkeys were scrambling up the trees, and the red earth became darker.
There is a peculiar silence when it rains, and that morning in the valley all
the noises seemed to have stopped – the noises of the farm, the tractor and
the  chopping  of  wood.  There  was  only  the  dripping  from  the  roof,  and  the
gutters were gurgling.
It was quite extraordinary to feel the rain on one, to get wet to the skin, and
to feel the earth and the trees receive the rain with great delight; for it hadn’t
rained for some time, and now the little cracks in the earth were closing up.
The  noises  of  the  many  birds  were  made  still  by  the  rain;  the  clouds  were
coming in from the east, dark, heavily laden, and were being drawn towards
the west; the hills were being carried by them, and the smell of the earth was
spreading into every corner. All day it rained.
And in the stillness of the night the owls hooted to each other across the
He was a schoolteacher, a Brahmin, with a clean dhoti. He was bare footed
and  wore  a  western  shirt.  He  was  clean,  sharp-eyed,  apparently  gentle  in
manner, and his salutation was a show of this humility. He was not too tall, and
spoke English quite well, for he was an English teacher in town. He said he
didn’t earn much, and like all teachers throughout the world he found it very
difficult to make both ends meet. Of course he was married, and had children,
but he seemed to brush all that aside as though it did not matter at all. He was
a proud man, with that peculiar pride, not of achievement, not the pride of the   14
well-born or of the rich, but that pride of an ancient race, of the representative
of an ancient tradition and system of thought and morality which, actually, had
nothing  whatever  to  do  with  what  he  really  was.  His  pride  was  in  the  past
which he represented, and his brushing aside of the present complications of
life  was  the  gesture  of  a  man  who  considers  it  all  inevitable-but-so-
unnecessary.  His  diction  was  of  the  south,  hard  and  loud.  He  said  he  had
listened to the talks, here under the trees, for many years. In fact his father
had brought him when he was a young man, still at college. Later, when he got
his present miserable job, he came every year.
«I have listened to you for many years. Perhaps I understand intellectually
what  you  are  saying  but  it  doesn’t  seem  to  penetrate  very  deeply.  I  like  the
setting of the trees under which you talk, and I look at the sunset when you
point  it  out  –  as  you  so  often  do  in  your  talks  –  but  I  cannot  feel  it,  I  cannot
touch the leaf and feel the joy of the dancing shadows on the ground. I have
no  feelings  at  all,  in  fact.  I  have  read  a  great  deal,  naturally,  both  English
literature and the literature of this country. I can recite poems, but the beauty
which lies beyond the word has escaped me. I am becoming harder, not only
with  my  wife  and  children  but  with  everybody.  In  the  school  I  shout  more.  I
wonder why I have lost the delight in the evening sun – if I ever had it! I wonder
why I no longer feel strongly about any of the evils that exist in the world. I
seem to see everything intellectually and can reason quite well – at least I think
I can – with almost anybody. So why is there this gap between the intellect and
the heart? Why have I lost love, and the feeling of genuine pity and concern?»
Look at that bougainvillaea out of the window. Do you see it at all? Do you
see the light on it, its transparency, the colour, the shape and the quality of it?
xxxx «I look at it, but it means absolutely nothing to me. And there are millions
like me. So I come back to this question – why is there this gap between the
intellect and the feelings?»
Is it because we have been badly educated, cultivating only memory and,
from earliest childhood, have never been shown a tree, a flower, a bird, or a
stretch of water? Is it because we have made life mechanical? Is it because of   15
this  overpopulation?  For  every  job  there  are  thousands  who  want  it.  Or  is  it
because  of  pride,  pride  in  efficiency,  pride  of  race,  the  pride  of  cunning
thought? Do you think that’s it?
«If you’re asking me if I’m proud – yes I am.»
But that is only one of the reasons why the so-called intellect dominates. Is
it  because  words  have  become  so  extraordinarily  important  and  not  what  is
above  and  beyond  the  word?  Or  is  it  because  you  are  thwarted,  blocked  in
various ways, of which you may not be conscious at all? In the modern world
the intellect is worshipped and the more clever and cunning you are the more
you get on.
«Perhaps it may be all these things, but do they matter much? Of course we
can go on endlessly analysing, describing the cause, but will that bridge the
gap between the mind and the heart? That’s what I want to know. I have read
some of the psychological books and our own ancient literature but it doesn’t
set me on fire, so now I have come to you, though perhaps it may be too late
for me.»
Do you really care that the mind and heart should come together? Aren’t
you really satisfied with your intellectual capacities? Perhaps the question of
how  to  unite  the  mind  and  the  heart  is  only  academic?  Why  do  you  bother
about  bringing  the  two  together?  This  concern  is  still  of  the  intellect  and
doesn’t spring, does it, from a real concern at the decay of your feeling, which
is part of you? You have divided life into the intellect and the heart and you
intellectually observe the heart withering away and you are verbally concerned
about it. Let it wither away! Live only in the intellect. Is that possible?
«I do have feelings.»
But  aren’t  those  feelings  really  sentimentality,  emotional  self-indulgence?
We  are  not  talking  about  that,  surely.  We  are  saying:  Be  dead  to  love;  it
doesn’t matter. Live entirely in your intellect and in your verbal manipulations,
your  cunning  arguments.  And  when  you  do  actually  live  there  –  what  takes
place? What you are objecting to is the destructiveness of that intellect which   16
you  so  worship.  The  destructiveness  brings  a  multitude  of  problems.  You
probably see the effect of the intellectual activities in the world – the wars, the
competition, the arrogance of power – and perhaps you are frightened of what
is  going  to  happen,  frightened  of  the  hopelessness  and  despair  of  man.  So
long  as  there  is  this  division  between  the  feelings  and  the  intellect,  one
dominating the other, the one must destroy the other; there is no bridging the
two. You may have listened for many years to the talks, and perhaps you have
been  making  great  efforts  to  bring  the mind  and  the  heart  together,  but  this
effort is of the mind and so dominates the heart. Love doesn’t belong to either,
because it has no quality of domination in it. It is not a thing put together by
thought  or  by  sentiment.  It  is  not  a  word  of  the  intellect  or  a  sensuous
response. You say, «I must have love, and to have it I must cultivate the heart».
But this cultivation is of the mind and so you keep the two always separate;
they cannot be bridged or brought together for any utilitarian purpose. Love is
at the beginning, not at the end of an endeavour. «Then what am I to do?»
Now his eyes were becoming brighter; there was a movement in his body.
He looked out of the window, and he was slowly beginning to catch fire.
You can’t do anything. Keep out of it! And listen; and see the beauty of that
flower.    17
India Part 4
Meditation is the unfolding of the new. The new is beyond and above the
repetitious past – and meditation is the ending of this repetition. The death that
meditation brings about is the immortality of the new. The new is not within the
area of thought, and meditation is the silence of thought.
Meditation is not an achievement, nor is it the capture of a vision, nor the
excitement of sensation. It is like the river, not to be tamed, swiftly running and
overflowing its banks. It is the music without sound; it cannot be domesticated
and made use of. It is the silence in which the observer has ceased from the
very beginning.
The sun wasn’t up yet; you could see the morning star through the trees.
There was a silence that was really extraordinary. Not the silence between two
noises or between two notes, but the silence that has no reason whatsoever –
the  silence  that  must  have  been  at  the  beginning  of  the  world.  It  filled  the
whole valley and the hills.
The two big owls, calling to each other, never disturbed that silence, and a
distant dog barking at the late moon was part of this immensity. The dew was
especially heavy, and as the sun came up over the hill it was sparkling with
many colours and with the glow that comes with the sun’s first rays.
The delicate leaves of the jacaranda were heavy with dew, and birds came
to  have  their  morning  baths,  fluttering  their  wings  so  that  the  dew  on  those
delicate leaves filled their feathers. The crows were particularly persistent; they
would  hop  from  one  branch  to  another,  pushing  their  heads  through  the
leaves, fluttering their wings and preening themselves. There were about half-
a-dozen of them on that one heavy branch, and there were many other birds,
scattered all over the tree, taking their morning bath.
And this silence spread, and seemed to go beyond the hills. There were the
usual noises of children shouting, and laughter; and the farm began to wake
up.    18
It was going to be a cool day, and now the hills were taking on the light of
the sun. They were very old hills – probably the oldest in the world – with oddly
shaped rocks that seemed to be carved out with great care, balanced one on
top of the other; but no wind or touch could loosen them from this balance.
It  was  a  valley  far  removed  from  towns,  and  the  road  through  it  led  to
another  village.  The  road  was  rough  and  there  were  no  cars  or  buses  to
disturb the ancient quietness of this valley. There were bullock carts, but their
movement was a part of the hills. There was a dry river bed that only flowed
with water after heavy rains, and the colour was a mixture of red, yellow and
brown; and it, too, seemed to move with the hills. And the villagers who walked
silently by were like the rocks.
The  day  wore  on  and  towards  the  end  of  the  evening,  as  the  sun  was
setting  over  the  western  hills,  the  silence  came  in  from  afar,  over  the  hills,
through the trees, covering the little bushes and the ancient banyan. And as
the stars became brilliant, so the silence grew into great intensity; you could
hardly bear it.
The little lamps of the village were put out, and with sleep the intensity of
that  silence  grew  deeper,  wider  and  incredibly  overpowering.  Even  the  hills
became  more  quiet,  for  they,  too,  had  stopped  their  whisperings,  their
movement, and seemed to lose their immense weight.
She said she was forty-five; she was carefully dressed in a sari, with some
bangles on her wrists. The older man with her said he was her uncle. We all
sat  on  the  floor  overlooking  a  big  garden  with  a  banyan  tree,  a  few  mango
trees, the bright bougainvillaea and the growing palms. She was terribly sad.
Her hands were restless and she was trying to prevent herself from bursting
into speech and perhaps tears. The uncle said: «We have come to talk to you
about  my  niece.  Her  husband  died  a  few  years  ago,  and  then  her  son,  and
now she can’t stop crying and has aged terribly. We don’t know what to do.
The usual doctors’ advice doesn’t seem to work, and she seems to be losing
contact with her other children. She’s getting thinner. We don’t know where all
this is going to end, and she insisted that we should come to see you.»    19
«l lost my husband four years ago. He was a doctor and died of cancer. He
must have hidden it from me, and only in the last year or so did I know about it.
He was in agony although the doctors gave him morphine and other sedatives.
Before my eyes he withered away and was gone.»
She stopped, almost choking with tears. There was a dove sitting on the
branch,  quietly  cooing.  It  was  brownish-grey,  with  a  small  head  and  a  large
body – not too large, for it was a dove. Presently it flew off and the branch was
swinging up and down from the pressure of its flight.
«I somehow cannot bear this loneliness, this meaningless existence without
him. I loved my children; I had three of them, a boy and two girls. One day last
year the boy wrote to me from school that he was not feeling well, and a few
days  later  I  got  a  telephone  call  from  the  headmaster,  saying  that  he  was
Here she began to sob uncontrollably. Presently she produced a letter from
the boy in which he had said that he wanted to come  home  for  he  was  not
feeling well, and that he hoped she was all right. She explained that he had
been concerned about her; he hadn’t wanted to go to school but had wanted to
remain with her. And she more or less forced him to go, afraid that he would
be affected by her grief. Now it was too late. The two girls, she said, were not
fully aware of all that had happened for they were quite young. Suddenly she
burst  out:  «I  don’t  know  what  to  do.  This  death  has  shaken  the  very
foundations of my life. Like a house, our marriage was carefully built on what
we  considered  a  deep  foundation.  Now  everything  is  destroyed  by  this
enormous event.»
The uncle must have been a believer, a traditionalist, for he added: «God
has visited this on her. She has been through all the necessary ceremonies
but  they  have  not  helped  her.  I  believe  in  reincarnation,  but  she  takes  no
comfort in it. She doesn’t even want to talk about it. To her it is all meaningless
and we have not been able to give her any comfort.»
We sat there in silence for some time. Her handkerchief was now quite wet;
a clean handkerchief from the drawer helped to wipe away the tears on her   20
cheeks.  The  red  bougainvillaea  was  peeping  through  the  window,  and  the
bright southern light was on every leaf.
Do you want to talk about this seriously – go to the root of it all? Or do you
want to be comforted by some explanation, by some reasoned argument, and
be distracted from your sorrow by some satisfying words?
She replied: «I’d like to go into it deeply, but I don’t know whether I have the
capacity or the energy to face what you are going to say. When my husband
was alive we used to come to some of your talks; but now I may find it very
difficult to go along with you.»
Why are you in sorrow? Don’t give an explanation, for that will only be a
verbal construction of your feeling, which will not be the actual fact. So, when
we ask a question, please don’t answer it. Just listen, and find out for yourself.
Why  is  there  this  sorrow  of  death  –  in  every  house,  rich  and  poor,  from  the
most powerful in the land to the beggar? Why are you in sorrow? Is it for your
husband – or is it for yourself? If you are crying for him, can your tears help
him? He has gone irrevocably. Do what you will, you will never have him back.
No tears, no belief, no ceremonies or gods can ever bring him back. It is a fact
which you have to accept; you can’t do anything about it. But if you are crying
for  yourself,  because  of  your  loneliness,  your  empty  life,  because  of  the
sensual pleasures you had and the companionship, then you are crying, aren’t
you, out of your own emptiness and out of self-pity? Perhaps for the first time
you  are  aware  of  your  own  inward  poverty.  You  have  invested  in  your
husband,  haven’t  you,  if  we  may  gently  point  it  out,  and  it  has  given  you
comfort, satisfaction and pleasure? All you are feeling now – the sense of loss,
the agony of loneliness and anxiety – is a form of self-pity, isn’t it? Do look at it.
Don’t harden your heart against it and say: «I love my husband, and I wasn’t
thinking a bit about myself. I wanted to protect him, even though I often tried to
dominate  him;  but  it  was  all  for  his  sake  and  there  was  never  a  thought  for
myself.» Now that he has gone you are realizing, aren’t you, your own actual
state? His death has shaken you and shown you the actual state of your mind
and heart. You may not be willing to look at it; you may reject it out of fear, but   21
if you observe a little more you will see that you are crying out of your own
loneliness, out of your inward poverty – which is, out of self-pity.
«You are rather cruel, aren’t you, sir?» she said. «I have come to you for real
comfort, and what are you giving me?»
It is one of the illusions most people have – that there is such a thing as
inward comfort; that somebody else can give it to you or that you can find it for
yourself. I am afraid there is no such thing. If you are seeking comfort you are
bound  to  live  in  illusion,  and  when  that  illusion  is  broken  you  become  sad
because the comfort is taken away from you. So, to understand sorrow or to
go  beyond  it,  one  must  see  actually  what  is  inwardly  taking  place,  and  not
cover it up. To point out all this is not cruelty, is it? It’s not something ugly from
which to shy away. When you see all this, very clearly, then you come out of it
immediately, without a scratch, unblemished, fresh, untouched by the events
of life. death is inevitable for all of us; one cannot escape from it. We try to find
every  kind  of  explanation,  cling  to  every  kind  of  belief  in  the  hope  of  going
beyond  it,  but  do  what  you  will  it  is  always  there;  tomorrow,  or  round  the
corner, or many years away – it is always there. One has to come into touch
with this enormous fact of life.
«But…»  said  the  uncle,  and  out  came  the  traditional  belief  in  Atman,  the
soul, the permanent entity which continues. He was on his own ground now,
well-trodden with cunning arguments and quotations. You saw him suddenly
sit up straight and the light of battle, the battle of words, came into his eyes.
Sympathy, love and understanding were gone. He was on his sacred ground
of belief, of tradition, trodden down by the heavy weight of conditioning: «But
the Atman is in every one of us! It is reborn and continues until it realizes that it
is  Brahman.  We  must  go  through  sorrow  to  come  to  that  reality.  We  live  in
illusion; the world is an illusion. There is only one reality.» And he was off! She
looked at me, not paying much attention to him, and a gentle smile began to
appear on her face; and we both looked at the dove which had come back,
and the bright red bougainvillaea.    22
There is nothing permanent either on earth or in ourselves. Thought can
give continuity to something it thinks about; it can give permanency to a word,
to an idea, to a tradition. Thought thinks itself permanent, but is it permanent?
Thought  is  the  response  of  memory,  and  is  that  memory  permanent?  It  can
build  an  image  and  give  to  that  image  a  continuity,  a  permanency,  calling  it
Atman or whatever you like, and it can remember the face of the husband or
the wife and hold on to it. All this is the activity of thought which creates fear,
and out of this fear there is the drive for permanency – the fear of not having a
meal tomorrow, or shelter – the fear of death. This fear is the result of thought,
and Brahman is the product of thought, too.
The uncle said: «Memory and thought are like a candle. You put it out and
re-light it again; you forget, and you remember again later on. You die and are
reborn again into another life. The flame of the candle is the same – and not
the same. So in the flame there is a certain quality of continuity.»
But the flame which has been put out is not the same flame as the new.
There is an ending of the old for the new to be. If there is a constant modified
continuity, then there is no new thing at all. The thousand yesterdays cannot
be made new; even a candle burns itself out. Everything must end for the new
to be.
The  uncle  now  cannot  rely  on  quotations  or  beliefs  or  on  the  sayings  of
others, so he withdraws into himself and becomes quiet, puzzled and rather
angry, for he has been exposed to himself, and, like his niece, doesn’t want to
face  the  fact.  «I  am  not  concerned  about  all  this,»  she  said.  «I  am  utterly
miserable.  I  have  lost  my  husband  and  my  son,  and  there  are  these  two
children left. What am I to do?»
If you are concerned about the two children, you can’t be concerned about
yourself and your misery. You have to look after them, educate them rightly,
bring them up without the usual mediocrity. But if you are consumed by your
own self-pity, which you call «the love for your husband», and if you withdraw
into isolation, then you are also destroying the other two children. Consciously
or unconsciously we are all utterly selfish, and so long as we get what we want   23
we  consider  everything  is  all  right.  But  the  moment  an  event  takes  place  to
shatter all this, we cry out in despair, hoping to find other comforts which, of
course, will again be shattered. So this process goes on, and if you want to be
caught in it, knowing full well all the implications of it, then go ahead. But if you
see  the  absurdity  of  it  all,  then  you  will  naturally  stop  crying,  stop  isolating
yourself, and live with the children with a new light and with a smile on your
face.    24
India Part 5
Silence has many qualities. There is the silence between two noises, the
silence  between  two  notes  and  the  widening  silence  in  the  interval  between
two thoughts. There is that peculiar, quiet, pervading silence that comes of an
evening in the country; there is the silence through which you hear the bark of
a dog in the distance or the whistle of a train as it comes up a steep grade; the
silence  in  a  house  when  everybody  has  gone  to  sleep,  and  its  peculiar
emphasis when you wake up in the middle of the night and listen to an owl
hooting in the valley; and there is that silence before the owl’s mate answers.
There is the silence of an old deserted house, and the silence of a mountain;
the silence between two human beings when they have seen the same thing,
felt the same thing, and acted.
That night, particularly in that distant valley with the most ancient hills with
their  peculiar  shaped  boulders,  the  silence  was  as  real  as  the  wall  you
touched. And you looked out of the window at the brilliant stars. It was not a
self-generated  silence;  it  was  not  that  the  earth  was  quiet  and  the  villagers
were asleep, but it came from everywhere – from the distant stars, from those
dark  hills  and  from  your  own  mind  and  heart.  This  silence  seemed  to  cover
everything  from  the  tiniest  grain  of  sand  in  the  river-bed  –  which  only  knew
running water when it rained – to the tall, spreading banyan tree and a slight
breeze that was now beginning. There is the silence of the mind which is never
touched by any noise, by any thought or by the passing wind of experience. It
is this silence that is innocent, and so endless. When there is this silence of
the mind action springs from it, and this action does not cause confusion or
The meditation of a mind that is utterly silent is the benediction that man is
ever seeking. In this silence every quality of silence is.
There is that strange silence that exists in a temple or in an empty church
deep  in  the  country,  without  the  noise  of  tourists  and  worshippers;  and  the
heavy silence that lies on water is part of that which is outside the silence of
the mind.    25
The meditative mind contains all these varieties, changes and movements
of silence. This silence of the mind is the true religious mind, and the silence of
the gods is the silence of the earth. The meditative mind flows in this silence,
and love is the way of this mind. In this silence there is bliss and laughter.
The uncle came back again, this time without the niece who had lost her
husband.  He  was  a  little  more  carefully  dressed,  also  more  disturbed  and
concerned, and his face had become darker because of his seriousness and
anxiety.  The  floor  on  which  we  were  sitting  was  hard,  and  the  red
bougainvillaea  was  there,  looking  at  us  through  the  window.  And  the  dove
would  probably  come  a  little  later.  It  always  came  about  this  time  of  the
morning. It always sat on that branch in the same place, its back to the window
and  its  head  pointing  south,  and  the  cooing  would  come  softly  through  the
«I would like to talk about immortality and the perfection of life as it evolves
towards the ultimate reality. From what you said the other day, you have direct
perception of what is true, and we, not knowing, only believe. We really don’t
know anything about the Atman at all; we are familiar only with the word. The
symbol, for us, has become the real, and if you describe the symbol – which
you did the other day – we get frightened. But in spite of this fear we cling to it,
because we actually know nothing except what we’ve been taught, what the
previous teachers have said, and the weight of tradition is always with us. So,
first of all, I’d like to know for myself if there is this Reality which is permanent,
this  Reality,  call  it  by  whatever  name  you  like  –  Atman  or  soul  –  which
continues after death. I’m not frightened of death. I’ve faced the death of my
wife  and  several  of  my  children,  but  I  am  concerned  about  this  Atman  as  a
reality. Is there this permanent entity in me?»
When  we  speak  of  permanency  we  mean,  don’t  we,  something  that
continues in spite of the constant change around it, in spite of the experiences,
in  spite  of  all  the  anxieties,  sorrows  and  brutalities?  Something  that  is
imperishable?  First  of  all,  how  can  one  find  out?  Can  it  be  sought  out  by
thought,  by  words?  Can  you  find  the  permanent  through  the  impermanent?   26
Can  you  find  that  which  is  changeless  through  that  which  is  constantly
changing – thought? Thought can give permanency to an idea, Atman or soul,
and  say,  »This  is  the  real»,because  thought  breeds  fear  of  this  constant
change,  and  out  of  this  fear  it  seeks  something  permanent  –  a  permanent
relationship  between  human  beings,  a  permanency  in  love.  Thought  itself  is
impermanent,  is  changing,  so  anything  that  it  invents  as  permanent  is,  like
itself,  non-permanent.  It  can  cling  to  a  memory  throughout  life  and  call  that
memory  permanent,  and  then  want  to  know  whether  it  will  continue  after
death. Thought has created this thing, given it continuity, nourished it day after
day and held on to it. This is the greatest illusion because thought lives in time,
and  what  it  has  experienced  yesterday  it  remembers  through  today  and
tomorrow; time is born out of this. So there is the permanency of time and the
permanency  which  thought  has  given  to  an  idea  of  ultimately  attaining  the
truth. All this is the product of thought – the fear, time and achievement, the
everlasting becoming.
«But who is the thinker – this thinker who has all these thoughts?»
Is  there  a  thinker  at  all,  or  only  thought  which  puts  together  the  thinker?
And having established him, then invents the permanent, the soul, the Atman.
«Do you mean to say that I cease to exist when I don’t think?»
Has  it  ever  happened  to  you,  naturally,  to  find  yourself  in  a  state  where
thought  is  totally  absent?  In  that  state  are  you  conscious  of  yourself  as  the
thinker,  the  observer,  the  experiencer?  Thought  is  the  response  of  memory,
and the bundle of memories is the thinker. When there is no thought is there
the «me» at all, about whom we make so much fuss and noise? We are not
talking of a person in amnesia, or of one who is day-dreaming or controlling
thought to silence it, but of a mind that is fully awake, fully alert. If there is no
thought and no word, isn’t the mind in a different dimension altogether?
«Certainly there is something quite different when the self is not acting, is
not asserting itself, but this need not mean that the self does not exist – just
because it does not act.»    27
Of course it exists! The «me», the ego, the bundle of memories exists. We
see  it  existing  only  when  it  responds  to  a  challenge,  but  it’s  there,  perhaps
dormant or in abeyance, waiting for the next chance to respond. A greedy man
is occupied most of the time with his greed; he may have moments when it is
not active, but it is always there.
«What is that living entity which expresses itself in greed?»
It is still greed. The two are not separate.
«I  understand  perfectly  what  you  call  the  ego,  the  `me’,  its  memory,  its
greed,  its  assertiveness,  its  demands  of  all  kinds,  but  is  there  nothing  else
except  this  ego?  In  the  absence  of  this  ego  do  you  mean  to  say  there  is
When the noise of those crows stops there is something: this something is
the chatter of the mind – the problems, worries, conflicts, even this enquiry into
what remains after death. This question can be answered only when the mind
is no longer greedy or envious. Our concern is not with what there is after the
ego ceases but rather with the ending of all the attributes of the ego. That is
really  the  problem  –  not  what  reality  is,  or  if  there  is  something  permanent,
eternal – but whether the mind, which is so conditioned by the culture in which
it lives and for which it is responsible – whether such a mind can free itself and
«Then how am I to begin to free myself?»
You can’t free yourself. You are the seed of this misery, and when you ask
«how»  you  are  asking  for  a  method  which  will  destroy  the  «you»,  but  in  the
process of destroying the «you» you are creating another «you». «If I may ask
another question, what then is immortality? Mortality is death, mortality is the
way  of  Life  with  its  sorrow  and  pain.  Man  has  searched  everlastingly  for  an
immortality, a deathless state.»
Again,  sir,  you  have  come  back  to  the  question  of  something  that  is
timeless, which is beyond thought. What is beyond thought is innocence, and
thought,  do  what  it  will,  can  never  touch  it,  for  thought  is  always  old.  It  is   28
innocency, like love, that is deathless, but for that to exist the mind must be
free of the thousand yesterdays with their memories. And freedom is a state in
which there is no hate, no violence, no brutality. Without putting away all these
things how can we ask what immortality is, what love is, what truth is?    29
India Part 6
If you set out to meditate it will not be meditation. If you set out to be good,
goodness will never flower. If you cultivate humility, it ceases to be. Meditation
is like the breeze that comes in when you leave the window open; but if you
deliberately keep it open, deliberately invite it to come, it will never appear.
Meditation  is  not  the  way  of  thought,  for  thought  is  cunning,  with  infinite
possibilities of self-deception,  and  so  it  will  miss  the  way  of  meditation.  Like
love, it cannot be pursued.
The river that morning was very still. You could see on it the reflections of
the  clouds,  of  the  new  winter  wheat  and  the  wood  beyond.  Even  the
fisherman’s boat didn’t seem to disturb it. The quietness of the morning lay on
the land. The sun was just coming up over the tops of the trees, and a distant
voice was calling, and nearby a chanting of Sanskrit was in the air. The parrots
and the mynahs had not yet begun their search for food; the vultures, bare-
necked,  heavy,  sat  on  the  top  of  the  tree  waiting  for  the  carrion  to  come
floating down the river. Often you would see some dead animal floating by and
a vulture or two would be on it, and the crows would flutter around it hoping for
a bite. A dog would swim out to it, and not gaining a foothold would return to
the shore and wander off. A train would pass by, making a steely clatter across
the bridge, which was quite long. And beyond it, up the river, lay the city.
It was a morning full of quiet delight. Poverty, disease and pain were not yet
walking on the road. There was a tottering bridge across the little stream; and
where  this  little  stream  –  dirty-brown  –  joined  the  big  river,  there  it  was
supposed to be most holy, and there people came on festive days to bathe,
men, women and children. It was cold, but they did not seem to mind. And the
temple priest across the way made a lot of money; and the ugliness began.
He  was  a  bearded  man  and  wore  a  turban.  He  was  in  some  kind  of
business and from the look of him he seemed to be prosperous, well-fed. He
was  slow  in  his  walk  and  in  his  thinking.  His  reactions  were  still  slower.  He
took several minutes to understand a simple statement. He said he had a guru   30
of his own and, as he was passing by, he felt the urge to come up and talk
about things that seemed to him important.
«Why  is  it,»  he  asked,  «that  you  are  against  gurus?  It  seems  so  absurd.
They know, and I don’t know. They can guide me, help me, tell me what to do,
and save me a lot of trouble and pain. They are like a light in the darkness,
and one must be guided by them otherwise one is lost, confused and in great
misery. They told me that I shouldn’t come and see you, for they taught me the
danger  of  those  who  do  not  accept  the  traditional  knowledge.  They  said  if  I
listened to others I would be destroying the house they had so carefully built.
But the temptation to come and see you was too strong, so here I am!`’
He looked rather pleased at having yielded to temptation.
What is the need of a guru? Does he know more than you do? And what
does he know? If he says that he knows, he really doesn’t know, and, besides,
the word is not the actual state. Can anyone teach you that extraordinary state
of mind? They may be able to describe it to you, awaken your interest, your
desire to possess it, experience it – but they cannot give it to you. You have to
walk by yourself, you have to take the journey alone, and on that journey you
have to be your own teacher and pupil.
«But all this is very difficult, isn’t it?» he said, «and the steps can be made
easier by those who have experienced that reality.»
They become the authority and all you have to do, according to them, is
just to follow, to imitate, obey, accept the image, the system which they offer,
In this way you lose all initiative, all direct perception. You are merely following
what they think is the way to the truth. But, unfortunately, truth has no way to
«What do you mean?» he cried, quite shocked.
Human beings are conditioned by propaganda, by the society in which they
have been brought up – each religion asserting that its own path is the best.
And there are a thousand gurus who maintain that their method, their system,
their way of meditation, is the only path that leads to truth. And, if you observe,   31
each  disciple  tolerates,  condescendingly,  the  disciples  of  other  gurus.
Tolerance is the civilized acceptance of a division between people – politically,
religiously and socially. Man has invented many paths, giving comfort to each
believer, and so the world is broken up. «Do you mean to say that I must give
up my guru? Abandon all he has taught me? I should be lost!»
But  mustn’t  you  be  lost  to  discover?  We  are  afraid  to  be  lost,  to  be
uncertain,  and  so  we  run  after  those  who  promise  heaven  in  the  religious,
political or social fields. So they really encourage fear, and hold us prisoners in
that fear.
«But can I walk by myself?» he asked in an incredulous voice.
There have been so many saviours, masters, gurus, political leaders and
philosophers, and not one of them has saved you from your own misery and
conflict. So why follow them? perhaps there may be quite another approach to
all our problems.
«But am I serious enough to grapple with all this on my own?»
You  are  serious  only  when  you  begin  to  understand  –  not  through
somebody else – the pleasures that you are pursuing now. You are living at the
level  of  pleasure.  Not  that  there  must  not  be  pleasure,  but  if  this  pursuit  of
pleasure is the whole beginning and end of your life, then obviously you can’t
be serious.
«You make me feel helpless and hopeless.»
You feel hopeless because you want both. You want to be serious and you
want also all the pleasures the world can give. These pleasures are so small
and  petty,  anyway,  that  you  desire  in  addition  the  pleasure  which  you  call
«God».  When  you  see  all  this  for  yourself,  not  according  to  somebody  else,
then the seeing of it makes you the disciple and the master. This is the main
point. Then you are the teacher, and the taught, and the teaching.
«But,»  he  asserted,  «you  are  a  guru.  You  have  taught  me  something  this
morning, and I accept you as my guru.»    32
Nothing has been taught, but you have looked. The looking has shown you.
The looking is your guru, if you like to put it that way. But it is for you either to
look or not to look. Nobody can force you. But if you look because you want to
be rewarded or fear to be punished, this motive prevents the looking. To see,
you must be free from all authority, tradition, fear, and thought with its cunning
words. Truth is not in some far distant place; it is in the looking at what is. To
see oneself as one is – in that awareness into which choice does not enter – is
the beginning and end of all search.    33
India Part 7
Thought  cannot  conceive  or  formulate  to  itself  the  nature  of  space.
Whatever it formulates has within it the limitation of its own boundaries. This is
not the space which meditation comes upon. Thought has always a horizon.
The meditative mind has no horizon. The mind cannot go from the limited to
the immense, nor can it transform the limited into the limitless. The one has to
cease  for  the  other  to  be.  Meditation  is  opening  the  door  into  spaciousness
which  cannot  be  imagined  or  speculated  upon.  Thought  is  the  centre  round
which there is the space of idea, and this space can be expanded by further
ideas.  But  such  expansion  through  stimulation  in  any  form  is  not  the
spaciousness in which there is no centre. Meditation is the understanding of
this centre and so going beyond it. Silence and spaciousness go together. The
immensity of silence is the immensity of the mind in which a centre does not
exist. The perception of this space and silence is not of thought. Thought can
perceive only its own projection, and the recognition of it is its own frontier.
You crossed the little stream over a rickety bridge of bamboo and mud. The
stream  joined  the  big  river  and  disappeared  into  the  waters  of  the  strong
current. The little bridge had holes in it and you had to walk rather carefully.
You went up the sandy slope and passed the small temple and, a little further
on, a well which was as old as the wells of the earth. It was at the corner of a
village where there were many goats and hungry men and women wrapped
around in dirty clothes, for it was quite cold. They fished in the big river, but
somehow they were still very thin, emaciated, already old, some very crippled.
In the village were weavers producing the most beautiful brocade and silk saris
in dark dingy little rooms with small windows. It was a trade handed down from
father to son, and middlemen and shopkeepers made the money.
You didn’t go through the village but turned off to the left and followed a
path  which  had  become  holy,  for  it  was  supposed  that  upon  this  path  the
Buddha had walked some 2,500 years ago, and pilgrims came from all over
the  country  to  walk  on  it.  This  path  led  through  green  fields,  among  mango
groves,  guava  trees  and  through  scattered  temples.  There  was  an  ancient   34
village, probably older than the Buddha, and many shrines and places where
the  pilgrims  could  spend  the  night.  It  had  all  become  dilapidated;  nobody
seemed to care; the goats wandered about the place. There were large trees;
one old tamarind, with vultures on top and a flock of parrots. You saw them
coming in and disappearing into the green tree; they became the same colour
as the leaves; you heard their screech but you could not see them.
On  either  side  of  the  path  stretched  fields  of  winter  wheat;  and  in  the
distance were villagers and the smoke of the fires over which they cooked. It
was very still, the smoke going straight up. A bull, heavy, fierce-looking, but
quite harmless, wandered through the fields, eating the grain as it was driven
across  the  field  by  the  farmer.  It  had  rained  during  the  night  and  the  heavy
dust was laid low. The sun would be hot during the day but now there were
heavy clouds and it was pleasant to walk even in day-time, to smell the clean
earth, to see the beauty of the land. It was a very old land, full of enchantment
and human sorrow, with its poverty and those useless temples.
«You have talked a great deal about beauty and love, and after listening to
you I see I don’t know either what beauty is or what love is. I am an ordinary
man,  but  I  have  read  a  great  deal,  both  philosophy  and  literature.  The
explanations which they offer seem to be different from what you are saying. I
could quote to you what the ancients of this country have said about love and
beauty, and also how they have expressed it in the West, but I know you don’t
like quotations for they smack of authority. But, sir, if you are so inclined, we
could go into this matter, and then perhaps I shall be able to understand what
beauty and love may mean?»
Why is it that in our lives there is so little beauty? Why are museums with
their pictures and statues necessary? Why do you have to listen to music? Or
read descriptions of scenery? Good taste can be taught, or perhaps one has it
naturally,  but  good  taste  is  not  beauty.  Is  it  in  the  thing  that  has  been  put
together – the sleek modern aeroplane, the compact tape-recorder, the modern
hotel or the Greek temple – the beauty of line, of the very complex machine, or
the curve of a beautiful bridge across a deep cavern?    35
«But do you mean that there is no beauty in things that are beautifully made
and function perfectly? No beauty in superlative artistry?»
Of  course  there  is.  When  you  look  at  the  inside  of  a  watch  it  is  really
remarkably  delicate  and  there  is  a  certain  quality  of  beauty  in  it,  and  in  the
ancient pillars of marble, or in the words of a poet. But if that is all beauty is,
then it is only the superficial response of the senses. When you see a palm
tree, single against the setting sun, is it the colour, the stillness of the palm, the
quietness  of  the  evening  that  make  you  feel  the  beautiful,  or  is  beauty,  like
love,  something  that  lies  beyond  the  touch  and  the  sight?  Is  it  a  matter  of
education,  conditioning,  that  says:  «This  is  beautiful  and  that  is  not»?  Is  it  a
matter  of  custom  and  habit  and  style  that  says:  «This  is  squalor,  but  that  is
order and the flowering of the good»? If it is all a matter of conditioning then it
is the product of culture and tradition, and therefore not beauty. If beauty is the
outcome  or  the  essence  of  experience,  then  to  the  man  from  the  West  and
from the East, beauty is dependent upon education and tradition. Is love, like
beauty, of the East or of the West, of Christianity or Hinduism, or the monopoly
of the State or of an ideology? Obviously it is not any of this.
«Then what is it?»
You  know,  sir,  austerity  in  self-abandonment  is  beauty.  Without  austerity
there  is  no  love,  and  without  self-abandonment  beauty  has  no  reality.  We
mean by austerity not the harsh discipline of the saint or of the monk or of the
commissar  with  their  proud  self-denial,  or  the  discipline  which  gives  them
power  and  recognition  –  that  is  not  austerity.  Austerity  is  not  harsh,  not  a
disciplined assertion of self-importance. It is not the denial of comfort, or vows
of  poverty,  or  celibacy.  Austerity  is  the  summation  of  intelligence.  This
austerity  can  be  only  when  there  is  self-abandonment,  and  it  cannot  be
through will, through choice, through deliberate intent. It is the act of beauty
that abandons, and it is love that brings the deep inward clarity of austerity.
Beauty is this love, in which measurement has come to an end. Then this love,
do what it will, is beauty.    36
«What do you mean, do what it will? If there is self-abandonment then there
is nothing left for one to do.»
The  doing  is  not  separate  from  what  is.  It  is  the  separation  that  brings
conflict and ugliness. When there is not this separation then living itself is the
act of love. The deep inward simplicity of austerity makes for a life that has no
duality.  This  is  the  journey  the  mind  had  to  take  to  come  upon  this  beauty
without the word. This journey is meditation.    37
India Part 8
Meditation  is  hard  work.  It  demands  the  highest  form  of  discipline  –  not
conformity, not imitation, not obedience, but a discipline which comes through
constant  awareness,  not  only  of  the  things  about  you  outwardly,  but  also
inwardly. So meditation is not an activity of isolation but action in everyday life
which  demands  co-operation,  sensitivity  and  intelligence.  Without  laying  the
foundation  of  a  righteous  life,  meditation  becomes  an  escape  and  therefore
has no value whatsoever. A righteous life is not the following of social morality,
but the freedom from envy, greed and the search for power – which all breed
enmity. The freedom from these does not come through the activity of will but
through  being  aware  of  them  through  self-knowing.  Without  knowing  the
activities of the self, meditation becomes sensuous excitement and therefore
of very little significance.
At that latitude there is hardly any twilight or dawn, and that morning the
river, wide and deep, was of molten lead. The sun was not yet over the land
but there was a lightening in the east. The birds had not yet begun to sing their
daily chorus of the morning and the villagers were not yet calling out to each
other. The morning star was quite high in the sky, and as you watched, it grew
paler  and  paler  until  the  sun  was  just  over  the  trees  and  the  river  became
silver  and  gold.  Then  the  birds  began,  and  the  village  woke  up.  Just  then,
suddenly,  there  appeared  on  the  window-sill  a  large  monkey,  grey,  with  a
black  face  and  bushy  hair  over  the  forehead.  His  hands  were  black  and  his
long  tail  hung  over  the  window-sill  into  the  room.  He  sat  there  very  quiet,
almost motionless, looking at us without a movement. We were quite close, a
few feet separated us. And suddenly he stretched out his arm, and we held
hands for some time. His hand was rough, black and dusty for he had climbed
over the roof, over the little parapet above the window and had come down
and sat there. He was quite relaxed, and what was surprising was that he was
extraordinarily cheerful. There was no fear, no uneasiness; it was as though
he was at home. There he was, with the river bright golden now, and beyond it
the  green  bank  and  the  distant  trees.  We  must  have  held  hands  for  quite  a   38
time; then, almost casually, he withdrew his hand but still remained where he
was. We were looking at each other, and you could see his black eyes shining,
small  and  full  of  strange  curiosity.  He  wanted  to  come  into  the  room  but
hesitated, then stretched his arms and his legs, reached for the parapet, and
was over the roof and gone. In the evening he was there again on a tree, high
up, eating something. We waved to him but there was no response.
The man he was a sannyasi, a monk, with rather a nice delicate face and
sensitive  hands.  He  was  clean,  and  his  robes  had  been  recently  washed
though not ironed. He said he had come from Rishikesh where he had spent
many years under a guru who had now withdrawn into the higher mountains
and  remained  alone.  He  said  he  had  been  to  many  ashramas.  He  had  left
home many years ago, perhaps when he was twenty. He couldn’t remember
very well at what age he had left. He said he had parents and several sisters
and brothers but he had lost touch with them completely. He had come all this
way because he had heard from several gurus that he should see us, and also
he had read little bits here and there. And recently he had talked to a fellow
sannyasi, and so he was here. One couldn’t guess his age; he was more than
middle-aged, but his voice and his eyes were still young.
«It has been my lot to wander over India visiting the various centres with
their gurus, some of whom are scholarly, others ignorant though with a quality
which  indicates  that  they  have  something  in  them;  yet  others  are  mere
exploiters  giving  out  mantras;  these  have  often  been  abroad  and  become
popular. There are very few who have been above all this, but among those
few  was  my  recent  guru.  Now  he  has  withdrawn  into  a  remote  and  isolated
part  of  the  Himalayas.  A  whole  group  of  us  go  to  see  him  once  a  year  to
receive his blessing.»
Is isolation from the world necessary? «Obviously one must renounce the
world, for the world isn’t real, and one must have a guru to teach one, for the
guru has experienced reality and he will help those who follow him to realize
that reality. He knows, and we don’t. We are surprised that you say that no
guru  is  necessary  for  you  are  going  against  tradition.  You  yourself  have   39
become a guru to many, and truth is not to be found alone. One must have
help – the rituals, the guidance of those who know. Perhaps ultimately one may
have  to  stand  alone,  but  not  now.  We  are  children  and  we  need  those  who
have advanced along the path. It is only by sitting at the feet of one who knows
that  one  learns.  But  you  seem  to  deny  all  this,  and  I  have  come  to  find  out
seriously why.»
Do look at that river – the morning light on it, and those sparkling, green
luscious  wheatfields,  and  the  trees  beyond.  There  is  great  beauty;  and  the
eyes that see it must be full of love to comprehend it. And to hear the rattling of
that train over the iron bridge is as important as to hear the voice of the bird.
So do look – and listen to those pigeons cooing. And look at that tamarind tree
with  those  two  green  parrots.  For  the  eyes  to  see  them  there  must  be  a
communion  with  them  –  with  the  river,  with  that  boat  passing  by  filled  with
villagers, singing as they row. This is part of the world. If you renounce it you
are  renouncing  beauty  and  love  –  the  very  earth  itself.  What  you  are
renouncing is the society of men, but not the things which man had made out
of the world. You are not renouncing the culture, the tradition, the knowledge –
all  of  that  goes  with  you  when  you  withdraw  from  the  world.  You  are
renouncing  beauty  and  love  because  you  are  frightened  of  those  two  words
and what lies behind those words. Beauty is associated with sensuous reality,
with its sexual implications and the love that is involved in it. This renunciation
has  made  the  so-called  religious  people  self-centred  –  at  a  higher  level
perhaps than with the man of the world, but it is still self-centredness. When
you  have  no  beauty  and  love  there  is  no  possibility  of  coming  upon  that
immeasurable thing. If you observe, right through the domain of the sannyasis
and the saints, this beauty and love are far from them. They may talk about it,
but  they  are  harsh  disciplinarians,  violent  in  their  controls  and  demands.  So
essentially, though they may put on the saffron robe or the black robe, or the
scarlet of the cardinal, they are all very worldly. It is a profession like any other
profession; certainly it is not what is called spiritual. Some of them should be
business men and not put on airs of spirituality.    40
«But you know, sir, you are being rather harsh, aren’t you?»
No, we are merely stating a fact, and the fact is neither harsh, pleasant nor
unpleasant; it is so. Most of us object to facing things as they are. But all this is
fairly obvious and quite open. Isolation is the way of life, the way of the world.
Each  human  being,  through  his  self-centred  activities,  is  isolating  himself,
whether he is married or not, whether he talks of co-operation, or of nationality,
achievement and success. Only when this isolation becomes extreme is there
a neurosis which sometimes produces – if one has talent – art, good literature,
and so on. This withdrawal from the world with all its noise, brutality, hate and
pleasure is a part of the isolating process, isn’t it? Only the sannyasi does it in
the name of religion, or God, and the competitive man accepts it as a part of
the social structure.
In this isolation you do achieve certain powers, a certain quality of austerity
and abstemiousness, which give a sense of power. And power, whether of the
Olympic  champion,  or  of  the  prime  Minister,  or  of  the  Head  of  the  churches
and temples, is the same. Power in any form is evil – if one may use that word
– and the man of power can never open the door to reality. So isolation is not
the way.
Co-operation  is  necessary  in  order  to  live  at  all;  and  there  is  no  co-
operation with the follower or with the guru. The guru destroys the disciple and
the disciple destroys the guru. In this relationship of the teacher and the taught
how can there be co-operation, the working together, the enquiring together,
taking  the  journey  together?  This  hierarchical  division  which  is  part  of  the
social  structure,  whether  it  be  in  the  religious  field  or  in  the  army  or  the
business world, is essentially worldly. And when one renounces the world one
is caught in worldliness.
Unworldliness  is  not  the  loincloth  or  one  meal  a  day  or  repeating  some
meaningless though stimulating mantra or phrase. It is worldliness when you
give up the world and are inwardly part of that world of envy, greed, fear, of
accepting authority and the division between the one who knows and the one
who doesn’t know. It is still worldliness when you seek achievement, whether it   41
be fame or the achievement of what one may call the ideal, or God, or what
you will. It is the accepted tradition of the culture that is essentially worldly, and
withdrawing into a mountain far from man does not absolve this worldliness.
Reality, under no circumstances, lies in that direction.
One  must  be  alone,  but  this  aloneness  is  not  isolation.  This  aloneness
implies freedom from the world of greed, hate and violence with all its subtle
ways, and from aching loneliness and despair.
To  be  alone  is  to  be  an  outsider  who  does  not  belong  to  any  religion  or
nation,  to  any  belief  or  dogma.  It  is  this  aloneness  that  comes  upon  an
innocency that has never been touched by the mischief of man. It is innocency
that  can  live  in  the  world,  with  all  its  turmoil,  and  yet  not  be  of  it.  It  is  not
clothed in any particular garb. The flowering of goodness does not lie along
any path, for there is no path to truth.    42
India Part 9
Do  not  think  that  meditation  is  a  continuance  and  an  expansion  of
experience. In experience there is always the witness and he is ever tied to the
past. Meditation, on the contrary, is that complete inaction which is the ending
of all experience. The action of experience has its roots in the past and so it is
time-binding;  it  leads  to  action  which  is  inaction,  and  brings  disorder.
Meditation is the total inaction which comes out of a mind that sees what is,
without  the  entanglement  of  the  past.  This  action  is  not  a  response  to  any
challenge but is the action of the challenge itself, in which there is no duality.
Meditation  is  the  emptying  of  experience  and  is  going  on  all  the  tine,
consciously or unconsciously, so it is not an action limited to a certain period
during the day. It is a continuous action from morning till night – the watching
without the watcher. Therefore there is no division between the daily life and
meditation, the religious life and the secular life. The division comes only when
the  watcher  is  tied  to  time.  In  this  division  there  is  disarray,  misery  and
confusion, which is the state of society.
So meditation is not individualistic, nor is it social, it transcends both and so
includes both. This is love: the flowering of love is meditation.
It was cool in the morning but as the day wore on it began to be quite hot
and  as  you  went  through  the  town  along  the  narrow  street,  overcrowded,
dusty, dirty, noisy, you realized that every street was like that. You almost saw
the exploding of the population. The car had to go very slowly, for the people
were  walking  right  in  the  middle  of  the  street.  It  was  getting  hotter  now.
Gradually, with a great many hootings, you got out of the town and were glad
of it. You drove past the factories, and at last you were in the country.
The country was dry. It had rained some time ago and the trees were now
waiting for the next rains – and they would wait for a long time. You went past
villagers, cattle, bullock carts and buffaloes which refused to move out of the
middle  of  the  road;  and  you  went  past  an  old  temple  which  had  an  air  of
neglect but had the quality of an ancient sanctuary. A peacock came out of the   43
wood; its brilliant blue neck sparkled in the sun. It didn’t seem to mind the car,
for it walked across the road with great dignity and disappeared in the fields.
Then you began to climb steep hills, sometimes with deep ravines on both
sides. Now it was getting cooler, the trees were fresher. After winding for some
time through the hills, you came to the house. By then it was quite dark. The
stars became very clear. You felt you could almost reach out and touch them.
The  silence  of  the  night  was  spreading  over  the  land.  Here  man  could  be
alone, undisturbed, and look at the stars and at himself endlessly.
The man said a tiger had killed a buffalo the day before and would surely
come back to it, and would we all, later in the evening, like to see the tiger?
We  said  we  would  be  delighted.  He  replied.  «Then  I  will  go  and  prepare  a
shelter in a tree near the carcass and tie a live goat to the tree. The tiger will
first come to the live goat before going back to the old kill.» We replied that we
would rather not see the tiger at the expense of the goat. Presently, after some
talk, he left. That evening our friend said, `’Let us get into the car and go into
the forest, and perhaps we may come upon that tiger». So towards sunset we
drove through the forest for five or six miles and of course there was no tiger.
Then we returned, with the headlights lighting the road. We had given up all
hope  of  seeing  the  tiger  and  drove  on  without  thinking  about  it.  Just  as  we
turned a corner – there it was, in the middle of the road, huge, its eyes bright
and  fixed.  The  car  stopped,  and  the  animal,  large  and  threatening,  came
towards us, growling. It was quite close to us now, just in front of the radiator.
Then it turned and came alongside the car. We put out our hand to touch it as
it went by, but the friend grabbed the arm and pulled it back sharply, for he
knew  something  of  tigers.  It  was  of  great  length,  and  as  the  windows  were
open you could smell it and its smell was not repulsive. There was a dynamic
savagery about it, and great power and beauty. Still growling it went off into
the woods and we went on our way, back to the house.
He had come with his family – his wife and several children – and seemed
not  too  prosperous,  though  they  were  fairly  well  clothed  and  well  fed.  The
children sat silently for some time until it was suggested that they should go   44
out and play, then they jumped up eagerly and ran out of the door. The father
was some kind of official; it was a job that he had to do, and that was all. He
asked: «What is happiness, and why is it that it can’t continue throughout one’s
life? I have had moments of great happiness and also, of course great sorrow.
I  have  struggled  to  live  with  happiness,  but  there  is  always  the  sorrow.  Is  it
possible to remain with happiness?»
What is happiness? Do you know when you are happy, or only a moment
later when it is over? Is happiness pleasure, and can pleasure be constant?
«I should think, sir, at least for me, that pleasure is part of the happiness I
have  known.  I  cannot  imagine  happiness  without  pleasure.  Pleasure  is  a
primary instinct in man, and if you take it away how can there be happiness?»
We are, are we not, enquiring into this question of happiness? And if you
assume anything, or have opinion or judgment in this enquiry, you will not be
able to go very far. To enquire into complex human problems there must be
freedom from the very beginning. If you haven’t got it you are like an animal
tethered to a post and can move only as far as the rope will allow. That’s what
always  happens.  We  have  concepts,  formulas,  beliefs  or  experiences  which
tether us, and from those we try to examine, look around, and this naturally
prevents a very deep inquiry. So, if we may suggest, don’t assume or believe,
but have eyes that can see very clearly. If happiness is pleasure, then it is also
pain. You cannot separate pleasure from pain. Don’t they always go together?
So what is pleasure and what is happiness? You know, sir, if, in examining
a flower, you tear its petals away one by one, there is no flower left at all. You
will have in your hands bits of the flower and the bits don’t make the beauty of
the  flower.  So  in  looking  at  this  question  we  are  not  analysing  intellectually,
thereby making the whole thing arid, meaning- less and empty. We are looking
at it with eyes that care very much, with eyes that understand, with eyes that
touch but do not tear. So please don’t tear at it and go away empty handed.
Leave the analytical mind alone.
Pleasure is encouraged by thought, isn’t it? Thought can give it a continuity,
the appearance of duration which we call happiness; as thought can also give   45
a duration to sorrow. Thought says: «This I like and that I don’t like. I would like
to  keep  this  and  throw  away  that.»  But  thought  has  made  up  both,  and
happiness  now  has  become  the  way  of  thought.  When  you  say:  «I  want  to
remain in that state of happiness» – you are the thought, you are the memory of
the previous experience which you call pleasure and happiness.
So  the  past,  or  yesterday,  or  many  yesterdays  ago,  which  is  thought,  is
saying: «I would like to live in that state of happiness which I have had.» You
are making the dead past into an actuality in the present and you are afraid of
losing  it  tomorrow.  Thus  you  have  built  a  chain  of  continuity.  This  continuity
has its roots in the ashes of yesterday, and therefore it is not a living thing at
all. Nothing can blossom in ashes – and thought is ashes. So you have made
happiness a thing of thought, and it is for you a thing of thought.
But is there something other than pleasure, pain, happiness and sorrow? Is
there a bliss, an ecstasy, that is not touched by thought? For thought is very
trivial,  and  there  is  nothing  original  about  it.  In  asking  this  question,  thought
must abandon itself. When thought abandons itself there is the discipline of the
abandonment,  which  becomes  the  grace  of  austerity.  Then  austerity  is  not
harsh  and  brutal.  Harsh  austerity  is  the  product  of  thought  as  a  revulsion
against pleasure and indulgence.
From this deep self-abandonment – which is thought abandoning itself, for it
sees clearly its own danger – the whole structure of the mind becomes quiet. It
is really a state of pure attention and out of this comes a bliss, an ecstasy, that
cannot be put into words. When it is put into words it is not the real.    46
India Part 10
Meditation  is  a  movement  in  stillness.  Silence  of  the  mind  is  the  way  of
action. Action born of thought is inaction, which breeds disorder. This silence
is not the product of thought, nor is it the ending of the chattering of the mind.
A  still  mind  is  possible  only  when  the  brain  itself  is  quiet.  The  brain  cells  –
which  have  been  conditioned  for  so  long  to  react,  to  project,  to  defend,  to
assert – become quiet only through the seeing of what actually is. From this
silence, action which does not bring about disorder is possible only when the
observer, the centre, the experiencer, has come to an end – for then the seeing
is the doing. Seeing is possible only out of a silence in which all evaluation and
moral values have come to an end.
This  temple  was  older  than  its  gods.  They  remained,  prisoners  in  the
temple, but the temple itself was far more ancient. It had thick walls and pillars
in  the  corridors,  carved  with  horses,  gods  and  angels.  They  had  a  certain
quality of beauty, and as you passed them you wondered what would happen
if they all came alive, including the innermost god.
They said that this temple, especially the innermost sanctuary, went back
far  beyond  the  imagination  of  time.  As  you  wandered  through  the  various
corridors, lit by the morning sun and with sharp, clear shadows, you wondered
what  it  was  all  about  –  how  man  has  made  gods  out  of  his  own  mind  and
carved  them  with  his  hands  and  put  them  into  temples  and  churches  and
worshipped them.
The temples of the ancient times had a strange beauty and power. They
seemed to be born out of the very earth itself. This temple was almost as old
as  man,  and  the  gods  in  it  were  clothed  in  silks,  garlanded,  and  awakened
from their sleep with chants, with incense and with bells. The incense, which
had been burned for many centuries past, seemed to pervade the whole of the
temple, which was vast and must have covered several acres.
People seemed to have come here from all over the country, the rich and
the poor, but only a certain class were allowed inside the sanctuary itself. You   47
entered  through  a  low  stone  door,  stepping  over  a  parapet  which  was  worn
down through time. Outside the sanctuary there were guardians in stone, and
when you came into it there were priests, naked down to the waist, chanting,
solemn  and  dignified.  They  were  all  rather  well  fed,  with  big  tummies  and
delicate hands. Their voices were hoarse, for they had been chanting for so
many years; and the God, or the Goddess, was almost shapeless. There must
have been a face at one time but the features had almost gone. The jewels
must have been beyond price.
When the chanting stopped there was a stillness as though the very earth
had stopped in its rotation. In here there was no sunshine, and the light came
only from the wicks burning in the oil. Those wicks had blackened the ceiling
and the place was quite mysteriously dark.
All gods must be worshipped in mystery and in darkness, otherwise they
have no existence.
When you came out into the open strong light of the sun and looked at the
blue  sky  and  the  tall  waving  palm  trees  you  wondered  why  it  is  that  man
worships himself as the image which he has made with his hands and mind.
Fear, and that lovely blue sky, seemed so far apart.
He was a young man, clean, sharp of face, bright-eyed, with a quick smile.
We sat on the floor in a little room overlooking a small garden. The garden was
full of roses, from white to almost black. A parrot was on a branch, hanging
upside down, with its bright eyes and red beak. It was looking at another much
smaller bird.
He spoke English fairly well, but was rather hesitant in the use of words,
and for the moment he seemed serious. He asked: «What is a religious life? I
have  asked  various  gurus  and  they  have  given  the  standard  replies,  and  I
would like, if I may, to ask you the same question. I had a good job, but as I
am not married, I gave it up because I am drawn deeply by religion and want
to find out what it means to lead a religious life in a world that is so irreligious.»    48
Instead  of  asking  what  a  religious  life  is,  wouldn’t  it  be  better,  if  I  may
suggest it, to ask what living is? Then perhaps we may understand what a truly
religious life is. The so-called religious life varies from clime to clime, from sect
to sect, from belief to belief; and man suffers through the propaganda of the
organized vested interests of religions. If we could set aside all that – not only
the beliefs, the dogmas and rituals but also the respectability which is entailed
in the culture of religion – then perhaps we could find out what a religious life is
untouched by the thought of man.
But  before  we  do  that,  let  us,  as  we  said,  find  out  what  living  is.  The
actuality of living is the daily grind, the routine, with its struggle and conflict; it
is the ache of loneliness, the misery and the squalor of poverty and riches, the
ambition, the search for fulfilment, the success and the sorrow – these cover
the  whole  field  of  our  life.  This  is  what  we  call  living  –  gaining  and  losing  a
battle, and the endless pursuit of pleasure.
In contrast to this, or in opposition to this, there is what is called religious
living  or  a  spiritual  life.  But  the  opposite  contains  the  very  seed  of  its  own
opposite  and  so,  though  it  may  appear  different,  actually  it  is  not.  You  may
change the outer garment but the inner essence of what was and of what must
be is the same. This duality is the product of thought and so it breeds more
conflict; and the corridor of this conflict is endless. All this we know – we have
been told it by others or we have felt it for ourselves and all this we call living.
The religious life is not on the other side of the river, it is on this side – the
side of the whole travail of man. It is this that we have to understand, and the
action of understanding is the religious act – not putting on ashes, wearing a
loin  cloth  or  a  mitre,  sitting  in  the  seat  of  the  mighty  or  being  carried  on  an
The seeing of the whole condition, the pleasure and the misery of man, is
of the first importance – not the speculation as to what a religious life should
be. What should be is a myth; it is the morality which thought and fancy have
put together, and one must deny this morality – the social, the religious and the   49
industrial. This denial is not of the intellect but is an actual slipping out of the
pattern of that morality which is immoral.
So  the  question  really  is:  Is  it  possible  to  step  out  of  this  pattern?  It  is
thought  which  has  created  this  frightening  mess  and  misery,  and  which  has
prevented both religion and the religious life. Thought thinks that it can step
out of the pattern, but if it does it will still be an act of thought, for thought has
no reality and therefore it will create another illusion.
Going  beyond  this  pattern  is  not  an  act  of  thought.  This  must  be  clearly
understood, otherwise you will be caught again in the prison of thought. After
all,  the  «you’,  is  a  bundle  of  memory,  tradition  and  the  knowledge  of  a
thousand  yesterdays.  So  only  with  the  ending  of  sorrow,  for  sorrow  is  the
result of thought, can you step out of the world of war, hate, envy and violence.
This  act  of  stepping  out  is  the  religious  life.  This  religious  life  has  no  belief
whatsoever, for it has no tomorrow.
«Aren’t  you  asking,  sir,  for  an  impossible  thing?  Aren’t  you  asking  for  a
miracle?  How  can  I  step  out  of  it  all  without  thought?  Thought  is  my  very
That’s just it! This very being, which is thought, has to come to an end. This
very self-centredness with its activities must naturally and easily die. It is in this
death alone that there is the beginning of the new religious life.    50
india part 11
If you deliberately take an attitude, a posture, in order to meditate, then it
becomes a plaything, a toy of the mind. If you determine to extricate yourself
from  the  confusion  and  the misery  of  life,  then  it  becomes  an  experience  of
imagination  –  and  this  is  not  meditation.  The  conscious  mind  or  the
unconscious mind must have no part in it; they must not even be aware of the
extent and beauty of meditation – if they are, then you might just as well go and
buy a romantic novel.
In the total attention of meditation there is no knowing, no recognition, nor
the  remembrance  of  something  that  has  happened.  Time  and  thought  have
entirely come to an end, for they are the centre which limits its own vision.
At the moment of light, thought withers away, and the conscious effort to
experience  and  the  remembrance  of  it,  is  the  word  that  has  been.  And  the
word is never the actual. At that moment – which is not of time – the ultimate is
the immediate, but that ultimate has no symbol, is of no person, of no god.
That morning, especially so early, the valley was extraordinarily quiet. The
owl  had  stopped  hooting  and  there  was  no  reply  from  its  mate  over  in  the
distant hills. No dog was barking and the village was not yet awake. In the east
there was a glow, a promise, and the Southern Cross had not yet faded. There
was not even a whisper among the leaves, and the earth itself seemed to have
stopped in its rotation. You could feel the silence, touch it, smell it, and it had
that quality of penetration. It wasn’t the silence outside in those hills, among
the trees, that was still; you were of it. You and it were not two separate things.
The division between noise and silence had no meaning. And those hills, dark,
without a movement, were of it, as you were.
This silence was very active. It was not the negation of noise, and strangely
that morning it had come through the window like some perfume, and with it
came a sense, a feeling, of the absolute. As you looked out of the window, the
distance between all things disappeared, and your eyes opened with the dawn
and saw everything anew.    51
«I am interested in sex, social equality, and God. These are the only things
that  matter  in  life,  and  nothing  else.  politics,  religions  with  their  priests  and
promises,  with  their  rituals  and  confessions,  seem  so  insulting.  They  really
don’t answer a thing, they have never really solved any problems, they have
helped only to postpone them. They’ve condemned sex, in different ways, and
they have sustained social inequalities, and the god of their mind is a stone
which they have clothed with love and its sentiment. Personally I have no use
for it at all. I only tell you this so that we can put all that aside and concern
ourselves  with  these  three  issues  –  sex,  social  misery,  and  that  thing  called
«To me, sex is necessary as food is necessary. Nature has made man and
woman  and  the  enjoyment  of  the  night.  To  me  that  is  as  important  as  the
discovery of that truth which may be called God. And it is as important to feel
for your neighbour as to have love for the woman of your house. Sex is not a
problem. I enjoy it, but there is in me a fear of some unknown thing, and it is
this fear and pain that I must understand – not as a problem to be solved but
rather as something that I have to go into so that I am really cleansed of it. So I
would like, if you have the time, to consider these things with you.»
Can we begin with the last and not with the first, then perhaps the other
issues can be more deeply understood; then perhaps they will have a different
content than pleasure can give?
Do you want your belief to be strengthened or do you want actually to see
reality  –  not  experience  it,  but  actually  see  it  with  a  mind  and  heart  that  are
highly  attentive  and  clear?  Belief  is  one  thing  and  seeing  is  another.  Belief
leads to darkness, as faith does. It leads you to the church, to the dark temples
and to the pleasurable sensations of rituals. Along that way there is no reality,
there is only fancy, the imaginative furnishings that fill the church.
If you deny fear, belief is unnecessary, but if you cling to belief and dogma
then fear has its way. Belief is not only according to the religious sanctions; it
comes into being though you may not belong to any religion. You may have
your  own  individualistic,  exclusive  belief  –  but  it  is  not  the  light  of  clarity.   52
Thought invests in belief to protect itself against fear which it has brought into
being. And the way of thought is not the freedom of attention which sees truth.
The  immeasurable  cannot  be  sought  by  thought,  for  thought  has  always  a
measure. The sublime is not within the structure of thought and reason, nor is
it the product of emotion and sentiment. The negation of thought is attention;
as the negation of thought is love. If you are seeking the highest, you will not
find it; it must come to you, if you are lucky – and luck is the open window of
your heart, not of thought.
«This  is  rather  difficult,  isn’t  it?  You  are  asking  me  to  deny  the  whole
structure of myself, the me that I have very carefully nourished and sustained.
I had thought the pleasure of what may be called God to be everlasting. It is
my security; in it is all my hope and delight; and now you ask me to put all that
aside. Is it possible? And do I really want to? Also, aren’t you promising me
something as a reward if I put it all aside? Of course I see that you are not
actually offering me a reward, but can I actually – not only with my lips – put
aside completely the thing that I have always lived on?»
If  you  try  to  put  it  aside  deliberately  it  will  become  a  conflict,  pain  and
endless misery. But if you see the truth of it – as you see the truth of that lamp,
the flickering light, the wick and the brass stem – then you will have stepped
into another dimension. In this dimension love has no social problems; there is
no  racial,  class  or  intellectual  division.  It  is  only  the  unequal  who  feel  the
necessity  for  equality.  It  is  the  superior  who  needs  to  keep  his  division,  his
class, his ways. And the inferior is ever striving to become the superior; the
oppressed  to  become  the  oppressor.  So  merely  to  legislate  –  though  such
legislation  is  necessary  –  does  not  bring  about  the  end  of  division  with  its
cruelty; nor does it end the division between labour and status. We use work to
achieve  status,  and  the  whole  cycle  of  inequality  begins.  The  problems  of
society are not ended by the morality that society has invented. Love has no
morality,  and  love  is  not  reform.  When  love  becomes  pleasure,  then  pain  is
inevitable. Love is not thought and it is thought that gives pleasure – as sexual
pleasure and as the pleasure of achievement. Thought strengthens and gives   53
continuity  to  the  pleasure  of  the  moment.  Thought,  by  thinking  about  that
pleasure, gives it the vitality of the next moment of pleasure. This demand for
pleasure is what we call sex, is it not? With it goes a great deal of affection,
tenderness, care, companionship, and all the rest of it, but through it all there
is the thread of pain and fear. And thought, by its activity, makes this thread
«But you can’t remove pleasure from sex! I live by that pleasure; I like it. To
me it is far more important than having money, position or prestige. I also see
that pleasure brings with it pain, but the pleasure predominates over the pain,
so I don’t mind.»
When this pleasure which you so  delight in comes to an end – with age,
through accident, with time – then you are caught; then sorrow is your shadow.
But love is not pleasure, nor is it the product of desire, and that is why, sir, one
must enter into a different dimension. In that our problems – and all issues –
are resolved. Without that, do what you will, there is sorrow and confusion.    54
India Part 12
A great many birds were flying overhead, some crossing the wide river and
others, high up in the sky, going round in wide circles with hardly a movement
of the wing. Those that were high up were mostly vultures and in the bright sun
they were mere specks, tacking against the breeze. They were clumsy on land
with their naked necks and wide, heavy wings. There were a few of them on
the  tamarind  tree,  and  the  crows  were  teasing  them.  One  crow,  especially,
was after a vulture, trying to perch on him. The vulture got bored and took to
the wing, and the crow which had been harassing him came in from behind
and sat on the vulture’s back as it flew. It was really quite a curious sight – the
vulture  with  the  black  crow  on  top  of  it.  The  crow  seemed  to  be  thoroughly
enjoying  himself  and  the  vulture  was  trying  to  get  rid  of  him.  Eventually  the
crow flew off across the river and disappeared into the woods.
The  parrots  came  across  the  river,  zig-zagging,  screeching,  telling  the
whole world they were coming. They were bright green, with red beaks, and
there were several in that tamarind tree. They would come out in the morning,
go down the river and sometimes would come back screeching, but more often
they  remained  away  all  day  and  only  returned  in  the  late  afternoon,  having
stolen  the  grain  from  the  fields  and  whatever  fruit  they  could  find.  You  saw
them  for  a  few  seconds  among  the  tamarind  leaves,  and  then  they  would
disappear. You couldn’t really follow them among the tiny green leaves of the
tree. They had a hole in the trunk and there they lived, male and female, and
they  seemed  to  be  so  happy,  screeching  their  joy  as  they  flew  out.  In  the
evening and early morning the sun made a path – golden in the morning and
silver  in  the  evening  –  across  the  river.  No  wonder  men  worship  rivers;  it  is
better than worshipping images with all the rituals and beliefs. The river was
alive, deep and full, always in movement; and the little pools beside the bank
were always stagnant.
Each human being isolates himself in the little pool, and there decays; he
never  enters  into  the  full  current  of  the  river.  Somehow  that  river,  made  so
filthy  by  human  beings  higher  up,  was  clean  in  the  middle,  blue-green  and   55
deep. It was a splendid river, especially in the early morning before the sun
came up; it was so still, motionless, of the colour of molten silver. And, as the
sun came up over the trees, it became golden, and then turned again into a
silvery path; and the water came alive.
In that room overlooking the river it was cool, almost cold, for it was early
winter. A man, sitting opposite with his wife, was young, and she was younger
still.  We  sat  on  the  carpet  placed  on  a  rather  cold,  hard  floor.  They  weren’t
interested  in  looking  at  the  river,  and  when  it  was  pointed  out  to  them  –  its
width, its beauty, and the green bank on the other side – they acknowledged it
with a polite gesture. They had come some  distance,  from the north by bus
and train, and were eager to talk about the things they had in mind; the river
was something they could look at later when they had time.
He said: «Man can never be free; he is tied to his family, to his children, to
his job. Until he dies he has responsibilities. Unless, of course,» he added, «he
becomes a sannyasi, a monk.»
He saw the necessity of being free, yet he felt it was something he could
not  achieve  in  this  competitive,  brutal  world.  His  wife  listened  to  him  with  a
rather surprised look, pleased to find that her man could be serious and could
express himself quite well in English. It gave her a sense of possessive pride.
He was totally unaware of this as she was sitting a little behind him.
«Can one be free, ever?» he asked. «Some political writers and theorists,
like  the  Communists,  say  that  freedom  is  something  bourgeois,  unattainable
and unreal, while the democratic world talks a great deal about freedom. So do
the  capitalists,  and,  of  course,  every  religion  preaches  it  and  promises  it,
though they see to it that man is made a prisoner of their particular beliefs and
ideologies  –  denying  their  promises  by  their  acts.  I’ve  come  to  find  out,  not
merely intellectually, if man, if I, can really be free in this world. I’m taking a
holiday from my job to come here; for two days I am free from my work – from
the routine of the office and the usual life of the little town where I live. If I had
more money I’d be freer and be able to go where I like and do what I want to   56
do, perhaps paint, or travel. But that is impossible as my salary is limited and I
have responsibilities; I am a prisoner to my responsibilities.»
His wife couldn’t make out all this but she pricked up her ears at the word
«responsibilities». She may have been wondering whether he wanted to leave
home and wander the face of the earth.
«These  responsibilities,»  he  went  on,  «prevent  me  from  being  free  both
outwardly and inwardly. I can understand that man cannot be completely free
from the world of the post office, the market, the office and so on, and I’m not
seeking freedom there. What I have come to find out is if it is at all possible to
be free inwardly?»
The pigeons on the veranda were cooing, fluttering about, and the parrots
screeched across the window and the sun shone on their bright green wings.
What is freedom? Is it an idea, or a feeling that thought breeds because it is
caught in a series of problems, anxieties, and so on? Is freedom a result, a
reward, a thing that lies at the end of a process? Is it freedom when you free
yourself  from  anger?  Or  is  it  being  able  to  do  what  you  want  to  do?  Is  it
freedom when you find responsibility a burden and push it aside? Is it freedom
when you resist, or when you yield? Can thought give this freedom, can any
action give it?
«I’m afraid you will have to go a little bit slower.»
Is freedom the opposite of slavery? Is it freedom when, being in a prison
and  knowing  you  are  in  prison  and  being  aware  of  all  the  restraints  of  the
prison,  you  imagine  freedom?  Can  imagination  ever  give  freedom  or  is  it  a
fancy of thought? What we actually know, and what actually is, is bondage –
not  only  to  outward  things,  to  the  house,  to  the  family,  to  the  job  –  but  also
inwardly, to traditions, to habits, to the pleasure of domination and possession,
to  fear,  to  achievement  and  to  so  many  other  things.  When  success  brings
great pleasure one never talks about freedom from it, or thinks about it. We
talk of freedom only when there is pain. We are bound to all these things, both
inwardly  and  outwardly,  and  this  bondage  is  what  is.  And  the  resistance  to   57
what  is,  is  what  we  call  freedom.  One  resists,  or  escapes  from,  or  tries  to
suppress what is, hoping thereby to come to some form of freedom. We know
inwardly only two things – bondage and resistance; and resistance creates the
«Sorry, I don’t understand at all.»
When you resist anger or hatred, what has actually taken place? You build
a wall against hatred, but it is still there; the wall merely hides it from you. Or
you determine not to be angry, but this determination is part of the anger, and
the  very  resistance  strengthens  the  anger.  You  can  see  it  in  yourself  if  you
observe  this  fact.  When  you  resist,  control,  suppress,  or  try  to  transcend  –
which  are  all  the  same  thing  for  they  are  all  acts  of  the  will  –  you  have
thickened the wall of resistance, and so you become more and more enslaved,
narrow, petty. And it is from this pettiness, this narrowness, that you want to be
free, and that very want is the reaction which is going to create another barrier,
more  pettiness.  So  we  move  from  one  resistance,  one  barrier,  to  another  –
sometimes  giving  to  the  wall  of  resistance  a  different  colouring,  a  different
quality, or some word of nobility. But resistance is bondage, and bondage is
«Does this mean that, outwardly, one should let anybody kick one around
as they will, and that, inwardly, one`s anger, etc, should be given free rein?» It
seems that you have not listened to what has been said. When it is a matter of
pleasure you don’t mind the kick of it, the feeling of delight; but when that kick
becomes painful, then you resist. You want to be free from the pain and yet
hold on to the pleasure. The holding on to the pleasure is the resistance.
It is natural to respond; if you do not respond physically to the prick of a pin
it means you are numbed. Inwardly, too, if you do not respond, something is
wrong. But the way in which you respond and the nature of the response is
important, not the response itself. When somebody flatters you, you respond,
and you respond when somebody insults you. Both are resistances – one of
pleasure  and  the  other  of  pain.  The  one  you  keep  and  the  other  you  either
disregard  or  wish  to  retaliate  against.  But  both  are  resistances.  Both  the   58
keeping  and  the  rejecting  are  a  form  of  resistance;  and  freedom  is  not
«Is it possible for me to respond without the resistance of either pleasure or
What do you think, sir? What do you feel? Are you putting the question to
me or to yourself? If an outsider, an outside agency, answers that question for
you, then you rely on it, then that reliance becomes the authority, which is a
resistance. Then again you want to be free of that authority! So how can you
ask this question of another?
«You might point it out to me, and if I then see it, authority is not involved, is
But  we  have  pointed  out  to  you  what  actually  is.  See  what  actually  is,
without responding to it with pleasure or with pain. Freedom is seeing. Seeing
is freedom. You can see only in freedom.
«This  seeing  may  be  an  act  of  freedom,  but  what  effect  has  it  on  my
bondage  which  is  the  what  is,  which  is  the  thing  seen?»  When  you  say  the
seeing may be an act of freedom, it is a supposition, so your seeing is also a
supposition. Then you don’t actually see what is.
«I  don’t  know  sir.  I  see  my  mother-in-law  bullying  me;  does  she  stop  it
because I see it?»
See the action of your mother-in-law, and see your responses, without the
further  responses  of  pleasure  and  pain.  See  it  in  freedom.  Your  action  may
then be to ignore what she says completely, or to walk out. But the walking out
or  the  disregarding  her  is  not  a  resistance.  This  choiceless  awareness  is
freedom. The action from that freedom cannot be predicted, systematized, or
put  into  the  framework  of  social  morality.  This  choiceless  awareness  is
nonpolitical, it does not belong to any «ism; it is not the product of thought.    59
India Part 13
«I  want  to  know  God,»  he  said  vehemently;  he  almost  shouted  it.  The
vultures were on the usual tree, and the train was rattling across the bridge,
and the river flowed on – here it was very wide, very quiet and very deep. Early
that  morning  you  could  smell  the  water  from  a  distance;  high  on  the  bank
overlooking the river you could smell it – the freshness, the cleanliness of it in
the  morning  air.  The  day  had  not  yet  spoilt  it.  The  parrots  were  screeching
across  the  window,  going  to  the  fields,  and  later  they  would  return  to  the
tamarind. The crows, by the dozen, were crossing the river, high in the air, and
they would come down on the trees and among the fields across the river. It
was a clear morning of winter, cold but bright, and there was not a cloud in the
sky. As you watched the light of the early morning sun on the river, meditation
was going on. The very light was part of that meditation when you looked at
the  bright  dancing  water  in  the  quiet  morning  –  not  with  a  mind  that  was
translating it into some meaning, but with eyes that saw the light and nothing
Light, like sound, is an extraordinary thing. There is the light that painters
try to put on a canvas; there is the light that cameras capture; there is the light
of a single lamp in a dark night, or the light that is on the face of another, the
light that lies behind the eyes. The light that the eyes see is not the light on the
water; that light is so different, so vast that it cannot enter into the narrow field
of the eye. That light, like sound, moved endlessly – outward and inward – like
the tide of the sea. And if you kept very still, you went with it, not in imagination
or sensuously; you went with it unknowingly, without the measure of time.
The beauty of that light, like love, is not to be touched, not to be put into a
word. But there it was – in the shade, in the open, in the house, on the window
across the way, and in the laughter of those children. Without that light what
you  see  is  of  so  little  importance,  for  the  light  is  everything;  and  the  light  of
meditation was on the water. It would be there in the evening again, during the
night,  and  when  the  sun  rose  over  the  trees,  making  the  river  golden.   60
Meditation is that light in the mind which lights the way for action; and without
that light there is no love.
He was a big man, clean-shaven, and his head was shaven too. We sat on
the floor in that little room overlooking the river. The floor was cold, for it was
winter. He had the dignity of a man who possesses little and who is not greatly
frightened of what people say.
«I want to know God. I know it’s not the fashionable thing nowadays. The
students, the coming generation with their revolts, with their political activities,
with  their  reasonable  and  unreasonable  demands,  scoff  at  all  religion.  And
they are quite right too, for look what the priests have done with it! Naturally
the younger generation do not want anything of it. To them, what the temples
and churches stand for is the exploitation of man. They distrust completely the
hierarchical  priestly  outlook  –  with  the  saviours,  the  ceremonies,  and  all  that
nonsense. I agree with them. I have helped some of them to revolt against it
all. But I still want to know God. I have been a Communist but I left the party
long  ago,  for  the  Communists,  too,  have  their  gods,  their  dogmas  and
theoreticians. I was really a very ardent Communist, for at the beginning they
promised  something  –  a  great,  a  real  revolution.  But  now  they  have  all  the
things  the  Capitalists  have;  they  have  gone  the  way  of  the  world.  I  have
dabbled in social reform and have been active in politics, but I have left all that
behind  because  I  don’t  see  that  man  will  ever  be  free  of  his  despair  and
anxiety  and  fear  through  science  and  technology.  Perhaps  there’s  only  one
way. I’m not in any way superstitious and I don’t think I have any fear of life. I
have been through it all and, as you see, I have still many years before me. I
want to know what God is. I have asked some of the wandering monks, and
those  who  everlastingly  say,  God  is,  you  have  only  to  look,  and  those  who
become mysterious and offer some method. I am wary of all those traps. So
here I am, for I feel I must find out.»
We  sat  in  silence  for  some  time.  The  parrots  were  passing  the  window,
screeching, and the light was on their bright green wings and their red beaks.    61
Do you think you can find out? Do you think that by seeking you will come
upon it? Do you think you can experience it? Do you think that the measure of
your mind is going to come upon the measureless? How are you going to find
out? How will you know? How will you be able to recognise it? «I really don’t
know,» he replied. «But I will know when it is the real.»
You  mean  you  will  know  it  by  your  mind,  by  your  heart,  by  your
«No. The knowing is not dependent on any of these. I know very well the
danger of the senses. I am aware how easily illusions are created.»
To  know  is  to  experience,  isn’t  it?  To  experience  is  to  recognise,  and
recognition is memory and association. If what you mean by «knowing» is the
result of a past incident, a memory, a thing that has happened before, then it is
the knowing of what has happened. Can you know what is happening, what is
actually taking place? Or, can you only know it a moment afterwards, when it
is over? What is actually happening is out of time; knowing is always in time.
You look at the happening with the eyes of time, which names it, translates it,
and  records  it.  This  is  what  is  called  knowing,  both  analytically  and  through
instant recognition. Into this field of knowing you want to bring that which is on
the  other  side  of  the  hill,  or  behind  that  tree.  And  you  insist  that  you  must
know, that you must experience it and hold it. Can you hold those sweeping
waters in your mind or in your hand? What you hold is the word and what your
eyes  have  seen,  and  this  seeing  put  into  words,  and  the  memory  of  those
words. But the memory is not that water – and never will be.
«All right,» he said, «then how shall I come upon it? I have in my long and
studious life found that nothing is going to save man – no institution, no social
pattern,  nothing,  so  I’ve  stopped  reading.  But  man  must  be  saved,  he  must
come out of this somehow, and my urgent demand to find God is the cry out of
a great anxiety for man. This violence that is spreading is consuming man. I
know  all  the  arguments  for  and  against  it.  Once  I  had  hope,  but  now  I  am
stripped of all hope. I am really completely at the end of my tether. I am not
asking this question out of despair or to renew hope. I just can’t see any light.   62
So I have come to ask this one question: Can you help me to uncover reality –
if there is a reality?»
Again we were silent for some time. And the cooing of pigeons came into
the room.
«I see what you mean. I’ve never before been so utterly silent. The question
is  there,  outside  of  this  silence,  and  when  I  look  out  of  this  silence  at  the
question, it recedes. So you mean that it is only in this silence, in this complete
and unpremeditated silence, that there is the measureless?»
Another train was rattling across the bridge.
This  invites  all  the  foolishness  and  the  hysteria  of  mysticism  –  a  vague,
inarticulate sentiment which breeds illusion. No, sir, this is not what we mean.
It’s hard work to put away all illusions – the political, the religious, the illusion of
the future. We never discover anything for ourselves. We think we do, and that
is one of the greatest illusions, which is thought. It is hard work to see clearly
into  this  mess,  into  the  insanity  which  man  has  woven  around  himself.  You
need a very, very sane mind to see, and to be free. These two, seeing and
freedom,  are  absolutely  necessary.  Freedom  from  the  urge  to  see,  freedom
from the hope that man always gives to science, to technology and to religious
discoveries. This hope breeds illusion. To see this is freedom, and when there
is  freedom  you  do  not  invite.  Then  the  mind  itself  has  become  the
measureless.    63
India Part 14
He was an old monk, revered by many thousands. He had kept his body
well, his head was shaven and he wore the usual saffron-coloured sannyasi
robe. He carried a big stick which had seen many seasons, and a pair of sand-
shoes, rather worn out. We sat on a bench overlooking the river, high up, with
the railway bridge to our right and the river winding down round a big curve to
our left. The other side of the bank, that morning, was in a heavy mist, and you
could just see the tops of the trees. It was as though they were floating on the
extended river. There was not a breath of air, and the swallows were flying low
near the water’s edge. That river was very old and sacred, and people came
from  very  far  to  die  on  its  banks  and  to  be  burnt  there.  It  was  worshipped,
praised in chants and held most sacred. Every kind of filth was thrown into it;
people bathed in it, drank it, washed their clothes in it; you saw people on the
banks meditating, their eyes closed, sitting very straight and still. It was a river
that gave abundantly, but man was polluting it. In the rainy season it would rise
from twenty to thirty feet, carry away all the filth, and cover the land with silt
which gave nourishment to the peasants along its bank. It came down in great
curves, and sometimes you would see whole trees going by, uprooted by the
strong  current.  You  would  also  see  dead  animals,  on  which  were  perched
vultures and crows, fighting with each other, and occasionally an arm or a leg
or even the whole body of some human being.
That morning the river was lovely, there was not a ripple on it. The other
bank seemed far away. The sun had been up for several hours and the mist
had not yet gone, and the river, like some mysterious being, flowed on. The
monk was very familiar with that river; he had spent many years on its banks,
surrounded by his disciples, and he took it almost for granted that it would be
there always, that as long as man lived it would live also. He had got used to it,
and therein lay the pity of it. Now he looked at it with eyes that had seen it
many thousands of times. One gets used to beauty and to ugliness, and the
freshness of the day is gone.    64
«Why are you,» he asked, in a rather authoritative voice, «against morality,
against the scriptures which we hold most sacred? Probably you have been
spoilt  by  the  West  where  freedom  is  licentiousness  and  where  they  do  not
even  know,  except  the  few,  what  real discipline means.  Obviously you have
not  read  any  of  our  sacred  books.  I  was  here  the  other  morning  when  you
were talking and I was rather aghast at what you were saying about the gods,
the priests, the saints and the gurus. How can man live without any of these? If
he does, he becomes materialistic, worldly, utterly brutal, You seem to deny all
the knowledge that we hold most sacred. Why? I know you are serious. We
have followed you from a distance for many years. We have watched you as a
brother.  We  thought  you  belonged  to  us.  But  since  you  have  renounced  all
these things we have become strangers, and it seems a thousand pities that
we are walking on different paths.»
What is sacred? Is the image in the temple, the symbol, the word, sacred?
Where does sacredness  lie?  In  that  tree,  or  in that peasant-woman carrying
that heavy load? You invest sacredness, don’t you, in things you consider holy,
worthwhile, meaningful? But what value has the image, carved by the hand or
by the mind? That woman, that tree, that bird, the living things, seem to have
but a passing importance for you. You divide life into that which is sacred and
that which is not, that which is immoral and that which is moral. This division
begets misery and violence. Either everything is sacred, or nothing is sacred.
Either what you say,  your  words,  your  thoughts,  your  chants  are  serious,  or
they  are  there  to  beguile  the  mind  into  some  kind  of  enchantment,  which
becomes illusion, and therefore not serious at all. There is something sacred,
but it is not in the word, not in the statue or in the image that thought has built.
He  looked  rather  puzzled  and  not  at  all  sure  where  this  was  leading,  so  he
interrupted: «We are not actually discussing what is and what is not sacred, but
rather, one would like to know why you decry discipline?»
Discipline, as it is generally understood, is conformity to a pattern of silly
political,  social  or  religious  sanctions.  This  conformity  implies,  doesn’t  it,
imitation, suppression, or some form of transcendence of the actual state? In   65
this discipline there is obviously a continuous struggle, a conflict that distorts
the  quality  of  the  mind.  One  conforms  because  of  a  promised  or  hoped-for
reward. One disciplines oneself in order to get something. In order to achieve
something  one  obeys  and  submits,  and  the  pattern  –  whether  it  be  the
Communist pattern, the religious pattern or one’s own – becomes the authority.
In  this  there  is  no  freedom  at  all.  Discipline  means  to  learn;  and  learning
denies all authority and obedience. To see all this is not an analytical process.
To  see  the  implications  involved  in  this  whole  structure  of  discipline  is  itself
discipline, which is to learn all about this structure. And the learning is not a
matter of gathering information, but of seeing the structure and the nature of it
immediately.  That  is  true  discipline,  because  you  are  learning,  and  not
conforming. To learn there must be freedom.
«Does  this  imply,»  he  asked,  «that  you  do  just  what  you  want?  That  you
disregard the authority of the State?»
Of course not, sir. Naturally you have to accept the law of the State or of
the policeman, until such law undergoes a change. You have to drive on one
side of the road, not all over the road, for there are other cars too, so one has
to  follow  the  rule  of  the  road.  If  one  did  exactly  what  one  liked  –  which  we
surreptitiously do anyway – there would be utter chaos; and that is exactly what
there  is.  The  businessman,  the  politician  and  almost  every  human  being  is
pursuing, under cover of respectability, his own secret desires and appetites,
and this is producing chaos in the world. We want to cover this up by passing
laws, sanctions, and so on. This is not freedom. Throughout the world there
are  people  who  have  sacred  books,  modern  or  ancient.  They  repeat  from
them, put them into song, and quote them endlessly, but in their hearts they
are  violent,  greedy,  searching  for  power.  Do  these  so-called  sacred  books
matter  at  all?  They  have  no  actual  meaning.  What  matters  is  man’s  utter
selfishness,  his  constant  violence,  hate  and  enmity  –  not  the  books,  the
temples, the churches, the mosques.
Under  the  robe  the  monk  is  frightened.  He  has  his  own  appetites,  he  is
burning with desire, and the robe is merely an escape from this fact.    66
In transcending these agonies of man we spend our time quarrelling about
which books are more sacred than others, and this is so utterly immature.
«Then you must also deny tradition…. Do you?»
To  carry  the  past  over  to  the  present,  to  translate  the  movement  of  the
present  in  terms  of  the  past,  destroys  the  living  beauty  of  the  present.  This
land,  and  almost  every  land,  is  burdened  with  tradition,  entrenched  in  high
places and in the village hut. There is nothing sacred about tradition, however
ancient  or  modern.  The  brain  carries  the  memory  of  yesterday,  which  is
tradition, and is frightened to let go, because it cannot face something new.
Tradition  becomes  our  security,  and  when  the  mind  is  secure  it  is  in  decay.
One  must  take  the  journey  unburdened,  sweetly,  without  any  effort,  never
stopping at any shrine, at any monument, or for any hero, social or religious –
alone with beauty and love.
«But we monks are always alone, aren’t we?» he asked. «I have renounced
the world and taken a vow of poverty and chastity.»
You are not alone, sir, because the very vow binds you – as it does the man
who  takes  the  vow  when  he  gets  married.  If  we  may  point  out,  you  are  not
alone because you are a Hindu, just as you would not be alone if you were a
Buddhist, or a Muslim, or a Christian or a Communist. You are committed, and
how can a man be alone when he is committed, when he has given himself
over to some form of ideation, which brings its own activity? The word itself,
«alone,»  means  what  it  says  –  uninfluenced,  innocent,  free  and  whole,  not
broken up. When you are alone you may live in this world but you will always
be  an  outsider.  Only  in  aloneness  can  there  be  complete  action  and  co-
operation; for love is always whole.    67
India Part 15
That morning the river was tarnished silver, for it was cloudy and cold. The
leaves were covered with dust, and everywhere there was a thin layer of it – in
the room, on the veranda and on the chair. It was getting colder; it must have
snowed heavily in the Himalayas; one could feel the biting wind from the north,
even  the  birds  were  aware  of  it.  But  the  river  that  morning  had  a  strange
movement of its own; it didn’t seem to be ruffled by the wind, it seemed almost
motionless and had that timeless quality which all waters seem to have. How
beautiful it was! No wonder people have made it into a sacred river. You could
sit  there,  on  that  veranda,  and  meditatively  watch  it  endlessly.  You  weren’t
day-dreaming;  your  thoughts  weren’t  in  any  direction  –  they  were  simply
And as you watched the light on that river, somehow you seemed to lose
yourself, and as you closed your eyes there was a penetration into a void that
was full of blessing. This was bliss. He came again that morning, with a young
man. He was the monk who had talked about discipline, sacred books and the
authority of tradition. His face was freshly washed, and so were his robes. The
young  man  seemed  rather  nervous.  He  had  come  with  the  monk,  who  was
probably his guru, and was waiting for him to speak first. He looked at the river
but he was thinking of other things. Presently the sannyasi said:
«I have come again but this time to talk about love and sensuality. We, who
have taken the vow of chastity, have our sensuous problems. The vow is only
a  means  of  resisting  our  uncontrollable  desires.  I  am  an  old  man  now,  and
these desires no longer burn me. Before I took the vows I was married. My
wife  died,  and  I  left  my  home  and  went  through  a  period  of  agony,  of
intolerable biological urges; I fought them night and day. It was a very difficult
time, full of loneliness, frustration, fears of madness, and neurotic outbursts.
Even now I daren’t think about it too much. And this young man has come with
me because I think he is going through the same problem. He wants to give up
the  world  and  take  the  vow  of  poverty  and  chastity,  as  I  did.  I  have  been
talking to him for many weeks, and I thought it might be worthwhile if we could   68
both talk over this problem with you, this problem of sex and love. I hope you
don’t mind if we talk quite frankly.»
If  we  are  going  to  concern  ourselves  with  this  matter,  first,  if  we  may
suggest it, don’t start to examine from a position, or an attitude, or a principle,
for this will prevent you from exploration. If you are against sex, or if you insist
that it is necessary to life, that it is a part of living, any such assumption will
prevent real perception. We should put away any conclusion, and so be free to
look, to examine.
There were a few drops of rain now, and the birds had become quiet, for it
was  going  to  rain  heavily,  and  the  leaves  once  again  would  be  fresh  and
green,  full  of  light  and  colour.  There  was  a  smell  of  rain,  and  the  strange
quietness that comes before a storm was on the land.
So we have two problems – love and sex. The one is an abstract idea, the
other  is  an  actual  daily  biological  urge  –  a  fact  that  exists  and  cannot  be
denied. Let us first find out what love is, not as an abstract idea but what it
actually is. What is it? Is it merely a sensuous delight, cultivated by thought as
pleasure, the remembrance of an experience which has given great delight or
sexual  enjoyment?  Is  it  the  beauty  of  a  sunset,  or  the  delicate  leaf  that  you
touch or see, or the perfume of the flower that you smell? Is love pleasure, or
desire?  Or  is  it  none  of  these?  Is  love  to  be  divided  as  the  sacred  and  the
profane?  Or  is  it  something  indivisible,  whole,  that  cannot  be  broken  up  by
thought?  Does  it  exist  without  the  object?  Or  does  it  come  into  being  only
because of the object? Is it because you see the face of a woman that love
arises in you – love then being sensation, desire, pleasure, to which thought
gives  continuity?  Or  is  love  a  state  in  you  which  responds  to  beauty  as
tenderness? Is love something cultivated by thought so that its object becomes
important,  or  is  it  utterly  unrelated  to  thought  and,  therefore,  independent,
free? Without understanding this word and the meaning behind it we shall be
tortured, or become neurotic about sex, or be enslaved by it.
Love  is  not  to  be  broken  up  into  fragments  by  thought.  When  thought
breaks it up into fragments, as impersonal, personal, sensuous, spiritual, my   69
country and your country, my god and your god, then it is no longer love, then
it  is  something  entirely  different  –  a  product  of  memory,  of  propaganda,  of
convenience, of comfort and so on.
Is  sex  the  product  of  thought?  Is  sex  –  the  pleasure,  the  delight,  the
companionship,  the  tenderness  involved  in  it  –  is  this  a  remembrance
strengthened  by  thought?  In  the  sexual  act  there  is  self-forgetfulness,  self-
abandonment, a sense of the non-existence of fear, anxiety, the worries of life.
Remembering this state of tenderness and self-forgetfulness, and demanding
its  repetition,  you  chew  over  it,  as  it  were,  until  the  next  occasion.  Is  this
tenderness, or is it merely a recollection of something that is over and which,
through  repetition,  you  hope  to  capture  again?  Is  not  the  repetition  of
something, however pleasurable, a destructive process?
The young man suddenly found his tongue: «Sex is a biological urge, as
you  yourself  have  said,  and  if  this  is  destructive  then  isn’t  eating  equally
destructive, because that also is a biological urge?»
If  one  eats  when  one  is  hungry  –  that  is  one  thing.  If  one  is  hungry  and
thought  says:  «I  must  have  the  taste  of  this  or  that  type  of  food»  –  then  it  is
thought, and it is this which is the destructive repetition.
«In sex, how do you know what is the biological urge, like hunger, and what
a psychological demand, like greed?» asked the young man.
Why do you divide the biological urge and the psychological demand? And
there  is  yet  another  question,  a  different  question  altogether  –  why  do  you
separate  sex  from  seeing  the  beauty  of  a  mountain  or  the  loveliness  of  a
flower? Why do you give such tremendous importance to the one and totally
neglect the other?
«If sex is something quite different from love, as you seem to say, then is
there any necessity at all to do anything about sex?» asked the young man.
We have never said that love and sex are two separate things. We have
said that love is whole, not to be broken up, and thought, by its very nature, is
fragmentary.  When  thought  dominates,  obviously  there  is  no  love.  Man   70
generally  knows  –  perhaps  only  knows  –  the  sex  of  thought,  which  is  the
chewing of the cud of pleasure and its repetition. There- fore we have to ask:
Is there any other kind of sex which is not of thought or desire?
The sannyasi had listened to all this with quiet attention. Now he spoke: «I
have resisted it, I have taken a vow against it, because by tradition, by reason,
I have seen that one must have energy for the religious dedicated life. But I
now see that this resistance has taken a great deal of energy. I have spent
more time on resisting, and wasted more energy on it, than I have ever wasted
on sex itself. So what you have said – that a conflict of any kind is a waste of
energy – I now understand. Conflict and struggle are far more deadening than
the seeing of a woman’s face, or even perhaps than sex itself.»
Is there love without desire, without pleasure? Is there sex, without desire,
without pleasure? Is there love which is whole, without thought entering into it?
Is  sex  something  of  the  past,  or  is  it  something  each  time  new?  Thought  is
obviously  old,  so  we  are  always  contrasting  the  old  and  the  new.  We  are
asking questions from the old, and we want an answer in terms of the old. So
when we ask: Is there sex without the whole mechanism of thought operating
and working, doesn’t it mean that we have not stepped out of the old? We are
so conditioned by the old that we do not feel our way into the new. We said
love is whole, and always new – new not as opposed to the old, for that again
is the old. Any assertion that there is sex without desire is utterly valueless, but
if you have followed the whole meaning of thought, then perhaps you will come
upon the other. If, however, you demand that you must have your pleasure at
any price, then love will not exist.
The  young  man  said:  «That  biological  urge  you  spoke  about  is  precisely
such  a  demand,  for  though  it  may  be  different  from  thought  it  engenders
thought.»  «perhaps  I  can  answer  my  young  friend,»  said  the  sannyasi,  «for  I
have  been  through  all  this.  I  have  trained  myself  for  years  not  to  look  at  a
woman. I have ruthlessly controlled the biological demand. The biological urge
does  not  engender  thought;  thought  captures  it,  thought  utilizes  it,  thought
makes  images,  pictures  out  of  this  urge  –  and  then  the  urge  is  a  slave  to   71
thought. It is thought which engenders the urge so much of the time. As I said,
I  am  beginning  to  see  the  extraordinary  nature  of  our  own  deception  and
dishonesty. There is a great deal of hypocrisy in us. We can never see things
as they are but must create illusions about them. What you are telling us, sir, is
to  look  at  everything  with  clear  eyes,  without  the  memory  of  yesterday;  you
have  repeated  this  so  often  in  your  talks.  Then  life  does  not  become  a
problem. In my old age I am just beginning to realize this.»
The young man looked not completely satisfied. He wanted life according to
his terms, according to the formula which he had carefully built.
This  is  why  it  is  very  important  to  know  oneself,  not  according  to  any
formula or according to any guru. This constant choiceless awareness ends all
illusions and all hypocrisy.
Now it was coming down in torrents, and the air was very still, and there
was only the sound of the rain on the roof and on the leaves.    72
– California 1969 –
California Part 1
MEDITATION  IS  NOT  the  mere  experiencing  of  something  beyond
everyday thought and feeling nor is it the pursuit of visions and delights. An
immature  and  squalid  little  mind  can  and  does  have  visions  of  expanding
consciousness,  and  experiences  which  it  recognizes  according  to  its  own
conditioning.  This  immaturity  may  be  greatly  capable  of  making  itself
successful in this world and achieving fame and notoriety. The gurus whom it
follows are of the same quality and state. Meditation does not belong to such
as these. It is not for the seeker, for the seeker finds what he wants, and the
comfort he derives from it is the morality of his own fears.
Do what he will, the man of belief and dogma cannot enter into the realm of
meditation.  To  meditate,  freedom  is  necessary.  It  is  not  meditation  first  and
freedom afterwards; freedom – the total denial of social morality and values – is
the first movement of meditation. It is not a public affair where many can join in
and offer prayers. It stands alone, and is always beyond the borders of social
conduct.  For  truth  is  not  in  the  things  of  thought  or  in  what  thought  has  put
together  and  calls  truth.  The  complete  negation  of  this  whole  structure  of
thought is the positive of meditation.
The sea was very calm that morning; it was very blue, almost like a lake,
and the sky was clear. Seagulls and pelicans were flying around the water’s
edge – the pelicans almost touching the water, with their heavy wings and slow
flight. The sky was very blue and the hills beyond were sunburnt except for a
few  bushes.  A  red  eagle  came  out  of  those  hills  flew  over  the  gully  and
disappeared among the trees.
The light in that part of the world had a quality of penetration and brilliance,
without  blinding  the  eye.  There  was  the  smell  of  sumac,  orange  and
eucalyptus. It hadn’t rained for many months and the earth was parched, dry,
cracked. You saw deer in the hills occasionally, and once, wandering up the
hill there was a bear, dusty and ill-kempt. Along that path rattlers often went by   73
and  occasionally  you  saw  a  horned  toad.  On  the  trail  you  hardly  passed
anybody. It was a dusty, rocky and utterly silent trail.
Just in front of you was a quail with its chicks. There must have been more
than a dozen of them, motionless, pretending they didn’t exist. The higher you
climbed the wilder it became for there was no habitation at all there, for there
was no water. There were also no birds, and hardly any trees. The sun was
very strong; it bit into you.
At that high altitude, suddenly, very close to you was a rattler, shrilly rattling
his  tail,  giving  a  warning.  You  jumped.  There  it  was,  the  rattler  with  its
triangular head, all coiled up with its rattles in the centre and its head pointed
towards you. You were a few feet away from it and it couldn’t strike you from
that distance. You stared at it, and it stared back with its unblinking eyes. You
watched it for some time, its fat suppleness, its danger; and there was no fear.
Then,  as  you  watched,  it  uncoiled  its  head  and  tail  towards  you  and  moved
backwards away from you. As you moved towards it, again it coiled, with its tail
in  the  middle,  ready  to  strike.  You  played  this  game  for  some  time  until  the
snake got tired and you left it and came down to the sea.
It was a nice house and the windows opened on to the lawn. The house
was white inside and well-proportioned. On cold nights there was a fire. It is
lovely to watch a fire with its thousand flames and many shadows. There was
no noise, except the sound of the restless sea.
There was a small group of two or three in that room, talking about things in
general – modern youth, the cinema, and so on. Then one of them said: «May
we ask a question?» And it seemed a pity to disturb the blue sea and the hills.
«We  want  to  ask  what  time  means  to  you.  We  know  more  or  less  what  the
scientists say about it, and the science fiction writers. It seems to me that man
has always been caught in this problem of time – the endless yesterdays and
tomorrows.  From  the  most  remote  periods  to  the  present  day,  time  has
occupied  man’s  mind.  Philosophers  have  speculated  about  it,  and  religions
have their own explanations. Can we talk about it?»    74
Shall we go into this matter rather deeply, or do you merely want to touch
upon it superficially and let it go at that? If we want to talk about it seriously we
must forget what religions, philosophers and others have said – for really you
can’t  trust  any  of  them.  One  doesn’t  distrust  them  just  out  of  callous
indifference  or  out  of  arrogance,  but  one  sees  that  in  order  to  find  out,  all
authorities  must  be  set  aside.  If  one  is  prepared  for  that,  then  perhaps  we
could go into this matter very simply.
Is  there  –  apart  from  the  clock  –  time  at  all?  We  accept  so  many  things;
obedience has been so instilled into us that acceptance seems natural. But is
there  time  at  all,  apart  from  the  many  yesterdays?  Is  time  a  continuity  as
yesterday,  today  and  tomorrow,  and  is  there  time  without  yesterday?  What
gives to the thousand yesterdays a continuity?
A cause brings its effect, and the effect in turn becomes the cause; there is
no division between them, it is one movement. This movement we call time,
and with this movement, in our eyes and in our hearts, we see everything. We
see with the eyes of time, and translate the present in terms of the past; and
this translation meets the tomorrow. This is the chain of time.
Thought,  caught  in  this  process,  asks  the  question:  «What  is  time?»  This
very enquiry is of the machinery of time. So the enquiry has no meaning, for
thought is time. The yesterday has produced thought and so thought divides
space  as  yesterday,  today  and  tomorrow.  Or  it  says:  «There  is  only  the
present», forgetting that the present itself is the outcome of yesterday.
Our consciousness is made up of this chain of time, and within its borders
we  are  asking:  «What  is  time?  And,  if  there  is  no  time,  what  happens  to
yesterday?» Such questions are within the field of time, and there is no answer
to a question put by thought about time.
Or is there no tomorrow and no yesterday, but only the now? This question
is not put by thought. It is put when the structure and nature of time is seen –
but with the eyes of thought.    75
Is there actually tomorrow? Of course there is if I have to catch a train; but
inwardly, is there the tomorrow of pain and pleasure, or of achievement? Or is
there only the now, which is not related to yesterday? Time has a stop only
when thought has a stop. It is at the moment of stopping that the now is. This
now is not an idea, it is an actual fact, but only when the whole mechanism of
thought has come to an end. The feeling of now is entirely different from the
word,  which  is  of  time.  So  do  not  let  us  be  caught  in  the  words  yesterday,
today  and  tomorrow.  The  realization  of  the  now  exists  only  in  freedom,  and
freedom is not the cultivation of thought.
Then the question arises: «What is the action of the now?» We only know
action which is of time and memory and the interval between yesterday and
the present. In this interval or space all the confusion and the conflict begin.
What we are really asking is: If there is no interval at all, what is action? The
conscious mind might say: «I did something spontaneously», but actually this is
not so; there is no such thing as spontaneity because the mind is conditioned.
The  actual  is  the  only  fact;  the  actual  is  the  now,  and,  unable  to  meet  it,
thought builds images about it. The interval between the image and what is, is
the misery which thought has created.
To  see  what  is  without  yesterday,  is  the  now.  The  now  is  the  silence  of
yesterday.    76
California Part 2
Meditation  is  a  neverending  movement.  You  can  never  say  that  you  are
meditating  or  set  aside  a period for meditation. It  isn’t  at  your  command.  Its
benediction  doesn’t  come  to  you  because  you  lead  a  systematized  life  or
follow a particular routine or morality. It comes only when your heart is really
open. Not opened by the key of thought, not made safe by the intellect, but
when  it  is  as  open  as  the  skies  without  a  cloud; then  it  comes  without  your
knowing, without your invitation. But you can never guard it, keep it, worship it.
If  you  try,  it  will  never  come  again:  do  what  you  will,  it  will  avoid  you.  In
meditation, you are not important, you have no place in it; the beauty of it is
not  you,  but  in  itself.  And  to  this  you  can add nothing. Don’t  look  out  of  the
window hoping to catch it unawares, or sit in a darkened room waiting for it; it
comes only when you are not there at all, and its bliss has no continuity.
The  mountains  looked  down  on  the  endless  blue  sea,  stretching  out  for
miles. The hills were almost barren, sunburned, with small bushes, and in their
folds  there  were  trees,  sunburned  and  fire-burned,  but  they  were  still  there,
flourishing  and  very  quiet.  There  was  one  tree  especially,  an  enormous  old
oak, that seemed to dominate all the hills around it. And on the top of another
hill there was a dead tree, burnt by fire; there it stood naked, grey, without a
single  leaf.  When  you  looked  at  those  mountains,  at  their  beauty  and  their
lines  against  the  blue  sky,  this  tree  alone  was  seen  to  hold  the  sky.  It  had
many branches, all dead, and it would never feel the spring again. Yet it was
intensely alive with grace and beauty; you felt you were part of it, alone with
nothing to lean on, without time. It seemed it would be there for ever, like that
big  oak  in  the  valley  too.  One  was  living  and  the  other  was  dead,  and  both
were the only things that mattered among these hills, sunburnt, scorched by
the fire, waiting for the winter rains. You saw the whole of life, including your
own life, in those two trees – one living, one dead. And love lay in between,
sheltered, unseen, undemanding.
Under the house lived a mother with four of her young. The day we arrived
they were there on the veranda, the mother racoon with her four babies. They   77
were  immediately  friendly  –  with  their  sharp  black  eyes  and  soft  paws  –
demanding  to  be  fed  and  at  the  same time  nervous.  The  mother  was  aloof.
The  next  evening  they  were  there  again  and  they  took  their  food  from  your
hands and you felt their soft paws; they were ready to be tamed, to be petted.
And  you  wondered  at  their  beauty  and  their  movement.  In  a  few  days  they
would be all over you, and you felt the immensity of life in them.
It  was  a  lovely  clear  day  and  every  little  tree  and  bush  stood  out  clearly
against the bright sun. The man had come from the valley, up the hill to the
house which overlooked a gully and, beyond it, a whole range of mountains.
There were a few pines near the house and tall bamboos. He was a young
man full of hope, and the brutality of civilization had not yet touched him. What
he wanted was to sit quiet, to be silent, made silent not only by the hills but
also by the quietness of his own urgency.
«What  part  do  I  play  in  this  world?  What  is  my  relationship  to  the  whole
existing order? What is the meaning of this endless conflict? I have a love; we
sleep together. And yet that is not the end. All this seems like a distant dream,
fading and coming back, throbbing one moment, meaningless the next. I have
seen some of my friends taking drugs. They have become stupid, dull-witted.
Perhaps I too, even without drugs, will be made dull by the routine of life and
the  ache  of  my  own  loneliness.  I  don’t  count  among  these  many  millions  of
people. I shall go the way the others have gone, never coming upon a jewel
that is incorruptible, that can never be stolen away, that can never tarnish. So I
thought I’d come up here and talk to you, if you have the time. I’m not asking
for any answers to my questions. I am perturbed: though I am very young I am
already discouraged. I see the old, hopeless generation around me with their
bitterness, cruelty, hypocrisy, compromise and prudence. They have nothing
to give and, strangely enough, I don’t want anything from them. I don’t know
what I want, but I do know that I must live a life that is very rich, that is full of
meaning.  I  certainly  don’t  want  to  enter  some  office  and  gradually  become
somebody  in  that  shapeless,  meaningless  existence.  I  sometimes  cry  to
myself at the loneliness and the beauty of the distant stars.»    78
We sat quietly for some time, and the pine and the bamboo were caught in
the breeze.
The lark and the eagle in their flight leave no mark; the scientist leaves a
mark, as do all specialists. You can follow them step by step and add more
steps to what they have found and accumulated; and you know, more or less,
where  their  accumulation  is  leading.  But  truth  is  not  like  that;  it  is  really  a
pathless  land;  it  may  be  at  the  next  curve  of  the  road,  or  a  thousand  miles
away. You have to keep going and then you will find it beside you. But if you
stop and trace out a way for another to follow, or a design for your own way of
life, it will never come near you.
«Is this poetic, or actual?»
What do you think? For us everything must be cut and dried so that we can
do something practical with it, build something with it, worship it. You can bring
a stick into the house, put it on a shelf, put a flower before it every day, and
after some days the stick will have a great deal of meaning. The mind can give
meaning to anything, but the meaning it gives is meaningless. When one asks
what is the purpose of life, it’s like worshipping that stick. The terrible thing is
that the mind is always inventing new purposes, new meanings, new delights,
and  always  destroying  them.  It  is  never  quiet.  A  mind  that  is  rich  in  its
quietness never looks beyond what is. One must be  both the eagle and the
scientist,  knowing  well  that  the  two  can  never  meet.  This  doesn’t  mean  that
they  are  two  separate  things.  Both  are  necessary.  But  when  the  scientist
wants to become the eagle, and when the eagle leaves its footprints, there is
misery in the world.
You are quite young. Don’t ever lose your innocency and the vulnerability
that it brings. That is the only treasure that man can have, and must have.
«Is  this  vulnerability  the  be-all  and  end-all  of  existence?  Is  it  the  only
priceless jewel that can be discovered?»
You  can’t  be  vulnerable  without  innocency,  and  though  you  have  a
thousand experiences, a thousand smiles and tears, if you don’t die to them,   79
how  can  the  mind  be  innocent?  It  is  only  the  innocent  mind  –  in  spite  of  its
thousand  experiences  –  that  can  see  what  truth  is.  And  it  is  only  truth  that
makes the mind vulnerable – that is, free. «You say you can’t see truth without
being  innocent,  and  you  can’t  be  innocent  without  seeing  truth.  This  is  a
vicious circle, isn’t it?»
Innocency  can  be  only  with  the  death  of  yesterday.  But  we  never  die  to
yesterday. We always have a remnant, a tattered part of yesterday remaining,
and it is this that keeps the mind anchored, held by time. So time is the enemy
of innocency. One must die every day to everything that the mind has captured
and  holds  on  to.  Otherwise  there  is  no  freedom.  In  freedom  there  is
vulnerability. It is not the one thing after the other – it is all one movement, both
the coming and the going. It is really the fullness of heart that is innocent.    80
California Part 3
Meditation is emptying the mind of the known. The known is the past. The
emptying  is  not  at  the  end  of  accumulation  but  rather  it  means  not  to
accumulate  at  all.  What  has  been  is  emptied  only  in  the  present,  not  by
thought but by action, by the doing of what is. The past is the movement of
conclusion to conclusion, and the judgment of what is by the conclusion. All
judgment is conclusion, whether it be of the past or of the present, and it is this
conclusion that prevents the constant emptying of the mind of the known; for
the known is always conclusion, determination.
The known is the action of will, and the will in operation is the continuation
of the known, so the action of will cannot possibly empty the mind. The empty
mind cannot be purchased at the altar of demand; it comes into being when
thought  is  aware  of  its  own  activities  –  not  the  thinker  being  aware  of  his
Meditation is the innocency of the present, and therefore it is always alone.
The  mind  that  is  completely  alone,  untouched  by  thought,  ceases  to
accumulate.  So  the  emptying  of  the  mind  is  always  in  the  present.  For  the
mind that is alone, the future – which is of the past – ceases. Meditation is a
movement, not a conclusion, not an end to be achieved.
The  forest  was  very  large,  with  pine  trees,  oaks,  shrubs  and  redwood.
There  was  a  little  stream  that  went  by  down  the  slope,  making  a  constant
murmuring. There were butterflies, small ones, blue and yellow, which seemed
to find no flowers to rest on, and they drifted down towards the valley.
This  forest  was  very  old,  and  the  redwoods  were  older  still.  They  were
enormous trees of great height, and there was that peculiar atmosphere which
comes when man is absent – with his guns, his chattering and the display of
his knowledge. There was no road through the forest. You had to leave the car
at some distance and walk along a track covered with pine needles.
There was a jay, warning everybody of human approach. The warning had
effect, for all animal movement seemed to stop, and there was that feeling of   81
the  intensity  of  watching.  It  was  difficult  for  the  sun  to  penetrate  here,  and
there was a stillness which you could almost touch.
Two  red  squirrels,  with  long  bushy  tails,  came  down  the  pine  tree,
chattering,  their  claws  making  a  scratching  sound.  They  chased  each  other
round and round the trunk, up and down, with a fury of pleasure and delight.
There was a tension between them – the chord of play, of sex, and fun. They
were really enjoying themselves. The top one would suddenly stop and watch
the lower one who was still in movement, then the lower one too would stop,
and they would look at each other, with their tails up and their noses twitching,
pointed towards each other. Their sharp eyes were taking each other in, and
also the movement around them. They had scolded the watcher, sitting under
the tree, and now they had forgotten him; but they were aware of each other,
and  you  could  almost  feel  their  utter  delight  in  each  other’s  company.  Their
nest must have been high up, and presently they got tired; one ran up the tree
and the other along the ground, disappearing behind another tree.
The  jay,  blue,  sharp  and  curious,  had  been  watching  them  and  the  man
sitting under the tree, and he too flew off, loudly calling.
There were clouds coming up and probably in an hour or two there would
be a thunderstorm.
She was an analyst with a degree, and was working in a large clinic. She
was quite young, in modern dress, the skirt right above the knee; she seemed
very intense, and you could see that she was very disturbed. At the table she
was  unnecessarily  talkative,  expressing  strongly  what  she  thought  about
things,  and  it  seemed  that  she  never  looked  out  of  the  big  window  at  the
flowers, the breeze among the leaves, and the tall, heavy eucalyptus, gently
swaying in the wind. She ate haphazardly, not particularly interested in what
she was eating.
In the adjoining small room, she said: «We analysts help sick people to fit
into  a  sicker  society  and  we  sometimes,  perhaps  very  rarely,  succeed.  But
actually any success is nature’s own accomplishment. I have analysed many
people. I don’t like what I am doing, but I have to earn a living, and there are   82
so many sick people. I don’t believe one can help them very much, though of
course  we  are  always  trying  new  drugs,  chemicals  and  theories.  But  apart
from the sick, I am myself struggling to be different – different from the ordinary
average person.»
Aren’t you, in your very struggle to be different, the same as the others?
And why all this struggle?
«But  if  I  don’t  struggle,  fight,  I’ll  be  just  like  the  ordinary  bourgeois
housewife. I want to be different, and that’s why I don’t want to marry. But I am
really very lonely, and my loneliness has pushed me into this work.»
So this loneliness is gradually leading you to suicide, isn’t it?
She nodded; she was almost in tears.
Isn’t the whole movement of consciousness leading to isolation, to fear, and
to this incessant struggle to be different? It is all part of this urge to fulfil, to
identify oneself with something, or to identify oneself with what one is. Most of
the analysts have their teachers according to whose theories and established
schools they operate, merely modifying them and adding a new twist to them.
«I  belong  to  the  new  school;  we  approach  without  the  symbol  and  face
reality actually. We have discarded the former masters with their symbols and
we  see  the  human  being  as  he  is.  But  all  this  is  something  that  is  also
becoming  another  school,  and  I  am  not  here  to  discuss  various  types  of
schools,  theories  and  masters,  but  rather  to  talk  about  myself.  I  don’t  know
what to do.»
Are you not just as sick as the patients whom you are trying to cure? Aren’t
you  part  of  society  –  which  is  perhaps  more  confused  and  more  sick  than
yourself? So the issue is more fundamental, isn’t it?
You are the result of this enormous weight of society, with its culture and its
religions, and it is driving you, both economically and inwardly. Either you have
to make your peace with society, which is to accept its maladies and live with
them, or totally refute it, and find a new way of living. But you can’t find the
new way without letting go of the old.    83
What you really want is security, isn’t it? That’s the whole search of thought
–  to  be  different,  to  be  more  clever,  more  sharp,  more  ingenious.  In  this
process you are trying to find a deep security, aren’t you? But is there such a
thing at all? Security denies order. There is no security in relationship, in belief,
in action, and because one is seeking it one creates disorder. Security breeds
disorder, and when you face the evermounting disorder in yourself, you want
to end it all.
Within the area of consciousness with its wide and narrow frontiers, thought
is ever trying to find a secure spot. So thought is creating disorder; order is not
the outcome of thought. When disorder ends there is order. Love is not within
the  regions  of  thought.  Like  beauty,  it  cannot  be  touched  by  the  paintbrush.
One has to abandon the total disorder of oneself.
She  became  very  silent,  withdrawn  into  herself.  It  was  difficult  for  her  to
control the tears that were coming down her cheeks.    84
California Part 4
Sleep  is  as  important  as  keeping  awake,  perhaps  more  so.  If  during  the
day-time  the  mind  is  watchful,  self-recollected,  observing  the  inward  and
outward  movement  of  life,  then  at  night  meditation  comes  as  a  benediction.
The mind wakes up, and out of the depth of silence there is the enchantment
of meditation, which no imagination or flight of fancy can ever bring about. It
happens  without  the  mind  ever  inviting  it:  it  comes  into  being  out  of  the
tranquillity of consciousness – not within it but outside of it, not in the periphery
of thought but beyond the reaches of thought. So there is no memory of it, for
remembrance is always of the past, and meditation is not the resurrection of
the past. It happens out of the fullness of the heart and not out of intellectual
brightness and capacity. It may happen night after night, but each time, if you
are so blessed, it is new – not new in being different from old, but new without
the  background  of  the  old,  new  in  its  diversity  and  changeless  change.  So
sleep  becomes  a  thing  of  extraordinary  importance,  not  the  sleep  of
exhaustion,  not  the  sleep  brought  about  through  drugs  and  physical
satisfaction, but a sleep that is as light and quick as the body is sensitive. And
the body is made sensitive through alertness. Sometimes meditation is as light
as a breeze that passes by; at other times its depth is beyond all measure. But
if the mind holds one or the other as a remembrance to be indulged in, then
the ecstasy of meditation comes to an end. It is important never to possess or
desire possession of it. The quality of possessiveness must never enter into
meditation, for meditation has no root, nor any substance which the mind can
The other day as we went up the deep canyon which lay in shadow with the
arid mountains on both sides, it was full of birds, insects, and the quiet activity
of small animals. You walked up and up the gentle slope to a great height, and
from there you watched all the surrounding hills and mountains with the light of
the setting sun upon them. It looked as though they were lit from within, never
to be put out. But as you watched, the light faded, and in the west the evening
star became brighter and brighter. It was a lovely evening, and somehow you   85
felt  that  the  whole  universe  was  there  beside  you,  and  a  strange  quietness
surrounded you.
We have no light within ourselves: we have the artificial light of others; the
light of knowledge, the light that talent and capacity give. All this kind of light
fades and becomes a pain. The light of thought becomes its own shadow. But
the light that never fades, the deep, inward brilliance which is not a thing of the
market  place,  cannot  be  shown  to  another.  You  can’t  seek  it,  you  can’t
cultivate it, you can’t possibly imagine it or speculate upon it, for it is not within
the reach of the mind.
He was a monk of some repute, having lived both in a monastery and alone
outside it, seeking, and deeply earnest.
«The  things  you  say  about  meditation  seem  true;  it  is  out  of  reach.  This
means, doesn’t it, that there must be no seeking, no wishing, no gesture of any
kind towards it, whether the deliberate gesture of sitting in a special posture, or
the gesture of an attitude towards life or towards oneself? So what is one to
do? What is the point of any words at all?»
You  seek  out  of  emptiness,  reach  out  either  to  fill  that  emptiness  or  to
escape  from  it.  This  outward  movement  from  inward  poverty  is  conceptual,
speculative, dualistic. This is conflict, and it is endless. So don’t reach out! But
the  energy  which  was  reaching  out  turns  from  reaching  out  to  reaching
inwards, seeking and searching,  asking  something  which  it  now  calls  within.
The  two  movements  are  essentially  the  same.  They  must  both  come  to  an
«Are you asking us simply to be content with this emptiness?»
Certainly not.
«So the emptiness remains, and a settled kind of despair. The despair is
even greater if one may not even seek!»
Is  it  despair  if  you  see  the  truth  that  the  inward  and  outward  movement
have no meaning? Is it contentment with what is? Is it the acceptance of this
emptiness?  It  is  none  of  these.  So:  you  have  dispelled  the  going  out,  the   86
coming in, the accepting. You have denied all movement of the mind that is
faced with this emptiness. Then the mind itself is empty, for the movement is
the mind itself. The mind is empty of all movement, therefore there is no entity
to initiate any movement. Let it remain empty. Let it be empty. The mind has
purged  itself  of  the  past,  the  future  and  the  present;  it  has  purged  itself  of
becoming,  and  becoming  is  time.  So  there  is  no  time;  there  is  no
measurement. Then is it emptiness? «This state comes and goes often. Even if
it is not emptiness, it is certainly not the ecstasy of which you speak.»
Forget what has been said. Forget also that it comes and goes. When it
comes and goes it is of time; then there is the observer who says, «It is here, it
has gone». This observer is the one who measures, compares, evaluates, so it
is not the emptiness of which we are talking.
«Are you anaesthetizing me?» And he laughed.
When there is no measurement and no time, is there a frontier or an outline
to  emptiness?  Then  can  you  ever  call  it  emptiness  or  nothingness?  Then
everything is in it, and nothing is in it.    87
California Part 5
It  had  been  raining  quite  a  bit  during  the  night,  and  now,  early  in  the
morning as you were getting up, there was the strong smell of sumac, sage,
and damp earth. It was red earth, and red earth seems to give a stronger smell
than brown earth. Now the sun was on the hills with that extraordinary colour
of burnt-sienna, and every tree and every bush was sparkling washed clean by
last night’s rain, and everything was bursting with joy. It hadn’t rained for six or
eight months, and you can imagine how the earth was rejoicing, and not only
the earth but everything on it – the huge trees, the tall eucalyptus, the pepper
trees  and  the  live-oaks.  The  birds  seemed  to  have  a  different  song  that
morning,  and  as  you  watched  the  hills  and  the  distant  blue  mountains,  you
were  somehow  lost  in  them.  You  didn’t  exist,  neither  did  those  around  you.
There was only this beauty, this immensity, only the spreading, widening earth.
That  morning,  out  of  those  hills  that  went  on  for  miles  and  miles,  came  a
tranquillity  which  met  your  own  quietness.  It  was  like  the  earth  and  the
heavens meeting, and the ecstasy was a benediction. The same evening, as
you walked up the canyon into the hills, the red earth was damp under your
feet, soft, yielding, and full of promise. You went up the steep incline for many
miles,  and  then  came  down  suddenly.  As  you  turned  the  corner  you  came
upon that complete silence which was already descending on you, and as you
entered  the  deep  valley  it  became  more  penetrating,  more  urgent,  more
insistent.  There  was  no  thought,  only  that  silence.  As  you  walked  down,  it
seemed to cover the whole earth, and it was astonishing how every bird and
tree became still. There was no breeze among the trees and with the darkness
they were withdrawing into their solitude. It is strange how during the day they
would welcome you, and now, with their fantastic shapes, they were distant,
aloof  and  withdrawn.  Three  hunters  went  by  with  their  powerful  bows  and
arrows, electric torches strapped to their foreheads. They were out to kill the
night birds and seemed to be utterly impervious to the beauty and the silence
about  them.  They  were  intent  only  on  the  kill,  and  it  seemed  as  though
everything was watching them, horrified, and full of pity.    88
That morning a group of young people had come to the house. There were
about thirty of them, students from various universities. They had grown up in
this climate, and were strong, well fed, tall, and enthusiastic. Only one or two
of them sat on chairs, most of us were on the floor, and the girls in their mini-
skirts sat uncomfortably. One of the boys spoke, with quivering lips, and with
his head down.
«I want to live a different kind of life. I don’t want to be caught in sex and
drugs and the rat race. I want to live out of this world, and yet I am caught in it.
I  have  sex,  and  the  next  day  I  am  utterly  depressed.  I  know  I  want  to  live
peacefully, with love in my heart, but I am torn by my urges, by the pull of the
society in which I live. I want to obey these urges, yet I rebel against them. I
want to live at the mountain top yet I am always descending into the valley, for
my life is there. I don’t know what to do. I’m getting bored with everything. My
parents can’t help me, nor can the professors with whom I sometimes try to
discuss these matters. They are as confused and miserable as I am, more so
in fact, because they are much older.»
What is important is not to come to any conclusion, or any decision for or
against  sex,  not  to  get  caught  in  conceptual  ideologies.  Let  us  look  at  the
whole picture of our existence. The monk has taken a vow of celibacy because
he thinks that to gain his heaven he has to shun contact with a woman; but for
the  rest  of  his  life  is  struggling  against  his  own  physical  demands:  he  is  in
conflict  with  heaven  and  with  earth,  and  spends  the  rest  of  his  days  in
darkness, seeking light. Each one of us is caught in this ideological battle, just
like the monk, burning with desire and trying to suppress it for the promise of
heaven.  We  have  a  physical  body  and  it  has  its  demands.  They  are
encouraged  and  influenced  by  the  society  in  which  we  live,  by  the
advertisements, by the half-naked girls, by the insistence on fun, amusement,
entertainment, and by the morality of society, the morality of the social order,
which  is  disorder  and  immorality.  We  are  physically  stimulated  –  more  and
tastier  food,  drink,  television.  The  whole  of  modern  existence  focuses  your
attention on sex. You are stimulated in every way – by books, by talk, and by   89
an  utterly  permissive  society.  All  this  surrounds  you;  it’s  no  good  merely
shutting your eyes to it. You have to see this whole way of life with its absurd
beliefs and divisions, and the utter meaninglessness of a life spent in an office
or a factory. And at the end of it all there is death. You have to see all this
confusion very clearly.
Now look out of that window and see those marvellous mountains, freshly
washed  by  last  night’s  rain,  and  that  extraordinary  light  of  California  which
exists nowhere else. See the beauty of the light on those hills. You can smell
the clean air and the newness of the earth. The more alive you are to it, the
more  sensitive  you  are  to  all  this  immense,  incredible  light  and  beauty,  the
more  you  are  with  it  –  the  more  your  perception  is  heightened.  That  is  also
sensuous, just like seeing a girl. You can’t respond with your senses to this
mountain and then cut them off when you see the girl; in this way you divide
life,  and  in  this  division  there  is  sorrow  and  conflict.  When  you  divide  the
mountaintop  from  the  valley,  you  are  in conflict.  This  doesn’t  mean  that  you
avoid conflict or escape from it, or get so lost in sex or some other appetite
that  you  cut  yourself  off  from  conflict.  The  understanding  of  conflict  doesn’t
mean that you vegetate or become like a cow.
To understand all this is not to be caught in it, not to depend on it. It means
never  to  deny  anything,  never  to  come  to  any  conclusion  or  to  reach  any
ideological,  verbal  state,  or  principle,  according  to  which  you  try  to  live.  The
very  perception  of  this  whole  map  which  is  being  unfolded  is  already
intelligence. It is this intelligence that will act and not a conclusion, a decision
or an ideological principle.
Our bodies have been made dull, just as our minds and hearts have been
dulled, by our education, by our conformity to the pattern which society has set
and which denies the sensitivity of the heart. It sends us to war, destroying all
our  beauty,  tenderness  and  joy.  The  observation  of  all  this,  not  verbally  or
intellectually but actually, makes our body and mind highly sensitive. The body
will  then  demand  the  right  kind  of  food;  then  the  mind  will  not  be  caught  in
words,  in  symbols,  in  platitudes  of  thought.  Then  we  shall  know  how  to  live   90
both  in  the  valley  and  on  the  mountaintop;  then  there  will  be  no  division  or
contradiction between the two.    91
– Europe 1969 –
Europe Part 1
MEDITATION IS A movement in attention. Attention is not an achievement,
for it is not personal. The personal element comes in only when there is the
observer  as  the  centre,  from  which  he  concentrates  or  dominates;  thus  all
achievement is fragmentary and limited. Attention has no border, no frontier to
cross;  attention  is  clarity,  clear  of  all  thought.  Thought  can  never  make  for
clarity for thought has its roots in the dead past; so thinking is an action in the
dark.  Awareness  of  this  is  to  be  attentive.  Awareness  is  not  a  method  that
leads to attention; such attention is within the field of thought and so can be
controlled or modified; being aware of this inattention is attention. Meditation is
not an intellectual process – which is still within the area of thought. Meditation
is the freedom from thought, and a movement in the ecstasy of truth.
It was snowing that morning. A bitter wind was blowing; and the movement
upon the trees was a cry for spring. In that light, the trunks of the large beech
and the elm had that peculiar quality of grey-green that one finds in old woods
where the earth is soft and covered with autumn leaves. Walking among them
you had the feeling of the wood – not of the separate individual trees with their
particular shapes and forms – but rather of the entire quality of all the trees.
Suddenly  the  sun  came  out,  and  there  was  a  vast  blue  sky  towards  the
east, and a dark, heavily-laden sky against the west. In that moment of bright
sunlight,  spring  began.  In  the  quiet  stillness  of  the  spring  day  you  felt  the
beauty of the earth and the sense of unity of the earth and all things upon it.
There  was  no  separation  between  you  and  the  tree  and  the  varying,
astonishing colours of the sparkling light on the holly. You, the observer, had
ceased, and so the division, as space and time, had come to an end.
He  said  he  was  a  religious  man  –  not  belonging  to  any  particular
organization or belief – but he felt religious. Of course he had been through the
drill of talking with all the religious leaders, and had come away from them all
rather  despairingly,  but  without  becoming  a  cynic.  Yet  he  had  not  found  the   92
bliss he sought. He had been a professor at a university, and had given it up to
lead a life of meditation and enquiry.
«You  know,»  he  said,  «I  am  always  aware  of  the  fragmentation  of  life.  I,
myself,  am  a  fragment  of  that  life  –  broken,  different,  endlessly  struggling  to
become the whole, an integral part of this universe. I have tried to find my own
identity, for modern society is destroying all identity. I wonder if there is a way
out of all this division into something that cannot be divided, separated?»
We have divided life as the family and the community, the family and the
nation, the family and the office, politics and the religious life, peace and war,
order and disorder – an endless division of the opposites. Along this corridor
we  walk,  trying  to  bring about a harmony between mind and heart, trying to
keep a balance between love and envy. We know all this too well, and we try
to make out of it some kind of harmony.
What makes this division? Obviously there is division, contrast – black and
white, man and woman, and so on – but what is the source, the essence, of
this  fragmentation?  Un-  less  we  find  it,  fragmentation  is  inevitable.  What  do
you think is the root cause of this duality?
«I  can  give  many  causes  for  this  seemingly  endless  division,  and  many
ways in which one has tried to build a bridge between opposites. Intellectually I
can expose the reasons for this division, but it leads nowhere. I have played
this game often, with myself and with others. I have tried, through meditation,
through  the  exercise  of  will,  to  feel  the  unity  of  things,  to  be  one  with
everything – but it is a barren attempt.»
Of  course  the  mere  discovery  of  the  cause  of  the  separation  does  not
necessarily dissolve it. One knows the cause of fear, but one is still afraid. The
intellectual  exploration  loses  its  immediacy  of  action  when  the  sharpness  of
thought is all that matters. The fragmentation of the I and the not-I is surely the
basic cause of this division, though the I tries to identify itself with the not-I,
which may be the wife, the family, the community, or the formula of God which
thought has made, The I is ever striving to find an identity, but what it identifies
itself with is still a concept, a memory, a structure of thought.    93
Is there a duality at all? Objectively there is, such as light and shade, but
psychologically is there? We accept the psychological duality as we accept the
objective  duality;  it  is  part  of  our  conditioning.  We  never  question  this
conditioning. But is there, psychologically, a division? There is only what is, not
what  should  be.  The  what  should  be  is  a  division  which  thought  has  put
together in the avoiding or the overcoming of the reality of what is. Hence the
struggle between the actual and the abstraction. The abstraction is the fanciful,
the romantic, the ideal. What is actual is what is, and everything else is non-
real. It is the non-real that brings about the fragmentation, not the actual. Pain
is actual; non-pain is the pleasure of thought which brings about the division
between the pain and the state of non-pain. Thought is always separative; it is
the division of time, the space between the observer and the thing observed.
There is only what is, and to see what is, without thought as the observer, is
the ending of fragmentation.
Thought is not love; but thought, as pleasure, encloses love and brings pain
within that enclosure. In the negation of what is not, what is remains. In the
negation of what is not love, love emerges in which the I and the non-I cease.    94
Europe Part 2
Innocency  and  spaciousness  are  the  flowering  of  meditation.  There  is  no
innocency  without  space.  Innocency  is  not  immaturity.  You  may  be  mature
physically, but the vast space that comes with love is not possible if the mind is
not free from the many marks of experience. It is these scars of experience
that  prevent  innocency.  Freeing  the  mind  from  the  constant  pressure  of
experience is meditation.
Just as the sun is setting there comes a strange quietness and a feeling
that everything about you has come to an end, though the bus, the taxi and the
noise go on. This sense of aloofness seems to penetrate the whole universe.
You  must  have  felt  this  too.  Often  it  comes  most  unexpectedly;  strange
stillness and peace seem to pour down from the heavens and cover the earth.
It is a benediction, and the beauty of the evening is made boundless by it. The
shiny road after the rain, the waiting cars, the empty park, seem to be part of it;
and the laughter of the couple who pass by does not in any way disturb the
peace of the evening.
The naked trees, black against the sky, with their delicate branches, were
waiting  for  the  spring,  and  it  was  just  round  the  corner,  hastening  to  meet
them.  There  was  already  new  grass,  and  the  fruit  trees  were  in  bloom.  The
country was slowly becoming alive again, and from this hilltop you could see
the city with many, many domes, and one more haughty and higher than the
others. You could see the flat tops of the pine trees, and the evening light was
upon  the  clouds.  The  whole  horizon  seemed  to  be  filled  with  these  clouds,
range  after  range,  piling  up  against  the  hills  in  the  most  fantastic  shapes,
castles such as man had never built. There were deep chasms and towering
peaks.  All  these  clouds  were  alight  with  a  dark  red  glow  and  a  few  of  them
seemed to be afire, not by the sun, but within themselves.
These clouds didn’t make the space; they were in the space, which seemed
to stretch infinitely, from eternity to eternity.    95
A blackbird was singing in a bush close by, and that was the everlasting
There were three or four who had brought their wives and we all sat on the
floor. From this position the windows were too high for one to see the garden
or the wall opposite. They were all professionals. One said he was a scientist,
another  a  mathematician,  another,  an  engineer;  they  were  specialists,  not
overflowing beyond their boundaries – as the river does after heavy rain. It is
the overflowing that enriches the soil.
The  engineer asked:  «You  have  often talked about space and we are all
interested to know what you mean by it. The bridge covers the space between
two  banks  or  between  two  hills.  Space  is  made  by  a  dam  which  is  filled  by
water. There is space between us and the expanding universe. There is space
between you and me. Is this what you mean?»
The  others  seconded  the  question;  they  must  have  talked  it  over  before
they came. One said: «I could put it differently, in more scientific terms, but it
comes to more or less the same thing.»
There is space that divides and encloses, and space that is unlimited. The
space between man and man, in which grows mischief is the limited space of
division;  there  is  division  between  you  as  you  are  and  the  image  you  have
about yourself; there is division between you and your wife; there is division
between what you are and the ideal of what you should be; there is division
between  hill  and  hill.  And  there  is  the  beauty  of  space  that  is  without  the
boundary of time and line.
Is  there  space  between  thought  and  thought?  Between  remembrances?
Between actions? Or is there no space at all between thought and thought?
Between reason and reason? Between health and ill-health – cause becoming
the effect, and the effect becoming the cause?
If there were a break between thought and thought, then thought would be
always new, but because there is no break, no space, all thought is old. You   96
may not be conscious of the continuity of a thought; you may pick it up a week
later after dropping it, but it has been working within the old boundaries.
So the whole of consciousness, both the conscious and the unconscious –
which  is  an  unfortunate  word  to  have  to  use  –  is  within  the  limited,  narrow
space  of  tradition,  culture,  custom  and  remembrance.  Technology  may  take
you to the moon, you may build a curving bridge over a chasm or bring some
order within the limited space of society, but this again will breed disorder.
Space exists not only beyond the four walls of this room, there is also the
space which the room makes. There is the enclosing space, the sphere, which
the  observer  creates  around  himself  through  which  he  sees  the  observed  –
which  also  creates  a  sphere  around  itself.  When  the  observer  looks  at  the
stars of an evening, his space is limited. He may be able, through a telescope,
to see many thousands of light years away, but he is the maker of space and
therefore it is finite. The measurement between the observer and the observed
is space, and time to cover that space.
There is not only physical space but the psychological dimension in which
thought covers itself – as yesterday, today and tomorrow. So long as there is
an  observer,  space  is  the  narrow  yard  of  the  prison  in  which  there  is  no
freedom at all.
But we’d like to ask if you are trying to convey space without the observer?
That seems to be utterly impossible, or it might be a fancy of your own.»
Freedom, sir, is not within the prison, however comfortable and decorated it
may be. If one has a dialogue with freedom it cannot possibly exist within the
boundaries  of  memory,  knowledge  and  experience.  Freedom  demands  that
you  break  the  prison  walls,  though  you  may  enjoy  the  limited  disorder,  the
limited slavery, the toil within this boundary.
Freedom is not relative; either there is freedom or there is not. If there is
not, then one must accept the narrow, limited life with its conflicts, sorrows and
aches – merely bringing about a little change here and there.    97
Freedom is infinite space. When there is a lack of space there is violence –
as with the predator, and the bird who claims his space, his territory, for which
he will fight. This violence may be relative under  the law and the policeman
just as the limited space the predators and the birds demand, for which they
will fight, is limited violence. Because of the limited space between man and
man aggression must exist.
«Are  you  trying  to  tell  us,  sir,  that  man  will  always  be  in  conflict  within
himself  and  with  the  world  so  long  as  he  lives  within  the  sphere  of  his  own
making?»  Yes,  sir.  So  we  come  to  the  central  issue  of  freedom.  Within  the
narrow  culture  of  society  there  is  no  freedom,  and  because  there  is  no
freedom  there  is  disorder.  Living  within  this  disorder  man  seeks  freedom  in
ideologies, in theories, in what he calls God. This escape is not freedom. It is
the  yard  of  the  prison  again  which  separates  man  from  man.  Can  thought,
which has brought this conditioning upon itself, come to an end, break down
this structure, and go beyond and above it? Obviously it cannot, and that is the
first  factor  to  see.  The  intellect  cannot  possibly  build  a  bridge  between  itself
and  freedom.  Thought,  which  is  the  response  of  memory,  experience  and
knowledge, is always old, as is the intellect, and the old cannot build a bridge
to the new. Thought is essentially the observer with his prejudices, fears and
anxieties, and this thinking-image – because of his isolation – obviously makes
a sphere around himself. Thus there is a distance between the observer and
the  observed.  The  observer  tries  to  establish  a  relationship  preserving  this
distance – and so there is conflict and violence.
In all this there is no fancy. Imagination in any form destroys truth. Freedom
is beyond thought; freedom means infinite space not created by the observer.
Coming upon this freedom is meditation.
There is no space without silence, and silence is not put together by time
as thought. Time will never give freedom; order is possible only when the heart
is not covered over with words.    98
Europe Part 3
A meditative mind is silent. It is not the silence which thought can conceive
of; it is not the silence of a still evening; it is the silence when thought – with all
its  images,  its  words  and  perceptions  –  has  entirely  ceased.  This  meditative
mind is the religious mind – the religion that is not touched by the church, the
temples or by chants.
The  religious  mind  is  the  explosion  of  love.  It  is  this  love  that  knows  no
separation. To it, far is near. It is not the one or the many, but rather that state
of  love  in  which  all  division  ceases.  Like  beauty,  it  is  not  of  the  measure  of
words. From this silence alone the meditative mind acts.
It  had  rained  the  day  before  and  in the evening the sky had been full of
clouds. In the distance the hills were covered with clouds of delight, full of light,
and as you watched them they were taking different shapes.
The  setting  sun,  with  its  golden  light,  was  touching  only  one  or  two
mountains of cloud, but those clouds seemed as solid as the dark cypress. As
you  looked  at  them  you  naturally  became  silent.  The  vast  space  and  the
solitary tree on the hill, the distant dome, and the talking going on around one –
were all part of this silence. You knew that the next morning it would be lovely,
for the sunset was red. And it was lovely; there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it
was very blue. The yellow flowers and the white flowering tree against the dark
hedge of cypress, and the smell of spring, filled the land. The dew was on the
grass, and slowly spring was coming out of darkness.
He  said  he  had  just  lost  his  son  who  had  had  a  very  good  job  and  who
would soon have become one of the directors of a large company. He was still
under the shock of it, but he had great control over himself. He wasn’t the type
that cried – tears would not come to him easily. He had been schooled all his
life  by  hard  work  in  a  matter-of-fact  technology.  He  was  not  an  imaginative
man,  and  the  complex,  subtle,  psychological  problems  of  life  had  hardly
touched him. The recent death of his son was an unacknowledged blow. He
said: «It is a sad event.»    99
This  sadness  was  a  terrible  thing  for  his  wife  and  children.  «How  can  I
explain to them the ending of sorrow, of which you have talked? I myself have
studied  and  perhaps  can  understand  it,  but  what  of  the  others  who  are
involved in it?»
Sorrow is in every house, round every corner. Every human being has this
engulfing grief, caused by so many incidents and accidents. Sorrow seems like
an endless wave that comes upon man, almost drowning him; and the pity of
sorrow breeds bitterness and cynicism.
Is the sorrow for your son, or for yourself, or for the break in the continuity
of  yourself  through  your  son?  Is  there  the  sorrow  of  self-pity?  Or  is  there
sorrow because he was so promising in the worldly sense?
If  it  is  self-pity,  then this self-concern,  this  isolating  factor  in  life  –  though
there  is  the  outward  semblance  of  relation:  ship  –  must  inevitably  cause
misery. This isolating process, this activity of self-concern in everyday life, this
ambition,  this  pursuit  of  one’s  own  self-importance,  this  separative  way  of
living, whether one is aware of it or not, must bring about the loneliness from
which  we  try  to  escape  in  so  many  different  ways.  Self-pity  is  the  ache  of
loneliness, and this pain is called sorrow.
Then there is also the sorrow of ignorance – not the ignorance of the lack of
books or of technical knowledge or the lack of experience, but the ignorance
we  have  accepted  as  time,  as  evolution,  the  evolution  from  what  is  to  what
should be – the ignorance which makes us accept authority with all its violence,
the ignorance of conformity with its dangers and pains, the ignorance of not
knowing the whole structure of oneself. This is the sorrow that man has spread
wherever he has been.
So  we  must  be  clear  about  what  it  is  that  we  call  sorrow  –  sorrow  being
grief, the loss of what was the supposed good, the sorrow of insecurity and the
constant demand for security. Which is it that you are caught in? Unless this is
clear there is no ending to sorrow.    100
This  clarity  is  not  a  verbal  explanation  nor  is  it  the  result  of  a  clever
intellectual analysis. You must be aware, of what your sorrow is as clearly as
you become aware, sensually, when you touch that flower.
Without understanding this whole way of sorrow, how can you end it? You
can escape from it by going to the temple or the church or taking to drink – but
all  escapes,  whether  to  God  or  to  sex,  are  the  same,  for  they  do  not  solve
So you have to lay down the map of sorrow and trace every path and road.
If you allow time to cover this map, then time will strengthen the brutality of
sorrow. You have to see this whole map at a glance – seeing the whole and
then the detail, not the detail first and then the whole. In ending sorrow, time
must come to an end.
Sorrow  cannot  end  by  thought.  When  time  stops,  thought  as  the  way  of
sorrow, ceases. It is thought and time that divide and separate, and love is not
thought or time.
See the map of sorrow not with the eyes of memory. Listen to the whole
murmur of it; be of it, for you are both the observer and the observed. Then
only can sorrow end. There is no other way.    101
Europe Part 4
Meditation  is  never  prayer.  Prayer,  supplication,  is  born  of  self-pity.  You
pray  when  you  are  in  difficulty,  when  there  is  sorrow;  but  when  there  is
happiness, joy, there is no supplication. This self-pity, so deeply embedded in
man, is the root of separation. That which is separate, or thinks itself separate,
ever seeking identification with something which is not separate, brings only
more division and pain. Out of this confusion one cries to heaven, or to one’s
husband, or to some deity of the mind. This cry may find an answer, but the
answer is the echo of self-pity, in its separation.
The  repetition  of  words,  of  prayers,  is  self-hypnotic,  self-enclosing  and
destructive.  The  isolation  of  thought  is  always  within  the  field  of  the  known,
and the answer to prayer is the response of the known.
Meditation is far from this. In that field, thought cannot enter; there is no
separation, and so no identity. Meditation is in the open; secrecy has no place
in it. Everything is exposed, clear; then the beauty of love is.
It was an early spring morning with a few flaky clouds moving gently across
the blue sky from the west. A cock began to crow, and it was strange to hear it
in a crowded town. It began early, and for nearly two hours it kept announcing
the arrival of the day. The trees were still empty, but there were thin, delicate
leaves against the clear morning sky.
If you were very quiet, without any thought flashing across the mind, you
could just hear the deep bell of some cathedral. It must have been far away,
and in the short silences between the cock’s crowing you could hear the waves
of this sound coming towards you and going beyond you – you almost rode on
them, going far away, disappearing into the immensities. The crowing of the
cock and the deep sound of the distant bell had a strange effect. The noises of
the town had not yet begun. There was nothing to interrupt the clear sound.
You didn’t hear it with your ears, you heard it with your heart, not with thought
that  knows  «the  bell»  and  «the  cock»,  and  it  was  pure  sound.  It  came  out  of
silence and your heart picked it up and went with it from everlasting to ever-   102
lasting.  It  was  not  an  organized  sound,  like  music;  it  was  not  the  sound  of
silence  between  two  notes;  it  was  not  the  sound  you  hear  when  you  have
stopped talking. All such sounds are heard by the mind or by the ear. When
you hear with your heart, the world is filled with it and your eyes see clearly.
She  was  quite  a  young  lady,  well  turned  out,  her  hair  cut  short,  highly
efficient and capable. From what she said she had no illusions about herself.
She  had  children  and  a  certain  quality  of  seriousness.  Perhaps  she  was
somewhat romantic and very young, but for her the Orient had lost its aura of
mysticism – which was just as well. She talked simply, without any hesitation.
«I  think  I  committed  suicide  a  long  time  ago,  when  a  certain  event  took
place  in  my  life;  with  that  event  my  life  ended.  Of  course  I  have  carried  on
outwardly, with the children and all the rest of it, but I have stopped living.»
Don’t  you  think  that  most  people,  knowingly  or  unknowingly,  are  always
committing suicide? The extreme form of it is jumping out of the window. But it
begins, probably, when there is the first resistance and frustration. We build a
wall around ourselves behind which we lead our own separate lives – though
we may have husbands, wives and children. This separative life is the life of
suicide, and that is the accepted morality of religion and society. The acts of
separation are of a continuous chain and lead to war and to self-destruction.
Separation is suicide, whether of the individual or of the community or of the
nation. Each one wants to live a Life of self-identity, of self-centred activity, of
the  self-enclosing  sorrow  of  conformity.  It  is  suicide  when  belief  and  dogma
hold you by the hand. Before the event, you invested your life and the whole
movement of it in the one against the many, and when the one dies, or the god
is destroyed, your life goes with it and you have nothing to live for. If you are
terribly  clever  you  invent  a  meaning  to  life  –  which  the  experts  have  always
done  –  but  having  committed  yourself  to  that  meaning  you  are  already
committing  suicide.  All  commitment  is  self-destruction,  whether  it  be  in  the
name of God or in the name of Socialism, or anything else.
You, madam – and this is not said in cruelty – ceased to exist because you
could not get what you wanted; or it was taken away from you; or you wanted   103
to go through a particular, special door which was tightly shut. As sorrow and
pleasure  are  self-enclosing,  so  acceptance  and  insistence  bring  their  own
darkness  of  separation.  We  do  not  live,  we  are  always  committing  suicide.
Living begins when the act of suicide ends.
«I understand What you mean. I see what I have done. But now what am I
to do? How am I to come back from the long years of death?»
You can’t come back; if you came back you would follow the old pattern,
and sorrow would pursue you as a cloud is driven by the wind. The only thing
you  can  do  is  to  see  that  to  lead  one’s  own  life,  separately,  in  secret,
demanding the continuity of pleasure – is to invite the separation of death. In
separation there is no love. Love has no identity. Pleasure, and the seeking of
it,  build  the  enclosing  wall  of  separation.  There  is  no  death  when  all
commitment ceases. Self-knowledge is the open door.    104
Europe Part 5
Meditation is the ending of the word. Silence is not induced by a word, the
word  being  thought.  The  action  out  of  silence  is  entirely  different  from  the
action  born  of  the  word;  medita-  tion  is  the  freeing  of  the  mind  from  all
symbols, images and remembrances.
That morning the tall poplars with their fresh, new leaves were playing in
the breeze. It was a spring morning and the hills were covered with flowering
almonds, cherries and apples. The whole earth was tremendously alive. The
cypresses  were  stately  and  aloof,  but  the  flowering  trees  were  touching,
branch to branch, and rows of poplars were casting swaying shadows. Beside
the road there was running water which would eventually become the old river.
There was scent in the air, and every hill was different from the others. On
some  of  them  stood  houses  surrounded  by  olives  and  rows  of  cypresses
leading to the house. The road wound through all these soft hills.
It was a sparkling morning, full of intense beauty, and the powerful car was
somehow  not  out  of  place.  There  seemed  to  be  extraordinary  order,  but,  of
course,  inside  each  house  there  was  disorder  –  man  plotting  against  man,
children crying or laughing; the whole chain of misery was stretching unseen
from house to house. Spring, autumn and winter never broke this chain.
But that morning there was a rebirth. Those tender leaves never knew the
winter nor the coming autumn; they were vulnerable and therefore innocent.
From  the  window  one  could  see  the  old  dome  of  the  striped  marble
cathedral and the many-coloured campanile; and within were the dark symbols
of sorrow and hope. It was really a lovely morning, but strangely there were
few birds, for here people kill them for sport, and their song was very still.
He was an artist, a painter. He said he had a talent for it as another might
have a talent for the building of bridges. He had long hair, delicate hands and
was enclosed within the dream of his own gifts. He would come out of it – talk,
explain – and then go back into his own den. He said his pictures were selling   105
and he had had several one-man exhibitions. He was rather proud of this, and
his voice told of it.
There is the army, within its own walls of self-interest; and the businessman
enclosed within steel and glass; and the housewife pottering about the house
waiting for her husband and her children. There is the museum-keeper, and
the  orchestra  conductor,  each  living  within  a  fragment  of  life,  each  fragment
becoming  extraordinarily  important,  unrelated,  in  contradiction  to  other
fragments,  having  its  own  honours,  its  own  social  dignity,  its  own  prophets.
The religious fragment is unrelated to the factory, and the factory to the artist;
the general is unrelated to the soldiers, as the priest is to the layman. Society
is made up of these fragments, and the do-gooder and the reformer are trying
to  patch  up  the  broken  pieces.  But  through  these  separative,  broken,
specialized  parts,  the  human  being  carries  on  with  his  anxieties,  guilt  and
apprehensions. In that we are all related, not in our specialized fields.
In the common greed, hate and aggression, human beings are related and
this violence builds the culture, the society, in which we live. It is the mind and
the heart that divide – God and hate, love and violence – and in this duality the
whole culture of man expands and contracts.
The  unity  of  man  does  not  lie  in  any  of  the  structures  which  the  human
mind  has  invented.  Co-operation  is  not  the  nature  of  the  intellect.  Between
love and hate there can be no unity, and yet it is what the mind is trying to find
and establish. Unity lies totally outside this field, and thought cannot reach it.
Thought has constructed this culture of aggression, com- petition and war,
and  yet  this  very  thought  is  groping  after  order  and  peace.  But  thought  will
never find order and peace, do what it will. Thought must be silent for love to
be.    106
Europe Part 6
The mind freeing itself from the known is meditation. Prayer goes from the
known to the known; it may produce results, but it is still within the field of the
known – and the known is the conflict, the misery and confusion. Meditation is
the total denial of everything that the mind has accumulated. The known is the
observer, and the observer sees only through the known. The image is of the
past, and meditation is the ending of the past.
It was a fairly large room overlooking a garden with many cypresses for a
hedge,  and  beyond  it  was  a  monastery,  red-roofed.  Early  in  the  morning,
before  the  sun  rose,  there  was  a  light  there  and  you  could  see  the  monks
moving  about.  It  was  a  very  cold  morning.  The  wind  was  blowing  from  the
north  and  the  big  eucalyptus  –  towering  over  every  other  tree  and  over  the
houses  –  was  swaying  in  the wind most unwillingly.  It  liked  the  breezes  that
came from the sea because they were not too violent; and it took delight in the
soft movement of its own beauty. It was there in the morning early and it was
there when the sun was setting, catching  the  evening  light,  and  somehow  it
conveyed the certainty of nature. It gave assurance to all the trees and bushes
and little plants. It must have been a very old tree. But man never looked at it.
He would cut it down if necessary to build a house and never feel the loss of it;
for  in  this  country  trees  are  not  respected  and  nature  has  very  little  place
except, perhaps, as a decoration. The magnificent villas with their gardens had
trees showing off the graceful curves of the houses. But this eucalyptus was
not decorative to any house. It stood by itself, splendidly quiet and full of silent
movement; and the monastery with its garden, and the room with its enclosed
green space, were within its shadow. It was there, year after year, living in its
own dignity.
There  were  several  people  in  the  room.  They  had  come  to  carry  on  a
conversation  which  had  been  started  a  few  days  before.  They  were  mostly
young  people,  some  with  long  hair,  others  with  beards,  tight  trousers,  skirts
very high, painted lips and piled-up hair.    107
The conversation began very lightly; they were not quite sure of themselves
or where this conversation was going to lead. «Of course we cannot follow the
established  order,»  said  one  of  them,  «but  we  are  caught  in  it.  What  is  our
relationship with the older generation and their activity?»
Mere revolt is not the answer, is it? Revolt is a reaction, a response which
will  bring  about  its  own  conditioning.  Every  generation  is  conditioned  by  the
past  generation,  and  merely  to  rebel  against  conditioning  does  not  free  the
mind which has been conditioned. Any form of obedience is also a resistance
which brings about violence. Violence among the students, or the riots in the
cities, or war, whether far removed from yourself or within yourself, will in no
way bring clarity.
«But how are we to act within the society to which we belong?`’
If you act as a reformer then you are patching up society, which is always
degenerating, and so sustaining a system which has produced wars, divisions
and  separativeness.  The  reformer,  really,  is  a  danger  to  the  fundamental
change of man. You have to be an outsider to all communities, to all religions
and  to  the  morality  of  society,  otherwise  you  will  be  caught  in  the  some  old
pattern, perhaps somewhat modified.
You are an outsider only when you cease to be envious and vicious, cease
to worship success or its power motive. To be psychologically an outsider is
possible only when you understand yourself who are part of the environment,
part of the social structure which you yourself have built – you being the many
you’s  of  many  thousands  of  years,  the  many,  many  generations  that  have
produced  the  present.  In  understanding  yourself  as  a  human  being  you  will
find your relationship with the older passing generations.
«But how can one be free of the heavy conditioning as a Catholic? It is so
deeply ingrained in us, deeply buried in the unconscious.»
Whether  one  is  a  Catholic,  or  a  Muslim,  or  Hindu,  or  a  Communist,  the
propaganda of a hundred, two hundred, or five thousand years is part of this
verbal structure of images which goes to make up our consciousness. We are   108
conditioned  by  what  we  eat,  by  the  economic  pressures,  by  the  culture  and
society  in  which  we  live.  We  are  that  culture,  we  are that society. Merely to
revolt against it is to revolt against ourselves. If you rebel against yourself, not
knowing  what  you  are,  your  rebellion  is  utterly  wasted.  But  to  be  aware,
without condemnation, of what you are – such awareness brings about action
which is entirely different from the action of a reformer or a revolutionary.
«But, sir, our unconscious is the collective racial heritage and according to
the analysts this must be understood.»
I don’t see why you give such importance to the unconscious. It is as trivial
and shoddy as the conscious mind, and giving it importance only strengthens
it.  If  you  see  its  true  worth  it  drops  away  as  a  leaf  in  the  autumn.  We  think
certain things are important to keep and that others can be thrown away. War
does  produce  certain  peripheral  improvements,  but  war  itself  is  the  greatest
disaster for man. Intellect will in no way solve our human problems. Thought
has tried in many, many ways to overcome and go beyond our agonies and
anxieties.  Thought  has  built  the  church,  the  saviour,  the  guru;  thought  has
invented  nationalities;  thought  has  divided  the  people  in  the  nation  into
different communities, classes, at war with each other. Thought has separated
man from man, and having brought anarchy and great sorrow, it then proceeds
to  invent  a  structure  to  bring  people  together.  Whatever  thought  does  must
inevitably breed danger and anxiety. To call oneself an Italian or an Indian or
an American is surely insanity, and it is the work of thought.
«But love is the answer to all this, isn’t it?»
Again you’re off! Are you free from envy, ambition, or are you merely using
that word «love» to which thought has given a meaning? If thought has given a
meaning to it, then it is not love. The word love is not love – no matter what you
mean  by  that  word.  Thought  is  the  past,  the  memory,  the  experience,  the
knowledge  from  which  the  response  to  every  challenge  comes.  So  this
response  is  always  inadequate,  and  hence  there  is  conflict.  For  thought  is
always old; thought can never be new. Modern art is the response of thought,
the intellect, and though it pretends to be new it is really as old, though not as   109
beautiful,  as  the  hills.  It  is  the  whole  structure  built  by  thought  –  as  love,  as
God,  as  culture,  as  the  ideology  of  the  politburo  –  which  has  to  be  totally
denied for the new to be. The new cannot fit into the old pattern. You are really
afraid to deny the old pattern completely.
«Yes, sir, we are afraid, for if we deny it what is there left? With what do we
replace it?»
This question is the outcome of thought which sees the danger and so is
afraid and wants to be assured that it will find something to replace the old. So
again  you  are  caught  in  the  net  of  thought.  But  if  factually,  not  verbally  or
intellectually, you denied this whole house of thought, then you might perhaps
find  the  new  –  the  new  way  of  living,  seeing,  acting.  Negation  is  the  most
positive action. To negate the false, not knowing what is true, to negate the
apparent truth in the false, and to negate the false as the false, is the instant
action of a mind that is free from thought. To see this flower with the image
that  thought  has  built  about  it  is  entirely  different  from  seeing  it  without  that
image.  The  relationship  between  the  observer  and  the  flower  is  the  image
which  the  observer  has  about  the  observed,  and  in  this  there  is  a  great
distance between them.
When there is no image the time interval ceases.    110
Europe Part 7
Meditation  is  always  new.  It  has  not  the  touch  of  the  past  for  it  has  no
continuity. The word new doesn’t convey the quality of a freshness that has not
been before. It is like the light of a candle which has been put out and relit. The
new  light  is  not  the  old,  though  the  candle  is  the  same.  Meditation  has  a
continuity only when thought colours it, shapes it and gives it a purpose. The
purpose and meaning of meditation given by thought becomes a time-binding
bondage.  But  the  meditation  that  is  not  touched  by  thought  has  its  own
movement,  which  is  not  of  time.  Time  implies  the  old  and  the  new  as  a
movement  from  the  roots  of  yesterday  to  the  flowing  of  tomorrow.  But
meditation  is  a  different  flowering  altogether.  It  is  not  the  outcome  of  the
experience of yesterday, and therefore it has no roots at all in time. It has a
continuity  which  is  not  that  of  time.  The  word  continuity  in  meditation  is
misleading,  for  that  which  was,  yesterday,  is  not  taking  place  today.  The
meditation  of  today  is  a  new  awakening,  a  new  flowering  of  the  beauty  of
The car went slowly through all the traffic of the big town with its buses,
lorries  and  cars,  and  all  the  noise  along  the  narrow  streets.  There  were
endless  flats,  filled  with  families,  and  endless  shops,  and  the  town  was
spreading on all sides, devouring the countryside. At last we came out into the
country,  the  green  fields  and  the  wheat  and  the  great  patches  of  flowering
mustard, intense in their yellowness. The contrast between the intense green
and the yellow was as striking as the contrast between the noise of the town
and he quietness of the countryside. We were on the auto route to the north
which went up and down the land. And there were woods, streams, and the
lovely blue sky.
It was a spring morning, and there were great patches of bluebells in the
wood, and beside the wood was the yellow mustard, stretching almost to the
horizon; and then the green wheatfield that stretched as far as the eye could
see. The road passed villages and towns, and a side road led to a lovely wood
with new fresh spring leaves and the smell of damp earth; and there was that   111
peculiar  feeling  of  spring,  and  the  newness  of  life.  You  were  very  close  to
nature then as you watched your part of the earth – the trees, the new delicate
leaf,  and  the  stream  that  went  by.  It  was  not  a  romantic  feeling  or  an
imaginative  sensation,  but  actually  you  were  all  this  –  the  blue  sky  and  the
expanding earth.
The  road  led  to  an  old  house  with  an  avenue  of  tall  beeches  with  their
young, fresh leaves, and you looked up through them at the blue sky. It was a
lovely morning, and the copper-beech was still quite young, though very tall.
He was a big man with very large hands, and he filled that enormous chair. He
had a kindly face and he was ready to laugh. It is strange how little we laugh.
Our hearts are too oppressed, made dull, by the weary business of living, by
the routine and the monotony of everyday life. We are made to laugh by a joke
or a witty saying, but there is no laughter in ourselves; the bitterness which is
man’s ripening fruit seems so common. We never see the running water and
laugh with it; it is sad to see the light in our eyes grow duller and duller each
day;  the  pressures  of  agony  and  despair  seem  to  colour  our  whole  life  with
their promise of hope and pleasure, which thought cultivates.
He was interested in that peculiar philosophy of the origin and acceptance
of silence – which probably he had never come upon. You can’t buy silence as
you would buy good cheese. You can’t cultivate it as you would a lovely plant.
It doesn’t come about by any activity of the mind or of the heart. The silence
that music produces as you listen to it is the product of that music, induced by
it. Silence isn’t an experience; you know it only when it is over.
Sit,  sometime,  on  the  bank  of  a  river  and  look  into  the  water.  Don’t  be
hypnotized  by  the  movement  of  the  water,  by  the  light,  the  clarity  and  the
depth of the stream. Look at it without any movement of thought. The silence
is all round you, in you, in the river, and in those trees that are utterly still. You
can’t take it back home, hold it in your mind or your hand and think you have
achieved some extraordinary state. If you have, then it is not silence; then it is
merely a memory, an imagining, a romantic escape from the daily noise of life.    112
Because  of  silence  everything  exists.  The  music  you  heard  this  morning
came to you out of silence, and you heard it because you were silent, and it
went beyond you in silence.
Only we don’t listen to the silence because our ears are full of the chatter of
the  mind.  When  you  love,  and  there  is  no  silence,  thought  makes  of  it  a
plaything of society whose culture is envy and whose gods are put together by
the  mind  and  the  hand.  Silence  is  where  you  are,  in  yourself  and  beside
yourself.    113
Europe Part 8
Meditation is the summation of all energy. It is not to be gathered little by
little, denying this and denying that, capturing this and holding on to that; but
rather, it is the total denial, without any choice, of all wasteful energy. Choice is
the outcome of confusion; and the essence of wasted energy is confusion and
conflict. To see clearly what is at any time needs the attention of all energy;
and in this there is no contradiction or duality. This total energy does not come
about  through  abstinence,  through  the  vows  of  chastity  and  poverty,  for  all
determination  and  action  of  will  is  a  waste  of  energy  because  thought  is
involved in it, and thought is wasted energy: perception never is. The seeing is
not a determined effort. There is no «I will see», but only seeing. Observation
puts aside the observer, and in this there is no waste of energy. The thinker
who attempts to observe, spoils energy. Love is not wasted energy, but when
thought makes it into pleasure, then pain dissipates energy. The summation of
energy, of meditation, is ever expanding, and action in daily life becomes part
of it.
The poplar this morning was being stirred by the breeze that came from the
west. Every leaf was telling something to the breeze; every leaf was dancing,
restless in its joy of the spring morning. It was very early. The blackbird on the
roof was singing. It was there every morning and evening, sometimes sitting
quietly looking all around and at other times calling and waiting for a reply. It
would be there for several minutes and then fly off. Now its yellow beak was
bright in the early light. As it flew away the clouds were coming over the roof,
the horizon was filled with them, one on top of another, as though someone
had  very  carefully  arranged  them  in  neat  order.  They  were  moving,  and  it
seemed as if the whole earth was being carried by them – the chimneys, the
television antennae and the very tall building across the way. They presently
passed, and there was the blue, spring sky, clear, with the light freshness that
only  spring  can  bring.  It  was  extraordinarily  blue  and,  at  that  time  of  the
morning, the street outside was almost silent. You could hear the noise of feet
on  the  pavement  and  in  the  distance  a  lorry  went  by.  The  day  would  soon   114
begin. As you looked out of the window at the poplar you saw the universe, the
beauty of it.
He asked: «What is intelligence? You talk a great deal about it and I would
like to know your opinion of it.»
Opinion,  and  the  exploration  of  opinion,  is  not  truth.  You  can  discuss
indefinitely the varieties of opinion, the rightness and the wrongness of them,
but however good and reasonable, opinion is not the truth. Opinion is always
biased, coloured by the culture, the education, the knowledge which one has.
Why  should  the  mind  be  burdened  with  opinions  at  all,  with  what  you  think
about this or that person, or book, or idea? Why shouldn’t the mind be empty?
Only when it is empty can it see clearly.
«But we are all full of opinions. My opinion of the present political leader has
been formed by what he has said and done, and without that opinion I would
not be able to vote for him. Opinions are necessary for action, aren’t they?»
Opinions can be cultivated, sharpened and hardened, and most actions are
based  on  this  principle  of  like  and  dislike.  The  hardening  of  experience  and
knowledge  expresses  itself  in  action,  but  such  action  divides  and  separates
man  from  man;  it  is  opinion  and  belief  that  prevent  the  observation  of  what
actually  is.  The  seeing  of  what  is  is  part  of  that  intelligence  which  you  are
asking about. There is no intelligence if there is no sensitivity of the body and
of  the  mind  –  the  sensitivity  of  feeling  and  the  clarity  of  observation.
Emotionalism  and  sentimentality  prevent  the  sensitivity  of  feeling.  Being
sensitive in one area and dull in another leads to contradiction and conflict –
which deny intelligence. The integration of the many broken parts into a whole
does not bring about intelligence. Sensitivity is attention, which is intelligence.
Intelligence  has  nothing  to  do  with  knowledge  or  information.  Knowledge  is
always  the  past;  it  can  be  called  upon  to  act  in  the  present  but  it  limits  the
present. Intelligence is always in the present, and of no time.    115
Europe Part 9
Meditation is the freeing of the mind from all dishonesty. Thought breeds
dishonesty. Thought,in its attempts to be honest, is comparative and therefore
dishonest.  All  comparison  is  a  process  of  evasion  and  hence  breeds
dishonesty.  Honesty  is  not  the  opposite  of  dishonesty.  Honesty  is  not  a
principle. It is not conformity to a pattern, but rather it is the total perception of
what is. And meditation is the movement of this honesty in silence.
The day began rather cloudy and dull, and the naked trees were silent in
the  wood.  Through  the  wood  you  could  see  crocuses,  daffodils  and  bright
yellow  forsythia.  You  looked  at  it  all  from  a  distance  and  it  was  a  patch  of
yellow against a green lawn. As you came close to it you were blinded by the
brightness  of  that  yellow  –  which  was  God.  It  was  not  that  you  identified
yourself  with  the  colour,  or  that  you  became  the  expanse  that  filled  the
universe with yellow – but that there was no you to look at it. Only it existed,
and  nothing  else  –  not  the  voices  around  you,  not  the  blackbird  singing  its
melody of the morning, not the voices of the passers-by, not the noisy car that
scraped by you on the road. It existed, nothing else. And beauty and love were
in that existence.
You walked back into the wood. A few rain drops fell, and the wood was
deserted. Spring had just come, but here in the north the trees had no leaves.
They  were  dreary  from  the  winter,  from  the  waiting  for  sunshine  and  mild
weather. A horseman went by and the horse was sweating. The horse, with its
grace,  its  movement,  was  more  than  the  man;  the  man,  with  his  breeches,
highly  polished  boots  and  riding-cap,  looked  insignificant.  The  horse  had
breeding, it held its head high. The man, although he rode the horse, was a
stranger  to  the  world  of  nature,  but  the  horse  seemed  part  of  nature,  which
man was slowly destroying.
The trees were large – oaks, elms and beeches. They stood very silent. The
ground  was  soft  with  winter’s  leaves,  and  here  the  earth  seemed  very  old.
There were few birds. The blackbird was calling, and the sky was clearing.    116
When yon went back in the evening the sky was very clear and the light on
these huge trees was strange and full of silent movement.
Light is an extraordinary thing; the more you watch it the deeper and vaster
it  becomes;  and  in  its  movement  the  trees  were  caught.  It  was  startling;  no
canvas could have caught the beauty of that light. It was more than the light of
the setting sun; it was more than your eyes saw. It was as though love was on
the land. You saw again that yellow patch of forsythia, and the earth rejoiced.
She  came  with  her  two  daughters  but  left  them  to  play  outside.  She  was  a
young woman, rather nice-looking and quite well dressed; she seemed rather
impatient and capable. She said her husband worked in some kind of office,
and  life  went  by.  She  had a  peculiar  sadness  which  was  covered  up  with  a
swift  smile.  She  asked:  «What  is  relationship?  I  have  been  married  to  my
husband  for  some  years  now.  I  suppose  we  love  each  other  –  but  there  is
something terribly lacking in it.»
You really want to go into this deeply?
«Yes, I have come a long way to talk to you about it.»
Your husband works in his office, and you work in your house, both of you
with  your  ambitions,  frustrations,  agonies  and  fears.  He  wants  to  be  a  big
executive  and  is  afraid  that  he  may  not  make  it  –  that  others  may  get  there
before  him.  He  is  enclosed  in  his  ambition,  his  frustration,  his  search  for
fulfilment,  and  you  in  yours.  He  comes  home  tired,  irritable,  with  fear  in  his
heart, and brings home that tension. You also
are tired after your long day, with the children, and all the rest of it. You and
he take a drink to ease your nerves, and fall into uneasy conversation. After
some talk – food, and then the inevitable bed. This is what is called relationship
– each one having in his own self-centred activity and meeting in bed; this is
called love. Of course, there is a little tenderness, a little consideration, a pat
or two on the head for the children. Then there will follow old age and death.
This is what is called living. And you accept this way of life.    117
«What else can one do? We are brought up in it, educated for it. We want
security, some of the good things of life. I don’t see what else one can do.»
Is it the desire for security that binds us? Or is it custom, the acceptance of
the pattern of society – the idea of husband, wife and family? Surely in all this
there is very little happiness? «There is some happiness, but there is too much
to do, too many things to see to. There is so much to read if one is to be well-
informed. There isn’t much time to think. Obviously one is not really happy, but
one just carries on.»
All this is called living in relationship – but obviously there is no relationship
at all. You may be physically together for a little while but each one is living in
his own world of isolation, breeding his own miseries, and there is no actual
coming together, not just physically, but at a much deeper and wider level. It is
the fault of society, isn’t it, of the culture in which we have been brought up and
in which we so easily get caught? It is a rotten society, a corrupt and immoral
society which human beings have created. It is this that must be changed, and
it cannot be changed unless the human being who has built it changes himself.
«I may perhaps understand what you say, and maybe change, but what of
him? It gives him great pleasure to strive, to achieve, to become somebody.
He is not going to change, and so we are back again where we were – l, feebly
attempting  to  break  through  my  enclosure,  and  he  more  and  more
strengthening his narrow cell of life. What is the point of it all?»
There is no point in this kind of existence at all. We have
made  this  life,  the  everyday  brutality  and  ugliness  of  it,  with  occasional
flashes of delight; so we must die to it all. You know, madam, actually there is
no  tomorrow.  Tomorrow  is  the  invention  of  thought  in  order  to  achieve  its
shoddy  ambitions  and  fulfilment.  Thought  builds  the  many  tomorrows,  but
actually  there  is  no  tomorrow.  To  die  tomorrow  is  to  live  completely  today.
When you do, the whole of existence changes. For love is not tomorrow, love
is not a thing of thought, love has no past or future. When you live completely
today there is a great intensity in it, and in its beauty – which is untouched by
ambition, by jealousy or by time – there is relationship not only with man but   118
with nature, with the flowers, the earth and the heavens. In that there is the
intensity of innocence; living, then, has a wholly different meaning.    119
Europe Part 10
You can never set about to meditate: it must happen without your seeking it
out.  If  you  seek  it,  or  ask  how  to  meditate,  then  the  method  will  not  only
condition  you  further  but  also  strengthen  your  own  present  conditioning.
Meditation, really, is the denial of the whole structure of thought. Thought is
structural,  reasonable  or  unreasonable,  objective  or  unhealthy,  and  when  it
tries to meditate from reason or from a contradictory and neurotic state it will
inevitably project that which it is, and will take its own structure as a serious
reality. It is like a believer meditating upon his own belief; he strengthens and
sanctifies that which he, out of fear, has created. The word is the picture or the
image whose idolatry becomes the end.
Sound makes its own cage, and then the noise of thought is of the cage,
and it is this word and its sound which divides the observer and the observed.
The word is not only a unit of language, not only a sound, but also a symbol, a
recollection  of  any  event  which  unleashes  the  movement  of  memory,  of
thought. Meditation is the complete absence of this word. The root of fear is
the machinery of the word.
It was early spring and in the Bois it was strangely gentle. There were few
new  leaves,  and  the  sky  was  not  yet  that  intense  blue  that  comes  with  the
delight of spring. The chestnuts were not yet out, but the early smell of spring
was in the air. In that part of the Bois there was hardly anybody, and you could
hear the cars going by in the distance. We were walking in the early morning
and  there  was  that  gentle  sharpness  of  the  early  spring.  He  had  been
discussing, questioning, and asking what he should do.
«It seems so endless, this constant analysis, introspective examination, this
vigilance.  I  have  tried  so  many  things;  the  clean-shaven  gurus  and  the
bearded gurus, and several systems of meditation – you know the whole bag of
tricks – and it leaves one rather dry-mouthed and hollow».
Why don’t you begin from the other end, the end you don’t know about –
from the other shore which you cannot probably see from this shore? Begin   120
with  the  unknown  rather  than  with  the  known,  for  this  constant  examination,
analysis, only strengthens and further conditions the known. If the mind lives
from the other end, then these problems will not exist.
«But how am I to begin from the other end? I don’t know it, I can’t see it.»
When you ask: «How am I to begin from the other end?» you are still asking
the question from this end. So don’t ask it, but start from the other shore, of
which  you  know  nothing,  from  another  dimension  which  cunning  thought
cannot capture.
He remained silent for some time, and a cock pheasant flew by. It looked
brilliant  in  the  sun,  and  it  disappeared  under  some  bushes.  When  it
reappeared  a  little  later  there  were  four  or  five  hen  pheasants  almost  the
colour of the dead leaves, and this big pheasant stood mightily amongst them.
He was so occupied that he never saw the pheasant, and when we pointed
it out to him he said: «How beautiful!» – which were mere words, because his
mind was occupied with the problem of how to begin from something he didn’t
know. An early lizard, long and green, was on a rock, sunning itself.
«I can’t see how I am going to begin from that end. I don’t really understand
this vague assertion this statement which, at least to me is quite meaningless.
I can go only to what I know.»
But what do you know? You know only something which is already finished,
which is over. You know only the yesterday, and we are saying: Begin from
that which you don’t know, and live from there. If you say: «How am I to live
from there?» then you are inviting the pattern of yesterday. But if you live with
the unknown you are living in freedom, acting from freedom, and, after all, that
is love. If you say, «I know what love is», then you don’t know what it is. Surely
it is not a memory, a remembrance of pleasure. Since it isn’t, then live with that
which you don’t know. «I really don’t know what you are talking about. You are
making the problem worse.»
l`m asking a very simple thing. I’m saying that the more you dig, the more
there is. The very digging is the conditioning, and each shovelful makes steps   121
which lead nowhere. You want new steps made for you, or you want to make
your own steps which will lead to a totally different dimension. But if you don’t
know what that dimension is – actually, not speculatively – then whatever steps
you make or tread can lead only to that which is already known. So drop all
this and start from the other end. Be silent, and you will find out.
«But I don’t know how to be silent!»
There you are, back again in the «how», and there is no end to the how. All
knowing is on the wrong side. If you know, you are already in your grave. The
being is not the knowing.    122
Europe Part 11
In the light of silence, all problems are dissolved. This light is not born of the
ancient  movement  of  thought.  It  is  not  born,  either,  out  of  self-revealing
knowledge.  It  is  not  lit  by  time  nor  by  any  action  of  will.  It  comes  about  in
meditation.  Meditation  is  not  a  private  affair;  it  is  not  a  personal  search  for
pleasure; pleasure is always separative and dividing. In meditation the dividing
line  between  you  and  me  disappears;  in  it  the  light  of  silence  destroys  the
knowledge of the me. The me can be studied indefinitely, for it varies from day
to day, but its reach is always limited, however extensive it is thought to be.
Silence is freedom, and freedom comes with the finality of complete order.
It was a wood by the sea. The constant wind had misshapen the pine trees,
keeping them short, and the branches were bare of needles. It was spring, but
spring would never come to these pine trees. It was there, but far away from
them, far away from the constant wind and the salt air. It was there, flowering,
and every blade of grass and every leaf was shouting, every chestnut tree was
in bloom, its candles lit by the sun. The ducks with their chicks were there, the
tulips and the narcissi. But here it was bare, without shadow, and every tree
was in agony, twisted, stunted, bare. It was too near the sea. This place had
its  own  quality  of  beauty  but  it  looked  at  those  faraway  woods  with  silent
anguish,  for  that  day  the  cold  wind  was  very  strong;  there  were  high  waves
and the strong winds drove the spring further inland. It was foggy over the sea,
and  the  racing  clouds  covered  the  land,  carrying  with  them  the  canals,  the
woods  and  the  flat  earth.  Even  the  low  tulips,  so  close  to  the  earth,  were
shaken and their brilliant colour was a wave of bright light over the field. The
birds  were  in  the  woods,  but  not  among  the  pines.  There  were  one  or  two
blackbirds,  with  their  bright  yellow  beaks,  and  a  pigeon  or  two.  It  was  a
marvellous thing to see the light on the water. He was a big man, heavily built,
with large hands. He must have been a very rich man. He collected modern
pictures and was rather proud of his collection which the critics had said was
very good. As he told you this you could see the light of pride in his eyes. He
had  a  dog,  big,  active  and  full  of  play;  it  was  more  alive  than  its  master.  It   123
wanted to be out in the grass among the dunes, racing against the wind, but it
sat obediently where its master had told it to sit, and soon it went to sleep from
Possessions  possess  us  more  than  we  possess  them.  The  castle,  the
house, the pictures, the books, the knowledge, they become far more vital, far
more important, than the human being.
He said he had read a great deal, and you could see from the books in the
library  that  he  had  all  the  latest  authors. He spoke about spiritual mysticism
and  the  craze  for  drugs  that  was  seeping  over  the  land.  He  was  a  rich,
successful man, and behind him was emptiness and the shallowness that can
never be filled by books, by pictures, or by the knowledge of the trade.
The  sadness  of  Life  is  this  –  the  emptiness  that  we  try  to  fill  with  every
conceivable trick of the mind. But that emptiness remains. Its sadness is the
vain effort to possess. From this attempt comes domination and the assertion
of the me, with its empty words and rich memories of things that are gone and
never will come back. It is this emptiness and loneliness that isolating thought
breeds and keeps nourished by the knowledge it has created.
It is this sadness of vain effort that is destroying man. His thought is not so
good as the computer, and he has only the instrument of thought with which to
meet  the  problems  of  life,  so  he  is  destroyed  by  them.  It  is  this  sadness  of
wasted life which probably he will be aware of only at the moment of his death
–  and  then  it  will  be  too  late.  So  the  possessions,  the  character,  the
achievements,  the  domesticated  wife,  become  terribly  important,  and  this
sadness drives away love. Either you have one or the other; you cannot have
both. One breeds cynicism and bitterness which
are the only fruit of man; the other lies beyond all woods and hills.    124
Europe Part 12
Imagination  and  thought  have  no  place  in  meditation.  They  lead  to
bondage; and meditation brings freedom. The good and the pleasurable are
two  different  things;  the  one  brings  freedom  and  the  other  leads  to  the
bondage of time. Meditation is the freedom from time. Time is the observer,
the  experiencer,  the  thinker,  and  time  is  thought;  meditation  is  the  going
beyond and above the activities of time.
Imagination  is  always  in  the  field  of  time,  and  however  concealed  and
secretive  it  may  be,  it  will  act.  This  action  of  thought  will  inevitably  lead  to
conflict and to the bondage of time. To meditate is to be innocent of time.
You  could  see  the  lake  from  many  miles  away.  You  got  to  it  through
winding  roads  that  wandered  through  fields  of  grain  and  the  pine  forests.  It
was a very tidy country. The roads were very clean and the farms with their
cattle,  horses,  chickens  and  pigs  were  well-ordered.  You  went  through  the
rolling hills down to the lake, and on every side were mountains covered with
snow. It was very clear, and the snow was sparkling in the early morning.
There had been no wars in this country for many centuries, and one felt the
great  security,  the  undisturbed  routine  of  everyday  life,  bringing  with  it  the
dullness and indifference of the established society of a good government.
It was a smooth well-kept road, wide enough for cars to pass each other
easily; and now, as you came over the hill, you were among orchards. A little
further on there was a great patch of tobacco. As you came near it you could
smell the strong smell of ripening tobacco flowers.
That morning, coming down from an altitude, it was beginning to get warm
and the air was rather heavy. The peace of the land entered your heart, and
you became part of the earth.
It was an early spring day. There was a cool breeze from the north, and the
sun was already beginning to make sharp shadows. The tall, heavy eucalyptus
was gently swaying against the house, and a single blackbird was singing; you
could see it from where you sat. It must have felt rather lonely, for there were   125
very  few  birds  that  morning.  The  sparrows  were  lined  up  on  the  wall
overlooking  the  garden.  The  garden  was  rather  ill-kept;  the  lawn  needed
mowing. The children would come out and play in the afternoon and you could
hear their shouts and laughter. They would chase each other among the trees,
playing hide-and-seek, and high laughter would fill the air.
There were about eight people around the table at lunch. One was a film
director,  another  a  pianist,  and  there  was  also  a  young  student  from  some
university. They were talking about politics and the riots in America, and the
war  that  seemed  to  be  going  on  and  on.  There  was  an  easy  flow  of
conversation  about  nothing.  The  director  said,  suddenly:  «We  of  the  older
generation-have  no  place  in  the  coming  modern  world.  A  well-known  author
spoke the other day at the university – and the students tore him to pieces and
he  was  left  flat.  What  he  was  saying  had  no  relation  to  what  the  students
wanted,  or  thought  about,  or  demanded.  He  was  asserting  his  views,  his
importance, his way of life, and the students would have none of it. As I know
him, I know what he felt. He was really lost, but would not admit it. He wanted
to  be  accepted  by  the  younger  generation  and  they  would  not  have  his
respectable,  traditional  way  of  life  –  though  in  his  books  he  wrote  about  a
formalized change…. I, personally,» went on the director, «see that I have no
relation or contact with anyone of the younger generation. I feel that we are
This was said by a man who had many well-known avantgarde films to his
name. He was not bitter about it. He was just stating a fact, with a smile and a
shrug of his shoulders. What was specially nice about him was his frankness,
with that touch of humility which often goes with it.
The  pianist  was  quite  young.  He  had  given  up  his  promising  career
because he thought the whole world of impresarios, concerts, and the publicity
and money involved in it, was a glorified racket. He himself wanted to live a
different kind of life, a religious life.
He  said:  «It  is  the  same  all  the  world  over.  I  have  just  come  from  India.
There the gap between the old and the new is perhaps even wider. There the   126
tradition and the vitality of the old are tremendously strong, and probably the
younger  generation  will  be  sucked  into  it.  But  at  least  there  will  be  a  few,  I
hope, who will resist and start a different movement.
«And I have noticed, for I have travelled quite a bit, that the younger people
(and I am old compared  with the young) are breaking away more and more
from the establishment. Perhaps they get lost in the world of drugs and oriental
mysticism, but they have a promise, a new vitality. They reject the church, the
fat priest, the sophisticated hierarchy of the religious world. They don’t want to
have  anything  to  do  with  politics  or  wars.  Perhaps  out  of  them  will  come  a
germ of the new.»
The university student had been silent all this time, eating his spaghetti and
looking out of the window; but he was taking in the conversation, as were the
others.  He  was  rather  shy,  and  though  he  disliked  study  he  went  to  the
university and listened to the professor – who couldn’t teach him properly. He
read a great deal; he liked English literature as well as that of his own country,
and had talked about it at other meals and at other times.
He  said:  «Though  I  am  only  twenty  I  am  already  old  compared  with  the
fifteen-year-olds.  Their  brains  work  faster,  they  are  keener,  they  see  things
more clearly, they get to the point before I do. They seem to know much more,
and I feel old compared with them. But I entirely agree with what you said. You
feel  you  are  hypocrites,  say  one  thing  and  do  another.  This  you  can
understand in the politicians and in the priests, but what puzzles me is – why
should others join this world of hypocrisy? Your morality stinks; you want wars.
«As for us, we don’t hate the Negro, or the brown man, or any other colour.
We feel at home with all of them. I know this because I have moved about with
«But you, the older generation, have created this world of racial distinction
and war – and we don’t want any of it. So we revolt. But again, this revolt is
made fashionable and exploited by the different politicians, and so we lose our
original  revulsion  against  all  this.  Perhaps  we,  too,  will  become  respectable,
moral citizens. But now we hate your morality and have no morality at all.»    127
There was a minute or two of silence; and the eucalyptus was still, almost
listening to the words going on around the table. The blackbird had gone, and
so had the sparrows.
We said: Bravo, you are perfectly right. To deny all morality is to be moral,
for the accepted morality is the morality of respectability, and I’m afraid we all
crave to be respected – which is to be recognised as good citizens in a rotten
society.  Respectability  is  very  profitable  and  ensures  you  a  good  job  and  a
steady income. The accepted morality of greed, envy and hate is the way of
the establishment.
When you totally deny all this, not with your lips but with your heart, then
you are really moral. For this morality springs out of love and not out of any
motive of profit, of achievement, of place in the hierarchy. There cannot be this
love if you belong to a society in which you want to find fame, recognition, a
position.  Since  there  is  no  love  in  this,  its  morality  is  immorality.  When  you
deny all this from the very bottom of your heart, then there is a virtue that is
encompassed by love.    128
europe part 13
To meditate is to transcend time. Time is the distance that thought travels in
its achievements. The travelling is always along the old path covered over with
a new coating, new sights, but always the same road, leading nowhere except
to pain and sorrow.
It  is  only  when  the  mind  transcends  time  that  truth  ceases  to  be  an
abstraction. Then bliss  is  not  an  idea  derived  from  pleasure  but  an  actuality
that is not verbal.
The emptying of the mind of time is the silence of truth, and the seeing of
this is the doing; so there is no division between the seeing and the doing. In
the interval between seeing and doing is born conflict, misery and confusion.
That which has no time is the everlasting.
On every table there were daffodils, young, fresh, just out of the garden,
with the bloom of spring on them still. On a side table there were lilies, creamy-
white  with  sharp  yellow  centres.  To  see  this  creamy-white  and  the  brilliant
yellow  of  those  many  daffodils  was  to  see  the  blue  sky,  ever  expanding,
limitless, silent.
Almost all the tables were taken by people talking very loudly and laughing.
At a table nearby a woman was surreptitiously feeding her dog with the meat
she could not eat. They all seemed to have huge helpings, and it was not a
pleasant  sight  to  see  people  eating;  perhaps  it  may  be  barbarous  to  eat
publicly. A man across the room had filled himself with wine and meat and was
just  lighting  a  big  cigar,  and  a  look  of  beatitude  came  over  his  fat  face.  His
equally fat wife lit a cigarette. Both of them appeared to be lost to the world.
And  there  they  were,  the  yellow  daffodils,  and  nobody  seemed  to  care.
They were there for decorative purposes that had no meaning at all; and as
you watched them their yellow brilliance filled the noisy room. Colour has this
strange  effect  upon  the  eye.  It  wasn’t  so  much  that  the  eye  absorbed  the
colour, as that the colour seemed to fill your being. You were that colour; you
didn’t become that colour – you were of it, without identification or name: the   129
anonymity which is innocence. Where there is no anonymity there is violence,
in all its different forms.
But you forgot the world, the smoke-filled room, the cruelty of man, and the
red, ugly meat; those shapely daffodils seemed to take you beyond all time.
Love is like that. In it there is no time, space or identity. It is the identity that
breeds pleasure and pain; it is the identity that brings hate and war and builds
a  wall  around  people,  around  each  one,  each  family  and  community.  Man
reaches over the wall to the other man – but he too is enclosed; morality is a
word that bridges the two, and so it becomes ugly and vain.
Love  isn’t  like  that;  it  is  like  that  wood  across  the  way,  always  renewing
itself because it is always dying. There is no permanency in it, which thought
seeks;  it  is  a  movement  which  thought  can  never  understand, touch or feel.
The feeling of thought and the feeling of love are two different things; the one
leads to bondage and the other to the flowering of goodness. The flowering is
not within the area of any society, of any culture or of any religion, whereas the
bondage belongs to all societies, religious beliefs and faith in otherness. Love
is anonymous, therefore not violent. Pleasure is violent, for desire and will are
moving factors in it. Love cannot be begotten by thought, or by good works.
The denial of the total process of thought becomes the beauty of action, which
is love. Without this there is no bliss of truth.
And over there, on that table, were the daffodils.    130
Europe Part 14
Meditation  is  the  awakening  of  bliss;  it  is  both  of  the  senses  and
transcending them. It has no continuity, for it is not of time. The happiness and
the joy of relationship, the sight of a cloud carrying the earth, and the light of
spring on the leaves, are the delight of the eye and of the mind. This delight
can be cultivated by thought and given a duration in the space of memory, but
it is not the bliss of meditation in which is included the intensity of the senses.
The  senses  must  be  acute  and  in  no  way  distorted  by  thought,  by  the
discipline of conformity and social morality. The freedom of the senses is not
the indulgence of them: the indulgence is the pleasure of thought. Thought is
like the smoke of a fire and  bliss  is  the  fire  without the cloud of smoke that
brings tears to the eyes. Pleasure is one thing, and bliss another. Pleasure is
the  bondage  of  thought,  and  bliss  is  beyond  and  above  thought.  The
foundation of meditation is the understanding of thought and of pleasure, with
their morality and the discipline which gives comfort. The bliss of meditation is
not  of  time  or  duration;  it  is  beyond  both  and  therefore  not  measurable.  Its
ecstasy is not in the eye of the beholder, nor is it an experience of the thinker.
Thought  cannot  touch  it  with  its  words  and  symbols  and  the  confusion  it
breeds; it is not a word that can take root in thought and be shaped by it. This
bliss comes out of complete silence.
It  was  a  lovely  morning  with  fleeting  clouds  and  a  clear  blue  sky.  It  had
rained, and the air was clean. Every leaf was new and the dreary winter was
over; each leaf knew, in the sparkling sunshine, that it had no relation to last
year’s spring. The sun shone through the new leaves, shedding a soft green
light on the wet path that led through the woods to the main road that went on
to the big city.
There  were  children  playing  about,  but  they  never  looked  at  that  lovely
spring day. They had no need to look, for they were the spring. Their laughter
and their play were part of the tree, the leaf and the flower. You felt this, you
didn’t imagine it. It was as though the leaves and the flowers were taking part
in the laughter, in the shouting, and in the balloon that went by. Every blade of   131
grass, and the yellow dandelion, and the tender leaf that was so vulnerable, all
were part of the children, and the children were part of the whole earth. The
dividing  line  between  man  and  nature  disappeared;  but  the  man  on  the
racecourse in his car, and the woman returning from market, were unaware of
this.  Probably  they  never  even  looked  at  the  sky,  at  the  trembling  leaf,  the
white  lilac.  They  were  carrying  their  problems  in  their  hearts,  and  the  heart
never looked at the children or at the brightening spring day. The pity of it was
that they bred these children and the children would soon become the man on
the racecourse and the woman returning from the market; and the world would
be dark again. Therein lay the unending sorrow. The love on that leaf would be
blown away with the coming autumn.
He was a young man with a wife and children. He seemed highly educated,
intellectual,  and  good  at  the  use  of  words.  He  was  rather  lean  and  sat
comfortably in the arm-chair – legs crossed, hands folded on his lap and his
glasses sparkling with the light of the sun from the window. He said he had
always  been  seeking  –  not  only  philosophical  truths  but  the  truth  that  was
beyond the word and the system.
I suppose you are seeking because you are discontented? «No, I am not
exactly discontented. Like every other human being I am dissatisfied, but that’s
not the reason for the search. It isn’t the search of the microscope, or of the
telescope, or the search of the priest for his God. I can’t say what I’m seeking;
I can’t put my finger on it. It seems to me I was born with this, and though I am
happily married, the search still goes on. It isn’t an escape. I really don’t know
what  I  want  to  find.  I  have  talked  it  over with some clever philosophers and
with religious missionaries from the East, and they have all told me to continue
in my search and never stop seeking. After all these years it is still a constant
Should one seek at all? Seeking is always for something over there on the
other bank, in the distance covered by time and long strides. The seeking and
the  finding  are  in  the  future  –  over  there,  just  beyond  the  hill.  This  is  the
essential meaning of seeking. There is the present and the thing to be found in   132
the  future.  The  present  is  not  fully  active  and  alive  and  so,  of  course,  that
which is beyond the hill is more alluring and demanding. The scientist, if he
has his eyes glued to the microscope, will never see the spider on the wall,
although  the  web  of  his  life  is  not  in  the  microscope  but  in  the  Life  of  the
«Are  you  saying,  sir,  that  it  is  vain  to  seek;  that  there  is  no  hope  in  the
future; that all time is in the present?»
All life is in the present, not in the shadow of yesterday or in the brightness
of tomorrow’s hope. To live in the present one has to be free of the past, and
of  tomorrow.  Nothing  is  found  in  the  tomorrow,  for  tomorrow  is  the  present,
and yesterday is only a remembrance. So the distance between that which is
to  be  found  and  that  which  is,  is  made  ever  wider  by  the  search  –  however
pleasant and comforting that search may be.
Constantly to seek the purpose of life is one of the odd escapes of man. If
he finds what he seeks it will not be worth that pebble on the path. To live in
the present the mind must not be divided by the remembrance of yesterday or
the bright hope of tomorrow: it must have no tomorrow and no yesterday. This
is not a poetic statement but an actual fact. Poetry and imagination have no
place in the active present. Not that you deny beauty, but love is that beauty in
the present which is not to be found in the seeking.
«I  think  I’m  beginning  to  see  the  futility  of  the  years  I  have  spent  in  the
search, in the questions I have asked of myself and of others, and the futility of
the answers.»
The ending is the beginning, and the beginning is the first step, and the first
step is the only step.    133
Europe Part 15
He was rather a blunt man, full of interest and drive. He had read extensively,
and spoke several languages. He had been to the East and knew a little about
Indian  philosophy,  had  read  the  so-called  sacred  books  and  had  followed
some  guru  or  other.  And  here  he  was  now,  in  this  little  room  overlooking  a
verdant valley smiling in the morning sun. The snow peaks were sparkling and
there were huge clouds just coming over the mountains. It was going to be a
very nice day, and at that altitude the air was clear and the light penetrating. It
was the beginning of summer and there was still in the air the cold of spring. It
was a quiet valley, especially at this time of the year, full of silence, and the
sound of cow-bells, and the smell of pine and new mown grass. There were a
lot of children shouting and playing, and that morning, early, there was delight
in the air and the beauty of the land lay upon one’s senses. The eye saw the
blue sky and the green earth, and there was rejoicing.
«Behaviour  is  righteousness  –  at  least,  that’s  what  you  have  said.  I  have
listened  to  you  for  some  years,  in  different  parts  of  the  world,  and  I  have
grasped the teaching. I am not trying to put that teaching into action in life for
then it becomes another pattern, another form of imitation, the acceptance of a
new formula. I see the danger of this. I have absorbed a great deal of what you
have said and it has almost become part of me. This may prevent a freedom of
action – upon which you so insist. One’s life is never free and spontaneous. I
have  to  live  my  daily  life  but  I’m  always  watchful  to  see  that  I’m  not  merely
following some new pattern which I have made for myself. So I seem to lead a
double life; there is the ordinary activity, family, work, and so on, and on the
other  hand  there  is  the  teaching  that  you  have  been  giving,  in  which  I  am
deeply interested. If I follow the teaching then I’m the same as any Catholic
who conforms to a dogma. So, from what does one act in daily life if one lives
the teaching without simply conforming to it?»
It  is  necessary  to  put  aside  the  teaching  and  the  teacher  and  also  the
follower who is trying to live a different kind of life. There is only learning: in the
learning is the doing. The learning is not separate from the action. If they are   134
separate, them learning is an idea or a set of ideals according to which action
takes place, whereas learning is the doing in which there is no conflict. When
this is understood, what is the question? The learning is not an abstraction, an
idea, but an actual learning about something. You cannot learn without doing;
you cannot learn about yourself except in action. It is not that you first learn
about yourself and then act from that knowledge for then that action becomes
imitative, conforming to your accumulated knowledge.
«But, sir, every moment I am challenged, by this or by that, and I respond
as  I  always  have  done  –  which  often  means  there  is  conflict.  I’d  like  to
understand the pertinence of what you say about learning in these everyday
Challenges must always be new, otherwise they are not challenges, but the
response, which is old, is inadequate, and therefore there is conflict. You are
asking what there is to learn about this. There is the learning about responses,
how  they  come  into  being,  their  background  and  conditioning,  so  there  is  a
learning about the whole structure and nature of the response. This learning is
not  an  accumulation  from  which  you  are  going  to  respond  to  the  challenge.
Learning is a movement not anchored in knowledge. If it is anchored it is not a
movement.  The  machine,  the  computer,  is  anchored.  That  is  the  basic
difference between man and the machine. Learning is watching, seeing. If you
see  from  accumulated  knowledge  then  the  seeing  is  limited  and  there  is  no
new thing in the seeing.
«You  say  one  learns  about  the  whole  structure  of  response.  This  does
seem to mean that there is a certain accumulated volume of what is learnt. On
the  other  hand  you  say  that  the  learning  you  speak  of  is  so  fluid  that  it
accumulates nothing at all.»
Our education is the gathering of a volume of knowledge, and the computer
does  this  faster  and  more  accurately.  What  need  is  there  for  such  an
education? The machines are going to take over most of the activities of man.
When  you  say,  as  people  do,  that  learning  is  the  gathering  of  a  volume  of
knowledge  then  you  are  denying,  aren’t  you,  the  movement  of  life,  which  is   135
relationship  and  behaviour?  If  relationship  and  behaviour  are  based  on
previous  experience  and  knowledge,  then  is  there  true  relationship?  Is
memory,  with  all  its  associations,  the  true  basis  of  relationship?  Memory  is
images and words, and when you base your relationship on symbols, images
and words, can it ever bring about true relationship?
As  we  said,  life  is  a  movement  in  relationship,  and  if  that  relationship  is
tethered  to  the  past,  to  memory,  its  movement  is  limited  and  becomes
«I understand very well what you say, and I ask again, from what do you
act?  Are  you  not  contradicting  yourself  when  you  say  that  one  learns  in
observing the whole structure of one’s responses, and at the same time say
that learning precludes accumulation?»
The seeing of the structure is alive, it is moving; but when that seeing adds
to  the  structure  then  the  structure  becomes  far  more  important  than  the
seeing, which is the living. In this there is no contradiction. What we are saying
is that the seeing is far more important than the nature of the structure. When
you give importance to learning about the structure and not to learning as the
seeing,  then  there  is  a  contradiction;  then  seeing  is  one  thing  and  learning
about the structure is another.
You ask, sir, what is the source from which one acts? If there is a source of
action then it is memory, knowledge, which is the past. We said the seeing is
the acting; the two things are not separate. And the seeing is always new and
so the acting is always new. Therefore the seeing of the everyday response
brings out the new, which is what you call spontaneity. At the very moment of
anger there is no recognition of it as anger. The recognition takes place a few
seconds  later  as  «being  angry».  Is  this  seeing  of  that  anger  a  choiceless
awareness of that anger, or is it again choice based on the old? If it is based
on  the  old,  then  all  the  responses  to  that  anger  –  repression,  control,
indulgence  and  so  on  –  are  the  traditional  activity.  But  when  the  seeing  is
choiceless, there is only the new.    136
From  all  this  arises  another  interesting  problem:  our  dependence  on
challenges  to  keep  us  awake,  to  pull  us  out  of  our  routine,  tradition,
established order, either through bloodshed, revolt, or some other upheaval.
«Is it possible for the mind not to depend on challenges at all?»
It  is  possible  when  the  mind  is  undergoing  constant  change  and  has  no
resting place, safe anchorage, vested interest or commitment. An awakened
mind, a mind which is alight – what need has it of challenges of any kind?    137
Europe Part 16
Meditation is the action of silence. We act out of opinion, conclusion and
knowledge,  or  out  of  speculative  intentions.  This  inevitably  results  in
contradiction in action between what is and what should be, or what has been.
This  action  out  of  the  past,  called  knowledge,  is  mechanical,  capable  of
adjustment  and  modification  but  having  its  roots  in  the  past.  And  so  the
shadow of the past always covers the present. Such action in relationship is
the outcome of the image, the symbol, the conclusion; relationship then is a
thing of the past, and so it is memory and not a living thing. Out of this chatter,
disarray  and  contradiction  activities  proceed,  break-  ing  up  into  patterns  of
culture,  communities,  social  institutions  and  religious  dogmas.  From  this
endless  noise,  the  revolution  of  a  new  social  order  is  made  to  appear  as
though it really were something new, but as it is from the known to the known it
is not a change at all. Change is possible only when denying the known; action
then is not according to a pattern but out of an intelligence that is constantly
renewing itself.
Intelligence  is  not  discernment  and  judgment  or  critical  evaluation.
Intelligence is the seeing of what is. The what is is constantly changing, and
when  the  seeing  is  anchored  in  the  past,  the  intelligence  of  seeing  ceases.
Then the dead weight of memory dictates the action and not the intelligence of
perception. Meditation is the seeing of all this at a glance. And to see, there
must be silence, and from this silence there is action which is entirely different
from the activities of thought.
It had been raining all day, and every leaf and every petal was dripping with
water.  The  stream  had  swollen  and  the  clear  water  had  gone;  now  it  was
muddy and fast-running. Only the sparrows were active, and the crows – and
the big black-and-white magpies. The mountains were hidden by the clouds,
and the low-lying hills were barely visible. It hadn’t rained for some days and
the smell of fresh rain on dry earth was a delight. If you had been in tropical
countries where it doesn’t rain for months and every day there is a bright, hot
sun which parches the earth, then, when the first rains come, you would smell   138
the  fresh  rain  falling  on  the old, bare earth, as a delight  that  enters  into  the
very  depths  of  your  heart.  But  here  in  Europe  there  was  a  different  kind  of
smell,  more  gentle,  not  so  strong,  not  so  penetrating.  It  was  like  a  gentle
breeze that soon passes away.
The next day there was a clear blue sky early in the morning; all the clouds
were  gone,  and  there  was  sparkling  snow  on  those  mountain  peaks,  fresh
grass  in  the  meadows  and  a  thousand  new  flowers  of  the  spring.  It  was  a
morning full of unutterable beauty; and love was on every blade of grass.
He was a well-known film director and, surprisingly, not at all vain. On the
contrary  he  was  very  friendly,  with  a  ready  smile.  He  had  made  many
successful pictures, and others were copying them. Like all the more sensitive
directors  he  was  concerned  with  the  unconscious,  with  fantastic  dreams,
conflicts to be expressed in pictures. He had studied the gods of the analysts
and had taken drugs himself for experimental purposes.
The  human  mind  is  heavily  conditioned  by  the  culture  it  lives  in  –  by  its
traditions,  by  its  economic  condition,  and  especially  by  its  religious
propaganda. The mind strenuously objects to being a slave to a dictator or to
the tyranny of the State, yet willingly submits to the tyranny of the Church or of
the Mosque, or of the latest, most fashionable psychiatric dogmas. It cleverly
invents – seeing so much helpless misery – a new Holy Ghost or a new Atman
which soon becomes the image to be worshipped.
The  mind,  which  has  created  such  havoc  in  the  world,  is  basically
frightened  of  itself.  It  is  aware  of  the  materialistic  outlook  of  science,  its
achievements, its increasing domination over the mind, and so it begins to put
together  a  new  philosophy;  the  philosophies  of  yesterday  give  place  to  new
theories, but the basic problems of man remain unsolved.
Amidst all this turmoil of war, dissension and utter selfishness, there is the
main  issue  of  death.  Religions,  the  very  ancient  or  the  recent,  have
conditioned  man  to  certain  dogmas,  hopes  and  beliefs  which  give  a  ready-
made  answer  to  this  issue;  but  death  is  not  answerable  by  thought,  by  the
intellect; it is a fact, and you cannot get round it. You have to die to find what   139
death is, and that, apparently, man cannot do, for he is frightened of dying to
everything he knows, to his most intimate, deep-rooted hopes and visions.
There is really no tomorrow, but many tomorrows are between the now of
life  and  the  future  of  death.  In  this  dividing  gap  man  lives,  with  fear  and
anxiety, but always keeps an eye on that which is inevitable. He doesn’t want
even to talk about it, and decorates the grave with all the things he knows.
To die to everything one knows – not to particular forms of knowledge but to
all knowing – is death. To invite the future – death – to cover the whole of today
is the total dying; then there is no gap between life and death. Then death is
living and living is death.
This,  apparently,  no  man  is  willing  to  do.  Yet man is always seeking  the
new; always holding in one hand the old and groping with the other into the
unknown for the new. So there is the inevitable conflict of duality – the me and
the not-me, the observer and the observed, the fact and the what should be.
This turmoil completely ceases when there is the ending of the known. This
ending is death. Death is not an idea, a symbol, but a dreadful reality and you
cannot possibly escape from it by clinging to the things of today, which are of
yesterday, nor by worshipping the symbol of hope.
One has to die to death; only then is innocence born, only then does the
timeless new come into being. Love is always new, and the remembrance of
love is the death of love.    140
Europe Part 17
It was a wide, luxuriant meadow with green hills round it. That morning it
was  brilliant,  sparkling  with  dew,  and  the  birds  were  singing  to  the  heavens
and to the earth. In this meadow with so many flowers, there was a single tree,
majestic and alone. It was tall and shapely, and that morning it had a special
meaning. It made a long, deep shadow, and between the tree and the shadow
there was an extraordinary silence. They were communicating with each other
– the reality and the unreality, the symbol and the fact. It was really a splendid
tree  with  its  late  spring  leaves  all  aflutter  in  the  breeze,  healthy,  not  worm-
eaten  yet;  there  was  great  majesty  in  it.  It  wasn’t  clothed  in  the  robes  of
majesty but it was in itself splendid and imposing. With the evening it
would withdraw into itself, silent and unconcerned, though there might be a
gale  blowing;  and  as  the  sun  rose  it  would  wake  up  too  and  give  out  its
luxuriant blessing over the meadow, over the hills, over the earth.
The blue jays were calling and the squirrels were very active that morning.
The beauty of the tree in its solitude gripped your heart. It wasn’t the beauty of
what you saw; its beauty lay in itself. Though your eyes had seen more lovely
things, it was not the accustomed eye that saw this tree, alone, immense and
full of wonder. It must have been very old but you never thought of it as being
old. As you went and sat in its shadow, your back against the trunk, you felt
the earth, the power in that tree, and its great aloofness. You could almost talk
to it and it told you many things. But there was always that sense of its being
far away although you touched it and felt its harsh bark which had many ants
going up it. This morning its shadow was very sharp and clear and seemed to
stretch beyond the hills to other hills. It was really a place of meditation if you
know how to meditate. It was very quiet, and your mind, if it was sharp, clear,
also  became  quiet,  uninfluenced  by  the  surroundings,  a  part  of  that  brilliant
morning, with the dew still on the grass and on the reeds. There would always
be that beauty there, in the meadow with that tree.
He was a middle-aged man, well kept, trim and dressed with good taste. He
said he had travelled a great deal though not on any particular business. His   141
father had left him a little money and he had seen a bit of the world, not only
what lay upon it but also all those rare things in the very rich museums. He
said he liked music and played occasionally He also seemed well-read. In the
course  of  the  conversation,  he  said:  «There’s  so  much  violence,  anger,  and
hatred of man against man. We seem to have lost love, to have no beauty in
our hearts; probably we have never had it. Love has been made into such a
cheap commodity, and artificial beauty has become more important than the
beauty  of  the  hills,  the  trees  and  the  flowers.  The  beauty  of  children  soon
fades. I have been wondering about love and beauty. Do let us talk about it if
you can spare a little time.»
We were sitting on a bench by a stream. Behind us was a railway line and
hills dotted with chalets and farmhouses.
Love  and  beauty  cannot  be  separated.  Without  love  there  is  no  beauty;
they are interlocked, inseparable. We have exercised our minds, our intellect,
our  cleverness,  to  such  an  extent,  to  such  destructiveness,  that  they
predominate, violating what may be called love. Of course, the word is not the
real thing at all, any more than that shadow of the tree is the tree. We shan’t
be able to find out what that love is if we don’t step down from our cleverness,
our heights of intellectual sophistication, if we don’t feel the brilliant water and
are not aware of that new grass. Is it possible to find this love in museums, in
the ornate beauty of church rituals, in the cinema, or in the face of a woman?
Isn’t  it  important  for  us  to  find  out  for  ourselves  how  we  have  alienated
ourselves from the very common things of life? Not that we should neurotically
worship nature, but if we lose touch with nature doesn’t it also mean that we
are losing touch with
man,  with  ourselves?  We  seek  beauty  and  love  outside  ourselves,  in
people,  in  possessions.  They  become  far  more  important  than  love  itself.
Possessions  mean  pleasure,  and  because  we  hold  on  to  pleasure,  love  is
banished. Beauty is in ourselves, not necessarily in the things about us. When
the  things  about  us  become  more  important  and  we  invest  beauty  in  them,
then  the  beauty  in  ourselves  lessens.  So  more  and  more,  as  the  world   142
becomes  more  violent,  materialistic,  the  museums  and  all  those  other
possessions become the things with which we try to clothe our own nakedness
and our emptiness.
«Why do you say that when we find beauty in people and in things around
us,  and  when  we  experience  pleasure,  it  lessens  the  beauty  and  the  love
within us?»
All  dependence  breeds  in  us  possessiveness,  and  we  become  the  thing
which we possess. I possess this house – I am this house. That man on horse-
back going by is the pride of his possession, though the beauty and dignity of
the horse are more significant than the man. So the dependence on the beauty
of  a  line,  or  on  the  loveliness  of  a  face,  surely  must  diminish  the  observer
himself; which doesn’t mean that we must put away the beauty of a line or the
loveliness of a face; it means that when the things outside us become of great
meaning, we are inwardly poverty-ridden.
«You are saying that if I respond to that lovely face I am inwardly poor. Yet,
if I do not respond to that face or to the line of a building I am isolated and
When  there  is  isolation  there  must,  precisely,  be  dependence,  and
dependence breeds pleasure, therefore fear. If you don’t respond at all, either
there is paralysis, indifference, or a sense of despair which has come about
through the hopelessness of continual gratification. So we are ever- lastingly
caught  in  this  trap  of  despair  and  hope,  fear  and  pleasure,  love  and  hate.
When there is inward poverty there is the urge to fill it. This is the bottomless
pit of the opposites, the opposites which fill our lives and create the battle of
life. All these opposites are identical for they are branches of the same root.
Love is not the product of dependence, and love has no opposite.
«Doesn’t ugliness exist in the world? And isn’t it the opposite of beauty?»
Of course there is ugliness in the world, as hate, violence, and so on. Why
do  you  compare  it  to  beauty,  to  non-violence?  We  compare  it  because  we
have a scale of values and we put what we call beauty at the top and ugliness   143
at the bottom. Can you not look at violence non-comparatively? And if you do,
what happens? You find you are dealing only with facts, not with opinions or
with what should be, not with measurements. We can deal with what is and act
immediately;  what  should  be  becomes  an  ideology  and  so  is  fanciful,  and
therefore useless. Beauty is not comparable, nor is love, and when you say: «I
love this one more than that one», then it ceases to be love.
«To return to what I was saying, being sensitive one responds readily and
without complications to the lovely face, to the beautiful vase. This unthinking
response  slides  imperceptibly  into  dependence  and  pleasure  and  all  the
complications  you  are  describing.  Dependence  therefore  seems  to  me
Is there anything inevitable – except, perhaps, death?
«If  it  is  not  inevitable,  it  means  that  I  can  order  my  conduct,  which  is
therefore mechanical.»
The seeing of the inevitable process is to be not mechanical. It is the mind
that refuses to see what is that becomes mechanical. «If I see the inevitable, I
still wonder where and how to draw the line?»
You don’t draw the line, but the seeing brings its own action. When you say,
«Where  am  I  to  draw  the  line?»  it  is  the  interference  of  thought  which  is
frightened of being caught and wants to be free. Seeing is not this process of
thought; seeing is always new, and fresh, and active. Thinking is always old,
never  fresh.  Seeing  and  thinking  are  of  two  different  orders  altogether,  and
these two can never come together. So, love and beauty have no opposites
and are not the outcome of inward poverty. Therefore love is at the beginning
and not at the end.    144
Europe Part 18
The sound of the church bell came through the woods across the water and
over the deep meadow. The sound was different according to whether it came
through the woods or over the open meadows or across the fast-running, noisy
stream.  Sound,  like  light  has  a  quality  that  silence  brings;  the  deeper  the
silence the more the beauty of the sound is heard. That evening, with the sun
riding just above the western hills, the sound of those church bells was quite
extraordinary. It was as though you heard the bells for the first time. They were
not  as  old  as  in  the  ancient  cathedrals  but  they  carried  the  feeling  of  that
evening. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was the longest day of the year,
and the sun was setting as far north as it ever would.
We hardly ever listen to the sound of a dog’s bark, or to the cry of a child or
the  laughter  of  a  man  as  he  passes  by.  We  separate  ourselves  from
everything, and then from this isolation look and listen to all things. It is this
separation which is so destructive, for in that lies all conflict and con- fusion. If
you listened to the sound of those bells with complete silence you would be
riding on it – or, rather, the sound would carry you across the valley and over
the hill. The beauty of it is felt only when you and the sound are not separate,
when you are part of it. Meditation is the ending of the separation, not by any
action of will or desire, or by seeking the pleasure of things not already tasted.
Meditation is not a separate thing from life; it is the very essence of life, the
very essence of daily living. To listen to those bells, to hear the laughter of that
peasant as he walks by with his wife, to listen to the sound of the bell on the
bicycle of the little girl as she passes by: it is the whole of life, and not just a
fragment of it, that meditation opens.
«What,  to  you,  is  God?  In  the  modern  world,  among  the  students,  the
workers  and  the  politicians,  God  is  dead.  For  the  priests,  it  is  a  convenient
word  to  enable  them  to  hang  on  to  their  jobs,  their  vested  interests,  both
physical and spiritual, and for the average man – I don’t think it bothers him
very much, except occasionally when there is some kind of calamity or when
he wants to appear respectable among his respectable neighbours. Otherwise   145
it has very little meaning. So I’ve made the rather long journey here to find out
from  you  what  you  believe,  or,  if  you  don’t  like  that  word,  to  find  out  if  God
exists in your life. I’ve been to India and visited various teachers in their places
there, with their disciples, and they all believe, or more or less maintain, that
there is God, and point out the way to him. I would like, if I may, to talk over
with  you  this  rather  important  question  which  has  haunted  man  for  many
thousands of years.»
Belief is one thing, reality another. One leads to bondage and the other is
possible  only  in  freedom.  The  two  have  no  relationship.  Belief  cannot  be
abandoned or set aside in order to get that freedom. Freedom is not a reward,
it is not the carrot in front of the donkey. It is important from the beginning to
understand this – the contradiction between belief and reality.
Belief can never lead to reality. Belief is the result of conditioning, or the
outcome  of  fear,  or  the  result  of  an  outer  or  inner  authority  which  gives
comfort. Reality is none of these. It is something wholly different, and there is
no passage from this to that. The theologian starts from a fixed position. He
believes  in  God,  in  a  Saviour,  or  in  Krishna  or  in  Christ,  and  then  spins
theories according to his conditioning and the cleverness of his mind. He is,
like  the  Communist  theoretician,  tied  to  a  concept,  a  formula,  and  what  he
spins is the outcome of his own deliberations.
The unwary are caught in this, as the unwary fly is caught in the web of the
spider.  Belief  is  born  out  of  fear  or  tradition.  Two  thousand  or  ten  thousand
years of propaganda is the religious structure of words, with the rituals,
dogmas and beliefs. The word, then, becomes extremely important, and the
repetition of that word mesmerizes the credulous. The credulous are always
willing  to  believe,  accept,  obey,  whether  what  is  offered  is  good  or  bad,
mischievous or beneficial. The believing mind is not an enquiring mind, and so
it remains within the limits of the formula or the principle. It is like an animal
who, tied to a post, can wander only within the limits of the rope.
«But without belief we have nothing! I believe in goodness; I believe in holy
matrimony;  I  believe  in  the  hereafter  and  in  evolutionary  growth  towards   146
perfection. To me these beliefs are immensely important for they keep me in
line, in morality; if you take away belief I am lost.»
Being good, and becoming good, are two different things. The flowering of
goodness  is  not  becoming  good.  Becoming  good  is  the  denial  of  goodness.
Becoming better is a denial of what is; the better corrupts the what is. Being
good  is  now,  in  the  present;  becoming  good  is  in  the  future,  which  is  the
invention of the mind that is caught in belief, in a formula of comparison and
time. When there is measurement, the good ceases.
What is important is not what you believe, what your formulas, principles,
dogmas  and  opinions  are,  but  why  you  have  them  at  all,  why  your  mind  is
burdened  with  them.  Are  they  essential?  If  you  put  that  question  to  yourself
seriously  you  will  find  that  they  are  the  result  of  fear,  or  of  the  habit  of
accepting.  It  is  this  basic  fear  which  prevents  you  being  involved  in  what
actually is. It is this fear that makes for commitment. Being involved is natural;
you  are  involved  in  life,  in  your  activities;  you  are  in  life,  in  the  whole
movement  of  it.  But  to  be  committed  is  a  deliberate  action  of  a  mind  that
functions and thinks in fragments; one is committed only to a fragment. You
cannot deliberately commit yourself to what you consider the whole because
this  consideration  is  part  of  a  process  of  thought,  and  thought  is  always
separative, it always functions in fragments.
«Yes,  you  cannot  be  committed  without  naming  that  to  which  you  are
committed, and naming is limiting.»
Is that statement of yours merely a series of words or an actuality which
you have now realized? If it is merely a series of words then it is a belief and
therefore  has  no  value  at  all.  If  it  is  an  actual  truth  that  you  have  now
discovered, then you are free and in negation. The negation of the false is not
a  statement.  All  propaganda  is  false,  and  man  has  lived  on  propaganda
ranging from soap to God.
«You are forcing me into a corner by your perception, and isn’t this also a
form of propaganda – to propagate what you see?»    147
Surely not. You are forcing yourself into a corner where you have to face
things as they are, unpersuaded, uninfluenced. You are beginning to realize
for yourself what is actually in front of you, therefore you are free of another,
free of all authority – of the word, of the person, of the idea. To see, belief is
not  necessary.  On  the  contrary,  to  see,  the  absence  of  belief  is  necessary.
You can see only when there is a negative state, not the positive state of a
belief. Seeing is a negative state in which the «what is» is alone evident. Belief
is a formula of inaction which breeds hypocrisy, and it is this hypocrisy against
which  all  the  younger  generation  are  fighting  and  revolting.  But  the  younger
generation get caught in that hypocrisy later on in life. Belief is a danger which
must be totally avoided if one is to see the truth of what is. The politician, the
priest,  the  respectable  will  always  function  according  to  a  formula,  forcing
others to live according to that formula, and the thoughtless, the foolish, are
always blinded by their words, their promises, their hopes. The authority of the
formula  becomes  far  more  important  than  the  love  of  what  is.  Therefore
authority is evil, whether it be the authority of belief, or of tradition, or of the
custom which is called morality.
«Can I be free of this fear?»
Surely you’re putting a wrong question, aren`t you? You are the fear; you
and the fear are not two separate things. The separation is fear which breeds
the  formula  that  «I  will  conquer  it,  suppress  it,  escape  from  it».  This  is  the
tradition which gives a false hope of overcoming fear. When you see that you
are the fear, that you and fear are not two separate things, fear disappears.
Then  formulas  and  beliefs  are  not  necessary  at  all.  Then  you  live  only  with
what is, and see the truth of it.
«But you’ve not answered the question about God, have you?»
Go to any place of worship – is God there? In the stone, in the word, in the
ritual, in the stimulated feeling of seeing something beautifully done? Religions
have divided God as yours and mine, the Gods of the East and the Gods of
the West, and each God has killed the other God. Where is God to be found?
Under  a  leaf,  in  the  skies,  in  your  heart,  or,  is  it  merely  a  word,  a  symbol,   148
representing something that cannot be put into words? Obviously you must put
aside the symbol, the place of worship, the web of words that man has woven
around  himself.  Only  after  having  done  this,  not  before,  can  you  begin  to
enquire if there is or is not a reality which is immeasurable.
«But when you have discarded all this you are completely lost, empty, alone
– and in this state how can you enquire?»
You are in this state because you are pitying yourself, and self-pity is an
abomination. You are in this state because you have not seen, actually, that
the false is the false. When you see it, it gives you tremendous energy and
freedom to see the truth as the truth, not as an illusion or a fancy of the mind.
It  is  this  freedom  that  is  necessary  from  which  to  see  if  there  is  or  is  not
something  which  cannot  be  put  into  words.  But  it  is  not  an  experience,  a
personal achievement. All experiences, in this sense, bring about a separative,
contradictory  existence.  It  is  this  separative  existence  as  the  thinker,  the
observer, that demands further and wider experiences, and what he demands
he will have – but it is not the truth.
Truth  is  not  yours  or  mine.  What  is  yours  can  be  organized,  enshrined,
exploited.  That  is  what  is  happening  in  the  world.  But  truth  cannot  be
organized. Like beauty and love, truth is not in the realm of possessions.    149
Europe Part 19
If you walk through the little town with its one street of many shops – the
baker,  the  camera  shop,  the  bookshop  and  the  open  restaurant  –  under  the
bridge, past the couturier, over another bridge, past the sawmill, then enter the
wood  and  continue  along  by  the  stream,  looking  at  all  the  things  you  have
passed, with your eyes and all your senses fully awake, but without a single
thought  in  your  mind  –  then  you  will  know  what  it  means  to  be  without
separation. You follow that stream for a mile or two – again without a single
flutter of thought – looking at the rushing water, listening to its noise, seeing the
colour of it, the grey-green mountain stream, looking at the trees and the blue
sky  through  the  branches,  and  at  the  green  leaves  –  again  without  a  single
thought, without a single word – then you will know what it means to have no
space between you and the blade of grass.
If you pass on through the meadows with their thousand flowers of every
colour imaginable, from bight red to yellow and purple, and their bright green
grass  washed  clean  by  last  night’s  rain,  rich  and  verdant  –  again  without  a
single movement of the machinery of thought – then you will know what love is.
To  look  at  the  blue  sky,  the  high  full-blown  clouds,  the  green  hills  with  their
clear lines against the sky, the rich grass and the fading flower – to look without
a  word  of  yesterday;  then,  when  the  mind  is  completely  quiet,  silent,
undisturbed  by  any  thought,  when  the  observer  is  completely  absent  –  then
there is unity. Not that you are united with the flower, or with the cloud, or with
those sweeping hills; rather there is a feeling of complete non-being in which
the  division  between  you  and  another  ceases.  The  woman  carrying  those
provisions which she bought in the market, the big black Alsatian dog, the two
children  playing  with  the  ball  –  if  you  can  look  at  all  these  without  a  word,
without a measure, without any association, then the quarrel between you and
another ceases. This state, without the word, without thought, is the expanse
of mind that has no boundaries, no frontiers within which the I and the not-I
can  exist.  Don’t  think  this  is  imagination,  or  some  flight  of  fancy,  or  some
desired mystical experience; it is not. It is as actual as the bee on that flower or   150
the little girl on her bicycle or the man going up the ladder to paint the house –
the whole conflict of the mind in its separation has come to an end. You look
without the look of the observer, you look without the value of the word and the
measurement  of  yesterday.  The  look  of  love  is  different  from  the  look  of
thought.  The  one  leads  in  a  direction  where  thought  cannot  follow,  and  the
other leads to separation, conflict and sorrow. From this sorrow you cannot go
to the other. The distance between the two is made by thought, and thought
cannot by any stride reach the other.
As you walk back by the little farmhouses, the meadows and the railway
line, you will see that yesterday has come to an end: life begins where thought
«Why is it I cannot be honest?» she asked. «Naturally, I am dishonest. Not
that I want to be, but it slips out of me. I say things I don’t really mean. I’m not
talking about polite conversation about nothing – then one knows that one is
talking  just  for  the  sake  of  talking.  But  even  when  I’m  serious  I  find  myself
saying things, doing things, that are absurdly dishonest. I’ve noticed it with my
husband  too.  He  says  one  thing  and  does  something  entirely  different.  He
promises, but you know so well that while he is saying it he doesn’t quite mean
it; and when you point it out to him he gets irritated, sometimes very angry. We
both  know  we  are  dishonest  in  so  many  things.  The  other  day  he  made  a
promise  to  somebody  whom  he  rather  respected,  and  that  man  went  away
believing  my  husband.  But  my  husband  didn’t  keep  his  word  and  he  found
excuses to prove that he was right and the other man wrong. You know the
game we play with ourselves and with others – it is part of our social structure
and relationship. Sometimes it reaches the point where it becomes very ugly
and deeply disturbing – and I have come to that state. I am greatly disturbed,
not only about my husband but about myself and all those people who say one
thing  and  do  something  else  and  think  something  else  again.  The  politician
makes  promises  and  one  knows  exactly  what  his  promises  mean.  He
promises heaven on earth and you know very well he’s going to create hell on   151
earth – and he will blame it all on factors beyond his control. Why is it that one
is so basically dishonest?»
What  does  honesty  mean?  Can  there  be  honesty  –  that  is,  clear  insight,
seeing  things  as  they  are  –  if  there  is  a  principle,  an  ideal,  an  ennobled
formula? Can one be direct if there is confusion? Can there be beauty if there
is  the  standard  of  what  is  beautiful  or  upright?  When  there  is  this  division
between  what  is  and  what  should  be,  can  there  be  honesty  –  or  only  an
edifying  and  respectable  dishonesty?  We  are  brought  up  between  the  two  –
between what actually is and what may be. In the interval between these two –
the interval of time and space – is all our education, our morality, our struggle.
We keep a distracted look upon the one and upon the other, a look of fear and
a look of hope. And can there be honesty, sincerity, in this state, which society
calls education? When we say we are dishonest, essentially we mean there is
a  comparison  between  what  we  have  said  and  what  is.  One  has  said
something  which  one  doesn’t  mean,  perhaps  to  give  passing  assurance  or
because one is nervous, shy or ashamed to say something which actually is.
So nervous apprehension and fear make us dishonest. When we are pursuing
success  we  must  be  somewhat  dishonest,  play  up  to  another,  be  cunning,
deceitful, to achieve our end. Or one has gained authority or a position which
one wants to defend. So all resistance, all defence, is a form of dishonesty. To
be honest means to have no illusions about oneself and no seed of illusion –
which is desire and pleasure.
«You mean to say that desire breeds illusion! I desire a nice house – there
isn’t any illusion in that. I desire my husband to have a better position – I can’t
see illusion in that either!»
In desire there is always the better, the bigger, the more. In desire there is
the measurement, the comparison – and the root of illusion is comparison. The
good is not the better, and all our life is spent pursuing the better – whether it
be  the  better  bathroom,  or  the  better  position,  or  the  better  god.  Discontent
with  what  is  makes  the  change  in  what  is  –  which  is  merely  the  unproved
continuity  of  what  is.  Improvement  is  not  change,  and  it  is  this  constant   152
improvement  –  both  in  ourselves  and  in  the  social  morality  –  which  breeds
«I don’t know if I follow you, and I don’t know if I want to follow you,» she
said  with  a  smile.  «I  understand  verbally  what  you  say,  but  where  are  you
leading?  I  find  it  rather  frightening.  If  I  lived,  actually,  what  you  are  saying,
probably my husband would lose his job, for in the business world there is a
great deal of dishonesty. Our children, too, are brought up to compete, to fight
to survive. And when I realize, from what you are saying, that we are training
them to be dishonest – not obviously, of course, but in subtle and devious ways
–  then  I  get  frightened  for  them.  How  can  they  face  the  world,  which  is  so
dishonest  and  brutal,  unless  they  themselves  have  some  of  this  dishonesty
and  brutality?  Oh,  I  know  I’m  saying  dreadful  things,  but  there  it  is!  I’m
beginning to see how utterly dishonest I am!»
To live without a principle, without an ideal, is to live facing that which is
every  minute.  The  actual  facing  of  what  is  –  which  is  to  be  completely  in
contact  with  it,  not  through  the  word  or  through  past  associations  and
memories, but directly in touch with it – is to be honest. To know you have lied
and make no excuse for it but to see the actual fact of it, is honesty; and in this
honesty there is great beauty. The beauty does not hurt anybody. To say one
is a liar is an acknowledgement of the fact; it is to acknowledge a mistake as a
mistake. But to find reason, excuses and justifications for it is dishonesty, and
in  this  there  is  self-pity.  Self-pity  is  the  darkness  of  dishonesty.  It  does  not
mean that one must become ruthless with oneself, but rather, one is attentive.
To be attentive means to care, to look.
«I certainly did not expect all this when I came. I felt rather ashamed of my
dishonesty and didn’t know what to do about it. The incapacity to do anything
about  it  made  me  feel  guilty,  and  fighting  guilt  or  resisting  it  brings  in  other
problems. Now I must carefully think over everything you have said.»
If I may make a suggestion, don’t think it over. See it now as it is. From that
seeing something new will happen. But if you think it over you are back again
in the same old trap.    153  154
Europe Part 20
In the animal, the instincts to follow and to obey are natural and necessary
for  survival,  but  in  man  they  become  a  danger.  To  follow  and  obey,  in  the
individual,  becomes  imitation,  conformity  to  a  pattern  of  society  which  he
himself has built. Without freedom, intelligence cannot function. To understand
the nature of obedience and acceptance in action brings freedom. Freedom is
not  the  instinct  to  do  what  one  wants.  In  a  vast  complex  society  that  isn’t
possible; hence the conflict between the individual and society, between the
many and the one.
It had been very hot for days; the heat was stifling and at this altitude the
sun’s rays penetrated every pore of your body and made you rather dizzy. The
snow was melting rapidly and the stream became more and more brown. The
big waterfall cascaded in torrents. It came from a large glacier, perhaps more
than a kilometre long. This stream would never be dry.
That  evening  the  weather  broke.  The  clouds  were  piling  up  against  the
mountains and there were crashes of thunder, and lightning, and it began to
rain; you could smell the rain.
There were three or four of them in that little room overlooking the river.
They had come from different parts of the world and they seemed to have a
common question. The question was not so important as their own state. Their
own state of mind conveyed much more than the question. The question was
like a door which opened into a house of many rooms. They were not a very
healthy lot, and unhappy in their own way. They were educated – whatever that
may mean; they spoke several languages, and appeared ill-kempt.
«Why  should  one  not  take  drugs?  You  apparently  seem  to  be  against  it.
Your own prominent friends have taken them, have written books about them,
encouraged  others  to  take  them,  and  they  have  experienced  with  great
intensity  the  beauty  of  a  simple  flower.  We,  too,  have  taken  them  and  we
would  like  to  know  why  you  seem  to  be  opposed  to  these  chemical
experiences. After all, our whole physical organism is a biochemical process,   155
and adding to it an extra chemical may give us an experience which may be
an approximation to the real. You yourself have not taken drugs, have you? So
how can you, without experimenting condemn them?»
No, we have not taken drugs. Must one get drunk to know what sobriety is?
Must  one  make  oneself  ill  to  find  out  what  health  is?  As  there  are  several
things  involved  in  taking  drugs,  let  us  go  into  the  whole  question  with  care.
What is the necessity of taking drugs at all – drugs that promise a psychedelic
expansion of the mind, great visions and intensity? Apparently one takes them
because  one’s  own  perceptions  are  dull.  Clarity  is  dimmed  and  one’s  life  is
rather shallow, mediocre and meaningless; one takes them to go beyond this
The  intellectuals  have  made  of  the  drugs  a  new  way  of  life.  One  sees
throughout the world the discord, the neurotic compulsions, the conflicts, the
aching misery of life. One is aware of the aggressiveness of man, his brutality,
his  utter  selfishness,  which  no  religion,  no  law,  no  social  morality  has  been
able to tame.
There  is  so  much  anarchy  in  man  –  and  such  scientific  capacities.  This
imbalance  brings  about  havoc  in  the  world.  The  unbridgable  gap  between
advanced  technology  and  the  cruelty  of  man  is  producing  great  chaos  and
misery.  This  is  obvious.  So  the  intellectual,  who  has  played  with  various
theories – Vedanta, Zen, Communist ideals, and so on – having found no way
out  of  man’s  predicament,  is  now  turning  to  the  golden  drug  that  will  bring
about  dynamic  sanity  and  harmony.  The  discovery  of  this  golden  drug  –  the
complete answer to everything – is expected of the scientist and probably he
will produce it. And the authors and the intellectuals will advocate it to stop all
wars, as yesterday they advocated Communism or Fascism.
But the mind, with its extraordinary capacities for scientific discoveries and
their implementation, is still petty, narrow and bigoted, and will surely continue,
will  it  not,  in  its  pettiness?  You  may  have  a  tremendous  and  explosive
experience through one of these drugs, but will the deep-rooted aggression,
bestiality and sorrow of man disappear? If these drugs can solve the intricate and complex problems of relationship, then there is nothing more to be said,
for then relationship, the demand for truth, the ending of sorrow, are all a very
superficial affair to be resolved by taking a pinch of the new golden drug.
Surely this is a false approach, isn’t it? It is said that these drugs give an
experience  approximating  to  reality  therefore  they  give  hope  and
encouragement. But the shadow is not the real; the symbol is never the fact.
As  is  observed  throughout  the  world,  the  symbol  is  worshipped  and  not  the
truth. So isn’t it a phoney assertion to say that the result of these drugs is near
the truth?
No dynamic golden pill is ever going to solve our human problems. They
can be solved only by bringing about a radical revolution in the mind and the
heart  of  man.  This  demands  hard,  constant  work,  seeing  and  listening,  and
thus being highly sensitive.
The highest form of sensitivity is the highest intelligence, and no drug ever
invented by man will give this intelligence. Without this intelligence there is no
love; and love is relationship. Without this love there is no dynamic balance in
man.  This  love  cannot  be  given  –  by  the  priests  or  their  gods,  by  the
philosophers, or by the golden drug.


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