MIND WITHOUT MEASURE TALKS IN MADRAS 1ST PUBLIC TALK 25TH DECEMBER, 1982 'THE NATURE AND CONTENT OF THOUGHT'


We are going to talk over together a great many things relating to our daily life. This is not a lecture as it is commonly understood, but this is a conversation between two friends who are concerned not only with what is happening in the world externally, environmentally, but also with what is happening to the human being. What is happening to our brain, to our conduct; why have we human beings who have lived on this earth, perhaps million years or more, so degenerated without any stamina, without any integrity? We are not merely listening to a series of ideas or some conclusions or some new principles and values, but together you and the speaker are going to examine closely, hesitantly, carefully, what is happening in the external world, and what is happening to us in our own daily life, the inner life. So, we are having a conversation together about all this. If you hold on to your opinion however slight or obstinate, then it will not be possible to have a conversation or communicate with each other. That must be clearly understood from the very beginning of these talks, that you and the speaker are going to examine not from any religious point of view or as a communist, socialist, Marxist, conservative, or as belonging to the left or right, or belonging to any nation, but we are going to examine in freedom. To examine, one must have a free mind, not an opinionated mind, not a traditional mind, not belonging to any sect, to any order, to any religious group or to any institution. There are the threats of war, of nuclear or conventional war; there is decline of all religions; there is no moral activity; but most of us are living superficially, intellectually, never examining, never questioning, never doubting, all that is going on in the world. And to examine, probe, observe, requires a very clear mind and heart, a brain that is not held by any tradition. The brain is already conditioned. The human brain has evolved through millennia. If we are not aware of the activities of our own sensory responses, to examine,and to observe what is going on in the world becomes almost impossible.
     Let us talk together like two human beings, as friends, not imposing any ideas on each other, any dogmatic argumentative conclusions; as two friends who have known each other for some time, sitting under a lovely tree in a cool climate and looking at the world. What is the world? What is it that is happening out there? Who has created it? Why has man become what he is, thoughtless, careless, indifferent, without any love, brutal, violent? Why have we become like this? You might blame our inheritance, you might blame our environment, our culture or society. But who has created this society? Each one of us, the past generation and the present generation, is contributing to it. We have created this world, and there is no escape from that fact. Each one of us has contributed to that chaos, to the mess, the disorder, the anarchy that is going on.
     Thought has divided the world into nationalities, and nationalities are one of the causes of war. Nationality, devised by thought in its search for security, has divided the world into the British, the French, the Muslim, Pakistani, Russian, and so on, and thought has created war through this division and the preparations of war for killing other human beings; thought has been responsible for this. In its search to be safe, secure, to find somewhere or other a sense of safety, it begins with the family, community, then a larger group and a wider group, hoping thereby to find some kind of safety, protection, security. It begins with a small group and ends up in nationalities. All the governments are supporting this crazy system of dividing people into nationalities, into groups - as the Hindus and the Muslims, the Chinese and the Russians, the Americans and the British and the French, and so on. Thought has been responsible for the division of religions - the Christian, the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Muslim, and so on. Thought has created the marvellous cathedrals, the great mosques and the lovely temples. Thought has put in these temples, mosques and churches the things that are invented by thought: the rituals, the dogmas, all the ceremonies, etc. Thought has also been responsible for the extraordinary development of techniques. Very few of us know actually what is going on in the technological world; the terrible things they are doing biologically, inventing great instruments of destruction of man - this is the vast unlimited movement of technology; and also thought has organized mass killings in the name of peace, in the name of the country, in the name of god. So, there is a great conflict going on, for which thought is responsible. Thought has brought about great hygienic benefits, communications, rapid transport, and all that. The brain is infinitely capable, and that capacity, that energy of thought has created this world of technology with all the problems it involves - social and environmental; and thought also has created havoc in our daily life, in our relationship with each other, between man and woman. We are saying that thought is responsible for all the miseries it has brought about in the world. Thought has also done great things to humanity. Please do not deny or accept what the speaker is saying. He is putting this forward for you to examine, to question, to doubt, not to accept nor to agree.
     So, we must together examine very carefully what is the source of thought, why thought has created such havoc in the world, whether thought can ever have as its companion love, or is love entirely different from the activities of thought. Is it possible to examine without any sense of authority, without any sense of belonging to any group, and go beyond the present confusion and chaos? Please listen; do not agree. but listen to find out. We have to be both the teacher and the disciple. The meaning of that word `disciple' is he who learns. Also we must be the teacher. The very act of learning gives us the responsibility to teach. So, we are going together to learn, not hold on to our own traditions, to our own opinions and conclusions; then that prevents us from learning, not from the speaker, but learning through observation, learning through the investigation of the nature of thought and the nature of the brain - not the physiological brain but the activities of a brain that is conditioned. So, first of all, we are going to examine together why the brain, which has evolved through thousands of years, which has gone through every kind of incident, accident, has become so limited. It is not limited in the technological world at all. It is moving with extraordinary rapidity. So, in one direction, in the direction of technology, the brain has infinite scope. The brain has put man on the moon, invented terrible things to kill human beings. Also technology has given man great comfort, hygiene, communication, and so on. But the brain is limited because it cannot go in any other direction but that direction. it is incapable at present to go inward, and if it can go in one direction, the outward direction, with such extraordinary vigour, extraordinary energy, then it can also go in the other direction, in the world of the psyche, the psychological world.
     We are going to enquire together into the whole psychological world: why after all these thousands of years we live in conflict with each other; why man has become so miserable, unhappy, anxious, uncertain, hypocritical, dishonest, corrupt, suffering a great deal. That is our inner world, the psychological realm into which very few have investigated deeply, profoundly. The psychologists, the theoreticians, the analysts, psychotherapists, have not solved all our human problems. They have written vast volumes about it, but we are still what we are. So, how do we investigate into something that is yourself, that is your consciousness? You are both the unconscious and the conscious, the whole realm of the inward activity which dictates the outer activity. If that inner activity is not in order, then you create a society as we have done, which is totally in disorder. You cannot create outward order unless there is inward order. Has one realized this fact, that the outward chaos, war, confusion, the brutality, the violence, the hatred, is the result of our own life, our own disorder, is the resulting conflict in our own consciousness? Can all this misery, confusion, conflict, anxiety, ever end? This question, whether it is possible to change radically the content of our consciousness, is far more serious than the nuclear war, or the neutron war, or whatever war that may be. The crisis is there, not in the world, not the nuclear war, not the terrible division, the brutality that is going on. The crisis is in our consciousness, the crisis is what we are, what we have become. Unless we meet that crisis, that challenge, we are going to perpetuate wars, destruction, and there will be outward chaos.
     When there is great disturbance outwardly, uncertainty, insecurity, man turns back to tradition like the Muslim world is doing. They go back to the Koran, and in the Christian, Hindu world there are so many books that they cannot go back to the books, but they go back to tradition. We have now got tribal gods at every corner because the world has become uncertain, dangerous, and we are all doing the same. We want to belong to some group, some sect, some local god. Now, how does one enquire into the psychological world, that is, into the world of consciousness? The content of that consciousness is what you are. That is not a dogmatic statement. That is not a conclusion but is a fact. What you are, is the content of your consciousness. Your beliefs, your opinions, your experiences, your illusions, superstitions, your gods, your fear, your pleasure and the loneliness, the sorrow, and the great grief and the fear of death. That is what you are. That is, the content of your consciousness is what you are. You can divide that content of your consciousness into various parts, invent a super consciousness, but it is still the content of your consciousness. You can meditate, sit cross-legged, do all those things, but it is part of your consciousness. And the content of your consciousness is put together by thought. Please examine this situation. We are saying, the content of your consciousness is put together by thought, by thinking, the thinking that you are a Hindu or a Christian, Marxist, Maoist or whatever you want to think. Thought, which is limited, has brought about limitations in consciousness. It can expand consciousness by thinking that it can expand and experiment in expansion. But it is still the activity of thought.
     The question is, whether your consciousness which is the activity of the brain - brain with all its sensory responses, brain which is the centre of thought - whether that thought has not brought about fear, whether thought which is also movement in time is not responsible for the whole content of our consciousness. We are saying thought is limited because it is the outcome of knowledge. It is the result, the end product of experience, knowledge stored in the brain as memory; the response of any challenge is thinking. And knowledge is always limited. There is no complete knowledge about anything. The scientific knowledge is limited. Every kind of knowledge in any field is limited - biological, sociological, technological, and in the world of religions with all their gods, and all gods are invented by thought. Examine it, please. Thought has invented all the gods on earth, and then thought worships that which it has invented, and this you call religion. The root meaning of that word is quite difficult, and it has not been established what the root of that word is. So, thought is limited and whatever its activity, it is always limited, and being limited, it must inevitably create problems - not only problems in the technological world but also problems in human relationship which is far more important to understand than the technological world because, we human beings are perpetually in conflict with each other, agreeing, disagreeing, believing, and not believing. It is a perpetual war between human beings. It is created by thought. And having created the problems, then thought tries to solve them and so increase the problems, which is what is actually happening.
     If one sees that, not intellectually, not as an idea or a conclusion but as an actuality, as a fact, then one can see that the only instrument that we have is thought. Please understand the nature and the content of thought. Thought is all the sensory responses, the imaginations, all the sexual symbols, the sexual pictures, and so on, the feeling of depression, elation, anxiety; all this is the result of limited thought, because thought is the outcome of limited knowledge. There is no complete knowledge about anything. We ask a totally different question, which is, `Is there a different instrument?' If thought is not the instrument to solve human problems, then what is the instrument? Thought is a worn out instrument, blunt instrument. It may be clever, it may solve certain problems; but the problems it has created in human beings and between human beings, the instrument of thought that we have used to solve our problems in our daily life, in relationship, that instrument is blunt, limited, worn out. Unless we find a new instrument, there can be no fundamental, radical, change of human psyche. So, we are going together to enquire into the nature of that instrument, the quality of it, the structure of it, the beauty of it. But before we can enquire, one must be absolutely clear that the instrument which we have now as thought, has reached its tether. It cannot solve the problem of human relationship, and in that human relationship there is conflict, and out of that conflict we have created this society through our greed, through our brutality, through our violence.
     We have to be absolutely, irrevocably, clear that thought is not the instrument to solve our human problems. We have tried every method of solving our human problems, surrendering ourselves to some ideals, to some guru, to some concept, to some conclusion - we have done all these things. We have followed all kinds of leaders - political, religious, various quacks, many gurus. And we are still what we are, slightly modified, little more observant, little more kindly, but basically, millennia after millennia, we are what we have been from the beginning of time. And the instrument that we have had, which is thought, can no longer solve our problems. This is very clear, and that requires great observation, questioning, doubting, asking, never accepting authority - the authority of the books, the hierarchical structure of our society, the authority of institutions, the authority of those who say , `I know.' A mind which is enquiring into the nature of a new quality and structure of a new instrument must be entirely free from authority, not the authority of the policeman, not the authority of the governments.
     So, a mind that is enquiring into something requires great sensitivity, freedom; that demands a brain that is stable, not wobbly, sloppy. I do not know if you have noticed how our minds are sloppy. We go from one guru to another, specially in this country. We tolerate anything - the dirt, the squalor, the corruption, the tradition that is dead, and all the temple buildings which are absolutely meaningless, spreading all over the world. You watch all this and you observe all this, and a mind, a brain, that is enquiring must be extraordinarily free, have great sensitivity. I don't know if you have not noticed how limited our senses are; senses, which is, the observing optically, visually, hearing - to hear another so completely that you understand immediately what is being said, to have sympathy, empathy, the feeling of cooperation, feeling of affection, feeling of love. We have not got it here. But you love god, you love going to a temple, putting on ashes, belonging to some tribal god, because you are frightened, and where there is fear, there is no freedom of enquiry.
     So, we are talking about our daily life, our conflicts, our loneliness, our despair, and none of those can be solved by thought. Then what is the instrument that will solve our problems? Don't wait for the speaker to tell you. Then the speaker becomes your guru, your leader, and the speaker does not want to be your guru, your authority; but go together, as two human beings concerned with humanity, because after all you are the rest of humanity. `The rest of humanity has also the same consciousness as yours. Every human being in the world suffers, is anxious, uncertain, confused, in tears, lonely. Your consciousness is not yours, it is as the rest of mankind. So you are mankind. It is not a mere intellectual, logical, analytical conclusion. It is a fact to be felt, realized, lived, that you are not a separate human being, that you are not an individual. That is a hard pill to swallow because we all think we are separate individuals with our own little brains. That is our conditioning, to think that each one of us is separate, but we are not. We are the result of thousands of years of humanity - their suffering, their loneliness, their despair, their excitement. their joy, their sex. What you think, others think, the great scientist thinks; so does the uneducated villager, poor and hungry, labouring from morning till night. So thinking is not your individual thinking. There is only thinking. You may think in one way, another may think another way. It is still thinking. So the thinking,consciousness is shared by all human beings. And when one really realizes the fundamental truth of it, then your whole activity changes. Then you are concerned with the whole humanity, which means your son, your neighbour, your wife, your husband, the man who is miles away.