The following conversations, based on recordings, were held over an extended period of time between U.G. Krishnamurti, the author and several others.
Being a film maker, let me begin with that word 'creativity'. Much has been said on this subject. What do you have to say about it?
There is no such thing as creativity at all. All that people do is imitate something or the other that already exists. Only when you do not use anything as a model, what emerges can be called creativity, and that cannot be used again as a model for future acts of yours. And there it ends. If you look at human faces or even those leaves—no two faces are the same, no two leaves are the same.
Behind the changes in nature there seems to be some kind of plan or purpose, don't you think?
I don't see any plan or scheme there at all! There is a process—I wouldn't necessarily call it evolution—but when it slows down then a revolution takes place. Nature tries to put something together and start all over again, just for the sake of creating. This is the only true creativity. Nature uses no models or precedents and so has nothing to do with art per se.
Do you mean to say there is nothing to the creativity of artists, poets, musicians and sculptors?
Why do you want to place art on a higher level than craft? If there is no market for an artist's creation, he will be out of business. It is the market that is responsible for all these so-called artistic beliefs. An artist is a craftsman like any other craftsman. He uses that tool to express himself. All human creation is born out of sensuality. I have nothing against sensuality.
All art is a pleasure movement. Even that has to be cultivated by you. Otherwise you have no way of appreciating the beauty and art that artists are talking about. If you question their creation they feel superior, thinking that you don't have taste. Then they want you to go to a school to learn how to appreciate their art. If you don't enjoy a poem written by a so-called great poet, they forcibly educate you to appreciated poetry. That is all that they are doing in the educational institutions. They teach us how to appreciate beauty, how to appreciate music, how to appreciate painting and so on. Meanwhile they make a living off you.
Artists find it comforting to think that they are creative. Creative art, creative ideas, creative politics—it's nonsense. There is nothing really creative in them in the sense of their doing anything original, new or free. Artists pick something here and something there, put it together and think they have created something marvelous. They are all imitating something that is already there. Imitation and style are the only creativity we have. Each of us has our own style according to the school we attended, the language we were taught, the books we have read, the examinations we have taken. And within that framework again we have our own style. Perfecting style and technique is all that operates there.
You will be surprised that one of these days computers will paint and create music much better than all the painters and musicians that the world has produced so far. It may not happen in our lifetime but it will happen. You are no different from a computer. We are not ready to accept that because we are made to believe that we are not just machines—that there is something more to us. You have to come to terms with this and accept that we are machines.
The human intellect that we have developed through education, through all kinds of techniques is no match for nature. They assume importance because they have been recognized as expressions of spiritual, artistic and intellectual values. The drive for self-expression is born out of neurosis. This applies to the spiritual teachers of mankind too. There is no such thing as a direct sense-experience. All forms of art are nothing but an expression of sensuality.
Is there something more to self-expression U.G.? Having had a tremendous experience of some kind you want to relate it to somebody or maybe just replay it to yourself? Is there anything to this over-riding need to express oneself?
There is no such thing as my experience and your experience. When you experience something you think it is something extraordinary and naturally the need arises to share that experience with somebody else. When you and I go out for a walk you naturally look at something that you have not looked at before and it is something extraordinary for you. And when you say to yourself this is something extraordinary that you have not seen before there is a need for you—which is a part of your self fulfillment—to share that pleasure with somebody else.
Whatever you experience has already been experienced by someone else. Your telling yourself, 'Ah! I am in a blissful state,' means that someone else before you has experienced that and has passed it on to you. Whatever may be the nature of the medium through which you experience, it is a second-hand, third-hand, and last-hand experience. It is not yours. There is no such thing as your own experience. Such experiences, however extraordinary, aren't worth anything.
We want to know what truth is. We want to know what enlightenment is...
You already know it. Don't tell me that you don't. There is no such thing as truth at all.
So, does all this mean that there was a certain programming?
If there was, you have to rule out all such things as mutation and radical transformation. I ruled those out because I didn't find anything there to be transformed. There was no question of mutation of mind, radical or otherwise. It is all hogwash. But it is difficult for you to throw all this stuff out of your system. You can also deny it and brush it aside, but this, 'Maybe there is something to it,' lasts for a long time. When once you stumble into a situation that you can call courage, you can throw the entire past out of yourself.
I don't know how this has happened. What has happened is something which cannot but be called an act of courage because everything, not only this or that particular teacher you had been involved with but everything that every man, every person, thought, felt and experienced before you, is completely flushed out of your system. What you are left with is the simple thing—the body with extraordinary intelligence of its own.
When I went to school I studied everything, including Advaita Vedanta. Vedanta was my special subject for my Masters in Philosophy. Very early during my studies I arrived at the conclusion that there is no such thing as a mind at all.
There was a well-known professor of Psychology at the University of Madras—Dr Bose. Just a month before my final examinations, I went to him and asked him the question, 'We have studied all these six schools of Psychology, this, that, and the other, exhaustively, but I don't see in all this a place for the "mind" at all.' (At that time I used to say that 'Freud is the stupendous fraud of the twentieth century.' The fact that he has lasted for a hundred years does not mean anything.) So my problem was that I did not see any mind.
So I asked my professor, 'Is there a mind?' The only honest fellow that I have met in my life was not any of those holy men but that professor. He said that if I wanted my Master's degree I should not ask such uncomfortable questions. He said, 'You will be in trouble. If you want your postgraduate degree, repeat what you have memorized and you will get a degree. If you don't want it, you explore the subject on your own.' So I said, 'Good-bye.' I did not take my examination. I was lucky because at that time I had a lot of money and I told him that I had four times the income of what he had as professor of psychology. I told him that I could survive with all this money and walked out of the whole business.
But my suspicion persisted for a long time. You see, you cannot be free from all this so easily. You get a feeling 'Maybe the chap knows what he is talking about. He must have something.' Looking back, the whole thing was a stupendous hoax. I told J. Krishnamurti that he was a stupendous hoax of the twentieth century along with Freud. I told him, 'You see, you have not freed yourself from this whole idea of messiahs and Theosophy.' He could not emerge clean from the whole thing.
If you think that he is the greatest teacher of the twentieth century, all right, go ahead. You are not going to have all these transformations, radical or otherwise. Not because I know your future but because there is nothing there to be transformed, really nothing. If you think there is and think that plums will fall into your stretched palm, good luck to you. What is the point of my telling you this?
There is no such thing as enlightenment. So whether Rajneesh was enlightened or someone else is enlightened is irrelevant. It is you who assumes that somebody is, whoever he is. Good luck to you! Somebody coming and telling me, 'That I am,' is a big joke. There is nothing to this whole nonsense. I have heard that there is a course in the United States: if you want enlightenment in twenty-four hours they charge you one thousand dollars and if you want it within a week, five hundred dollars and so on.
So you say that the mind doesn't exist. What does exist?
This [pointing to himself] is just a computer.
What difference does it make whether you call it a computer or the mind?
If you want to use that word, it is fine with me. The mind is (not that I am giving a new definition) the totality of man's experiences, thoughts and feelings. There is no such thing as your mind or my mind. I have no objection if you want to call that totality of man's thoughts, feelings and experiences by the name 'mind'. But how they are transmitted to us from generation to generation is the question. Is it through the medium of knowledge or is there any other way, say for example, through the genes? We don't have the answers yet. Then we come to the idea of memory. What is man? Man is memory. What is that memory? Is it something more than just to remember, to recall a specific thing at a specific time? To all this we have to have some more answers. How do the neurons operate in the brain? Is it all in one area?
The other day I was talking to a neurosurgeon, a very young and bright fellow. He said that memory, or rather the neurons containing memory, are not in one area. The eye, the ear, the nose, all the five sensory organs in your body have a different sort of memory. But they don't yet know for sure. So we have to get more answers. As I see it, everything is genetically controlled. That means you don't have any freedom of action. This is not what we have been taught in India—the fatalistic philosophy.
When you say that there is no freedom of action, it means that you have no way of acting except through the help of the knowledge that is passed on to you. It is in that sense, I said, no action is possible without thought. Any action that is born out of thought which belongs to the totality of knowledge is a protective mechanism. It is protecting itself. It is a self-perpetuating mechanism. You are using it all the time.
Every time you experience anything through the help of that knowledge, the knowledge is further strengthened and fortified. So every time you experience greed and condemn it you are adding to its momentum. You are not dealing with the actual greed, anger or desire. You are only interested in using them. Take, for example, desirelessness. You want to be free from desire. But you are not dealing with desire—only with the idea of how to be free from desire. You are not dealing with something that is existing there.
Whatever is there or happening there cannot be false. You may not like it and may condemn it because it doesn't fit into your social framework. The actions born out of desire may not fall into the society's framework which accepts certain actions and rejects others as antisocial. But you are concerned only about values. You are concerned about grappling with or fighting that which you condemn. Such a concern is born out of culture, society, norms or whatever. The norms are false and they are falsifying you.
Say there are two cities and a river in the middle. These two cities have to communicate and we have to build a bridge...
Yes, you already have the technical know-how.
No. We don't...
Someone else can give it to you.
Suppose no one gives it?
Then, you don't bother about that. We don't discuss hypothetical situations. Who the original man was, how he got this idea—whether it was by trial and error—we don't bother about all that. The demand to cross over to the other side because there is a rich land... there is a kind of drive—the drive for survival. That drive is an extension of this survival mechanism that already exists in nature. You don't have to teach dogs, cats, pigs and other wild animals how to search for food, how to eat and survive. All our activity is nothing but an extension of the same survival mechanism. But in this process we have succeeded in sharpening that instrument. With the help of that instrument we are able to create everything that we are so proud of—progress, this, that and the other.
You may be able to put this record player together and take it apart. This kind of knowledge can be transmitted from one person to another. But the problems which we are interested in solving—the day-to-day problems, living with someone else or living in this world—are the living problems. They are different every time. We would like to treat them on a par with mechanical problems and use that knowledge and experience to resolve problems of living. But it doesn't seem to work that way. We cannot pass these experiences on to others. It doesn't help. Your own experiences don't always help you.
You tell yourself, for example, 'If I had this experience ten years ago, my life would have been different.' But ten years hence you will be telling yourself exactly the same thing, 'If I had this experience ten years ago...' But we are now at this point and your past experiences cannot help you to resolve your problems. The learning concerning mechanical problems is useful only in that area and not in any other. But in the area of life we don't learn anything. We simply impose our mechanical knowledge on the coming generations and destroy the possibility of their dealing with their problems in their own way.
The other day I met somebody, a leader. He had come straight from some university. He said, 'We have to help the coming generation.' He said that the future belongs to the young generation. I told him, 'What the hell are you talking about? Why do you want them to prepare to face their future? We have made a mess of this world so far and you want to pass this mess on to the younger generation. Leave them alone. If they make a mess of the whole thing, they will pay the price. Why is it your problem today? They are more intelligent than us.' Our children are more intelligent than us. First of all, we are not ready to face that situation. So we force them into this mold. But it doesn't help them.
The living organism and thought are two different things. Thought cannot conceive of the possibility of anything happening outside the field of time. I don't want to discuss time in a metaphysical sense. By time I mean yesterday, tomorrow and the day after. The instrument which has produced tremendous results in this area is unable to solve problems in the area of living. We use this instrument to achieve material results. We also apply the same thing to achieve our so-called spiritual goals.
It works here but it doesn't work there. Whether it is materialistic goals or spiritual goals, the instrument we are using is matter. Therefore, the so-called spiritual goals are also materialistic in their value and in their results. I don't see any difference between the two. I haven't found any spirit there. The whole structure which we have built on the foundation of the assumed 'self' or 'spirit', therefore, collapses.
What is mind? You can give a hundred definitions. It is just a simple mechanical functioning. The body is responding to stimuli. It is only a stimulus-responding mechanism. It does not know of any other action. But through the translation of stimulus in terms of human values, we have destroyed the sensitivity of the living organism. You may talk of the sensitivity of the mind and the sensitivity of your feeling towards your fellow beings. But it doesn't mean a thing.
But there must be some sensitivity without a stimulus...
What I am talking about is the sensitivity of sensory perceptions. But what you are concerned with is sensuality. They are different things. The sensory activity of the living organism is all that exists. Culture has superimposed on it something else which is always in the field of sensuality. Whether it is a spiritual experience or any other experience, it is in the field of pleasure. So the demand for permanence is really the problem. The moment a sensation is translated as a pleasurable one there is already a problem. The translation is possible only through the help of knowledge. But the body rejects both pain and pleasure for the simple reason that any sensation that lasts longer than its natural duration is destroying the sensitivity of the nervous system. But we are interested only in the sensual aspect of the sensory activity.
But we have to understand.
What is there to understand? To understand anything we have to use the same instrument that is used to understand this mechanical computer that is there before me. Its workings can be understood through repeatedly trying to learn or operate it. You try again and again. If it doesn't work, there is someone who can tell you how to operate it, take it apart and put it together. You yourself will learn through a repetitive process—how to change this, improve this, modify this and so on and so forth.
This instrument thought which we have been using to understand has not helped us to understand anything except that every time we are using it we are sharpening it. Someone asked me, 'What is Philosophy? How does it help me in my day-to-day existence?' It doesn't help you in any way except that it sharpens the intellect. It doesn't in any way help you to understand life. If that thought is not the instrument and if there is no other instrument then is there anything to understand?
'Intuitive perception' or 'intuitive understanding' is only a product of the same instrument. The understanding that there is nothing to understand, nothing to get, dawned on me. I was seriously wanting to understand. Otherwise I would not waste forty-nine years of my life. But when once this understanding that there is nothing to understand somehow dawned on me, the very demand to be free from anything, even from the physical demands, was not there any more. But how this happened to me I really wouldn't know. So there is no way I can share this with you because it is not in the area of experiencing things.
How do you place those people who don't have this burden of trying to understand life—those who are just existing in the world?
Whether you are interested in moksha, liberation, freedom, transformation, you name it, or you are interested in happiness without one moment of unhappiness, pleasure without pain, it's the same thing. Whether one is here in India or in Russia or in America or anywhere, what people want is to have one happiness without the other unhappiness. But there is no way you can have one without the other. This demand is not in the interest of the survival of this living organism. There is an extraordinarily alert quality to it the organism. The body is rejecting all sensations.
Sensations have a limited life; beyond a particular duration the body cannot take them. It is either throwing them out or absorbing them. Otherwise they destroy the body. The eyes are interested in seeing things but not as beauty; the ears hear things but not as music. The body does not reject a noise because it is the barking of a dog or the braying of an ass. It just responds to the sound. If you call it a response to the sound then we get into trouble. So you don't even know that it is a sound.
Anything that is harsh, anything that would destroy the sensitivity of the nervous system, the body cuts out. It is like a thermostat. To some extent the body has a way of saving itself from heat, cold or anything that is inimical to it. It takes care of itself for a short period and then thought helps you to take the next step to cover yourself or to move yourself away from the dangerous situation you find yourself in. You will naturally move away from the cement mixer that is making a loud noise and is destroying the sensitivity of your nervous system. The fear that you would be destroyed because the sound is bad or that you will become a nervous wreck and so on and so forth, is part of your paranoia.
Since there are no questions, there is no question of answers. Where then are the questions?
All the questions are born out of the answers. But nobody wants the answers. The end of the question is the end of the answer. The end of the solution is the end of the problem. We are only dealing with solutions and not with the problems.
Actually there are no problems, there are only solutions. But we don't even have the guts to say that they don't work. Even if you have discovered that they don't work, sentimentality comes into the picture. The feeling, 'That man in whom I have placed my confidence and belief cannot con himself and con everyone else,' comes in the way of throwing the whole thing out of the window, down the drain. The solutions are still a problem. Actually there is no problem there. The only problem is in discovering the inadequacy or uselessness of all the solutions that have been offered to us.
The questions naturally are born out of the assumptions and answers that we have taken for granted as real answers. But we really don't want any answers to the questions because an answer to the questions is the end of the answers. If one answer ends, all the other answers also go. You don't have to deal with ten different answers. You deal with one question and that puts an end to the answer. Not that you get an answer. But there will be no questions. Yet I have to accept the reality of the world as it is imposed on me for purposes of functioning sanely.
When I visited a place where people who are mentally different are kept...
Mentally different or sick or ill or...
I would prefer to call them mentally different because they think we are mentally different and vice versa...
That is true.
The dividing line is very thin. They may be looking at us as victims. Really we don't know who is different. But biologically both of us are functioning...
...exactly the same way.
...the same way. What could be the basis for calling them mentally different?
Because we have established the so-called normal man.
That's what I am hinting at...
Some people who are in the All India Institute of Mental Health at Bangalore visited me. One of them is a top neurosurgeon. I asked him the same question, 'Who is normal? Who is sane and who is insane?' He said, 'Statistically speaking, we are sane.' That was quite satisfactory to me. And then I asked him, 'Why are you putting all of them there and treating them? How much help do you give them?' He said, 'Not even two per cent of them are helped. We send them back to their homes but they keep returning.' 'Then why are you running this show?' I asked him. He said, 'The government pays the money and the families don't want to keep those people in their homes.'
So we now move on from there to the basic question, 'Who is sane and who is insane?' Sometimes such people come to see me. Even people who are hardcore cases come to me. But the line of demarcation between them and me is very thin. The difference seems to be that they have given up, whereas I am not in conflict with society. I take it. That's all the difference. There is nothing that prevents me from fitting into the framework of society. I am not in conflict with society.
When once you are—I don't like to use the word, freed from, or are not trapped in—this duality of right and wrong, good and bad, you can never do anything bad. As long as you are caught up in wanting to do only good, you will always do bad. Because the good you seek is only in the future. You will be good some other time and until then you remain a bad person. So, the so-called insane have given up and we are doing them the greatest harm and disservice by pushing them to fit themselves into this framework of ours which is rotten. I don't just say it is rotten but it is.
I don't fight society. I am not even interested in changing it. The demand to bring about a change in myself isn't there any more. So, the demand to change this framework or the world at large isn't there. It is not that I am indifferent to the suffering man. I suffer with the suffering man and am happy with the happy man.
People seem to get pleasure out of others' suffering. Why don't they get the same pleasure when they see a rich man throwing his weight around? They are the same.
This you call pleasure and that you call jealousy or envy. But I don't see any difference between the two. I see suffering. Individually, there isn't anything that I can do. And at the same time I don't want to use this suffering for my self-aggrandizement, my self-fulfillment. The problem is there and we are individually responsible for it. Yet we don't want to accept the responsibility for creating the problems. The problems are not created by nature. It is we who have created the problems. There is plenty, there is bounty in nature; but we take away what rightfully belongs to everybody and then say that we should give charity. That's too absurd!
The practice of charity, started by the religious man, is what refuses to deal with the problems squarely. I may give something to a poor man because he is suffering. But unless I have something more than he has, there is no way I can help. What do I do if I don't have the means to help him? What do I do in a situation where I am totally helpless? That helplessness only makes me sit with him and cry.
U.G., you say that nature is not concerned with creating a perfect being but a perfect species. What do you mean by that?
We have for centuries been made to believe that the end product of human evolution, if there is one, is the creation of perfect beings modeled after the great spiritual teachers of mankind and their behavior patterns.
By great spiritual teachers you mean people like Jesus and the Buddha?
All of them. All the great teachers—the occidental and the oriental. That is the basic problem we are confronted with. I don't think I have any special insight into the laws of nature. But if there is any such thing as an end product of human evolution (I don't know if there is such a thing as evolution but we take for granted that there is) what nature is trying to produce is not a perfect being.
But scientific research has revealed that there is such a thing as evolution...
Even today some universities don't allow their students to study Darwin's The Origin of Species. His statements have been proved to be wrong to some extent because he said that acquired characteristics cannot be transmitted to the succeeding generations. But every time they discover something new they change their theories.
Nature does not use anything as a model. It is only interested in perfecting the species. It is trying to create perfect species and not perfect beings. We are not ready to accept that. What nature has created in the form of human species is something extraordinary. It is an unparalleled creation. But culture is concerned with fitting the actions of all human beings into a common mold in order to maintain the status quo—its value system. That is where the real conflict is. This referring to himself is something which cannot be fitted into that value system.
I began with this whole question of nature because I find in your statements a profound sense of nature, a profound sense of the absolute and primitive reality of life itself, which seems to me an extraordinarily positive force and a force for the good...
The fundamental mistake that humanity made somewhere along the line, was to experience this separateness from the totality of life. At that time there occurred in man, this self-consciousness which separated him from the life around. He was so isolated that it frightened him. The demand to be part of the totality of life around him created this tremendous demand for the ultimate. He thought that the spiritual goals of God, truth, or reality, would help him to become part of the 'whole' again.
But the very attempt on his part to become one with or become integrated with the totality of life has kept him only more separate. Isolated functioning is not part of nature. This isolation has created a demand for finding out ways and means of becoming a part of nature. But thought in its very nature can only create problems and cannot help us solve them.
We don't seem to realize that it is thought that is separating us from the totality of things. The belief that this is the one that can help us to keep in tune with totality is not going to materialize. So, it has come up with all kinds of ingenious, if i may use that word, ideas of insight and intuition.
Where then do we go from here? I am not going to ask you what the purpose of life is because obviously, as you were saying, that is really not a relevant question.
No. It is a relevant question but is born out of the assumption that we know about life. Nobody knows anything about life. We have only concepts, ideations and mentations about life. Even the scientists who are trying to understand life and its origin come up only with theories and definitions of life. You may not agree with me but all thought, all thinking is dead. Thinking is born out of dead ideas. Thought or the thinking mechanism, trying to touch life, experience it, capture and give expression to it are impossible tasks.
What we are concerned about is living. Living is our relationship with our fellow beings, with the life around. When we have everything that we can reasonably ask for, all the material comforts that you have in the West, the question naturally arises: 'Is that all?' The moment we pose that question to ourselves, we have created a problem. If that's all there is, what then is the next step to take? We do not see any meaning in our life and so we pose this question to ourselves and throw this question at all those who we think have answers.
What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of life? It may have its own meaning; it may have its own purpose. By understanding the meaning of life and the purpose of life we are not going to improve, change, modify, or alter our behavior patterns in any way. But there is a hope that by understanding the meaning of life, we can bring about a change. There may not be any meaning of life. If it has a meaning, it is already in operation there. Wanting to understand the meaning of life seems to be a futile attempt on our part. We go on asking these questions.
Once a very old gentleman, ninety-five years old, who was considered to be a great spiritual man and who taught the great scriptures to his followers, came to see me. He asked me two questions: 'What is the meaning of life? I have written hundreds of books telling people all about the meaning and purpose of life, quoting the scriptures and interpreting them. I haven't understood the meaning of life. You are the one who can give me an answer.' I told him, 'Look, you are ninety-five years old and you haven't understood the meaning of life. When are you going to understand the meaning of life? There may not be any meaning to life at all.'
The next question he asked me was, 'I have lived ninety-five years and I am going to die one of these days. I want to know what will happen after my death.' I said, 'You may not live long enough to know anything about death. You have to die now. Are you ready to die?' As long as you are asking the questions, 'What is death?' or 'What is there after death?' you are already dead. These are all dead questions. A living man would never ask those questions.
Let me ask another question which is not intellectual. What should we do?
[Laughs] For centuries we have been told what to do. Why are we asking the same question, 'What to do?' What to do in relation to what? What I am emphasizing is that the demand to bring about a change in ourselves is the cause of our suffering. I may say that there is nothing to be changed. But the revolutionary teachers come and tell us that there is something there in which you have to bring about a radical revolution. Then we assume there is such a thing as soul, spirit, or the 'I'. What I assert all the time is that I haven't found anything like the self or soul there.
This question haunted me all my life and suddenly it hit me: 'There is no self to realize. What the hell have I been doing all this time?' You see, that hits you like lightning. Once that hits you, the whole mechanism of the body that is controlled by this thought is shattered. What is left is the tremendous living organism with an intelligence of its own. What you are left with is the pulse, the beat and the throb of life.
'There must be something more and we have to do something to become part of the whole thing.' Such demands have arisen because of our assumption that we have been created for a grander purpose than that for which others species on this planet have been created. That's the fundamental mistake we have made. Culture is responsible for our assuming this. We thus come to believe that the whole of creation is for the benefit of man. The demand to use nature for our purposes has created all the ecological problems. It is not such an easy thing for us to deal with these problems. Again, you may say that I am a pessimist.
The point is, we have probably arrived at a place where there is no going back. What is the fate of mankind and what is one to do? Anything that is born out of thought is destructive in its nature. That is why I say very often in my conversations and interviews that thought, in its birth, in its nature, in its expression and in its action, is fascist. Thought is interested in protecting itself and is always creating frontiers around itself. And it wants to protect the frontiers. That is why we create frontiers around us: our families, our nations and then this planet.
Why do you speak? I pose the question to you.
Why do I speak? [Laughter] Am I speaking? You know, it may sound very funny to you. I have nothing to say and what I am saying is not born out of my thinking. You may not accept this. But it is not a logically ascertained premise that I am putting across. It may sound very funny to you and you have put me in a very precarious position by asking me why I am talking. Am I talking? Really I am not, you see. There is nobody who is talking here. I use this simile of a ventriloquist. He is actually carrying on both sides of the dialogue but we attribute one side of it to the dummy in front of him. In exactly the same way, all your questions are born out of the answers you already have.
Any answer anybody gives should put an end to your questions. But it does not. And we are not ready to accept the fact that all the questions are born out of the answers. If the questions go, the answers we take for granted also go with them. But we are not ready to throw the answers away because sentiment comes into the picture. The tremendous investment we have made and the faith we have in the teachers, are also at stake. Therefore, we are not ready to brush aside the answers.
Actually we do not want answers for our questions. The assumption that the questions are different from the questioner is also false. If the answer goes, the questioner also goes. The questioner is nothing but the answers. That is really the problem. We are not ready to accept this answer because it will put an end to the answers which we have accepted for ages as the real answers.
We have always been told that mankind has a certain purpose in creation. But ever since I have met you, I have begun to wonder whether this is true...
You are the one to answer that question. We don't give a tinker's damn, to use that harsh expression, about what others have said about it. How does it matter whether what they have said is true or not. It is up to you to find out. I can say that there is no purpose and if there is any purpose, we have no way of knowing it. We only repeat what we have been told. We are made to believe that there is a purpose and that belief is what is responsible for the tragedy of mankind today. We have also been made to believe that we are created for a grander purpose, for a nobler purpose than all the species on this planet. This is not all. We are also told that all creation was created for the benefit of man. That's why we have created all these problems—ecological problems and problems of pollution.
Now we are almost at a point where we are going to blow ourselves up. The planet is not in danger; we are in danger. You can pollute this planet and do all kinds of things; the planet can absorb everything—even these human bodies. If we are wiped out, nature knows what to do with the human bodies. It recycles them to maintain the energy level in the universe. That's all it is interested in. So, we are no more purposeful or meaningful than any other thing on this planet. We are not created for any grander purpose than the ants that are there or the flies that are hovering around us or the mosquitoes that are sucking our blood. I can say all this, but what do you have to say? That is more important than what I have to say. We really don't know. We have no way of knowing anything.
Even the scientists—they can say what they like. How does it interest us? It does not really matter as to how this whole universe was created—whether God created it or the whole thing came out of some dust and pebbles or hydrogen atoms somewhere. It is for the scientists to talk about all this and every now and then come up with new theories. They will be amply rewarded and given Nobel Prizes. But the theories don't help us to understand anything. So I really don't know if there is any purpose. I don't think that there is any. I do not see any meaning or purpose in life. A living thing, a living organism is not interested in asking the question, 'What is the purpose of life? What is the meaning of life?'
Does it matter if you create your own purpose?
We are not satisfied with the daily grind of our lives, doing the same thing over and over again. We are bored. So boredom is responsible for asking the question, 'What is the purpose?' Man feels that if this is all that is there, what more is there for him to do?
You said that if we get bored we invent something or the other...
We create all sorts of things.
Why does man get bored?
Because man imagines that there is something more interesting, more meaningful, more purposeful to do than what he is actually doing. Anything you want above the basic needs creates this boredom for the human being. You get the feeling, 'Is that all?'
Nature is interested only in two things—to survive and to reproduce. Anything you superimpose on that, all the cultural input, is responsible for boredom. So we have varieties of religious experience. You are not satisfied with your own religious teachings or games; so you bring in others form India, Asia, or China. They become interesting because they are new. You pick up a new language and try to speak it and use it to feel more important. But basically, it is the same thing.
Christianity tells us to develop our talents. But you need no talent to reproduce...
No talent is required to reproduce. Nature has done a tremendous job in creating this extraordinary piece—the body. The body does not want to learn anything from culture. It doesn't want to know anything from us. We are always interested in telling this body how to function. All our experiences, spiritual or otherwise, are the basic cause of our suffering. The body is not interested in your bliss or your ecstasies. It is not interested in your pleasure. It is not interested in anything that you are interested in. And that is the battle that is going on all the time. But there seems to be no way out.
We have lost touch with the original state somewhere....
...because culture or society has placed before us the model of a perfect being. Nature does not imitate anything. It does not use anything as a model.
Where does it all lead us?
It leads you to where you actually stand and therefore the question. [Laughter]
Asking questions about all this is wrong?
Don't ask this question. You have no questions and I have no questions. I have no questions at all other than the basic questions we need to ask. I am here and I want to get the bearings of this place. So I go and find out. I ask, 'Where is this station?' If I want to go to London, I ask, 'Where is the British Airways office?' These are the basic questions we need to ask to function sanely and intelligently in this world. We do have to accept the reality of the world as it is imposed on us. Otherwise we will go crazy. If you question the reality of anything that is imposed on you, you are in trouble because there is no such thing as reality, let alone ultimate reality. You have no way of experiencing the reality of anything.
Well, we have invented reality...
We have invented reality. Otherwise you have no way of experiencing the reality of anything—the reality of that person sitting there, for instance, or even your own physical body. You have no way of experiencing that at all except through the help of the knowledge that has been put in you. So, there may not be any such thing as reality at all, let alone the ultimate reality. I do have to accept the fact that you are a man, that she is a woman. That is all. There it stops. But what is the reality you are talking about?
When I was a little kid my parents and the people around told me about the bearings of my culture. I was trained not to question them...
They don't want you to question. They force on us everything they believed in, even the things they themselves did not believe, the things that did not operate in their lives. There is no use blaming them now. We are adults. So we don't have to blame them. This is a silly idea, the Freudian idea that for everything that is happening your mother is responsible or your father is responsible. We are all grown-up people.
There is no point in blaming our mothers and fathers. It is not a one-way street. Even children want to be accepted by us. We force them to fit into this framework and they want to be accepted by us. This is two-way traffic.
So there is no way of seeing what I think I see...
You never see anything. The physical eye does not say anything. There is no way you can separate yourself from what you are looking at. We have only sensory perceptions. They do not tell us about that thing—for example, that it is a camera. The moment you recognize that it is a camera, and a Sony camera at that, you have separated yourself from it. So what you are actually doing is translating sensory perceptions within the framework of the knowledge you have of it. We never look at anything. It is too dangerous to look because that 'looking' destroys the continuity of thinking.
We project the knowledge we have of whatever we are looking at. Even if you say that it is an object without giving it a name, like, for example, 'camera', knowledge has already entered. It is good for a Philosophy student to talk about this everlastingly, separating the object from the word, or separating the word from the thing. But actually, if you say that it is an object, you have already separated yourself from it. Even if you don't give a name to it, or recognize it as something, or call it a camera, a video camera, you have already separated yourself from it.
All that is already there in the computer. We are not conscious of the fact that we have all that information locked up there in the computer. It emerges suddenly. We think it is something original. You think that you are looking at it for the first time in your life. You are not. Supposing somebody tells you that this is something new, you are trying to relate what he calls new to the framework of the old knowledge that you have.
So if it is not in the computer, you cannot see it.
You cannot. If the information is not already there, there is no way you can see. There is only a reflection of the object on the retina. Even scientists who have done a great deal of observation and research would agree. There is no way of experiencing the fact of that for yourself, because the stimulus and response are one unitary movement. The moment you separate yourself, you have created a problem. You may talk of the unity of life or the oneness of life and all that kind of stuff and nonsense, but there is no way you can create that unitary movement through any effort of yours.
The only way for anyone who is interested in finding out what this is all about is to watch how this separation is occurring, how you are separating yourself from the things that are happening around you and inside you. Actually there is no difference between the outside and the inside. It is thought that creates the frontiers and tells us that this is the inside and something else is the outside. If you tell yourself that you are happy, miserable, or bored, you have already separated yourself from that particular sensation that is there inside you.
And the cells react to what we think?
The cells are wearing out. That's why I say that the tragedy that is facing mankind is not AIDS or cancer, but Alzheimer's disease. We are using the neurons, our memory, constantly to maintain our identity. Whether you are awake or asleep or dreaming, this process is carried on. But it is wearing you out.
You experience what you know. Without the knowledge, you have no way of experiencing anything. There is no such thing as a new experience at all. When you tell yourself that it is a new experience, it is the old that tells you that it is a new experience. Otherwise, you have no way of saying that it is something new. It is the old that tells you that it is new. And through that it is making it part of the old.
The only way it can maintain its continuity is through the constant demand to know. If you don't know what you are looking at, the 'you' as you know yourself, the 'you' as you experience yourself, is going to come to an end. That is death. That is the only death and there is no other death.
That is terrifying—the fear of losing what you know. So actually, you don't want to be free from fear. You do not want the fear to come to and end. All that you are doing—all the therapies and techniques that you are using to free yourself from fear, for whatever reason you want to be free from fear—is the thing that is maintaining the fear and giving continuity to it. So you do not want the fear to come to an end. If the fear comes to an end, the fear of what you know comes to an end. You will physically drop dead. Clinical death will take place.
You said that we would die if we gave up our beliefs...
You replace one belief with another. You can't be without a belief. What you call 'you' is only a belief. If the belief goes, you go with it. That is the reason why, when you are not satisfied with one belief-structure, you replace it with another.
Do you believe that there is nothing wrong with the world?
I don't see anything wrong with this world because the world can't be any different. I am not interested in making a living out of telling people that the world needs some change, radical or otherwise. If you are a politician or a president of a nation, then it is a different story. Otherwise it is what it is. We being what we are, the world cannot be any different. What I say is not an abstraction. You and I living together is the world.
You often say, 'You are the medium through which I can express myself...'
Yes. You are the medium through I can express myself. There is no other way. I don't even have the impetus to express myself. You may well ask me, 'Why the hell do you talk? Why the hell do you meet people?' It is you who have brought all these people. Why do you ask me questions? That is one of the reasons why I have always avoided publicity of any kind. I don't want to promote myself, nor will I allow others to promote me.
What is nature?
All of us are the same. That's what I am saying.
There is still a sidestepping of nature. What is that?
Yes. That's it. That is exactly what I am saying. To sidestep the complexities of this society is one of the biggest mistakes that we are making. But there is nothing out there, you see. All these god men, gurus and flunkies are offering us a new oasis. You will find out that it is no different from other mirages. We are leaving everything for some mythical certainty offered to us. But this is the only reality and there is no other reality.
What I am emphasizing is, if your energy is not wasted in pursuit of some mythical certainties offered to us, life becomes very simple. But we end up being wasted, misled and misspent individuals. If that energy is released, what is it that we can't do to survive in the midst of these complexities created by our culture? It is very simple. The attempt to sidestep these complexities is the very thing that is causing us all these problems.
I get the impression that what you are proposing is in a way a revolutionary idea. When you say, 'All these flunkies and god men', it's a kind of revolt...
They are giving you false comfort and that is what people want. The mainstream of the population is not interested in what I am saying. They hear what they want to hear. What I say is of no interest to them. If you say that God is redundant, it is not a rebellion against anything. You know religious thinking is outdated and outmoded. But I go one step further and say that all political ideologies are nothing but the warty outgrowth of the same religious thinking. They may call it a revolution. But revolution is only a revaluation of things. You will only end up creating another value system which may be slightly different from the value system that we want to destroy. But basically they are all the same. That is why when it settles down, it calls for another revolution. Even the talk of the continuous revolution of Mao Tse-tung has failed. In the very nature of things, a revolution has to settle down.
Coming back to what you said earlier about rejecting the whole past—experiences, thoughts, everything...
It is not something that you can do through any effort, will or volition of yours. It has to be a miracle. Whatever has happened to me has happened despite everything I did. In fact, everything I did only blocked it. It prevented the possibility of whatever was there to express itself. Not that I have gained anything. Only what is there is able to express itself without any hindrance, without any constraints or restraints imposed on it by society for its own reasons, for its own continuity and stability.
Shouldn't we have to search first?
The search is inevitable and is an integral part of it. That is why it has turned us all into neurotics and has created this duality for us. You see, ambition is a reality, competition is a reality. But you have superimposed on that reality the idea that you should not be ambitious. It has turned us all into neurotic individuals. We want two things at the same time.
Whether he is here or in America or in Russia or anywhere else, what does man want? He wants happiness without one moment of unhappiness. He wants permanent pleasure without pain. This is the basic demand—permanence. It is this demand that has created religious thinking—God, Truth or Reality. Since things in life are not permanent, we demand that there must be something permanent. That is why these religious teachers are peddling their wares in the streets. They offer you these comforters—permanent happiness or permanent bliss. Are they ready to accept the fact that bliss, beatitude, immensity, love and compassion are also sensual?
You mean there is nothing to what Christ or Buddha said?
Let's leave them alone. Otherwise we will all be in trouble.
You say that there is no individual...
Where is the individual?
Well, I feel I am one...
You are not an individual. You are doing exactly the same thing that everybody is doing.
Am I not separate from this body and that body?
No, not at all.
How are we connected?
If you accept what I am talking about, it's a very dangerous situation. Your wife goes, you see.
No relationship. Sorry...
I don't want it...
You don't want it? 'How can you ask for this?' is all that I am saying. You are only trying to fit me into a framework by calling me an enlightened man. This fellow [U.G. points to a guest] is telling everyone, 'Jesus is living here. Why should I go to church?' He is crazy. [Laughter] Don't you think that they have all created a mess for us. They laid the foundation for destruction.
From what I understand, you don't have to reach for answers because all the answers are really coming from the answers that you already have...
But is there any way you can free yourself from that activity?
Isn't it in a way a part or expression of that state?
There is no other way I can point out the danger that is involved in your seeking whatever you are seeking. You see, there is this pleasure movement. I am not against the pleasure movement. I am neither preaching hedonism nor advocating any 'ism' or anything. What I am saying is a threat to 'you' as you know yourself and experience yourself. You necessarily fit me into that framework and if you don't succeed, you will say, 'How can he be outside of it?' The way out for you is either to reject me totally, or to call me a fraud or a fake. You see, the feeling, 'How can all of them be wrong?' prevents you from listening to me. Or else you put it another way and say that the content of whatever has happened to U.G. and to them is the same but his expression is different.
Let us talk of the big-bang theory of the universe...
I question the big-bang theory.
But you know that we were all atoms in the beginning...
I am questioning even fundamental particles. We will never be able to find the fundamental particles.
In your first book you talk of the ionization of thought and an explosion...
From then on, understanding is not through the intellect. We have developed and sharpened the intellect through the years. So it understood in its own way that it is not the instrument, that there is no other instrument and that there is nothing to understand. My problem was in using this intellect to understand whatever I was looking for. But it didn't help me to understand a thing. So I was searching for some other instrument to understand, that is, intuition, this, that and the other. But I realized that this is the only instrument I have and the hope that I would understand something through some other instrument, on some level and some other way, disappeared. It dawned on me, 'There is nothing to understand.'
When this happened, it hit me like a shaft of lightning. From then on, the very demand to understand anything was over. That understanding is the one that is expressing itself now. And it cannot be used as an instrument to guide, direct or help me, you or anybody.
Are you afraid of death?
There is nothing to die here. The body cannot be afraid of death. The movement that is created by society or culture is what does not want to come to an end. How it came to an end I really don't know. What you are afraid of is not death. In fact, you don't want to be free from fear.
Because when you fear comes to an end you will drop dead.
That is its nature. It is the fear that makes you believe that you are living and that you will be dead. What we do not want is the fear to come to an end. That is why we have invented all these new minds, new science, new talk, therapies, choiceless awareness and various other gimmicks. Fear is the very thing that you do not want to be free from. What you call 'yourself' is fear. The 'you' is born out of fear—it lives in fear, functions in fear and dies in fear.
It is difficult to put you in a definite category...
All those who come to see me have this problem of where to fit me. It is easy for them to call me a god man, enlightened man, guru and stick all those fancy labels on me. 'That is our difficulty,' they say. 'We really don't know where to fit you. It is a reflection on our intelligence,' they say. Even the philosophers talk of the impossibility of fitting me into a framework. But this doesn't necessarily make me feel superior or proud.
If the world can't find a label for you, what kind of label do you find for the world?
I am quite satisfied with the world! [Laughter] Quite satisfied. The world cannot be any different. Traveling destroys many illusions and creates new illusions for us. I have discovered, to my dismay, if I may put it that way, that human nature is exactly the same whether a person is a Russian or an American or someone from somewhere else. It is as though we all speak the same language but the accent is different. I will probably speak with an Andhra accent, you with a Kannada accent and someone else with a French accent. But basically human beings are exactly the same. There is absolutely no difference. I don't see any difference at all. Culture is probably responsible for the differences. We being what we are, the world cannot be any different. As long as there is a demand in you to bring about a change in yourself, you want to bring about a change in the world. Because you can't fit into the framework of culture and its value system, you want to change the world so that you can have a comfortable place in it.
What I understand from what you are saying is that we are operating under a value system, whether it is good or bad...
You see, both good and bad, right and wrong, are not the reverse of a coin but are the same coin. They are like the two ends of the spectrum. One cannot exist independent of the other. When once you are finished with this duality (I am using the word with much caution as I don't really like to use it), when you are no longer caught up in the dichotomy of right and wrong or good and bad, you can never do anything wrong. As long as you are caught up in it, the danger is that you will always do wrong; and if you don't do wrong, it is because you are a frightened 'chicken'. It is out of this cowardice that religious thinking is born.
You were saying in some context that anger is not bad and that it cannot do any harm...
Anger is like an outburst of energy. It is like the high tide and the low tide in the sea. The question, 'What to do with anger?' is something put in there by culture, because society considers an angry man a threat to its status quo, to its continuity.
Well, you are not a threat then...
I am not a threat. I am not a threat because I cannot, you see, conceive of the possibility of anything other than this. I am not interested in changing anything. You are the one that is all the time talking of bringing about a change. At the same time, everything around you and inside of you is in a flux. It is constantly changing. Everything around you is changing; yet you don't want change. You see, that's the problem. Your unwillingness to change is really the problem and you call it tradition. You dub 'unwillingness to change with the changing things,' a great tradition.
Why does nature deliberately want to first create and then destroy?
Because nothing is ever born and nothing ever dies. What has created the space between creation and destruction or the time between the two, is thought. In nature there is no death or destruction at all. What occurs is the reshuffling of atoms. If there is a need or necessity to maintain the balance of energy in this universe, death occurs. You may not like it. Earthquakes may be condemned by us. Surely they cause misery to so many thousands and thousands of people. And all this humanitarian activity around the world—sending planeloads of supplies is really a commendable act. It helps those who are suffering there and those who have lost their property. But it is the same kind of activity that is responsible for killing millions and millions of people. What I am saying is that the destructive, war-making movement and the humanitarian movement on the other hand—are both born from the same source.
In the long run, earthquakes and the eruption of volcanoes are part of nature's way of creating something new. Now, you know, something strange is happening in America—the volcanic eruptions. Some unknown forms of life are growing there in that very thing which was destroyed. Of course, I am not saying that you should not do anything to help those people.
The self-consciousness that occurred in the human species may be a necessary thing. I don't know. I am not claiming that I have a special insight into the workings of nature. Your question can be answered only that way. You see for yourself. That's why I say that the very foundation of human culture is to kill and to be killed. It has happened so. If one is interested in looking at history right from the beginning, the whole foundation of humanity is built on the idea that those who are not with us are against us. That's what is operating in human thinking. So to kill and to be killed in the name of God, represented by the church in the West and all the other religious thinking here in the East, was the order of the day. That's why there is this fundamentalism here in this country now.
The Chinese—what horrors they have committed, you will be surprised. They killed scholars and religious people. They burned and buried the books of Confucius and other teachers. Today the political ideologies represented by the state are responsible for the killing of people. And they claim that what they are doing is the result of some great revolution that they had started. Revolution is nothing but the revaluation of our values. It really does not mean anything. After a while it settles down and that is why they are talking of glasnost there, but it does not really mean anything there. Gorbachev is going to create a hundred Punjabs in that country.
We do seem to have a need to search and find something...
The body does not want to learn anything or know anything because it has that intelligence—native, innate intelligence—that helps it to survive. If this body is in a jungle, it will survive; if it doesn't, it's gone. But it will fight to the last. That's just the way the human body functions. If there is some danger to it, the body throws in everything that is available and tries to protect itself. If it cannot, it gives in. But in a way the body has no death. The atoms in it are put together and what happens at death is a reshuffling of the atoms. They will be used somewhere else. So the body has no birth or death because it has no way of experiencing that it is alive or that it will be dead tomorrow.
We always feel that we have to improve ourselves or find a way out of our misery. Everyone thinks that he or she has to change or get to a higher level. What is your view on the matter?
The moment we ask the question, 'Is there something more to our life than what we are doing?' we set the whole questioning mechanism going. Unfortunately, what has created this interest in the Western nations is the so-called Hippy generation. When they tried drugs, the drugs produced a change in what they called their 'levels of consciousness'. For the first time they experienced something outside the area of their normal experiencing structure. When once we experience something extraordinary, which actually it is not, we look around for varieties of experiences... more and more of the same. That has created a market for all those people from the Eastern countries—India, China and Japan. They flood into these countries and promise to provide answers for their questions. But actually they are selling shoddy goods.
What people are interested in is not some answers to their problems but some comforters. As I said before, they are selling ice packs to numb the pain and make you feel comfortable. Nobody wants to ask the basic question: What is the real problem? What is it that they want? What are they looking for? And this is taken advantage of by the people from the East. If there is anything to what they claim it doesn't seem to be evident in the countries from where they come.
The basic question which Westerners should throw at them is: 'Have your answers helped the people of your own countries? Do your solutions operate in your own lives?' Nobody is asking them these questions. The hundred different techniques that they offer to you have not been subjected to test. You don't have any statistical evidence to prove that there is something to what they claim. They exploit the gullibility of the people. When once you have everything that you need, the material goodies, you look around and ask the question, 'Is that all there is to it?' And that situation is exploited by those people. They don't have any answers for the problems facing us today.
What is responsible for the human tragedy or the malady that we are confronted with today is that we are interested in maintaining the identities that are created by our culture. We have tremendous faith in the value system that is created by our culture or society or whatever you want to call it. We never question that. We are only interested in fitting ourselves into that value system. It is that demand from society or culture to fit us all into that value system that is the cause of man's tragedy.
Somewhere along the line there occurred in human consciousness the demand to find out the answers for loneliness, the isolation that human beings suffer from the rest of the species on this planet. I don't even know if there is any such thing as evolution. If there is, somewhere along the line in that evolutionary process man separated or isolated himself from the rest of creation on this planet. In that isolation, he felt so frightened that he demanded some answers, some comfort, to fill that loneliness, that isolation from the rest of the life around him. Religious thinking was born out of this situation and it has gone on for centuries. But it has not really helped us to solve the problems created by mankind. Even the political systems that we have today are nothing but the warty outgrowth of the spiritual, religious thinking of man. All that has failed and a void has been created. There has been a total failure of our political and economic ideologies.
There is a tremendous danger facing mankind today. The void created by the failure of all these ideologies will be taken advantage of by the church. They will preach and shout that we all have to go back to Jesus or go back to the great traditions of our own countries. But what has failed for them is not going to help us to solve our problems.
When some psychologists and scientists came to see me, I made this very clear to them, 'You have come to the end of your tether. If you want answers for your problems, you have to find them within your own framework and not look elsewhere, especially not in the ancient dead cultures of the past.' Going back or looking back to those systems and techniques that have failed us is only going to put us on a wrong track, on a merry-go-round.
If we have created the problems, we are also fighting them...
Yes. But we are not ready to accept the fact that what has created the problems cannot itself solve them. What we are using to solve our problems is what we call 'thought'. But thought is a protective mechanism. Thought is only interested in maintaining the status quo. We may talk of change but when the time actually comes for us to change things, we are not ready for it. We insist that change must always be for the better and not for the worse.
We have a tremendous faith in the mechanism that has created the problems for us. After all, that is the only instrument that we have at our disposal. But actually it cannot help us at all. It can only create problems, not solve them. We are not ready to accept this fact because accepting it will knock out the whole foundation of human culture. We want to replace one system with another. But the whole structure of culture is pushing us in the direction of completely annihilating all that we have built with tremendous care.
We don't want to be free from fear. Anything you do to free yourself from fear is what is perpetuating the fear. Is there any way we can be freed from fear? Fear is something that cannot be handled by thought; it is something living. So we want to put on our gloves and try to touch it, play with it. All that we want to do is to play games with it and talk about freeing ourselves from fear. Or go to this therapist or that, or follow this technique or that. But in that process, what we are actually doing is strengthening and fortifying the very thing that we are trying to be free from.
So we live in a society based on fear. Even our institutions—police, banks, doctors, insurance and everything we have created—are based on fear?
Yes, fear. But what is the point in telling ourselves that we are going to be freed from fear? If that fear comes to an end, you will drop dead, physically! Clinical death will take place! Of course, you and your fear are not two different things. It is comforting to believe that you and fear are two different things. You are frightened of certain things or you do not want this or that to happen. You want to be free from fear. But there is no way you free yourself from it. If the fear comes to an end, you as you know yourself, you as you experience yourself, are going to come to an end, and you are not ready for that sort of thing.
The plain fact is that if you don't have a problem, you create one. If you don't have a problem, you don't feel that you are living. So the solutions that we have been offered by the teachers, in whom we have tremendous faith, are not really the solutions. If they were the solutions, the problems wouldn't be there at all. If there are no solutions for the problems, even then the problems wouldn't be there. We would like to live with those problems and if we are free from one problem, we create another.
Does meditation affect the body?
You put your body to unnecessary torture.
The body suffers?
Yes, the body suffers. It is not interested in your techniques of meditation, which actually are destroying the peace that is already there. It is an extraordinarily peaceful organism. It does not have to do anything to be in a peaceful state. By introducing this idea of a peaceful mind, we set in motion a sort of battle and the battle goes on and on. But what you feel, what you experience as the peaceful state of mind, is a war-weary state of mind created by your thought. Once you experience some peaceful state of mind, you want more and more of the same. This creates problems for the body.
This week I hear there is going to be an important meeting here. Scientists from all over the world, from different disciplines—people from the spiritual world and the world of industry and economics—are for the first time coming together to talk about the similarities among their respective disciplines, instead of differences. All of them now seem to feel that they should support each other instead of focusing their energies only on differences and the compartments that they create in their minds...
First of all, the scientists, by looking or asking for help from all these religious people, are committing the biggest of all blunders. They have come to the end of their tether. If they have problems in their system they have to solve them by and for themselves. These religious people have no answers for the problems created by scientific thinking. I do not know if by coming together and exchanging their views or giving speeches they are going to achieve anything. I may sound very cynical when I say that nothing is going to come out of it except that they will make speeches and feel comfortable that they are trying to understand each other's point of view.
When you say something to someone, he will say that that is your point of view. But he does not realize that his also is a point of view. So how can there by any communication between those two people who have different points of view? The whole purpose of the conversation or dialogue is only to convert the other man to your point of view. If you have no point of view, there is no way he can convince or convert you to his point of view. So this dialogue is between two points of view and there is no way you can reconcile them.
The conference would be very interesting. [Laughs] They can all come together, talking about that and exchange their views and that would be that. It would be something like the United Nations. (The United Nations is the biggest joke of this century. If each one is trying to assert his own rights there, how can there be a United Nations?) The problem is that thought creates frontiers everywhere. That's all it can do.
Do you think that the discovery of the laws of nature and the enormous money that is invested in it will ultimately help mankind?
Even if we discover the laws of nature, for whatever reason we are interested in doing so, ultimately they are used to destroy everything that nature has created. This propaganda that the planet is in danger is media hype. Everybody has in fact forgotten about it. Actually it is not the planet that is in danger but us. We are not ready to face this situation squarely. We must not look for answers in the past or in the great heritage of this or that nation. And we must not look to the religious thinkers. They don't have any answers. If the scientists look to religious leaders for their solutions, they are committing the biggest blunder. Religious people put us all on the wrong track and there is no way you can reverse the process.
What do you think we should do then?
I am not here to save mankind or prophesy that we are all heading toward a disaster. I am not talking of an Armageddon, nor am I prophesying that there is going to be a paradise on this planet. Nothing of the sort; there is not going to be any paradise. It is the idea of a paradise, the idea of creating a heaven on this earth, that has turned this beautiful paradise that we already have on this planet into a hell. We are solely responsible for what is happening. And the answers for our problems cannot come from the past and its glory or from the great religious teachers of mankind. Those teachers will naturally claim that you all have failed and that they have the answers for the problems that we are confronted with today. I don't think that they have any answers. We have to find the answers, if any, for ourselves and by ourselves.
I have read somewhere, 'Your image is your best friend...'
[Laughs] That's a sales pitch. It's very interesting. In fact, it's the other way around—the image we have is responsible for our problems. What, after all, is the world? The world is the relationship between two individuals. But that relationship is based on the foundation of 'What do I get out of a relationship?' Mutual gratification is the basis of all relationships. If you don't get what you want out of a relationship, it goes sour. What there is in the place of what you call a loving relationship is hate. When everything fails, we play the last card in the pack, and that is love. But love is fascist in its nature, in its birth, in its expression and in its actions. It cannot do us any good. We may talk of love but it doesn't mean anything. The whole music of our age is around that song, 'Love, Love, Love...'
Do you like television?
Yes, I do watch television. I turn the sound off and watch the movement only. I like to watch the commercials because most of the commercials are more interesting than the programs. If people can fall for the commercials, they can fall for anything that these religious people are selling today in the market. How can you fall for those commercials? But they are very interesting. It is not the commercials nor what they are selling that interests me but the techniques of salesmanship. They are amazing and more interesting—I am fascinated by those techniques. I am not influenced by what they are selling. If they had customers like me they would soon be out of business. I don't buy anything they are selling.
Soon they will have commercials in Russia and Eastern Europe...
That's what has happened in Russia. It is not your ideas of democracy or freedom that have won the country over to your side. It was Coca Cola, I think, in China, and Pepsi Cola in Russia. Why do they have to sell organically grown potato chips there in Russia? I want to know. They have also opened a McDonald's there. That's all that the West can offer to them. That is how it is spreading. If America survives, if we survive and if we don't destroy ourselves through our own idiotic ways of living and thinking, the American way of life is going to be the way of life. Even in the third world countries, including India, we have supermarkets. They are very innovative, the Americans. So, it is spreading all over.
What is your attitude to money?
Money is the most important factor in our lives. They say that money is the root cause of all evil. But actually it is not the root cause of evil; it is the root cause of our existence, of our survival. I sometimes say that if you worship that God, the money God, you will by amply rewarded. If you worship the other God—whether He exists or not is anybody's guess—you will be stripped of everything you have and He will leave you naked in the streets. It is better to worship the money God.
Tell me one person who is not thinking of money, not one person on this planet. Even the holy ones who talk about their indifference to money are concerned about it. How do you think they will get ninety-two Rolls Royces? You try and buy one Rolls Royce car, you will know how difficult it is. For the religious people it is easy because other people deny themselves and give their money to them. So you can be rich at another man's expense. How much money you need is a different matter. Each one has to draw his own line. But when once your goals and needs are the same, then the problem is very simple.
So you stay more or less here, in this moment and deal with what happens right now?
When once that becomes a reality in your life, it becomes very simple to live in this world, the complex and complicated world created by us all. We are all responsible for this world. When once this demand to change yourself into something better, something other than what you actually are, is not there, the demand to change the world also comes to an end. I don't see anything wrong with the world.
What is wrong with this world? The world can't be any different from what we are. If there is a war going on within us, we cannot expect a peaceful world around us. We will certainly create war. You may say that it all depends upon who is responsible for the war. It is simply a point of view as to who is calling another a warmonger and himself the peace-monger. The peace-mongers and the warmongers sail in the same boat. It is something like the pot calling the kettle black or the other way around: the kettle calling the pot black.
We are stuck in words and ideas.
We dare not leave 'what is' alone. It implies that you are still grappling with what you romantically phrase as 'what is'. It is like dealing with the unknown. There is no such thing as the unknown. The known is still trying to make the unknown part of the known. It is a game that we play. That is how we fool ourselves in our approach to problems. All our positive approaches have failed and we have invented what is called the 'negative approach'. But the negative approach is still interested in the same goal that the positive approach is interested in. What is necessary for us is to free ourselves from the goal. When once we are freed from the goal the question of whether it is a positive approach or a negative approach does not even arise.
So in nature, the positive and the negative don't exist at all?
They don't exist at all. If they do, they exist in the same frame. That is what all these scientists are talking about. If you observe the universe, there is chaos in it. The moment you say there is chaos, in the same frame, there is also order. So, you cannot, for sure, say that there is order or chaos in the universe. Both of them are occurring simultaneously. That is the way the living organism also operates. The moment thought is born, it cannot stay there. Thought is matter. When once the matter that is necessary for the survival of the living organism is created, that matter becomes part of energy. Similarly life and death are simultaneous processes. It is thought that has separated and created the two points of birth and death. Thought has created this space and this time. But actually, birth and death are simultaneous processes.
You cannot say that you are alive or dead. But if you ask me the question, 'Are you alive?' I would certainly say, 'I am alive.' So my answer is the common knowledge you and I have about how a living being functions. That is how I say that I am a living being and not a dead person. But we give tremendous importance to these ideas. We sit and discuss them everlastingly and produce a tremendous structure of thought around them.
Does that mean that the scientists who are coming next week need to recognize the fact that there is no way out?
If they could, then they wouldn't give any solutions and wouldn't offer anything. There is no way out. The solution for their problems is to accept the fact that there is no way out. And out of that something can come.
Even if you understand the right or wrong of the matter?
It is not a question of calling it right or wrong. There is no way out. Anything you do to get out of this trap which you yourself have created is strengthening and fortifying it. So, you are not ready to accept the fact that you have to give up. A complete, total surrender. I don't like using that word 'surrender' because it has certain mystical overtones. It is a state of hopelessness which says that there is no way out of this situation. Any movement, in any direction, on any level, is taking you away from that. Maybe something can happen there, we don't know. But even that hope that something will happen is still a hope.
Sometimes it so happens that when you give up everything the problem gets automatically resolved.
Yes. This happens to all those who are working out some mathematical or scientific problem. They go to sleep when they are exhausted and that gives some time for the mechanism that is involved to give an answer. It is not some miraculous thing. You give some time for the computer to work out a solution to your problem. On its own it comes out with the answer but only if there is an answer. If there is no answer then that is the end of the story.
So you let go? It is very difficult to frame questions because of the problem of language.
Our language structure is such that there is no way you can be free from a dualistic approach to problems. Again, I'm not happy using the word 'dualistic' because it has religious connotations.
What is the relationship between words and reality?
None. There is nothing beyond words.
Is life difficult?
Life is difficult. So discipline sounds very attractive to people. With great admiration we say, 'He has suffered a lot.' Our entire religious thinking is built on the foundation of suffering. If not for religion, you suffer for the cause of your country in the name of patriotism... Those who impose that kind of discipline on us are sadists. But unfortunately we are all being masochists in accepting that. We torture ourselves in the hope of achieving something... We are slaves to our ideas and beliefs. We are not ready to throw them out. If we succeed in throwing them out, we replace them with another set of beliefs, another body of discipline. Those who are marching into the battlefield and are ready to be killed today in the name of democracy, in the name of freedom, in the name of communism, are no different from those who threw themselves to the lions in the arenas. The Romans watched with great joy. How are we different from them? Not a bit. We love it. To kill and to be killed is the foundation of our culture.
Wherever you go people comment on your demeanor and your physical appearance. How do you keep fit? I know you don't practice yoga or any other form of exercise.
I don't exercise at all. The only walking I do is from my place to the post office, which is about a half a kilometer or even a quarter of a mile away from where I live. But I used to walk a lot. I am afraid that I may have to pay a heavy price for all the walking that I did before. You know, I am not competent enough to offer any comments on these matters. But one thing I want to assert is that for some reason this body of ours does not want to know anything or learn anything from us. No doubt we have made tremendous advances in the field of medical technology. But are they really helping the body? That is one of the basic questions that we should ask.
Can we actually help the body?
I think what we are actually doing is trying to treat the symptoms of what we call a disease. But my question is, and I always throw this question at the people who are competent enough—the doctors—what is health? What is disease? Is there any such thing as disease for this body? You know, we translate the malfunctioning to mean that there is some imbalance in the natural rhythm of the body. Not that we know what the rhythm of the body actually is. But we are so frightened that we run to a doctor or to somebody who we think is in the know of things and can help us. We do not give a chance for the body to work out the problems created by the situation we find ourselves in. We do not give enough time for the body. We do not know whether our bodies are healthy or unhealthy.
We translate health into being free from any symptoms. If I don't have a pain in my knee, then I don't have a disease there. We indulge in medical research in order to gather useful knowledge that could be applied when there is a pain in the knee. But what is pain? I am not asking a metaphysical question. To me pain is a healing process. But we do not give enough chance or opportunity to the body to hear itself or help itself, to free itself from what we call pain.
You are saying that all the things we do are in some way or other probably hindering the body from living longer, healthier and happier. So we must leave the body alone...
Yes, leave the body alone. Don't get frightened and rush here, there and everywhere. In any case, there is no way you can conquer death at all. People are trying subconsciously to prevent death. Our pushing people into a value system is a very undesirable thing, you know. You want to push everybody into a value system. We never question that this value system which we have cherished for centuries may be the very thing that is responsible for our misery.
Yes, that may be the very thing that is generating disease...
Disease and conflict in our lives. We really don't know. Another thing I want to emphasize is that what we call identity, the 'I', the 'me', the 'you', the 'center', the 'psyche', is artificially created. It does not exist at all.
It is also a cultural phenomenon...
Yes, it has been culturally created. We are doing everything possible to maintain that identity, whether we are asleep, awake, or dreaming. The instrument that we use to maintain this identity strengthens, fortifies and gives continuity to it. The constant use of memory is wearing you out. We really do not know what memory is but we are constantly using it to maintain that non-existent identity of ours.
So we keep coming back to this point that thought itself seems to be the enemy, the interloper...
It is our enemy. Thought is a protective mechanism. It is interested in protecting itself at the expense of the living organism.
You are saying that thought is the thing that causes people's worries...
It's thought that is creating all our problems and it is not the instrument to help us solve the problems created by itself.
You talk of a state that is entirely natural to man. I want to know if that natural state can be acquired by effort, if it can be acquired at all, or is it simply a chance occurrence?
When I use the term 'natural state' it is not a synonym for 'enlightenment', 'freedom', or 'God-realization' and so forth. Not at all. When the totality of mankind's knowledge and experience loses its stranglehold on the body, the physical organism, then the body is allowed to function in its own harmonious way. Your natural state is a biological, neurological and physical state.
Then I presume that you agree with modern science, that it is the genes that control our behavior and destinies...
I can make no definitive statements about the part genes play in the evolutionary process but at the moment it appears that Darwin was at least partially wrong in insisting that acquired characteristics could not be genetically transmitted. I think that they are transmitted in some fashion. I am not competent enough to say whether the genes play any part in the transmission.
Anyway, the problem lies in our psyche. We function in a thought-sphere and not in our biology. The separative thought structure, which is the totality of man's thoughts, feelings, experiences and so on—what we call 'psyche' or 'soul' or 'self'—is creating the disturbance. That is what is responsible for our misery; that's what continues the battle that is going on there all the time. This interloper, the thought sphere, has created your entire value system.
The body is not in the least interested in values, much less a value system. It is only concerned with intelligent moment-to-moment survival, and nothing else. Spiritual 'values' have no meaning to it. When, through some miracle or chance you are freed from the hold of thought and culture, you are left with the body's natural functions and nothing else. It then functions without the interference of thought.
Unfortunately, the servant, which is the thought structure that is there, has taken possession of the house. But he can no longer control and run the household. So he must be dislodged. It is in this sense that I use the term 'natural state', without any connotation of spirituality or enlightenment.
Still, for most of us, many questions remain. We want to somehow find out what life is, if it has any meaning...
Life is something which you cannot capture, contain and give expression to. Energy is an expression of life. What is death? It is simply a condition of the human body.
There is no such thing as death. What you have are ideas about death, ideas which arise when you sense the absence of another person. Your own death, or the death of your near and dear ones, is not something you can experience. What you actually experience is the void created by the disappearance of another individual and the unsatisfied demand to maintain the continuity of your relationship with that person for a non-existent eternity.
The arena for the continuation of all these 'permanent' relationships is the tomorrow—heaven, next life and so on. These things are the inventions of a mind interested only in its undisturbed, permanent continuity in a 'self'-generated, fictitious future.
The basic method of maintaining the continuity is the incessant repetition of the question, 'How? How? How? How am I to live? How can I be happy? How can I be sure I will be happy tomorrow?' This has made life an insoluble dilemma for us. We want to know and through that knowledge we hope to continue with our miserable existence forever.
So many people in this society are interested in...
Society cannot be interested in what I am talking about. Society is, after all, two individuals or a thousand of them put together. Because I am a direct threat to you individually—as you know and experience yourself—I am also a threat to society. How can society possibly be interested in this sort of thing? Not a chance. Society is the sum of relationships and despite what you may find agreeable to believe, all these relationships are sordid and horrible. This is the unsavory fact, take it or leave it. You cannot help but superimpose over these horrible, ugly relationships a soothing fictitious veneer of loving, compassionate, brotherly and harmonious, or some other fancy notion.
I often ask myself, what are my obligations to my fellow beings?
None whatsoever. Sorry, all you are interested in is self-fulfillment, the ultimate goal of a Nobel Prize and power. I am very sorry. Personally, you may not be interested in that kind of thing. That's all. I encourage that kind of pursuit. Of course, you scientists have made all this comfort-bearing technology possible and in that sense, I, like all those who enjoy the benefits of modern technology, am indeed indebted. I don't want to go back to the days of the spinning wheel and the bullock cart. That would be too silly, too absurd. Pure science is nothing but speculation.
Scientists discuss formulas endlessly and provide us with some equations. But I am not at all taken in by the march of progress and all that rot. The first trip I made to the U.S. in the Thirties took more than a full day and we had to stop everywhere. Later, the same trip took eighteen hours, then twelve hours and even more recently, six hours and three and so on. And if the supersonic jets are put to commercial use we may be able to make the trip in one-and-a-half hours. All right, that's progress. But the same technology that makes fast international travel possible is making ever more deadly military fighter planes. How many of these planes are we using for faster and more comfortable travel from one point to another? And how many more hundreds of planes are we using to destroy life and property? You call this progress? I don't know. As the comforts increase, we come to depend upon them, and are loath to give up anything we have.
Within a particular frame I say it is progress. I am now living in an air-conditioned room. My grandfather used a servant who sat in the hot sun and pulled punkah and before that we used a palm leaf hand fan. As we move into more and more comfortable situations we don't want to give up anything.
Some would argue that a humanity restored, not through science but through love, is our only hope.
I still maintain that it is not love, compassion, humanism, or brotherly sentiments that will save mankind. No, not at all. It is the sheer terror of extinction that can save us, if anything can. Each cell of a living organism cooperates with the cell next to it. It does not need any sentiment or declarations of undying love to do so. Each cell is wise enough to know that if its neighbor goes, it also goes. The cells stick together not out of brotherhood, love and that kind of thing but out of the urgent drive to survive now. It is the same with us but only on a larger scale.
Soon we will all come to know one simple thing: If I try to destroy you, I will also be destroyed. We see the superpowers of today signing arms-control pacts, rushing to sign no-first-strike accords and the like. Even the big bully boys, who have among them controlled the world's resources no longer talk about a successful nuclear war. Even the arrogant, swashbuckling United States has changed its tune. It no longer talks—as it did twenty years ago under Dulles and other cold warriors—of massive retaliation. If you read the Time magazine now, it doesn't talk about the United States as the mightiest, the richest, the most powerful and the most invincible of all nations. It refers to it as 'one of the superpowers'.
Somehow I do feel a responsibility to my fellow beings, not in a philosophical or spiritual sense but in a more fundamental sense. You see someone starving and you would like to do something about it.
As an individual you can. But the moment you start an institution and the institutions try to enlist individuals' help, then the whole thing is destroyed. You have to organize and there is no other way. That means my plan and your plan. It means war.
As you would say, the urge to help is a result of my culture. When you see someone sad, tears come to your eyes. We empathize...
We translate that as sadness and the tears follow as a sentimental effect. But the tear ducts are there to protect your eyes from going blind, to keep them lubricated and cleansed and not to respond to the suffering of others. This may be a crude way of putting things but that's the fact of the matter.
I would like to put to you one more question somewhat unrelated to what we have been discussing. This is a question many people would like to ask you. What is your opinion regarding the existence of God?
Oh my God! You really want my answer? To me the question of whether God exists or not is irrelevant and immaterial. We have no use for God. We have used God to justify the killing of millions and millions of people. We exploit God. That's the positive aspect of it, not the negative. In the name of God we have killed more people than in the two world wars put together. In Japan, millions of people died in the name of the sacred Buddha. Here in India, five thousand Jains were massacred in a single day. This is not a peaceful nation! You don't want to read your own history—it's full of violence from the beginning to the end.
U.G., to most people, and at times to me, you sound totally absurd—I can't understand much of what you say and neither can people who have read your books at times make out what you are and yet there's something that makes us take notice of you. It's the manner in which you say whatever you say. There's a strange kind of certainty with which you say things. What have you stumbled into?
There is no way I can tell you how I stumbled into what I stumbled into—the 'how' and 'what' are problems that confront us. You don't realize that it is the question which has created the problem and you have not accepted the fact that solutions are responsible for the problems.
Let's talk about the Valiums that we have surrounded ourselves with. Success, the quest for moksha, etc., relationships—these are our Valiums but of late, I see so many people I know, heading for a nervous breakdown. What is the glue that we can get to hold us together? Is there a glue that can keep mankind together?
What happens if the whole thing falls apart? Why are you frightened of the chaos that may not result? Why are you frightened that there will be chaos? Why do you want to hold on to things exactly the way they are? You may talk of change but you are not really interested in change. What you are interested in is change for the better but you don't realize that change is occurring all the time. Your unwillingness to change with a changing environment is responsible for the demand for a glue. There are so many people marketing all kinds of glues but they will not help you at all...
You see no hierarchy in the glue, religion, sexual pursuit, alcoholism. Whether you use one or the other, it's okay by you but for us in society, going into a church or mosque is acceptable while going into a whore house or bar to find respite is condemned.
To you the demand for all those things is exactly the same but the society in which we are living today considers certain actions as socially acceptable and certain other actions anti-social. You may call yourself a rebel, a revolutionary and break away but you will certainly create another form no different and distinct from the structure in which you are caught up. There is no such thing as a revolution at all. What you call revolution is only a revaluation of your value system. The basic problem is the impossibility of fitting yourself into the framework, so you want to create another kind of a framework, a new way of thinking but basically and actually and fundamentally there is no difference between the two.
In the sexual act there is a possibility of experiencing that oneness. Perhaps that is why sex has such a tremendous hold on our lives...
The idea that both man and woman can have the peak experience at the same time is false because there is no way that you can prepare yourself to have that moment of oneness in sexual activity. Probably animals have it because there is no foreplay. Whether it is sex or God, once you are stuck in it there is no way you can get out. That is the reason for the existence of tantric sex. Mankind is committed to suicide. It may sound very pessimistic to you but there is no way you can reverse it. Whatever is created has got to go. Birth and death are simultaneous processes and there is no way you can separate the two.
So I cannot use this man called U.G., or what he says, to make things permanent?
It is absurd on your part to demand permanence when there is no such thing as permanence at all. Religious people sell shoddy goods in the marketplace, make you believe that they have some way of satisfying your demand. Although they talk of impermanence, all the time they are suggesting that there is a way that things can be permanent. Nothing is permanent in nature.
It's all right to write of transience, to discuss the concept but when man is face to face with his own extinction...
He is not ready to face the fact that it is going to come to an end. As far as the living organism is concerned there is nothing permanent. Your body, which you have taken for granted, belongs to you. It is not demanding any permanence but is, in a way, permanent. What you call death is a recycling process and that is the only way that nature can enrich energy levels...
So death is essential for the continuity of life...
Not in the sense in which you think of the continuity of life. In a way we know that it is coming to an end which is why we have invented the 'life after' reincarnation theory.
So first you dream, then you die and life seems like one long process of getting tired...
To us life seems like a very long process of getting tired...
Because you have established a goal and all that you are doing is trying to achieve that goal when there is no goal there at all.
Is there no summing up, no full stops?
There is no way you can sum up what we have discussed.