Quote of the Day

Aug 2, 2023
Most of us are concerned with action, with what to do. There is so much sorrow, misery and starvation, and what can the human being who is conscious of all this do about it? Is he to leave the reformation entirely to the Government or should he, as an individual, join an organization which will bring about a little more order, a more equal distribution of land, a little more happiness and beauty in life? That is one of our problems, is it not? Has true religion any relation to reformation? Has the really religious man any relationship with politics and government? Or must he concern himself entirely with all the implications of that word `religion' which is not the same thing at all as organized religion, belief, dogma, ritual, the reading of sacred books and doing nothing about it? All that is merely verbal enjoyment. The problem is, is it not?, that one sees the misery in this world, the unemployment, the starvation, the appalling state of things, and what is one to do? Should one join a group to bring about reformation or is that the function of the government? Please, I am not asking you to do anything. We are just examining the whole problem of action because most of us want to do something in this world either in a limited, narrow sense or in a wider sense. To do something about it is a human, instinctual response but there is a great deal of confusion which I am briefly exploring now. Which does not mean that you must follow any of the things I say because to be a leader or a follower destroys human relationship. Neither a leader nor a follower can bring about a mind that is capable of affection, of love.

So one of our problems is action. We see this misery about us, and what should we do? Should one join a group to bring about reforms, or should one see to it that the government makes such laws, restrictions and edicts as will bring about a right reformation? And why do the people who are dedicated to some kind of reform join hands with the politicians? Is it because they think that by joining hands with the government they can accelerate reformation or is it because they are trying to fulfil themselves through reforms and through politics? Helping to bring about a reformation in society gives us an opportunity to expand ourselves, does it not? It gives us a chance to become important. Then we are somebody, in the religious as well as in the political field. But is that the function of the truly religious man? I hope you understand the question, Sirs? It is the function of the government to pass laws against corruption, to see that there is no starvation, no war, no extremes of wealth and poverty, and when the government does not do it, is it your responsibility, as an individual, to see that there are politicians to do all this? Why should you or I take an interest in politics? I am not suggesting that you should dissociate yourselves from voting and all that business, but is it the duty of the religious man to enter the field of politics, which is concerned only with immediate results - to build a dam, to bring hydroelectric current all over the country, and so on? Is it the duty of the religious man, is it his job, his vocation, to enter into that field?

Now we want to do both, don't we? We want to be serious or so-called religious and we also want to dabble in politics. So I am trying to find out what is the real function of a religious man. We know the function of the politician, - not the crooked man but the right kind of politician. It is his job to see that certain things are done, carried out, and that he himself is incorruptible. But what is a religious man, and if he is really religious, will he take part in politics, in the immediate reformation? Let us go into the question of what we mean by religion and the religious man. Obviously we do not mean the man who goes to the temple three times a day, nor the man who repeats a lot of words, nor the man who follows some doctrine like the savage gathering to himself all kinds of beliefs. And surely he is not a religious man who repeats what Shankara has said, or Buddha or Christ; he merely spins words. Such a mind is a diseased mind. The religious man is he who, realizing his conditioning, is breaking through that conditioning. Such a man does not belong to any religion, he has no beliefs, follows no ritual, no dogma because he sees that dogma, ritual, belief are merely conditioning factors, the influences of the society around him. Whether he lives in Russia, Italy, India, America or anywhere else, the environment is conditioning him and influencing him to believe or not to believe. But the religious man is he who, through self-knowledge, begins to discover his conditioning and to break through it; and the breaking through is not a matter of time.

Now what do we mean by time? Sirs, I am describing but it is for you to experience, so do not say to yourself, that you will listen very carefully in order to see whether Shankara, Christ or Buddha says the same thing. We are discussing, you and I, as two individuals trying to find out for ourselves, and if you compare what you hear with what you have read, then you are not listening, then you are not experiencing as we go along. We are trying to discover what it is to be religious and whether the religious man is concerned with time as a means of arriving at virtue or as a means of conquering his disabilities, his afflictions. In examining this process of time, which is the distance between what we are and what we want to be, we say time is necessary. We say time is essential to cultivate virtue, time is necessary to free the mind from its conditioning, time is required to travel the distance from an idea to another idea, to the ideal. The distance from a point to a point, that is what we mean by time, whether it is chronological or psychological, - chronological time means needing a whole lifetime, or many lives, and psychological time means the `I will arrive', `I will be' state of mind. The `will be' is time, is it not?

So, is time necessary in order to understand or is understanding something that is immediate, something unrelated to time? Surely, if you are really listening, then time ceases. I do not know if you have ever experimented with the question of time. If you have, you will realize that all understanding is in the immediate present, and by the present I do not mean in opposition to the past or the future, but a mind that is completely attentive with an attention that has no causation, that does not wish to arrive somewhere. So I am trying to uncover that instantaneous understanding of the conditioning of the mind, and in that understanding break through the conditioning. That is what we are examining. I realize that my mind is conditioned by society and I want to know if time is necessary to break through that conditioning. Is time necessary in order to see, to understand something? Will I understand after two hours, or by the end of the day or after many days, or do I understand something immediately? We generally think that time is necessary in order to understand. We rely on progress, we say, give me time, give me opportunity, let me use discipline, grow, become, and at the end I will understand. That is the traditional, the religious and the so-called human approach. And I ask myself if that is so. Is understanding really a matter of time or is it a matter of the immediate present? If it is a matter of the immediate present it means that the mind must be free of the idea that it will understand in the future. After all, when it says, `I will understand', the `will' is the time period. Now during that time period what actually happens? You go on in your own sweet way, do you not?, carrying on with all your pleasures and pains because you really do not want to understand; but when you do want to understand then the action is immediate. Please, this does not require time in which to think if what is said is true or not, but it requires a certain state of attention. I do not know if you have ever thought what we mean by yesterday, tomorrow and today. In chronological time we know that yesterday was Tuesday, but it means also all the content of yesterday and the memories, the experiences, the pleasures and unhappiness of the many, many yesterdays which conditioned yesterday. And what do we mean by tomorrow? We mean all the past passing through today into the future which is somewhat modified, but which has the same content as yesterday. That is what we mean by yesterday, today and tomorrow; yesterday, with all its struggles efforts and miseries, passing through today and coming to tomorrow, which is the future. And what is today? Is today merely a passage of yesterday to tomorrow?
Poona, India | 6th Public Talk, 24th September 1958 Read full text