Quote of the Day

Sep 7, 2023
Here we are trying, you and the speaker, together, not separately, together, to observe the movement of consciousness and its relationship to the world, and to see whether that consciousness is individual, separate, or if it is the whole of mankind. We are educated from childhood to be individuals, each with a separate soul; or we have been trained, educated, conditioned to think as individuals. We think that because we each have a separate name, separate form, that is, dark, light, tall, short, and each with a particular tendency, that we are separate individuals with our own particular experiences and so on. We are going to question that very idea, that we are individuals. It does not mean that we are some kind of amorphous beings, but actually question whether we are individuals, though the whole world maintains, both religiously and in other ways, that we are separate individuals. From that concept and perhaps from that illusion, we are each one of us trying to fulfil, to become something. in that effort to become something we are competing against another, fighting another, so that if we maintain that way of life, we must inevitably continue to cling to nationalities, tribalism, war. Why do we hold on to nationalism with such passion behind it? which is what is happening now. Why do we give such extraordinary passionate importance to nationalism which is essentially tribalism? Why? Is it because in holding on to the tribe, to the group, there is a certain security, an inward sense of completeness, fullness? If that is so, then the other tribe also feels the same; and hence division and hence war, conflict. If one actually sees the truth of this, not as something theoretical and if one wants to live on this earth which is our earth, not yours or mine then there is no nationalism at all. There is only human existence; one life; not your life or my life; it is living the whole of life. This tradition of individuality has been perpetuated by the religions both of the East and the West; salvation for each individual, and so on.

It is very good to have a mind that questions, that does not accept; a mind that says: 'We cannot possibly live any more like this, in this brutal, violent manner'. Doubting, questioning, not just accepting the way of life we have lived for perhaps fifty or sixty years, or the way man has lived for thousands of years. So, we are questioning the reality of individuality. Is your consciousness really yours? to be conscious means to be aware, to know, to perceive, to observe the content of your consciousness includes your beliefs, your pleasures, experiences, your particular knowledge which you have gathered either of some particular external subject or the knowledge you have gathered about yourself; it includes your fears and attachments; the pain and the agony of loneliness, the sorrow, the search for something more than mere physical existence; all that is the content of your consciousness. The content makes the consciousness; without the content there is not consciousness as we know it. Here there is no room for argument. It is so. Now, your consciousness which is very complex, contradictory, with such extraordinary vitality is it yours? Is thought yours? Or is there only thinking, which is neither Eastern nor Western thinking, which is common to all mankind, whether rich or poor, whether the technician with his extraordinary capacity or the monk who withdraws from the world and is consecrating himself to an idea?

Wherever one goes, one sees suffering, pain, anxiety, loneliness, insanity, fear, the seeking after security, being caught in knowledge and the urge of desire; it is all of the ground on which every human being stands. One's consciousness is the consciousness of the rest of humanity. It is logical; you may disagree; you may say, my consciousness is separate and must be separate; but is it so? If one understands the nature of this then one sees that one is the rest of mankind. One may have a different name, one may live in a particular part of the world and be educated in a particular way, one may be affluent or very poor, but when one goes behind the mask, deeply, one is like the rest of mankind aching, lonely, suffering, despairing, neurotic; believing in some illusion, and so on. Whether in the East or the West, this is so. One may not like it; one may like to think that one is totally independent, a free individual, but when one observes very deeply, one is the rest of humanity.

One may accept this as an idea, an abstraction, as a marvellous concept; but the idea is not the actuality. An abstraction is not what is actually taking place. But one makes an abstraction of that which is, into an idea, and then pursues the idea, which is really non-factual. So; if the content of my consciousness and yours is in itself contradictory, confused, struggling against another, fact against non-fact, wanting to be happy, being unhappy, wanting to live without violence and yet being violent then our consciousness in itself is disorder. There is the root of dissension. Until we understand that and go into it very deeply and discover total order, we shall always have disorder in the world. So a serious person is not easily dissuaded from the pursuit of understanding, the pursuit of delving deeply into himself, into his consciousness, not easily persuaded by amusement and entertainment which is perhaps sometimes necessary pursuing consistently every day into the nature of man, that is, into himself, observing what is actually going on within himself. From that observation, action takes place. It is not: what shall I do as a separate human being but an action which comes out of total holistic observation of life. Holistic observation is a healthy, sane, rational, logical, perception that is whole, which is holy. Is it possible for a human being, like any one of us who are laymen, not specialists, laymen, is it possible for him to look at the contradictory, confusing consciousness as a whole; or must he look at each part of it separately? One wants to understand oneself, one's consciousness. One knows from the very beginning that it is very contradictory; wanting one thing, and not wanting the other thing; saying one thing and doing another. And one knows that beliefs separate man. One believes in Jesus, or Krishna or something, or one believes in one's own experience which one holds on to, including the knowledge which one has accumulated through the forty or sixty years of one's life, which has become extraordinarily important. One clings to that. One recognizes that belief destroys and divides people and yet one cannot give it up because belief has strange vitality. It gives one a certain sense of security. One believes in god, there is an extraordinary strength in that. But god is invented by man. God is the projection of our own thought, the opposite to one's own demands, one's own hopelessness and despair.

The Flame of Attention | Chapter 7 1st Public Talk at Ojai 1st May 1982 Read full text