A complex problem continued


We are dealing with a very complex problem that needs to be studied most carefully, hesitantly, without any direction, without any motive, so as to observe, if we can, the whole outward happening of our life. What is happening outside of us is the measure by which we will be able to understand ourselves inwardly. If we do not understand what is actually going on in the external world, outside the psychological field, we will have no measure by which to observe ourselves. 

So if one is aware of all this, as one must be, what is one's response, not partial, but total response, to the whole phenomenon that is taking place in the world? Does one consider only one's own personal life, how to live a quiet, serene, undisturbed life in some corner; or is one concerned with the total human existence, with total humanity? If one is only concerned with one's own particular life, however troublesome it is, however limited it is, however much it is sorrowful and painful, then one does not realize that the part is of the whole. One has to look at life, not the American life or the Asiatic life, but life as a whole; holistic observation; an observation that is not a particular observation; it is not one's own observation, but the observation that comprehends the totality, the holistic view of life. . . . 


Each one has been concerned with his own particular problems - problems of money, no job, seeking one’s own fulfilment, everlastingly seeking pleasure; being frightened, isolated, lonely, depressed, suffering, and creating a saviour outside who will transform or bring about a salvation for each one of us. This has been the tradition in the Western world for two thousand years; and in the Asiatic world the same thing has been maintained in different words and symbols, different conclusions; but it is the same individual's search for his own salvation, for his own particular happiness, to resolve his own many complex problems. There are the specialists of various kinds, psychological specialists, to whom one goes to resolve one’s problems. They too have not succeeded. 
     Technologically the scientists have helped to reduce disease, to improve communication; but also they are increasing the devastating power of the weapons of war; the power to murder vast numbers of people with one blow. The scientists are not going to save mankind; nor are the politicians, whether in the East or West or in any part of the world. The politicians seek power, position, and they play all kinds of tricks on human thought. It is exactly the same thing in the so-called religious world; the authority of the hierarchy; the authority of the Pope, the archbishop, the bishop and the local priest, in the name of some image which thought has created. 
     We, as human beings separated, isolated, have not been able to solve our problems; although highly educated, cunning, self-centred, capable of extraordinary things outwardly, yet inwardly, we are more or less what we have been for thousands of years. We hate, we compete, we destroy each other; which is what is actually going on at the present time. You have heard the experts talking about some recent war; they are not talking about human beings being killed, but about destroying airfields, blowing up this or that. There is this total confusion in the world, of which one is quite sure we are all aware; so what shall we do? As a friend some time ago told the speaker: 'You cannot do anything; you are beating your head against a wall. Things will go on like this indefinitely; fighting, destroying each other, competing and being caught in various forms of illusion. This will go on. Do not waste your life and time.' Aware of the tragedy of the world, the terrifying events that may happen should some crazy person press a button; the computer taking over man's capacities, thinking much quicker and more accurately what is going to happen to the human being? This is the vast problem which we are facing.

 And one asks, if one is at all serious and responsible: what is one to do? Retire into a monastery? form some commune? Go off to Asia and pursue Zen meditation or some other form of meditation? One is asking this question seriously. When one is confronted with this crisis it is a crisis in consciousness, it is not over there outside of one. The crisis is in oneself. There is a saying: we have seen the enemy and the enemy is ourselves. 

     The crisis is not a matter of economics, of war, the bomb, the politicians, the scientists; the crisis is within us, the crisis is in our consciousness. Until we understand very profoundly the nature of that consciousness, and question, delve deeply into it and find out for ourselves whether there can be a total mutation in that consciousness, the world will go on creating more misery, more confusion, more horror. Our responsibility is not in some kind of altruistic action outside ourselves, political, social or economic; it is to comprehend the nature of our being. to find out why we human beings who live on this beautiful earth have become like this. 

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.

Ojai 1982 First talk