If you think it is important to know about yourself only because I or someone else told you it is important, then I am afraid all communication between us comes to an end. But if we agree that it is vital that we understand ourselves completely, then you and I have quite a different relationship, then we can explore together with a happy, careful and intelligent enquiry.
I do not demand your faith; I am not setting myself up as an authority. I have nothing to teach you - no new philosophy, no new system, no new path to reality; there is no path to reality any more than to truth. All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing. Leaders destroy the followers and followers destroy the leaders. You have to be your own teacher and your own disciple. You have to question everything that man has accepted as valuable, as necessary.
If you do not follow somebody you feel very lonely. Be lonely then. Why are you frightened of being alone? Because you are faced with yourself as you are and you find that you are empty, dull, stupid, ugly, guilty and anxious - a petty, shoddy, secondhand entity. Face the fact; look at it, do not run away from it. The moment you run away fear begins.
In enquiring into ourselves we are not isolating ourselves from the rest of the world. It is not an unhealthy process. Man throughout the world is caught up in the same daily problems as ourselves, so in enquiring into ourselves we are not being in the least neurotic because there is no difference between the individual and the collective. That is an actual fact. I have created the world as I am. So don't let us get lost in this battle between the part and the whole.
I must become aware of the total field of my own self, which is the consciousness of the individual and the society. It is only then, when the mind goes beyond this individual and social consciousness, that I can become a light to myself that never goes out.
Now where do we begin to understand ourselves? Here am I, and how am I to study myself, observe myself, see what is actually taking place inside myself? I can observe myself only in relationship because all life is relationship. It is no use sitting in a corner meditating about myself. I cannot exist by myself. I exist only in relationship to outward things and people, as well as to inward things, I begin to understand myself. Every other form of understanding is merely an abstraction and I cannot study myself in abstraction; I am not an abstract entity; therefore I have to study myself in actuality- as I am, not as I wish to be.
Understanding is not an intellectual process. Acquiring knowledge about yourself and learning about yourself are two different things, for the knowledge you accumulate about yourself is always of the past and a mind that is burdened wit the past is a sorrowful mind. Learning about yourself is not like learning a language or a technology or a science - then you obviously have to accumulate and remember; it would be absurd to begin all over again - but in the psychological field learning about yourself is always in the present and knowledge is always in the past, and as most of us live in the past and are satisfied with the past, knowledge becomes extraordinarily important to us. That is why we worship the erudite, the clever, the cunning. But if you are learning all the time, learning every minute, learning by watching and listening, learning by seeing and doing, then you will find that learning is a constant movement without the past.
If you say you will learn gradually about yourself, adding more and more, little by little, you are not studying yourself now as you are but through acquired knowledge. Learning implies a great sensitivity. There is no sensitivity if there is an idea, which is of the past dominating the present. Then the mind is no longer quick, pliable, alert. Most of us are not even sensitive even physically. We over-eat, we do not bother about the right diet, we oversmoke and drink so that our bodies become gross and insensitive; the quality of attention in the organism is made dull. How can there be a very alert, sensitive, clear mind if the organism itself is dull and heavy? We may be sensitive about certain things that touch us personally but to be completely sensitive to all the implications of life demands that there be no separation between the organism and the psyche. It is a total movement.
To understand anything you must live with it, you must observe it, you must know all its content, its nature, its structure, its movement. Have you ever tried living with yourself? If so, you begin to see that yourself is not a static state, it is a fresh living thing. And to live with a living thing your mind must also be alive. And it cannot be alive if it is caught in opinions, judgements and values.
In order to observe the movement of your own mind and heart, of your whole begin, you must have a free mind, not a mind that agrees and disagrees, taking sides in an argument, disputing over mere words, but rather following with the intention to understand - a very difficult thing to do because most of us don't know how to look at, or listen to, our own being any more than we know how to look at the beauty of a river or listen to the breeze among the trees.
When we condemn or justify we cannot see clearly, nor can we when our minds are endlessly chattering; then we do not observe what is; we look only at the projections we have made of ourselves. Each of us has an image of what we think we are or what we should be, and that image, that picture, entirely prevents us from seeing ourselves as we actually are.
It is one of the most difficult things in the world to look at anything simply. Because our minds are very complex we have lost the quality of simplicity. I don't mean simplicity in clothes or food, wearing only a loin cloth or breaking a record fasting or any of that immature nonsense that saints cultivate, but the simplicity that can look directly at things without fear - that can look at ourselves as we actually are without any distortion - to say when we lie we lie, not cover it up or run away from it.
Also in order to understand ourselves we need a great deal of humility. If you start by saying, 'I know myself', you have already stopped learning about yourself; or if you say, 'There is nothing much to learn about myself because I am just a bundle of memories, ideas, experiences, and traditions', then you have also stopped learning about yourself. The moment you have achieved anything you cease to have that quality of innocence and humility; the moment you have a conclusion or start examining from knowledge, you are finished, for then you are translating every living thing in terms of the old. Whereas if you have no foothold, if there is no certainty, no achievement, there is freedom to look, to achieve. And when you look with freedom it is always new. A confident man is a dead human being.
change is in the heavens, change is on this Earth. change is all around us
and if we are reflections of the divine, we must roll with these changes, for we are these changes