Tuesday, September 09, 2008


“We are violent human beings. To say, ‘You have not changed, why haven’t you?’ is a form of violence. It doesn’t mean a thing to me to convince you of anything. It’s your life, not my life; the way you live is your affair. And if you want to live with great happiness, great bliss, with a great sense of ecstasy, we’ll communicate with each other. If you don’t, you don’t, and what am I do? Human beings are violent, and is it possible for that violence to be totally eradicated? That is the only question we are concerned with, not whether the rich or poor are better; all that has no meaning.

“Now is it possible for me and for you to end violence in ourselves? Which means, I must find out for myself what kind of violence there is in me. Is it defensive violence to defend myself? I defend myself through my nationality, through the religion I belong to, through an ideology, whether it is communist or Catholic or Buddhist, or whatever it is. The very process of defending and resisting is a form of violence. When a nation says: I defend myself only – such a concept obviously means I am prepared to fight. So there is no such thing as defense and offense, because both contain in themselves violence. That’s one form of violence. Then there is a form of anger, in which is involved hate, jealousy, aggressive acquisitiveness, the demand to dominate, to possess; all those are forms of violence. Or do you call violence merely killing another? Is it not violence when you use a sharp word against another? Is it not also violence when you make a gesture to brush away a person, or when you obey because there’s fear? So violence isn’t merely killing another – in the name of God, in the name of society, in the name of the country – this organized butchery. Violence is also much more subtle, much deeper, and we are inquiring into the very depth of violence. If one is not subtle enough, clear enough to follow to the very end the root of violence, which is both in the conscious as well as in the so-called deeper layers of consciousness, I don’t see how you can ever be free of violence. After all, why shouldn't one be violent? We take it for granted that we should not be violent. I don’t know why. You’ve had in Europe two dreadful wars, with all the brutality, the exterminations of the concentration camps, the butchery, and yet you haven’t changed. You’re still Germans, Austrians, Russians, Catholics, and all the rest of it. So you have accepted that as the way of life – haven’t you? Obviously, sirs. And can you voluntarily, sanely (not neurotically) put away that?

“Psychologically begin with that and see where it will lead you. Can one do that? My friend up there [A Questioner] says it cannot be done.” [Questioner: “Is it not a question of the emotions? – One has bouts of anger.”] Certainly it is related to emotion. Which is what, sir? Look you hit me for whatever reason (I’ve insulted you). There is an emotion – anger – but that anger is sustained by thought. Thought gives to that feeling a continuity. I hate you hereafter because you have hit me. I want to hit you back, I’m watching, waiting for an opportunity to hurt you, which is all the process of thinking.”

[Questioner: Is it not rather the relationship of the emotions?”]

"That’s only a part of it. Take this whole thing – emotion, thought, the power to retain, which is memory; from that memory, my conditioned responses, I act. I am a Catholic, a communist, I have been conditioned that way and if anybody attacks that, questions that, I get annoyed, angry, which is an emotional response according to my conditioning. We’re saying: Can one go to the very root of violence and be free of it? Otherwise we are not human beings; we shall live everlastingly in a battle with each other. If that is the way you want – which is apparently what human beings want – then carry on. But if you say there might be a different way of living, there might be a different process of responding to life, then we can discuss, when we shall be able to communicate with each other. But if you say, ‘Well I’m sorry, violence can never end,’ then you and I have no means of communication, you have blocked yourself.”

“We are conditioned to violence and in violence …. My mind is distorted because it is conditioned….Are you and I aware of our conditioning? …. If it is merely a conditioned response which says: don’t be violent – then it is another form of violence. You follow? It’s like a Catholic saying there is a savior, there is sin, and only this savior can save. That’s a conditioned response, it has no meaning whatsoever.”

“….Can I, can you, become aware of your conditioning?”

[Questioner: “One cannot, it is an essential part of living.”]

“Sir, look. We are conditioned by the climate, by the food we eat, by the newspapers we read, by the company we keep; we are conditioned by the wife, by the husband, by the job, by techniques, by everyday influences and experience. We are conditioned! Now, can I become aware of that condition, just one conditioning? … Whether it is pleasureable conditioning or unpleasant conditioning, are you aware of your conditioning? …. When one is aware of one’s conditioning, as a Jew, as a Hindu, as a Negro – whatever it is – then in it there is not only great pleasure but also, as you say, great discomfort. Now, does this conditioning bring a sense of imprisonment or not? Or, do you say, ‘Well the pleasure outweighs the discomfort and therefore it’s all right.’ You follow what I mean? Or, do you say, ‘It isn’t good enough.’ …. Then when you come to a precipice, you know how dangerous your conditioning is. But without coming upon that precipice, you play with your conditioning. So, are you willing to push the awareness of your conditioning until you come to that precipice – when you’ve got to act! Or, are you merely playing with your condition from a safe distance?”

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