Probably this is all rather abstract and difficult, but we will simplify it as I begin to answer questions about it. But I think we will have to lay the abstract before us, and then build structurally, concretely; and we will do that when we understand the principle of this problem of suffering - whether suffering can be overcome through effort which creates the opposite, and whether suffering, which is the desire to become something here or hereafter, can be brought to an end by thought. Now, what is thinking? When you say,`I am thinking', what does it mean? You are trying to solve the problem of sorrow through thought; and can thought put an end to pain, to psychological anxiety, to fear, and so on? So, what is thinking? Surely, thinking is the response of memory; if you had no memory, you would not be capable of thinking. Memory is the residue of experience - experience which is not completely, fully understood. When you understand something completely, fully, it leaves no mark. Only the undigested, incomplete experience leaves a mark, which we call memory. So, thinking is the response of memory; and when you try to solve the problem of suffering through thought, thought being the response of memory, surely there is no solution; because memory is the continuity of effort. This is not a cleverly worked out puzzle; but if you think about it, you will see that three things are involved in your process of dealing with pain: effort, thought, and memory. Don't memorize it - watch it operating in your daily life, and you will see. You don't have to read philosophical books; but, if you will watch yourself when there is anxiety, when there is pain, you will see these three things at work. And can these things overcome, dissolve, the pain, the sorrow? Obviously they cannot, because the thought process is merely the outcome of incomplete understanding, and change is merely modified continuity, which creates the opposite. So, our problem is to find out what can put an end to sorrow, what can bring about that state of happiness, which is obviously not the result of effort.
I don't know if you have ever tried to be happy. Surely, you have never succeeded when you tried to be happy. Happiness comes into being spontaneously, uninvited. So, it cannot be a result of effort and if we seek happiness by getting rid of sorrow, then we will not understand, put an end to sorrow without the thought process, without effort? Because effort implies, as pointed out, the creating of duality, of the opposites; and what is opposite is still within the field of its own opposite. So, what puts an end to sorrow? When you understand the process of thought, the process of effort, the process of memory, when you really understand, as I have explained, when you are aware of these three processes, then what happens? When you are aware of something, what is your exact experience? Surely, when you are aware of something, there is no condemnatory attitude, is there? There is no justifying or identifying. You are simply aware. I am aware of that green, of those birds flying. In that awareness, there is no condemnation, there is no justification. Now, if you are aware of sorrow without the three processes at work trying to overcome it, if you are aware without condemnation then you will see there comes alert passivity, a passive awareness without any demand. You are very alert; there is no part of your being which is asleep, because you have explored, as we said, the whole process of memory, thought, effort, and therefore you are fully aware; and in that awareness there is a perceptivity, a quiet, a stillness, an observation. Without a prejudice, without a demand; and then you will find that sorrow comes to an end. But such awareness demands an extraordinarily persistent watchfulness to see how the mind works when there is suffering, to follow the swift movement of every thought and thereby comprehend the whole process of effort, of thought and of memory.
Public Talk 15th February, 1948