Everywhere there is a compelling environmental influence. Newspapers tell us what to think, and there are so many five, ten or fifteen-year plans. Then there are these specialists at the economic, scientific and bureaucratic levels; there are all the traditions of everyday activity, what we must do and what we must not do; then there is the whole influence of the so-called sacred books; and there is the cinema, the radio, the newspaper; everything in the world is trying to tell us what to do, what to think and what not to think. I do not know if you have noticed how increasingly difficult it has become to think for oneself. We have become such experts in quoting what other people say, or have said, and in the midst of this authoritarian welter where is the freedom? And what do we mean by freedom? Is there such a thing? I am using that word freedom in its most simple sense in which is included liberation, the mind that is liberated, free. I want, if I may, to go into that.
First, I think we must realize that our minds are really not free. Everything we see, every thought we have, shapes our mind; whatever you think now, whatever you have thought in the past and whatever you are going to think in the future, it all shapes the mind. You think what you have been told either by the religious person, or the politician, by the teacher in your school, or by books and newspapers. Everything about you influences what you think. What you eat, what you look at, what you listen to, your wife, your husband, your child, your neighbour, everything is shaping the mind. I think that is fairly obvious. Even when you think that there is a God or that there is no God, that also is the influence of tradition. So our mind is the field in which there are many contradictory influences which are in battle one against the other.
Poona, Maharashtra, India
5th Public Talk 21st September 1958