Understanding obviously does not come through fragmentation; and most of us think in terms of fragmentation, all our relationships in life are fragmentary. With one part of ourselves we are politicians, with another part we are religious, with a third part we are business-people, and so on. Psychologically we are all broken up, and with these fragments of ourselves we look at life. And then we say, "Intellectually I understand, but I cannot act".
So, mental examination or exploration is fragmentary, superficial, and it does not bring about understanding. Intellectually we agree, for example, that it is immature to have the world broken up into conflicting nationalities and religious groups, but at heart we are still English, German, Hindu, Christian, and so on. Our difficulty is to bring about a direct emotional contact with the fact, and this demands that we approach the fact negatively, that is, without any obsession of opinion.
There is a vast difference, then, between the mental examination of a fact and the understanding of that fact. Mental examination of the fact leads nowhere. But the understanding born of approaching the fact negatively, without opinion or interpretation - this understanding of the fact gives tremendous energy to deal with the fact.
1st Public Talk 22nd July 1962