Q: U.G., I have read a statement that is attributed to you. It says that nature is not interested in creating a perfect being, but that its interest is only to create a perfect species. What do you mean by that?
UG: We have for centuries been made to believe that the end product of human evolution, if there is one, is the creation of perfect beings modeled after the great spiritual teachers of mankind and their behavior patterns.
Q: By great spiritual teachers you mean people like Jesus and the Buddha?
UG: All of them. All the great teachers - the occidental, the oriental, and the Chinese teachers. That is the basic problem we are confronted with. I don't think I have any special insights into the laws of nature. But if there is any such thing as an end product of human evolution (I don't know if there is such a thing as evolution, but we take it for granted that there is), what nature is trying to produce is not a perfect being.
Q: But scientific research has revealed that there is such a thing as evolution.
UG: Even today some universities don't allow their students to study Darwin's Origin of Species. His statements have been proved to be wrong to some extent because he said that acquired characteristics cannot be transmitted to the succeeding generations. But every time they [the scientists] discover something new they change their theories.
Nature does not use anything as a model. It is only interested in perfecting the species. It is trying to create perfect species and not perfect beings. We are not ready to accept that. What nature has created in the form of human species is something extraordinary. It is an unparalleled creation. But culture is interested in fitting the actions of all human beings into a common mold. That is because it is interested in maintaining the status quo, its value system. That is where the real conflict is. This [referring to himself] is something which cannot be fitted into that value system.
Q: I have been in touch with your statements over the years. You can be called a universal pessimist. Given your position, I am tempted to ask, "Why don't you commit suicide?" I cannot deny that you are also a very lively person.
UG: Since I have not come into the world of my own choice, I don't think I will opt for suicide. It is not a clever statement that I am making, but these labels that I am a pessimist and others are optimists do not really mean anything. They have put me into the framework of a pessimist, a nihilist, an atheist, and many others. How can you, for instance, call me a god man when I sometimes go to the extent of saying that God is irrelevant? If I make a statement like that, I don't mean that I am questioning the existence of God. I am not impressed by the theologians discussing everlastingly, trying to impress upon us through their dialectical thinking, the cosmological, ontological, and teleological proofs for the existence of God. We are not concerned with that question at all. It has become irrelevant to us because we use that to exploit others. We use thinking as an instrument of destruction. We want to believe that God is on our side. During the last world war, the Germans claimed that God was their copilot, and the British also claimed that God was their copilot. Both of them destroyed life and property. So we would like God to be on our side all the time and use Him. But what has come out of that is only violence. Belief in God, or belief in anything, separates us from others. When we find that we cannot force our beliefs on others we resort to violence. We would like everybody to believe the same thing. When we fail in that attempt of ours to make everybody believe in God, or no God, or even our political systems - the right or the left -, what is left is only violence.
Q: I began with this whole question of nature because what I find in your statements is a profound sense of nature, a profound sense of the absolute and primitive reality of life itself, which seems to me an extraordinarily positive force and a force for the good.
UG: The fundamental mistake that humanity made somewhere along the line, is, or was, or whatever is the correct verb [chuckles], to experience this separateness from the totality of life. At that time there occurred in man, which includes woman also, this self-consciousness which separated him from the life around. He was so isolated that it frightened him. The demand to be part of the totality of life around him created this tremendous demand for the ultimate. He thought that the spiritual goals of God, truth, or reality, would help him to become part of the `whole' again. But the very attempt on his part to become one with or become integrated with the totality of life has kept him only more separate. Isolated functioning is not part of nature. But this isolation has created a demand for finding out ways and means of becoming a part of nature. But thought in its very nature can only create problems and cannot help us solve them.
We don't seem to realize that it is thought that is separating us from the totality of things. The belief that this is the one that can help us to keep in tune with the totality is not going to materialize. So, it has come up with all kinds of ingenuous, if I may use that word, ideas of insight and intuition.
Q: There are a lot of words.
UG: Yes, we have a plethora of words. You know it is said that Shakespeare, that great playwright and poet, had a vocabulary of only four thousand words. I don't know if that is true. But now we have many thousands of words. We come up with every kind of phrase to cover up this impossibility of trying to use words to understand the reality of things. That is where the real problem is. Thought has not succeeded so far in understanding reality, but that [thought] is all that we are left with. We cannot question thought. We cannot brush it aside. We know in a way that it cannot help us, but can only create problems. We are not ready to throw it out and find out if there is any other way, if there is any answer.
Q: One of the things that strike me as you speak is how in many ways what you say is related to the underlying philosophy of Hinduism. I mean Hinduism that speaks of the original unity of all things.
UG: I am not for a moment expounding Hinduism here or in India. In fact, they think that I am not a Hindu. Yet the Hindus are ready to accept [to some degree] what I am saying. They say, "What you are saying seems to be true, but the way you are putting things is not acceptable". They brush me aside. But at the same time they cannot totally brush me aside. They always try to fit me into their framework or reference point. If they cannot do that, the whole tradition in which they have a tremendous investment is at stake. So they necessarily have to try to fit me into that framework. So far nobody has succeeded. Many philosophers in India have been asked about my statements, and they know that they can very well deal with any philosophy, any thinker, past and present, but they have some difficulty in fitting me into any particular frame that they know of. What they say is, and I quote, "There is no way we can fit this man into any known cage. So what we have to do is to let the bird fly."
Q: I suppose that the `free flying' fits in perfectly with primitive nature.
UG: You know what the word `religion' means?
Q: It is to be tied down in some way.
UG: I am not interested in the root meaning of the words at all, but it means "to connect you back to the source."
UG: On the other hand, religion has created schisms. It has been responsible for tremendous destruction of life and property. It is very unfortunate. But, nevertheless, the fact does remain that religion has failed in its purpose.
We live in the hope and die in the hope that somehow the very same thing that has failed us will one day rescue us. You cannot conceive of the impossibility of creating a harmony between humans and the life around through thought.
Q: Although religion has no doubt done many destructive things, it has also done many creative things. I mean great art and literature. Shakespeare himself, in a way, was coming out of basically a religious experience. Certainly that is true of the Western civilization, which arises out of the Christian experience.
UG: That's true. That is why when a void is created, when all the systems have failed, there is the danger of a demand for the religious stuff stepping into it and trying to tell us, "We have the answers for your problems." But the revolutions have failed. I am not against any value system, but the demand to fit ourselves into it [a value system] is the cause of man's suffering.
Q: Where then do we go from here? I am not going to ask you what is the purpose of life, because obviously, as you were saying, that is really not a relevant question.
UG: No. It is a relevant question, but is born out of the assumption that we know about life. Nobody knows anything about life. We have only concepts, ideations, and mentations about life. Even the scientists who are trying to understand life and its origin come up only with theories and definitions of life. You may not agree with me, but all thought, all thinking is dead. Thinking is born out of dead ideas. Thought or the thinking mechanism trying to touch life, experience it, capture, and give expression to it are impossible tasks.
What we are concerned about is living. Living is our relationship with our fellow beings, with the life around. When we have everything that we can reasonably ask for, all the material comforts that you have in the West, the question naturally arises: "Is that all?" The moment you pose that question to yourself, we have created a problem. If that's all there is, what then is the next step to take? We do not see any meaning in our life, and so we pose this question to ourselves, and throw this question at all those who you think have answers.
What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of life? It may have its own meaning, it may have its own purpose. By understanding the meaning of life and the purpose of life we are not going to improve, change, modify, or alter our behavior patterns in any way. But there is a hope that by understanding the meaning of life, we can bring about a change. There may not be any meaning of life. If it has a meaning, it is already in operation there. Wanting to understand the meaning of life seems to be a futile attempt on our part. We go on asking these questions.
Once a very old gentleman, ninety-five years old, who was considered to be a great spiritual man and who taught the great scriptures all the time to his followers, came to see me. He heard that I was there in that town. He came to me and asked me two questions. He asked me, "What is the meaning of life? I have written hundreds of books telling people all about the meaning and purpose of life, quoting all the scriptures and interpreting them. I haven't understood the meaning of life. You are the one who can give an answer to me." I told him, "Look, you are ninety-five years old and you haven't understood the meaning of life. When are you going to understand the meaning of life? There may not be any meaning to life at all." The next question he asked me was, "I have lived ninety-five years and I am going to die one of these days. I want to know what will happen after my death." I said, "You may not live long to know anything about death. You have to die now. Are you ready to die?" As long as you are asking the question, "What is death?" or "What is there after death?" you are already dead. These are all dead questions. A living man would never ask those questions.
Q: Let us ask then another question which is not intellectual. What should we do?
UG: [Laughs] We have been for centuries told what to do. Why are we asking the same question, "What to do?" What to do in relation to what? What I am emphasizing is that the demand to bring about a change in ourselves is the cause of our suffering. I may say that there is nothing to be changed. But the revolutionary teachers come and tell us that there is something there in which you have to bring about a radical revolution. Then we assume there is such a thing as soul, spirit, or the `I'. What I assert all the time is that I haven't found anything like the self or soul there.
This question haunted me all my life, and suddenly it hit me: "There is no self to realize. What the hell have I been doing all this time?" You see, that hits you like a lightning. Once that hits you, the whole mechanism of the body that is controlled by this thought [of the `I'] is shattered. What is left is the tremendous living organism with an intelligence of its own. What you are left with is the pulse, the beat, and the throb of life.
"There must be something more, and we have to do something to become part of the whole thing." Such demands have arisen because of our assumption that we have been created for a grander purpose than that for which other species on this planet have been created. That's the fundamental mistake we have made. Culture is responsible for our assuming this. We thus come to believe that the whole creation is for the benefit of man. The demand to use nature for our purposes has created all the ecological problems. It is not such an easy thing for us to deal with these problems. We have reached a point where there is no going back. You may say that I am a pessimist again.
The point is, we have probably arrived at a place where there is no going back. What is the fate of mankind and what is one to do? Anything that is born out of thought is destructive in its nature. That is why I very often say in my conversations and interviews that thought, in its birth, in its nature, in its expression, and in its action, is fascist. Thought is interested in protecting itself, and is always creating frontiers around itself. And it wants to protect the frontiers. That is why we create frontiers around us: our families, our nations, and then this planet. I am talking all the time. What is your third question ? [Laughter]
Q: I am fascinated because this is one of the most consistently intellectual conversations I have had in a long time.
UG: [Laughs] Whatever else I may or may not have been, I have never been an intellectual. People ask me questions, and I say that I am an illiterate.
Q: Well, your logic is absolutely consistent. The consistency of your position is unassailable. It would seem to me that the best thing to do in some way is what some of the Christian mystics did. They said that God is nothing.
UG: Remarkable people.
Q: That leads them to a silence almost to the end. Why do you speak? I pose the question to you.
UG: Why do I speak?
UG: Why do I speak? [Laughter] Am I speaking? You know, it may sound very funny to you. I have nothing to say, and what I am saying is not born out of my thinking. You may not accept this. But it is not a logically ascertained premise that I am putting across. It may sound very funny to you, and you have put me in a very precarious position by asking me why I am talking. Am I talking? Really I am not, you see. There is nobody who is talking here. I use this simile of a ventriloquist. He is actually carrying on both sides of the dialogue, but we attribute one side of it to the dummy in front of him. In exactly the same way, all your questions are born out of the answers you already have. Any answer anybody gives should put an end to your questions. But it does not. And we are not ready to accept the fact that all the questions are born out of the answers. If the questions go, the answers we take for granted also go with them. But we are not ready to throw the answers away, because sentiment comes into the picture. The tremendous investment we have made, and the faith we have in the teachers, are also at stake. Therefore, we are not ready to brush aside the answers.
Actually we do not want answers for our questions. The assumption that the questions are different from the questioner is also false. If the answer goes, the questioner also goes. The questioner is nothing but the answers. That is really the problem. We are not ready to accept this answer because it will put an end to the answers which we have accepted for ages as the real answers.
Q: And so, we keep asking questions.
UG: Yes, asking questions.
Q: And where would we have been without a few questions to ask? [Laughter]
UG: You have asked the questions and I have tried to give the answers.
Q: Do you say that we are two separate people or just part of the universal life force?
UG: There is no way I can separate myself except when I use the knowledge which is common to us both. So there is no way I can create this individual here [pointing to himself] and experience that there is such a thing as a human body here, that there is something that is talking here. There is nobody who is talking. It is just a computer. And, you are interested in operating the computer. Whatever is coming out of me that you think is the answer is a printout.
What I am trying to say is that I have no image of myself. I have no way I can create the image. The only instruments I have are my sensory perceptions. My sensory perceptions function independently of each other. There is no coordinator who is coordinating all the sensory perceptions and creating an image. Since I have no way I can create an image here within me, I have no way of creating an image of you and put you up there. But it does not mean that I am this microphone, or you, or that table. It is not that I am the table, or the microphone, or this glass of water, or this visitors' card; not at all. There is no way, however, that I can separate myself from any of these except through the help of the knowledge which is our common property. The questions get answered through that knowledge. That is also the only way I can experience things.
Actually what we see here [in ourselves] is the opposite of what we would like to be, what we would want to be, what we think ought to be or should be. Otherwise there is no way you can create an image of yourself. Since you want to be something other than what you are, (that's what the culture has put in there,) you create something which is the opposite [of what you would like to be]. That is all the time struggling to be something other than what it is. So what is here is the opposite of what you would like to be, and so that creates time. Thought can never conceive the possibility of achieving anything except in time. It does not want to let go of this image which is created by what you would like to be, what you think you ought to be or should be. That's really the problem.
"What is going on here are two persons exchanging ideas" - this I really don't know. I have no way of experiencing that at all. But if you ask me the question, "Who is it that is talking?" I say it is U.G. and you. It may take a little time because the computer has to come up with the information that is there. I mean not in a simple case like this but in more complex cases.
We think that our memory is very fast. But actually it is slower than the activity of the sensory perceptions. There is an illusion that memory is operating all the time, trying to capture everything within its framework. But the illusion is created by the mind in order to maintain the continuity of our identity. We can't afford to let go of our identity whether we are asleep, awake or dreaming. This identity is there all the time, and we do not want to let go of it.
I am not saying that thought is useless or any such thing. Its interest is to maintain its continuity. When the identity is not
there, you have no way of identifying yourself with anything except through the help of knowledge. So, I do accept, like anyone else, the reality of the world as it is imposed on
me. Otherwise I would end up in the loony-bin, singing loony tunes and merry melodies. But at the same time, I know that thought is merely functional in its nature and it cannot
help me become something which I am not.
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