This series has five talks; the first talk deals with the absolute necessity of listening attentively, which is the foundation of true communication over a series of foundational issues that matters tremendously to one's living but is glossed over by a busy mind that does not give attention.

Words are not the thing; the mind must go beyond the words to get the point. 

Full video of Public Talk 1 (Amsterdam 2022)

It is very rare for us to have such an occasion to go deeply, think deeply and adequately about everything. For most of us, life is very superficial, very rushy, very pushy, and very busy; we rarely stop to look, to observe.

Most of us are rather lazy both physically and psychologically; we always follow, conform, and imitate because that's easy, isn't it? -- just follow the masses, but we are lost – totally lost in this world.

We are so confused about everything; politically, there are numerous talks, conversations and debates in front of the camera; these people keep talking but don’t actually solve anything; if you look carefully, observe all this: nothing is really solved. A new law, a new rule, and a new regulation is superimposed over the old ones, and as a result, there are more and more rules, more and more laws, and more and more regulations.

Economically there are numerous issues which exist in everyday life; personally, the issues are endless, and the suffering is in all kinds of forms: agony, travails, conflict, contradiction and total confusion about everything.

We tend to treat those issues separately: "oh, these are political issues", "oh, these are economic issues", and "oh, it's my personal issues", but why are we so superficial?

When one is really serious about looking at this – the river of life, it is full of trouble. We can categorize the trouble into different types, but we don't really solve them because we don't go deep. We are too lazy to look, to observe, to go deeply, to see.

What is the root of all the issues? Not one or two particular issues but all the issues. In the face of the issues, most of us are escaping, aren't we? We escape in all kinds of forms into all kinds of theories, philosophies, religions and all kinds of pleasure-seeking activities.

This world offers a network of escapes; it's easy, isn't it? It's convenient, and life is convenient; therefore, it is full of trouble, isn't it? In that escape, we keep creating more and more issues.

We need to stop to look; life is in trouble, and we need to look, inquire and observe to find out whether it is possible to be free of all the issues.

It is not your life, not my life, there's only life, but when the mind treats life as yours, his, mine, we get lost, we get trapped in those particular issues that we think belong to ourselves, but is that really so?

In this series of public talks, let's go through a series of fundamental questions about our living and existence to see whether it is possible for the mind to see the root and see the light. The hard work is on you, not on the speaker. When you really give all your energy into this to find out for yourself, what the speaker says is not important at all.

To solve all those issues, you have to be a light to yourself; you must see the light, and this requires and demands your diligence –  no longer lazy psychologically and tremendous observation.

There are so many things to go over because our life has become so complicated; we have lost the sense of simplicity,  the mind has been trapped in numerous patterns, and those patterns perpetuate all the issues and travails; so can the mind clear the pattern completely?

Please don't answer it immediately if you answer yes or no now; it has no meaning because you haven't done anything yet to inquire but verbally say yes or no, only blocking you from going further. Can we stay open, stay unknown to go into this, to inquire to find out whether it is possible to free oneself of all the patterns?

Here on this occasion, the speaker is speaking something, but to you, how do you listen to it? How do you receive the message? First of all, please don't agree or disagree because it has no meaning at all. "Agree or disagree" is something verbal, but we are looking at something together -- something nonverbal; we all need to look, not agree or disagree.

Look at these people talking all the time on different occasions, arguing, chattering, agreeing or disagreeing; everything becomes rather verbal and, therefore, superficial. So on this occasion, can we not agree or disagree; just observe?

Maybe what the speaker says is pure nonsense; find out whether it is so or not; perhaps what the speaker says is absolutely right, and find out for yourself. We need to question everything this society has imposed on us, and this requires seriousness.

When most people hear the word "serious", they easily associate that word with a grim face. Somebody can look serious, but that's irrelevant; I mean the attitude; we can still smile, that's not an issue at all, but can the attitude be serious, earnest and eager to find out what is true and what is false?

Most of us are not serious at all, right? We tend to flow with society, seek all kinds of pleasure, and don't really treat life seriously, but a real happy life, a real joyful life, is very serious; it sounds absurd, but it is so.

The joy of living comes from this very serious attitude toward living, but most of us are only interested in pleasure, seeking pleasure in all kinds of ways and all kinds of forms, but we are not happy and crave happiness. What a contradiction!

So hopefully, in those talks in the next few weeks, we can see something together; we can see the same thing together. It is rare in our life to have this “togetherness”, isn't it?

Most of us are trapped in all kinds of illusions; we don't see the same thing at all. Life becomes more and more isolated because everyone is chasing their own dream, their own illusions. To see the same thing together implies that there must be true communication.

What is communication? Are we communicating now? We use this word on many occasions, but we never go into it -- what is communication. Communication is never one-sided; it always requires both sides to give full attention to it, isn't it?

Just like now, the speaker is speaking, can the communication take place? This means that you also need to do the work now to let this communication take place, which means that you must give full attention to what is being said without getting trapped in words.

You know, in our life, all the misunderstandings come from this failure of communication, the mind is trapped in words, the reaction to words, and then the mind is lost in its own meaning, its own interpretation of that word, so now while you are listening, can you observe your reaction to the words?

Because we are talking about something very deep, you need to observe yourself while listening, and at the same time, you pay attention to the words to see your reaction to the words, making sure the mind is not trapped in the reactions. Only then – hopefully, you are doing now together – can we really communicate something – those non-verbal things.

As we said earlier, don't agree or disagree because "agree or disagree" is the reaction to the words, but when you really observe yourself, there is nothing to agree or disagree with, isn't it? So communication means listening attentively – giving attention to the issues, but what is attention?

Most of us don't know how to listen or how to give attention; we always listen through our own interpretation of the words, through the image we hold; therefore, we always translate what is being said according to our own experience or knowledge. So, you see, the message is always filtered or twisted by this screen; that's not listening at all, obviously.

As long as we listen in that way, we always re-enhance the opinions and experiences we have. Listening demands that the mind is in full attention to be aware of the opinions, viewpoints, and mental images that are functioning as a filter so as not to let the message be twisted or distorted by that filter.

Therefore this awareness – this full attention is the key to our communication and also this living. So can we "exercise" this attention through these talks?

To give full attention means that you must put aside all your issues now. If you come with your issues to these talks, you cannot listen, can you? You always want to focus on and solve your issues. Therefore, you can't really listen and observe totally. That's a trap. Perhaps that is the real issue – inattention.

We think we know the issues, but when one focuses on those particular issues that one thinks belong to one, this wrong focus is the real issue. So let's find out whether it is the case or not.

So to attend these talks, can you put aside everything now? Can you set aside all your troubles, all your travails and problems to allow the attention to happen? You may find it a little challenging, but do it and experiment with it.

For most of us, in this so-called living, the mind is always concentrating; this whole society, this monstrous society demands your concentration in every way, isn't it? Concentrate on this, on that; we have all kinds of specialization, and all kinds of divisions in society comes from this concentration.

Concentration becomes such a strong habit, but have you ever noticed that concentration implies effort? For most people, they may feel "natural" to concentrate, but that's merely a habit; that's a pattern of the mind making efforts. Do you see it or not that concentration implies effort?

This whole society is conditioned to effort; you need to achieve this, you need to be that, you need to seek fulfilment, your ambitions, your dreams. You see, all those things imply concentration, also effort.

As long as the mind is making efforts, the mind is stretched and therefore stressed. This is a hard fact but do you see it or not?

And another point, please listen carefully; we must pay close attention to this: as long as the mind is making efforts, the mind is into illusion. As long as the mind is seeking, the mind is into illusion.

And when one looks at society seriously, one will find that people are conforming to this mental construct of society to concentrate, to make efforts, to be, to become, to seek: seek power, dominance, all kinds of self-fulfilment, then what's the result? Everyone is trapped in the illusions – their unique illusions and "naturally", we are all isolated and divided because everybody defends their own illusion – their unique reality.

And this is what is taking place at each moment in this world, not only in Dutch society; of course, this society is unbelievably extreme, but it's taking place everywhere.

When one is really serious about this living, one will inevitably ask, "is that possible to live a life without illusions?" Is it possible to live life freely? Obviously, when a mind is in illusions, it is not free. As we are living in society, when the mind is unfortunately trapped in illusions, the mind becomes very hungry because it is so isolated, therefore craving relief. And all kinds of pleasure-seeking activities come to play in the hope of relieving this, but it's another trap – we will go into that in the next few talks; the pleasure-seeking only re-enhances the isolation.

Is it possible to live a life with illusions? Is it possible to live a life without making any effort, without merely concentrating on something? The question can be rephrased in this way: can life exist in full attention?

And we need to go into it to see whether it is possible to stop seeking. Never say yes, never say no, because it has no meaning at all to answer it verbally. Go into the mind and find out.

When you are really observing, listening attentively, there is nothing to seek, isn't it? Communication can only take place when there's no effort at all, which means that both sides must make no effort. Then there is communication; however, when you are waiting to be told, actually, you are making efforts because the mind is contemplating and translating. Meanwhile, I need to convince you, which is also a form of effort. Do you see the point here?

If you are waiting to be told, to be explained, then I need to make efforts to explain and convince and then we can't communicate because both of us are making efforts and both of us are in illusions. Look at this society, this hierarchical society with all kinds of authorities, you are seeking approval, and you make efforts, and those people who assume to be the authorities are approving you, and they are also making efforts; our minds are in illusion. Therefore there's no communication at all.

Look at these behaviours of all kinds of authorities in society, from the legal system to all kinds of other so-called authorities, all of which demand your efforts to seek approval, to prove, but when you make an effort, you are into illusion. Do you see the contradiction here?

Not only these outward authorities, but we also have numerous psychological authorities; there are so many books, so many gurus, so many religions, religious leaders and all kinds of celebrities and opinion makers; we are all being influenced by them, aren't we? Via the media, propaganda, the newspaper and the internet.

Have you ever noticed that this mind is being dominated by all kinds of authorities? And we depend on them. Therefore, we are lazy, and we stop inquiring and looking; however, we are all human beings, and those people who assume authority are as fearful as we are; those people also have numerous issues and troubles.

Can we negate any authority psychologically? So we can observe and learn freely, not living in the shadow of them. This requires diligence to look and see. Seeing is believing, isn't it? But for most of us, believing is seeing; so madams, sirs, why do you believe? If you haven't seen it, why do you believe it?

Seeing requires attention, to observe, to question, to doubt – to doubt properly, and the mind doesn't accept or deny, just observe and look. When the mind negates all those authorities, the mind stands alone, which means that can one live a life without any psychological dependence?

Physically we do it. We do depend, right? Food, shelter, clothes, nutrition and all the necessities, but psychologically can one not depend? Why do we depend psychologically? For what? For a sense of confirmation, for a sense of certainty, for a sense of security, isn't it? But it is an illusion, isn't it?

Because when you depend, you never get security; life is always turbulent; test it when you have no mental dependence–what is it like? When you depend, you never get that security at all; life is always turbulent, it might give you a sense of security temporarily from a theory, from a book, but life is always changing; life is never static, and you refuse, you want to be something fixed, something permanent, so you always want to depend on something for a sense of permanency, but real life is always in dynamics.

You see, the illusion is blocking you from seeing the fact: life is in dynamics, and life is always changing. Can I stay with that? This means that I can depend on nothing mentally. Look at this society. We have absolute physical security, don't we? We have food, very good food, and everybody has a house, has a shelter to live in; so physically, we are 100 percent secure, but this creates a strong demand for psychological security.

We want to be secure psychologically, and we are always chasing that illusion; we get frustrated, dismayed and disturbed; the mind is in despair, but when the mind seeks nothing, which means that when you make no effort at all, just like now – I hope you are doing that -- making no efforts now, do you still crave security?

Just look at ourselves now; when the mind has no effort whatsoever, the mind feels secure; it does not even think about security at all because it is secure. When the mind is seeking, chasing and pursuing, it is craving; the mind wants security. Do you get the point here, the very subtle difference that matters tremendously?

At this moment, you are listening without an effort (hopefully you are doing that), you are observing, you don't think about security at all because you feel secure, obviously; but when you begin to seek something, I want to be this, I want to have that, the mind becomes uncertain and demands security.

And we don't want to stop seeking; that's the issue. We want to be that; at the same time, we also want security. Please look at ourselves: how greedy we are; we want everything, but wanting everything is an illusion. Now it is the speaker's statement, but can you see that it is an illusion? – That is a different matter, which is more important than this speaker's statement. Can the mind see the fact that it is an illusion to pursue security?

When the mind doesn't pursue, the mind feels secure. So can the mind see that? This requires your diligence and observation to see this fact by ending the seeking completely; however, this society demands your seeking, your effort – that's the challenge, isn't it? This whole society keeps pushing you to be something, to become something, to seek power, to seek fulfilment, to seek all kinds of dominance, to seek pleasure, and most people choose to conform to it because that's easier than not, but can you stop conforming?

Go into it, and apply it to your life to see what actually takes place; you may say that "if I don't conform, I will feel terrible" that's your imagination now; apply it and see what actually takes place then.

So come to this point, we have to enquire into this question of what society is. Is society something external? Probably that's most people's thinking, isn't it? "Oh, I'm here; the society is everywhere; that's the society". Is that really so?

What is society? Society consists of everyone, isn't it? Your thinking and your behaviour are part of this society. This mental construct of society is running in your head, so you behave according to that pattern, you speak Dutch or whichever language, and that pattern is dominating you, so this society is a mental construct running in the head, but you are always imagining that society is something external, that's an illusion.

The speaker is pointing out this issue because you are the society; you are no different from society at all. To stop conforming, to stop imitating, means that "can you clear, empty this mental construct?" So you can be an outsider of this society, you might still work in the office, but can the mind be free of this mental construct completely?

Then you are free from society; otherwise, you may escape into a forest located in another country, but you still carry that mental structure to that forest; in other words, that forest is still “occupied” by society, which is you.

So can the mind empty everything from itself because we are society, we are no different from society, but when we think that society is something external, we create a division. And that division blocks us from seeing the truth, we always rely on other people to improve society, but you see, this society is becoming more and more degenerate because we don't see that we are the society.

Can we not conform, not imitate? I know there are so many pressures from different people, isn't it? Subconsciously, they want you to conform; can you not conform or imitate? On many occasions, one may conform superficially, but deeply, one does not conform at all. Can you be that one? And this requires a lot of work to penetrate the mind to see the danger and the destructive result of conforming while withstanding the temporary turbulence (the compulsion to conform, which will die away eventually when the mind stops seeking).

However, most of us crave comfort, we crave "harmony", and we don't want to break up that superficial decency among people that actually enhances conformity, we are doing that together consciously or subconsciously, but actually, we are all making efforts to maintain this superficial decency which is actually so flimsy, the “decency” is a form of pleasure, but the efforts behind it make the mind suffer, putting it in illusions. Life becomes so superficial, isn’t it? Out of this superficial decency, there is degeneration of humanity in every way.

Go into this and apply what you find to your life; that's meditation. Meditation is never divorced from daily living; we must deal with daily living, not escape into something else; the issue is still here when we come back (from the escape), "oh, you're still here".

Dealing with the issue means that we don't escape, we don't follow, we don't imitate or conform; the mind looks, observes, learns, takes action, and only then can we be human.

Being a human is a solution to all the issues, but please don't ask how to be a human; there's no path to being a human, but being human is the path.

Full video of Public Talk 1 (Amsterdam 2022)