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 2 (Amsterdam 2022)

Most of us only stay superficial; why? Because we don't know how to go deep, we don't know how to approach ourselves, and that's why we prefer to stay superficial.

But without knowing ourselves, we can't really communicate. In other words, knowing oneself completely is true communication – one must be able to communicate with oneself.

Is it possible for one to communicate at each moment, which means that the mind stays open without any defence? Then the mind is really observing not only outwardly but also deeply inwardly. To have that state of communication, we must approach ourselves to go deeply into the psyche to find out what we are actually. it is not easy for most people; why?

Because we are too verbal, aren't we? We do rely on words to express ourselves, and we are also seeking positivity from words, so our life has become so dependent on words, but words are not the thing.

Going into ourselves is going beyond the words to see what is the actual – the true state is beyond any description. However, most of us are trying to find satisfaction from words in the form of a theory, philosophy, quotes or descriptions; therefore, our thinking becomes very verbal.

Is that possible for us to put aside all the words to really look at ourselves? The problem is that most of us are so dependent on words, and we don't know how to look. We always rely on words as a filter to see everything, which is distorted via the words we hold onto. We have lost the capacity to look and perceive.

Can one look at everything in life without words? Can one look at a person without any associations? Can one look at oneself without the past? It is a very practical question for each of us. We always look through words and experiences.

When looking at this microphone here, can you look at it without the word "microphone", just seeing the colour, without thinking about its function, or when you are walking in the park, can you look at the tree without being filtered by any knowledge about that tree – the name, the species and all kinds of botanical knowledge about it? Can the known not to block you from seeing the tree? You can touch it, you can touch the leaves, see the colour, but can you see it without any words? That's the practical challenge for each of us: can we put aside this state of being verbal, so we can really see something non-verbal together?

We rarely think together, don't we? Everyone thinks about something differently, but thinking about something is different from thinking. Why do we always think about something? We have our purpose, intention, and ambition, and we always want to be something, to achieve something, and that's the content of the thinking — thinking about something, right? We always think about ourselves, and therefore, we are so self-concerned and self-centred, and it is impossible to think together in that way of thinking — self-centred thinking.

So to go deeply into ourselves, we have to examine this very fundamental topic -- thoughts, what are thoughts? Obviously, this whole civilization worships thoughts in all kinds of ways; for most of us, thoughts become so important, but we rarely question them. Are they really important? We keep thinking about our dreams, our ambitions, and our benefit, and we become more and more divided and separate. Thoughts are always divisive; that's why we become so divided, individual and fragmented.

And it is becoming more and more challenging to meet; you have your ambition, I have my own taste, and how can we meet? So can we think together, not think about something? Thinking deeply has no object, not thinking about something.

Thinking deeply is to go into the issues, the root of them and examine the root, and see whether it is true or not, and on this occasion, can we see together those non-verbal things? They do really exist, but they are beyond words. Can we come upon them together? And only when we see things together -- see the same thing, is there a real deep connection as human beings, not the verbal connection — the silly nonsense.

To go deeply requires the mind to be genuinely humble, but that's something very challenging for most of us because we have been so concerned about ourselves that we have created a lot of images about ourselves; we try to find satisfaction from those images about ourselves, and this becomes the blockage for the mind to be humble because to be humble implies that the mind must set aside all of those images, all those filters that bring self-importance, so we can really look at ourselves as what we are actually.

So you see, to go into ourselves requires a lot of work; we have to put aside all the vanities, all the hypocrisies, so we can really quietly and adequately examine ourselves; that's why it is so important to live a life in goodness, which is devoid of vanities and hypocrisies.

Living in goodness requires a humble mind — an unpretentious state of mind, but, you see, it is more and more challenging to live a life in goodness in a self-centred society which denies goodness in every respect. When one is really living in goodness, one will find that everything is turning against him or her, but without living goodness, the mind is always superficial, trapped in its own vanity, and can't really go further into the self.

So this moment, can we put away all the things -- everything human beings have created so that we can go into this question: what are thoughts? Thoughts are the response to the memory; that's it. Human minds are very capable of thinking; using a lot of thoughts, we have invented a lot of things. This room is full of all kinds of human inventions; in that regard, thoughts are marvellous.

And to live a life in this society, we must have some thoughts as knowledge, but psychologically, why do we give such an important value to thoughts? When one looks at the content of thoughts, they are either images or symbols -- the words or any organized thoughts like ideas, theories, or philosophies. Why is the mind always occupied by those thoughts? We don't condemn thoughts, and we don't say we shouldn't have thoughts, but we are just inquiring to understand why the mind is so occupied by thoughts. Is that because we are afraid of being nothing?

We always want something in the head to give us a sense of "me" -- “I exist”, “I'm something”, “I'm worthwhile”. So the mind is always holding onto some thoughts to avoid that emptiness. When one looks into this content of thoughts, what is the content? It is all about me: my name, my house, my dog, my bike, my money, my salary, my education, my family, my title, my company, my career, my life, my suffering, and my issues. The mind is occupied by all of those things, which bring a sense of "me", a sense of self-importance. The mind is always occupied by this “me” content. Therefore, this sense of me is being perpetuated — it's always abiding, leading to a misperception that "me" really exists.

This whole world worships self-importance, and we all believe that "me" exists without penetrating the illusion. Based on that illusion, we develop numerous philosophies, theories, egoism and individualism. Commercialism and consumerism are based on this as well, so the "me" is everywhere, but does the "me" really exist or not?

When the mind is always occupied by self-centred thoughts, the sense of me is always there, unless one is really serious about looking into this issue and finding out whether it is possible to empty the "me"? Is it possible to not let the mind be occupied by the "me" stuff? If one hasn't really gone into that fundamental question, the belief in the existence of the "me" must be deep-rooted. With that belief, one always scratches the surface, one may go to different groups, practice different methods, talk to different psychologists or try different therapies, but the issues are never solved.

All life changes and all of the mental challenges and problems come from the "me" — the self, the ego, which is the source of all challenges. However, most of us don't really go into that; we merely accept the phenomenon that the self exists. For most of us, life is a constant struggle to deal with endless issues; the energy is wasted in dealing with these issues because they are endless — it is a loop, also a trap. The mind always allows different things to occupy itself to avoid, block out and exclude the “unwanted” things, but the issues are always there because the self -- the sense of "me" never disappears.

We cling to that sense of "me", don't we? Because "me" also brings some pleasure and fulfilment, we try to find satisfaction from the positive images about ourselves -- the achievements, all the progress, which is still the pleasure "I" want to derive from. So this is our life: on the one hand, we suffer from personal issues; on the other hand, we also take pleasure from all the "me" things; inevitably, life becomes a constant struggle to keep adjusting oneself for more pleasure and for less pain, but it is never achieved.

Is it possible to go into the self to see whether one can empty the "me"? Is it possible to live a life without the self? At the beginning of the session, we inquired and found that  "living a life in goodness is very important" where there's the self, goodness is not; the self, the self-concern, and the ego deny goodness totally. Is that possible for one to live a life without being hindered or deceived by the self? And to be in that state, which is not a purpose to achieve, we must deal with all the issues — not the particular personal issues, but the fundamental issues in life.

Coming back to thinking and thoughts, most of us tend to think about something all the time. In that “thinking about something”, there is a thinker that thinks about something else, right? The thinker mode sounds very convenient and very easy, right? There is a thinker, and the thinker is thinking about something.

Take an example of “anger”; the thinker is thinking about the anger because the thinker notices that anger is an issue: uncontrolled emotion and reaction, all the rest of it, therefore "I" want to get rid of anger. So the thinker thinks the anger is something different from the thinker and wants to do something about it, but what is the thinker? The thinker is the centre, isn't it? It's the image about me: my past, my experience, my knowledge, my images about myself. So the thinker is some images through which the mind interprets everything.

What is anger? Obviously, the word “anger” is not the actual anger; the word “anger” points to some images about anger which are formed via the filter, which is the thinker, the “me”; therefore, is “anger” in the regard something different from the thinker at all? They are all images created by thoughts, and the verbal mind is not observing at all. The actual anger, which is not the word “anger”, is the total state of mind, which is the actual thinker. Actually, the thinker is the anger, and the anger is the thinker, but a verbal mind creates an entity called the thinker through which the concept of “anger” is created. The mind is trapped in that division between “thinker” and “anger” without being aware of it, leading to endless struggles and issues.

These images, which form the thinker, create a wall and think the anger is something different from those images, but they are all taking place in the head in one body. Do you notice this very subtle but very significant difference: the thinker thinks the anger is something different from the thinker, but the fact is that the thinker is the anger; the anger is the thinker. So this is a practical challenge for each of us because we always think as a thinker with those images about the “me”, about myself, therefore the mind is always treating things as something external, like society, as we inquired about last week in the session. The thinker always thinks that society is something external — the same pattern regarding the anger and all the issues as an external; so that way of thinking creates a division between the thinker and the thought; but actually, there is no thinker at all, or, the thinker is the thought; the thought is the thinker.

Most of us always think in this dualistic way: there is a division between the "me" and things outside the "me", so the "me" is always wanting to do something about the issues, "I need to get rid of my anger, my loneliness, my issues" and the "me" is always looking for solutions, but because of the "me", I don't really see the actual issue, that is, the division between the "me" and the issues; the "me" is the issue, the "me" is never different from the issues, so when I realized that I am the issue -- the ego is the issue, what can I do? The anger is me; I'm the anger. I'm no different from the anger when I really see that, not as an idea but as a fact: I'm the anger; the anger is me. I can do nothing about it, so I do nothing. And see what will take place.

The mind no longer makes efforts. Doing nothing mentally means making no effort, the mind is observing completely, and all the issues are dissolved and finished. You must test it out for yourself; it's so simple, but if the mind still thinks that the issue is beyond the “me”, regarding the issue as something external, then the mind always wants to do something about it. Therefore the mind isn't paying attention to the real issue at all — the division between the "me" and the issue regarded by "me", which are actually one.

That's why we are always making efforts to solve issues, but actual issues are created by the effort, by this division between the "me" and the things that the “me” projects. Because most of us are looking at things through words and images, which creates this division between the thinker and the thought — the observer and the observed, but actually, the observer is the observed. When you realize that you are the issue, like loneliness or anxiety, the problem is you; you can do nothing about it, then just do nothing, make no effort, and see what takes place.

Looking at this world seriously, one will find that society is trapped in egoism; the mind is constantly making efforts to solve something, and it never notices that it itself is the troublemaker, always creating issues. So we are making efforts to solve the issues that we are creating; it's a loop and circus that never ends unless the mind really stops to look, learn and find out what is actually taking place, seeing clearly the illusions and the disorder behind it. In this loop, the mind is suffering from all kinds of challenges, but we don't really look into the source of the problems. Instead, we merely want to get rid of the problems because the egocentric mind thinks the issues are different from the self, though the self and the issues are one.

Anger, loneliness, aggression, and confusion are the ego – they are one. When we use words to describe this, words themselves convey a sense of separation: ego is ego, anger is anger, but actually, in actual fact, they are the same thing. That's why it is so important to go beyond the words to come upon the non-verbal things which are beyond the very limited description.

In this eco-centric mode, the mind keeps making efforts, wanting to achieve more, get more, be something more important – something greater, and the ego, this self-centred state, generates more and more thoughts and gets trapped further into more and more self-induced thoughts. And in this society and everywhere on this planet, people are trapped in the self, isolated by the self, by all of those self-centred thoughts, with ambition, effort, striving, suffering and all the rest of it.

It is becoming so challenging to meet simply because we don't know how to look at each other. The mind has been so conditioned to egocentric thinking, its own thoughts, its own pleasure, its own dreams and its own issues; therefore, we have no relationship at all.

What is relationship? Are we really related or not? What does it mean to be related? For most people, relationship means something different; I have an image of you, and you have an image of me, and there's a relationship between the two images; when we all conform to the images to leave a good impression or whatever; the conceptual relationship such as husband, wife, friend are all based on these images; trapped in the concept, we don't look at people as what they are actually, we only do through the image we have about the other side, so this human relationship is reduced to images; we hold onto that images, and we don't want to change, and we don't want to see the change.

There are so many family problems, problems between friends, and problems between colleagues; actually, it's an issue of the human relationship because we are all trapped in images, and we cannot see people afresh.

Can one observe and see the other one afresh without any associations? For example, can you see your family or your friend afresh? Not through the knowledge or experience, you have accumulated about him or her but just simply fresh without those things? If we could do that, there wouldn't be any issues in the relationship, right? because it's fresh, but when it is through past experiences, either pleasurable or very painful, the relationship is denied; and in this egocentric world, seeking pleasure brings tremendous suffering, and one has fewer and fewer relationships.

So is that possible for one to really see another person afresh? You can test it now, and observe your associations and reactions. Can you let go of all the images, all the thoughts, all the ideas about the other? Can you treat everything as it is — afresh by observing your thoughts, observing your reactions completely? Do it, not think about it, do it, and see what takes place. Very simple, do it, you must act, you can't imagine it now.

When you are acting, it is something real; but if you are thinking or imagining something, it is always something illusive — the movement of thoughts. Most of us are rather lazy; we depend on thinking and imagining, and therefore we don't act. We think that thinking can replace the actual action because thoughts can temporarily bring about satisfaction and fulfilment, delaying everything, but that's not the case at all.

Life demands your action, not constantly thinking about something, dreaming about something. When you are really acting, you end the continuity of the thoughts. But when you don't do that, the mind is always thinking about something in its own dream and illusions. This world, as we are looking at it now, is becoming so verbal. The words carry the thoughts; thoughts are expressed by words, and people keep talking and chatting, so our life is so easily surrounded by thoughts, too easy, but an authentic life is not easy, because one must go through the verbal things without being trapped by words, see the illusion of the "me", the ego, emptying everything psychologically.

Thoughts as knowledge have a place to earn a living, but psychologically thoughts have no place at all. Can we empty everything psychologically? You can't imagine it; you can only know what it's like when you really do it. Is it possible to totally abandon the self? See the futility of it; negate it. Because to the speaker, and hopefully to you as well, living a life without any issues is the top priority. The speaker finds that any issue in life only corrupts life, so he's very serious about dealing with every issue with care because, you know, this authentic life — a peaceful life, a joyful life, a life with wisdom and intelligence demands diligence and hard work.

When the mind has no issues at all, there is freedom. The mind feels free, not this nonsensical concept called freedom boasted by society -- the permissiveness: everyone can do what they want -- doing all kinds of meaningless things, all kinds of ridiculous things; that's not freedom. Real freedom comes from a mind where there's no ego at all: the mind has finished with all the issues, there is no burden, no fear, and there is freedom.

This whole world is boasting of economic freedom or political freedom; that's something rather superficial; look at these politicians; they are suffering a lot, they are not happy at all, and they have their own tremendous issues, which are covered up by the so-called privacy, we don't need to know the particular issues, hidden in the privacy, which are secondary. This external freedom we are having in this society can bring a sense of pleasure, but the mind is not free. Therefore, the mind can't really “enjoy” freedom.

Can one set the mind free? Which means that the mind has no issue whatsoever. It is a very, very practical question, isn't it? Very practical. If the mind has an issue, the issue interferes with everything I do, so I must live a life without any issues, so I must see the root of issues, the root of all issues, not one or two particular issues. As we inquired today, all the issues come from the "me", the ego. The ego is full of effort, struggle, control, and suppression, and the ego is always rationalizing using new theories, new philosophies, and new fanciful ideas, creating numerous self-deceptions.

However, the issues are never solved, that's the real issue, and when the self is really gone, life is only at this moment. Naturally, you don't need to make efforts to say, "I must live at this moment", then the effort still is the ego thing — the continuation of the ego. When the ego is really gone, life is only at this moment, and freedom is also at this moment; but the mind is always escaping, isn't it? The ego always wants to escape into something called the future, "I will be better", or "I will be stronger" that hope implies there's something called tomorrow, which can give one satisfaction, but when the ego is finished, it's gone; psychologically, there's no tomorrow at all; life has no tomorrow, the real life is only now.

Full video of Public Talk 2 (Amsterdam 2022)