SAN DIEGO - 19TH FEBRUARY 1974 4TH
CONVERSATION WITH DR. ALLAN W. ANDERSON
RESPONSIBILITY AND RELATIONSHIP
K: Sir, there is a very definite distinction between responsible for and being responsible. Being responsible for implies direction, a directed will. But the feeling of responsibility implies responsibility for everything, not in a direction, not in a direction, in any one particular direction. Responsible for education, responsible for politics, responsible the way I live, to be responsible for my behaviour. It's a total feeling of complete responsibility which is the ground in which action takes place.
A: I think then this takes us back to this business of crisis we were talking about. If the crisis is continuous then it's misleading to say, I'm responsible for my action, because I've put the thing out there again and it becomes an occasion for my confusing what is at hand that requires to be done and the concept of this notion of this action because I am my action.
K: Yes, that's just it.
A: I am it.
K: That means, the feeling of responsibility expresses itself politically, religiously, educationally in business, in the whole of life, responsible for the total behaviour. Not in a particular direction. I think there is great deal of difference when I say, when one says I am responsible for my action. That means you are responsible for your action according to the idea that you have preconceived about action.
A: Exactly. Yes. People sometimes will say that the child is free because it's not responsible.
K: Child is free, you can't take a child.
A: No, of course not. But I think sometimes when we say this we have this nostalgia for the past as though our freedom would be freedom from constraint, whereas if one is his action genuinely absolutely...
K: There isn't any restraint.
A: ...there isn't any restraint at all.
K: Not at all.
A: Right. Right.
K: Look. Take, if one has this total feeling of responsibility then what is your responsibility with regard to your children? It means education. Are you educating them to bring about a mind that conforms to the pattern which the society has established, which means you accept the immorality of the society that is. If you feel totally responsible you are responsible from the moment its born until the moment it dies. The right kind of education, not the education of making the child conform, the worship of success and the division of nationalities which brings about war. You follow, all that you are responsible for, not just in a particular direction. Even if you are in a particular direction, I'm responsible for my act, what is your action based on? How can you be responsible, when you, your action is the result of a formula that has been handed down to you?
A: Yes I quite follow what you mean.
K: Like communists, they say, the state is responsible. The state, worship the state, the state is the god and you are responsible to the state. Which means they have conceived what the state should be, formulated ideationally and according to that you act. That's not a responsible action. That's irresponsible action. Whereas action means the doing now. The active present of the verb to do, which is to do now. The acting now. The acting now must be free from the task. Otherwise you are just repeating, repetition, traditionally carrying on. That's all.
A: I'm reminded of something in the I Ching that I think is a reflection of this principle that you pointed to. I don't mean principle in the abstract. If I am quoting it correctly from one of the standard translations, it goes like this, 'The superior man' by which it means the free man, not hierarchically structured 'does not let his thoughts go beyond his situation'. Which would mean that he simply would be present as he is, not being responsible to something out there that is going to tell him how to be responsible or what he should do, but upon the instant that he is, he is always...
A: He simply does not let his thoughts go beyond his situation. That goes back to that word negation. Because if he won't let his thoughts go beyond his situation he has negated the possibility for their doing so, hasn't he?
K: Yes. Quite.
A: Yes. Oh yes. Yes, I see that. The reason that I'm referring to these other quotations is because if what you are saying is true and if what they say is true, quite without respect to how they are understood or not understood, then there must be something in common here, and I realize that your emphasis is practical, imminently practical upon the act. But it does seem to me to be of great value if one could converse, commune with the great literatures which have so many statements and complain about the fact that they are not understood. I see that as a great gain.
K: Sir, I have not read any books, any literature in the sense...
A: Yes I understand.
K: ...in that sense. Suppose there is no book in the world.
A: The problem is the same.
K: The problem is the same.
A: Of course, of course.
K: There is no leader, no teacher, nobody to tell you do this, do that, don't do this, don't do that. You are there. You feel totally, completely responsible.
A: Right. Yes.
K: Then you have to, you have to have an astonishingly, active, clear brain, not befuddled, not puzzled, not bewildered. You must have a mind that thinks clearly. And you cannot think clearly if you are rooted in the past. You are merely continuing, modified perhaps, through the present to the future. That's all. So from that arises the question, what is the responsibility in human relationship?
A: Yes. Now we are back to relationships.
K: Relationship, because that is the basic foundation of life: relationship. That is, to be related, to be in contact with.
A: We are presently related. This is what is.
K: What is human relationship? If I feel totally responsible, how does that responsibility express in relationship to my children, if I have children, to my family, to my neighbour, whether my neighbour is next door or ten thousand miles away; he is still my neighbour. So what is my responsibility. What is the responsibility of a man who feels totally completely involved in this feeling of being a light to himself and totally responsible? I think this is a question, sir, that has to be investigated.
A: Yes, you know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking that only a person responsible, as you have said it, can make what we call, in our tongue, a clean decision.
K: Of course. Of course.
A: So many decisions are afraid.
K: Sir, I would like to ask this. Is there decision at all? Decision implies choice.
K: Choice implies a mind that's confused between this and that.
A: It means, I think radically to make a cut, to cut off.
K: Yes, but a mind that sees clearly has no choice. It doesn't decide. It acts.
A: Yes. Doesn't this take us back to this work negation again?
K: Yes, of course.
A: Might it not be that a clean decision could be interpreted in terms of what takes place at this point of negation from which flows a different action.
K: I don't like to use that word decision because deciding between this and that.
A: You don't want to use it because of the implications in it of conflict.
K: Conflict, choice, we think we are free because we choose. We can choose, right?
K: Is a mind free that is capable of choice? Or is a mind that is not free, that chooses? Because choice implies between this and that. Obviously. Now which means the mind doesn't see clearly and therefore there is choice. The choice exists when there is confusion. A mind that sees clearly, there is no choice. It is doing. I think this is where we have got into rather trouble when we say we are free to choose. Choice implies freedom. I say, on the contrary: choice implies a mind that is confused, and therefore not free.
A: What occurs to me now is the difference between regarding freedom as a property or quality of action rather than a state. Yes. But we have the notion that freedom is a state, a condition which is, which is quite different from the emphasis you are leading me into.
K: That's right.
K: Let's come back to this, sir, which is what is responsibility of a human being who feels this sense of responsibility in relationship? Because relationship is life, relationship is the foundation of existence. Relationship is absolutely necessary, otherwise you can not exist. Relationship means co-operation. Everything is involved in that one word. Relation means love, generosity, all that's implied. Now what is a human responsibility in relationship?
A: If we were genuinely and completely sharing then responsibility would be present fully.
K: Yes, but how does it express itself in relationship? Not only between you and me now, but between man and woman, between my neighbour, relationships to everything, to nature. What's my relationship to nature? Would I go and kill the baby seals?
A: No. No.
K: Would I go and destroy human beings calling them enemies? Would I destroy nature, everything which man is doing now? He is destroying the earth, the air, the sea, everything. Because he feels totally irresponsible.
A: He sees what is out there as something to operate on.
K: Yes. Which is, he kills the baby seal, which I saw the other day on a film, it's an appalling thing. And a Christian, they call themselves Christian, going and killing a little thing for some lady to put on the fur. And, you follow, totally immoral, the whole thing is. So to come back: I say how does this responsibility show itself in my life? I am married, I am not, but suppose I am married, what is my responsibility? Am I related to my wife?
A: The record doesn't seem very good.
K: Not only record, actuality. Am I related to my wife? Or am I related to my wife according to the image I make about her? And I am responsible for that image. Do you follow, sir?
A: Yes, because my input has been continuous with respect to that image.
K: Yes. So I have no relationship with my wife if I have an image about her. Or if I have an image about myself when I want to be successful, and all the rest of that business.
A: Since we were talking about now, being now, there ia a point of contact, I take it, between what you are saying and the phrase that you used in one of our earlier conversations, the betrayal of the present.
K: Absolutely. You see that is the whole point, sir. If I am related to you, I have no image about you, or you have no image about me, then we have relationship. We have no relationship if I have an image about myself or about you. Our images have a relationship, when in actuality we have no relationship. I might sleep with my wife but it is not a relationship. It is a physical contact, sensory excitement, nothing else. My responsibility is not to have any an image.
A: This brings to mind, I think one of the loveliest statements in the English language, which I should like to understand in terms of what we have been sharing. These lines from Keats' poem, Endymion, there is something miraculous, marvelous in this statement, it seems to me that is immediately related to what you have been saying: "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." And then he says, as though that's not enough, "It's loveliness increases." And then as though that's not enough he says "It will never pass into nothingness." Now when the present is not betrayed, it's full with a fullness that keeps on abounding.
K: Quite, I understand.
A: Would I be correct in that?
K: Yes, I think so.
A: I think that's truly what he must be saying, and one of the things too that passed my mind was he calls it a thing of beauty. He doesn't call it a beautiful thing. It's a thing of beauty as though it's a child of beauty. A marvelous continuity between this. Not it's beautiful because I think it's beautiful and therefore it's outside. Yes, yes.
K: I must stick to this because this is really quite important. Because go where you will there is no relationship between human beings, and that is the tragedy, and from that arises all our conflicts, violence, the whole business. So if, not if, when there is this responsibility, the feeling of this responsibility it translates itself in relationship. It doesn't matter with whom it is. A freedom from the known which is the image. And therefore in that freedom, goodness flowers.
A: Goodness flowers.
K: And that is the beauty. And that is beauty. Beauty is not an abstract thing, but it goes with goodness. Goodness in behaviour, goodness in conduct, goodness in action.
A: Sometimes while we have been talking I have started a sentence with 'if', and I have looked into your eyes and immediately I got it out I knew I had said the wrong thing. It's just like a minute ago you said 'if', no 'when'. We are always 'ifing' it up.
K: I know. 'Ifing' it up!
A: It is awful.
K: I know sir. We are always dealing with abstractions rather than with reality.
A: Immediately we 'if', a construction is out there which we endlessly talk about.
K: That's right.
A: And we get cleverer and cleverer about it and it has nothing to do with anything. Yes, yes.
K: So how does this responsibility translate itself in human behaviour? You follow, sir?
A: Yes. There would be an end to violence.
A: It wouldn't taper off.
K: You see what we have done sir, we are violent, human beings, sexually, morally, in every way we are violent human beings, and not being able to resolve it we have created an ideal of not being violent, which is the fact, an abstraction of the fact, which is non fact and try to live the non fact.
A: Yes. Immediately that produces conflict because it cannot be done.
K: Conflict, misery, confusion all that. Why does the mind do it? The mind does it because it doesn't know what to do with this fact of violence. Therefore in abstracting the idea of not being violent, it postpones action. I am trying not to be violent and in the mean time I am jolly well violent.
K: And it is an escape from the fact. All abstractions are escape from the fact. So the mind does it because it is incapable of dealing with the fact, or it doesn't want to deal with the fact, or it is lazy and says, I will try and do it another day. All this is involved when it withdraws from the fact. Now in the same way the fact is, our relationship is nonexistent. I may say to my wife, I love you, etc., etc., but it's nonexistent. Because I have an image about her and she has an image about me. So on abstractions we have lived.
A: It just occurred to me that the word fact itself, which there have been no end of disquisitions about...
K: Oh yes of course. The fact, 'what is'. Let's call it, 'what is'.
A: But actually it means something done.
K: Done, yes.
A: Not the record of something. But actually something done, performed, act, act. And it's that sense of the word fact that with our use of the word fact. Give me facts and figures, we'd say in English, give me facts, we don't mean that when we say it.
K: No, no.
A: No. No. One probably wouldn't need facts and figures in that abstract sense.
K: You see, sir, this reveals a tremendous lot.
A: I follow
K: When you feel responsible, feel responsible for education of your children, not only your's, children. Are you educating them to conform to a society, are you educating them to merely acquire a job? Are you educating them to the continuity of what has been? Are you educating them to live in abstractions, as we are doing now? So what is your responsibility as a father, mother, it doesn't matter who you are, responsible in education, for the education of a human being. That's one problem. What is your responsibility, if you feel responsible, for human growth, human culture, human goodness? What's your responsibility to the earth do you follow? It is a tremendous thing to feel responsible.
A: This just came to mind which I must ask you about. The word negation in the book we looked at earlier which is continuous with what what we are saying, I think is itself rather endangered by the usual notion that we have of negation, which is simply a prohibition. Which is not meant.
K: No. No.
A: Which is not meant.
K: Of course not.
A: When we reviewed that incident in the Gita between the general and his charioteer, the lord, Krishna, the lord's response was a negation without it being a prohibition, wasn't it.
K: Quite. I don't know.
A: No, no. I mean in terms of what we just got through saying.
K: Of course.
A: There is a difference then between rearing a child in terms of relating to the child radically in the present, in which negation as is mentioned in the book here that we went through, is continuously and immediately and actively present. And simply walking around saying to oneself, "Now I am rearing a child therefore I mustn't do these things and I mustn't do those things, I must do that." Exactly. An entirely different thing. But, one has to break the habit of seeing negation as prohibition.
K: And also, you see, with responsibility goes love, care, attention.
A: Yes. Earlier I was going to ask you about care in relation to responsibility. Something that would flow immediately.
A: Naturally. Not something that I would have to project, that I needed to care for later and so I don't forget, but I would be with it.
K: You see that involves a great deal too because the mother depends on the child, and the child depends on the mother, or the father, or whatever it is. So that dependence if cultivated: not only between the father and the mother but depend on a teacher, depend on somebody to tell you what to do. Depend on your guru.
A: Yes, yes I follow.
K: Gradually the child, the man is incapable of standing alone and therefore he says I must depend on my wife for my comfort, for my sex, for my this or that, and the other thing, I am lost without her. And I am lost without my guru, without my teacher. It becomes so ridiculous. When the feeling of responsibility exists all this disappears. You are responsible for your behaviour, for the way you bring up you children, for the way you treat a dog, a neighbour, nature, everything is in your hands. Therefore you have to become astonishingly careful what you do. Careful, not, "I must not do this, and I must do that". Care, that means affection, that means consideration, diligence. All that goes with responsibility, which present society totally denies. When we begin to discuss the various gurus that are imported into this country that's what they are doing, creating such mischief making those people unfortunate, thoughtless people who want excitement, join them, do all kinds of ridiculous nonsensical things.
So, we come back: freedom implies responsibility. And therefore freedom, responsibility means care, diligence, not negligence. Not doing what you want to do, which is what is happening in America. Do what you want to do, this permissiveness is just doing what you want to do, which is not freedom, which breeds irresponsibility. I met the other day in Delhi, New Delhi, a girl and she'd become a Tibetan. You follow, sir. Born in America, being a Christian, brought up in all that. Throws all that aside and goes and becomes a Tibetan, which is the same thing in different words.
A: Yes. As a Tibetan coming over here and doing it.
K: It's so ridiculous. And I've known her some years, I said, where is your child? She said, "I've lift him with other liberated Tibetans". I said, "At six, you are the mother". She said, "Yes, he is in very good hands". I come back next year and I ask, "Where is your child?" "Oh he has become a Tibetan monk." He was seven. He was seven years old and had become a Tibetan monk. You understand sir?
A: Oh yes, I do.
K: The irresponsibility of it. The mother feels, "They know better than I do, I am Tibetan and the lamas will help me to become..."
A: It puts a rather sinister cast on that Biblical statement: train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. There is a sinister note in there isn't there.
K: Absolutely. So this is going on in the world all the time. And a man who is really serious negates that because he understands the implications, the inwardness of all that. So he has to deny it. It isn't a question of will or choice, he says that's too silly, too absurd. So freedom means responsibility and infinite care.
A: The phrase that you just spoke, 'infinite care'...
K: Yes sir.
A: ...would be totally impossible to what we mean by a finite being, unless the finite being did not betray the present. "With not betraying the present" is a negative again. It is a negation again. With not betraying the present. Which is not to say what would happen if it is not.
K: Sir, the word 'present', the now, is rather difficult.
A: Oh yes. Philosophers love to call it the specious present.
K: I don't know what philosophers say. I don't want to enter into all that speculative things. But the fact, what is the 'now'? What is the act of now, the present? To understand the present I must understand the past - not history, I don't mean that.
A: Oh no, no.
K: Understand myself as the past. I am the past.
A: In terms of what we said earlier about knowledge.
K: Yes. I am that. Therefore I must understand the past, which is me, the 'me' is the known. The 'me' is not the unknown. I can imagine it is the unknown. But the fact is, the 'what is' is the known. That's me. I must understand myself. If I don't, the now is merely a continuation in modified form of the past. Therefore it is not the now, not the present. Therefore the 'me' is the tradition, the knowledge, in all the complicated manoevres, cunning, all that, the despairs, the anxieties, the desire for success, fear, pleasure, all that is me.
A: Since we are still involved in a discussion about relationships here, might we return for a moment to where we were with respect to education and relationship. I want to be sure I have understood you here. Let us say that one were fortunate enough to have a school where what you are pointing to is going on.
K: We are going to, we are doing it. We have got seven schools.
A: Marvelous. Well we'll have a chance to talk about that, won't we?
A: Good, good. If I'm current here, it would seem that if the teacher is totally present to the child the child will feel this. The child won't have to be instructed in what this means then. Is that right?
K: Yes, but one has to find out what is the relationship of the teacher to the student.
A: Yes, yes. I quite see that.
K: What is the relationship? Is he merely an informer, giving information to the child? Any machine can do that.
A: Oh yes, the library is filled with it.
K: Any machine can do that. Or what is his relationship? Does he put himself on a pedestal, up there and his student down there. Or is the relationship between the teacher and the student, is it a relationship in which there is learning on the part of the teacher as well as the student. Learning.
K: Not I have learned and I am going to teach you. Therefore in that there is a division between the teacher and the student. But when there is learning on the part of the teacher as well as on the part of the student there is no division. Both are learning.
K: And therefore that relationship brings about a companionship.
A: A sharing.
K: A sharing.
A: A sharing. Yes.
K: Taking a journey together. And therefore an infinite care on both sides. So it means how is the teacher to teach mathematics, or whatever it is, to the student and yet teach it in such a way that you awaken the intelligence in the child, not simply about mathematics.
A: No, no of course not. No. Yes.
K: And how do you bring this act of teaching in which there is order, because mathematic means order, the highest form of order is mathematics - now how will you convey to the student in teaching mathematics that there should be order in his life? Not order according to a blueprint. That's not order.
A: Yes, yes.
K: It's a creative teaching, not creative. It's an act of learning all the time. It's a living thing. Not something I have learned and I am going to impart it to you.
A: This reminds me of a little essay I read many years ago by Simone Weil which she called 'On Academic Studies' or some title like that and she said, that every one who teaches a subject is responsible for teaching the student the relation between what they are studying and the students making a pure act of attention.
K: I know, of course, of course.
A: And that if this doesn't take place the whole thing doesn't mean a thing. And when one stops to think what would a teacher say if a student walked up and looked at them and said, "Fine we're studying calculus right now. Now you tell me how I am to see this that I am pursuing in relation to my making a pure act of attention." It would be likely a little embarrassing, except for the most unusual person, who has a grasp of the present.
K: So sir, that's just it. What is the relationship of the teacher to the student in education? Is he training him merely to conform, is he training him to cultivate mere memory, like a machine? Is he training, or is he helping him to learn about life - not just about sex, the life, the whole immensity of living, the complexity of it? Which we not are doing.
A: No. No even in our language we refer students to subject matters. They take this, they take that, they take the other and in fact there are prerequisites for taking these other things. And this builds a notion of education which has absolutely no relationship to what...
K: None at all.
A: And yet, and yet amazingly in the catalogues of colleges and universities across the country there is in the first page or so a rather pious remark about the relation between their going to school and the values of civilization. And that turns out to be learning a series of ideas. I don't know if they do it any more but they used to put the word character in there. They probably decided that's unpopular, and might very well have dropped that out by now, I'm not sure.
K: Yes, yes.
A: Yes, I'm following what you are saying.
K: So, sir, when you feel responsible there is a flowering of real affection, a flowering of care for a child, and you don't train him, or condition him to go and kill another for the sake of your country. You follow? All that is involved in it. So, we come to a point where a human being, as he is now so conditioned to be irresponsible, what are the serious people going to do with the irresponsible people? You understand? Education, politics, religion everything is making human beings irresponsible. I am not exaggerating. This is so.
A: Oh no, you are not exaggerating.
K: Now, I see this as a human being. I say what am I to do? You follow, sir? What is my responsibility in face of the irresponsible?
A: Well if it's to start anywhere, as we say in English, it must start at home. It would have to start with me.
K: So I say, that's the whole point. Start with me.
K: Then from that the question arises, then you can't do anything about the irresponsible.
A: No. Exactly.
K: No, sir. Something strange takes place.
A: I misunderstood you. I'm sorry. What I meant by replying there is that I don't attack the irresponsible.
K: No. No.
A: No, no. Yes go ahead.
K: Something strange takes place. Which is, consciousness, the irresponsible consciousness is one thing, and the consciousness of responsibility is another. Now when the human being is totally responsible that responsibility unconsciously enters into the irresponsible mind. I don't know if I'm making it clear
A: Yes, yes. No, go ahead.
K: I'm irresponsible. Suppose I'm irresponsible, you are responsible. You can't do anything consciously with me. The more you actively operate on me, I resist.
A: That's right, that's right. That's what I meant by no attacking.
K: No attacking. I react violently to you. I build a wall against you. I hurt you. I do all kinds of things. But you see you cannot do anything consciously, actively, let's put it that way.
K: Designedly, planned, which is what they are all trying to do. But if you can talk to me, to my unconscious, because the unconscious is much more active, much more alert, much more, sees the danger much quicker than the conscious. So it is much more sensitive. So if you can talk to me, to the unconscious that operates so you don't actively designedly attack the irresponsible. They have done it. And they have made a mess of it.
A: Oh yes, it compounds, complicates the thing further.
K: Whereas if you talk to me, I talk, you talk to me but your whole inward intention is to show how irresponsible I am, what responsibility means, you follow, you care. In other words you care for me
A: Yes, yes. I was chuckling because the complete and total opposite crossed my mind and it just seemed so absolutely absurd. Yes.
K: You care for me.
A: I do.
K: Because I am irresponsible. You follow?
K: Therefore you care for me. And therefore you are watching not to hurt me, not to, you follow? In that way you penetrate very, very deeply into my unconscious. And that operates unknowingly when suddenly I say, "By Jove, how irresponsible I am" - you follow. That operates. I have seen this, sir, in operation because I've talked for 50 years, unfortunately, or fortunately to large audiences, tremendous resistance to anything new. If I said, don't read sacred books, which I say all the time. Because you are just conforming, obeying. You are not living. You are living according to some book that you have read. Immediately there is resistance - 'Who are you to tell us?'
A: Not to do something.
K: Not to do this or to do that. So I say, all right. I go on pointing out, pointing out. I'm not trying to change them. I'm not doing propaganda because I don't believe in propaganda. It's a lie. So I say, look, look what you do when you are irresponsible. You are destroying your children. You send them to war, to be killed, to kill and be maimed. Is that an act of love, is that affection, is that care? Why do you do it? And I go into it. They get bewildered. They don't know what to do. So it begins to slowly seep in.
A: Well, at first it's such a shock. It sounds positively subversive to some of the people.
K: Oh, absolutely, absolutely, sir.
A: Of, course, of course. Yes.
K: So we enter into something now, which is, my relationship to another, when there is total responsibility in which freedom and care go together, the mind has no image in relationship at all. Because the image is the division. Where there is care there is no image, imagination, no image.
A: This would lead us into what perhaps later we could pursue, love.
K: Ah, that's a tremendous thing.
A: Yes. Could we lay a few words before that, I don't know necessarily that next time we would do that, but it would come naturally. I've been listening to what you have been saying and it's occurred to me that if one is responsible and care is continuous with that, one would not fear. One could not fear. Not, 'would not', 'could not', could not fear.
K: You see that means really, one must understand fear.
A: One must understand fear.
K: And also the pursuit of pleasure. Those two go together. They are not two separate things.
A: What I have learned here in our discussion is that what it is, if I have followed you correctly, that we should turn ourselves toward understanding, is not what are called values.
K: Oh no.
A: We don't understand love. We understand all those things which we catch ourselves into that militate against any possibility whatsoever. This is what's so hard to hear that, to be told that there just is no possibility. This produces immense terror. Do you think next time when we converse together we can begin at that point where we could discuss fear?
K: Oh yes.
A: Good, good.
K: But sir, before we enter fear there is something we should discuss very carefully: what is order in freedom?
A: Fine, fine, yes, yes.