U.G.: Basically, I don't see any future for man. It is not that I am a doomsayer, but rather that anything that is born out of division in men will ultimately destroy him and his kind. So I don't dream or hope for a peaceful world.
Q: Is that so because of the inevitability of violence?
U.G.: Because the inevitability of war is in you. The military wars out there are the extension of what is going on all the time inside you. Why is there a war waging inside you? Because you search for peace. The instrument you are using in your attempt to be at peace with yourself is war.
There is already peace in man. You need not search. The living organism is functioning in an extraordinarily peaceful way. Man's search for truth is born out of this same search for peace. He only ends up disturbing and violating the peace that is already there in the body. So what we are left with is the war within man, and the war without. It's an extension of the same thing.
Our search in this world for peace, being based upon warfare, will lead only to war, towards man's damnation.
Q: Many philosophies, including Marxism, say that war and struggle are inevitable.
U.G.: True, they are inevitable. The Marxists and others posit a thesis which, through struggle, becomes an antithesis, and so on. These are philosophical inventions devised to give life some coherence and direction. I, on the other hand, maintain that life may have started arbitrarily, it may have been put together by accident. Man's efforts to give life direction can only meet with frustration, for life has no direction at all.
But this does not imply that the missiles are on their way, that doomsday is just around the corner. Man's instinct for survival is very deep-rooted. What I am saying is that all this sweet talk of peace, compassion, and love has not touched man at all. It's rubbish.
What keeps people together is terror. The terror of mutual extinction has had a strong and ancient influence upon man. This is, of course, no guarantee. I don't know.
Q: Now the problem is greatly increased by the fact that our technologies guarantee the extinction of all life forms, not just man, in the event war breaks out at the higher levels.
U.G.: The day man felt this self-consciousness in him, which made him feel superior to every other species on the planet, is the day he set out on the road to complete and total self-destruction. If man is destroyed, probably nothing is lost. Unfortunately, the instruments of destruction he has been able to stockpile over the ages are getting worse and worse, more and more dangerous. He will take everything with him when he goes.
Q: From where does this basic urge to assume mastery over himself and the world arise?
U.G.: Its genesis was in the religious idea that man is at the center of the universe. For example, the Jews and Christians believe that everything is created for the benefit of man. That is why man is no longer a part of nature. He has polluted, destroyed, and killed off everything, all on account of his wanting to be at the center of the universe, of all creation.
Q: But man has to belong somewhere, surely, even if it is not at the center of creation. The fall represents the beginning, not the end of man.
U.G.: The doctrine of the Fall comes in very handy for Christians, that's all; it doesn't mean a thing. The whole Christian tradition exploits this idea of Original Sin to the hilt, resulting in massacre, bloodshed, and such incredible violence.
Q: Well, Eastern philosophies talk of a "still center" that can be found through meditation ...
U.G.: I question the very existence, the very idea of the self, the mind, or the psyche. If you accept the concept of the self (and it is a concept), you are free to pursue and gain self-knowledge. But we never question the idea of the self, do we?
Q: What is this self you are talking of?
U.G.: You are interested in the self, not I. Whatever it is, it is the most important thing for man as long as he is alive.
Q: I exist, therefore, I am. Is that it? Descartes?
U.G.: You have never questioned the basic thing assumed here. That is: I think, therefore, I am. If you don't think it never occurs to you that you are alive or dead. Since we think all the time, the very birth of thought creates fear, and it is out of fear that all experience springs. Both "inner" and "outer" worlds proceed from a point of thought. Everything you experience is born out of thought. So, everything you experience, or can experience, is an illusion.
The self-absorption in thought creates a self-centeredness in man; that is all that is there. All relationships based upon that will inevitably create misery for man. These are bogus relationships. As far as you are concerned, there is no such thing as a relationship. And yet society demands not just relationships, but permanent relationships.
Q: Would you consider yourself an Existentialist?
U.G.: No, don't think you can put a label on me. The Existentialists talk of despair and absurdity. But they have never really come to grips with despair or absurdity. Despair is an abstraction for them.
Q: But what about angst? Naufrage? Nausea? What was Raskalnikov feeling if not despair?
U.G.: These are abstract concepts on which they have built a tremendous philosophical structure. That's all there is to it. What I refer to when I talk of self-centered activity is an autonomous, automatic self-perpetuating mechanism, entirely different from what they are theorizing about.
Q: You mean that the self survives mortality?
U.G.: No. There is no question of a self there, so how can the question of immortality, the beyond, arise?
Q: What beyond? Is there a beyond? .
U.G.: It is mortality that creates immortality. It is the known that creates the unknown. It is time that has created the timeless. It is thought that created the thoughtless
U.G.: Because thought in its very nature is short-lived. So every time a thought is born, you are born. But you have added to that the constant demand to experience the same things over and over again, thus giving a false continuity to thought. To experience anything you need knowledge. Knowledge is the entire heritage of man's thoughts, feelings, and experiences, handed on from generation to generation.
Just as we all breathe from a common fund of air, we appropriate and use thoughts from the surrounding thought-sphere to function in this world. That's all there is to it. Man's insistence that thought must be continuous denies the nature of thought, which is short-lived. Thought has created for itself a separate destiny. It has been very successful in creating for itself a separate parallel existence. By positing the unknown, the Beyond, the immortal, it has created for itself a way to continue on. There is no timeless, only time. When thought creates time, a space is created there; so thought is also space as well. Thought also creates matter; no thought, no matter. Thought is a manifestation or expression of life, and to make of it a separate thing, impute to it a life of its own, and then allow it to create a future for its own unobstructed continuity, is man's tragedy.
Q: But if thought can create matter, how do you explain phenomena like Sai Baba producing watches out of thin air?
U.G.: It's just not possible. Sai Baba is a magician. He used to produce Swiss watches. But after the Indian government placed an import tax on Swiss watches, he soon began producing Indian-made watches. I saw a man on television the other day, who could make a jet aircraft disappear before your very eyes! Sai Baba conjures up a watch. He gives it to an honored disciple, but he, Sai Baba, receives all the acclaim and applause. It all looks legitimate, but is only a gimmick. I make fun of such things. How can you take them seriously?
Q: O.K., then what do you take seriously? Life? Death? Extraterrestrial life?
U.G.: I don't think that this kind of life exists anywhere else, on any other planet. I am not saying that there may not be life in other worlds; only that it is not like our existence here. Your ruminations about other forms of life and other worlds is just a wish for unlimited extension into the future and far-off places. Thought is trying to give itself continuity, and speculations about the future and undiscovered worlds is a convenient way to do it! Your thinking determines what you can become conscious of; period.
Q: This all comes close to what J. Krishnamurti is saying. He says that the accumulated knowledge of man becomes tradition, assuming a continuity and legitimacy of its own. Don't you believe this?
U.G.: No. I don't see how what I am saying is even close to his line of thinking. He talks of "passive awareness," journeys of discovery, psychological transformations, opens schools and launches foundations. These activities do not free you, but perpetuate the movement of thought and tradition.
Q: Is there any freedom of thought? ...any freedom for man?
U.G.: No, there is no freedom of action for man. I am not talking of some cataclysmic, deterministic philosophy of resignation. But ...
Q: There is no way out? Not even by contemplating one's navel? Not even by meditation? Not even by the raising of the kundalini? Not even by the conquest of illusion?
U.G.: No. You can try all kinds of things, but it won't help. You will only succeed in creating disturbances within the body, disturbing the harmony that is already there. By bringing about strange hallucinations and unnatural metabolic changes you only harm the body. That's all there is to it. There is nothing you can do to reverse this, to change direction.
Q: Not even a radical, even if temporary, break from tradition? If one could divorce one's actions from thought, one might be able to act without guilt, and without worrying about the consequences of one's actions. Action would be freed to do new, creative things perhaps.
U.G.: What for? To be able to discover one's subterranean strengths? Thought-induced reality cannot be denied; it is there.
Q: Some savants and seers have insisted that there are subtle energy centers within us that can be released by certain spiritual practices, including the concentration of the mind on precisely nothing.
U.G.: In order to concentrate or focus on one thing you must block out the others. By concentrating upon what you take to be "nothing", you withdraw and separate yourself from the natural flow of life through and around you. You are part of a generalized magnetic field and what separates you from others is thought. You are concerned only with your happiness and unhappiness, the video set you are watching.
Q: Isn't this unavoidable in light of the fact that each of us lives in a subjective world, no one seeing the "objective" world as it really is? When each of us looks at, say, that table there, each of us sees something different. So it is with all objects.
U.G.: The table is not an object at all.
The very fact that you recognize the table as a table is the issue. It does not matter, as the philosophers seem to think, that you and I have slightly different views of the chair and so interpret it differently. Neither does it matter whether the chair is there when I leave the room. The philosophers go on and on about this. It is absurd. You view and experience things from a different viewpoint than others, that's all. You think that you are having a subjective experience of an objective thing. There is nothing there, only your relative, experiential data, your "truth". There is no such thing as objective truth at all. There is nothing which exists "outside" or independent of our minds.
Q: Even for the other fellow? Is his existence dependent only upon my mental activity? Is your wife or neighbor just an infra-psychic phenomenon?
U.G.: Since I assume that "I" exist, he also exists. But I am questioning this. Do I have any way of experiencing the fact of my existence? I really have no way of finding out whether I am alive or dead.
I could go to a doctor who will examine me, take my temperature, my pulse, my blood pressure, and he will tell me everything is normal. In this sense you're a living, animate being in contradistinction to the inanimate objects around you. But you have actually no way of experiencing for yourself and by yourself the fact that you are a living being.
Q: Of course you can: you cut yourself, you bleed and experience pain; if you marry you suffer [laughs]...
U.G.: Yes, but there are two things. There is the body which feels the pain and the knowledge telling you, "This is blood," "This is pain," "This is the cessation of pain." There is pain, but there is no one there who feels the pain. There is nobody who is talking now.
I am not making a mystical statement when I say such a thing. Talking is a mechanical thing, like a tape recorder. Your questions draw out certain responses automatically. Whatever that is here comes out, that's all. Because you are asking questions, the answers are already there.
Q: What about love, deep abiding feelings, and profound responses to the beauty of nature?
U.G.: Ha! All that typical romantic stuff. Pure poetry! Not that I have any bone to pick with romanticism or poetry. Not at all. It just doesn't mean anything. You actually have no way of looking at the sunset because you are not separate from the sunset, much less writing poetry about it. The experience you have, the extraordinary experience you have when looking at a sunset you want to share. Using poetry, music, or painting as a medium, you attempt to share your experience with another person. That's all there is to it. The actual sunset is beyond your experiencing structure to capture. The observer is the observed. You cannot separate yourself from what you see.
The moment you separate yourself from the sunset, the poet in you comes out. Out of that separation poets and painters have tried to express themselves, to share their experiences with others. All that is culture. Culture induces its own responses. There is nothing more to it.
Q: What happens to an aboriginal, who is untouched by civilization, with no exposure to complex culture, as you and I know it, and responds to a beautiful sunset. How do you explain that?
U.G.: You see, it all depends on what we mean by culture. That part of culture that promises you peace, bliss, heaven, moksha, and selflessness is the problem. To separate the rest of culture--how you entertain yourself, how you eat, your work habits, and language--from this counter-reality created by culture is a mistake. The so-called savages are functioning in exactly the same way we are functioning today. Basically, there is no difference. In either the primitive or modern cultures there is no peace.
Q: So your message is that man cannot be at peace with himself. Is that what you want to say?
U.G.: No. Man is already at peace with himself. The idea that there is peace somewhere else, sometime in the future, is causing the problem. All these religious experiences like compassion, bliss, and love are part of the craving for a nonexistent peace, which is destructive to the natural peace already there in the body.
Q: No peace. No religion. No compassion. No hope. What does that leave us with U.G.?
U.G.: Nothing. I am questioning the whole spiritual experience. That's what I am trying to rip apart.
Q: What about the beautiful, ancient, and elaborate rituals that make up such a large part of our religious experience? Do they have any meaning or relevance to our lives?
U.G.: Man has always wanted to entertain himself with something or the other. The rituals have provided him with the necessary entertainment over the years, and now they have been replaced by movies, videos, television, circuses, J. Krishnamurti talks, and the whole lot. There are many of them, you see. Each one is trying to sell his own particular brand of cigarettes, his own particular commodity. We want them. There is a market for these spiritual commodities. That is why someone is selling them. Nobody can sell me that kind of stuff because I'm not interested in it. Others may be.
Q: Yes, but what are you interested in? What makes you want to carry on living?
U.G.: Whatever is there. Whatever is happening at the moment is all that there is for me.
Q: Come on. You're a here-and-now person, is that it?
U.G.: No. To explain it that way is very misleading. I don't know how to explain it.
Look, I read science-fiction books. Why? Because there is action there. I am not interested in the outcome at all, only the ongoing action. It is like a striptease. It is the stripping I find interesting, not the ending. Who cares about endings? Similarly, all your yesterdays, all your knowledge, and your very sense of self are dead things of the past. These memories have a great deal of emotional content for you, but not for me. I am only interested in what is actually happening now, not tomorrow or yesterday.
Q: Without the emotionally-charged memories of yesterday and the promise of tomorrow, there is little room for hope, is there?
U.G.: To me there is no present either, much less the future. What is there is only the past, nothing else. So your phrase "the here-and-now" means nothing to me. At this moment there is only the past in operation.
I don't know if I make myself clear. If I recognize you and we carry on a conversation, it is only the past that is in operation. I am looking at things. If I recognize and name those things, the past is in operation. It is projecting what it knows. The future, although indeterminate, is a modified continuity of the past. So what is this "now" you are talking about? There is no such thing as this moment. This moment is not a thing that can be captured, experienced, or given expression to. The moment you capture what you think of "this moment" you have already made it part of the past.
All this implies that we can never touch the same place at the same time and place. It is like two tape recording machines in a room playing old tapes to each other. You have no way of communicating anything to anybody. There is no communication at all. And when this is understood very clearly there is no need for communication at all.
Q: Which means that man's attempt to predict or preempt the future is condemned from the start, does it not? All this talk of communicating information, sharing knowledge, and interfacing is sheer bunk?
U.G.: Yes, it is. For this reason man is denied any real freedom of action. You may prefer one kind of music or food over another, but that only reflects your own background and culture.
Q: If what you are saying is true, the no one has any freedom of action, for everything one does has a cause, and all causes have a final cause.
U.G.: Aha! Why do you assume that everything must have a beginning, an ultimate cause? Cause-and-effect may be just a casual thing. Events may just occur, just happen. The whole process of evolution may be just another happening, a causeless event. Why must you insist that everything must have a creator, that the whole thing must have sprung from some ultimate cause?
Q: The most recent scientific evidence suggests that it all began with a Big Bang. Even explosions have a flash point. Things don't just go "bang"...
U.G.: That is your assumption. There may not be any such thing as the Big Bang. They use that term in contradistinction to the concept of creation in steady state. So these are two theories trying to establish themselves as truth. Each competes with the other, trying to present itself as the more plausible of the two.
Q: But surely this is the way new ideas are born and tested within a rational community. It is a healthy thing, not a pathological thing, to seek truth and knowledge. It is a good thing in and of itself.
U.G.: I am not against the scientific method per se. What I am pointing out is the fact that there is no such thing as a "pure" search for knowledge, or knowledge for its own sake. It is not so innocent. Knowledge is sought, scientifically or otherwise, because it gives power. Love is an invention of the moment, used to replace power. Since you have failed in every other way, through every other channel, to acquire that all-powerful state of being, you have invented what you call love.
Q: So love is just another name for the power game? Is that what you want us to believe?
Q: What about the kind of love Mother Teresa practices? What about compassion?
U.G.: They are all born out of the divisive consciousness in man. Ultimately they will end up defeating the very cause they are working and dying for. The people around Mother Teresa are capitalizing on her fame. All they are interested in now is money, you know, to carry on her work. Why should all these things be institutionalized?` You see someone in pain, hungry. You respond to him. That's all there is to it. So, why should that be institutionalized? You corrupt that feeling, the immediate response, which is not just a thought or petty emotion, when you attempt to institutionalize generosity and empathy. It is the immediate response to the situation that counts.
Q: Institutionalization is the attempt to take a one-time situation and a one-time response and make out of them a continuous, predictable response. A single act of a good Samaritan becomes a way of looking at and doing things generally. Loving thy neighbor becomes a fact when everyone is doing it as a matter of course, not as a result of isolated acts of compassion.
U.G.: I don't see that as compassion. That's the only thing you can do in a given situation, and that's the end of it. Animals are helpful to one another to a surprising degree. Human beings are naturally helpful to each other. When institutionalization dulls that natural sensitivity, I say it is not compassion. All events in my life are independent of all other events. There is nothing there lining them up or institutionalizing them.
Q: Is this why you have steadfastly refused to allow your views to be propagated?
U.G.: First of all, I have no views at all. You see, they wanted me to go on television in the United States. They have a program called, "Point of View." I told them "I have no point of view." I have no particular message for mankind, nor do I have any of the missionary zeal in me.
I am not a savior of mankind, or any such thing. People come here. Why they come is not my concern. They come out of their own free will and volition because they have heard of me or out of sheer curiosity. It doesn't matter. A person may come here out of any one of a number of reasons. He finds me somehow different, a rare bird, and cannot figure me out or fit me into any framework he knows. He tells his friends, and soon they arrive at the door. I can't tell them to get lost.
I invite them in, knowing very well that there is nothing I can do for them. What can I do for you? "Come in, sit down, make yourself comfortable," is all I can say. Some people make tape recordings of our conversations together. It is their concern, not mine. It is their property first of all, not mine.
I have no interest in asking the questions you are interested in. I have no questions of any kind, except those which help me to function in daily living: "What time is it?" "Where is the bus stop?" That is all. These are the simple questions that are necessary to function in an organized society. Otherwise, I never ask any questions.
Q: Do you think this society is really organized?
U.G.: This is a jungle we have created. You can't survive in this world. Even if you try to pluck a fruit from a tree, the tree belongs to someone or to society. So you have to become a part of society. That's why I always say that the world does not owe a living to me. If I wish to enjoy the benefits of organized society, I must contribute something to it. This society has created us all. Society is always interested in the status quo, in maintaining its own continuity.
Q: Society has not created me. A simple act of lust created me.
U.G.: That is true. But lust is born out of the thought of that individual who is part and parcel of society. The actual genetic information, probably residing in each cell of the body, is also passed on, and constitutes the basis of consciousness. What society is interested in is that we all contribute to the continuity of society, that we all perpetuate the status quo. Society will of course permit some slight modifications, but no more.
So, what does a man like me contribute to society. Nothing. So how can I expect anything from society? Society does not owe a living to me at all. On the other hand, what I am saying is a threat to society as it is presently organized. The way I am thinking, functioning, and operating is a threat to the present society. If I become a threat, this society will liquidate me. I am not interested in becoming a martyr or anything. That doesn't interest me at all. So, if they say, "Don't talk," fine, I don't have to talk.
Q: So you don't have faith in man, like J. Krishnamurti does?
U.G.: No, no. Not at all, not at all.
If they expect me to be a martyr so as to revitalize their faith in themselves, they will be sadly disappointed. It is their problem, not mine. If they find me a menace to society, what can they do? They may torture me, as they do in the communist countries. So what? Would I continue to speak against the state then? I really don't know what I would do. I do not indulge in hypothetical situations.
Q: Would you have any political views? Do you have any political views about this society here? Do you believe in a specific form of government, taking sides on political issues?
U.G.: I have views on every damned thing from disease to divinity because I have acquired all this knowledge through studies, travel, experience, and the like. But my views are of no more importance than those of the maid cleaning and cooking there. WHY should any importance be given to my views and opinions?
You may say that I am a well-read man, and that, as a result of my reading, my travels, and my conversations with intellectuals, scientists, and philosophers, I have a right to express my views on everything. But nothing I say or believe is important. Do you understand that? All I am trying to point out is that all this knowledge you are so proud of flaunting isn't worth a tinker's damn.
Q: Why has knowledge taken on such importance to us?
U.G.: Because it gives you power. As I said at the very beginning, knowledge is power. I know, you don't know. I have religious experience and you don't have it. So it's all one-upmanship, showing off.
Q: Does your past with the Theosophical Society contribute in any way to the sum total of your understanding of life? You know, all this astral business, Blavatsky's hocus-pocus, Leadbeater's buggery, the usual mumbo-jumbo of the Theosophical circus ...
U.G.: Whatever happened to me happened not because of, but in spite of that. And that's a miracle. I really don't know. I am not a man of humility or any such thing. Looking back on the situation, I really have no way of telling you what it was all about. All I know is that I am free from my past, and thank heaven for that.
Q: Tell us, what do you think of `the sage who walks alone', J. Krishnamurti, the man you had the `falling out' with.
U.G.: I think he is a tremendous hoax. That's what I have against J. Krishnamurti. He has never come out clean. If you ask him why not [come out clean], his argument would be that anything he says will become an authority for or against him. But that's a political position he has taken. In fact, he has already become an authority figure for hundreds and thousands of people.
Q: And that's something you don't want to become ...?
U.G.: No. I don't want to be that. Never. To me, the whole thing stinks.
Q: But the chance to influence men, to change history ...
U.G.: No, never. That's what I am saying ...
Q: Is it that you reject using your power now that you have it, or is it that you reject the idea, the very principle of power over others ...?
U.G.: It is the understanding; it is the knowledge which has dawned upon me. I cannot communicate it, much less recommend it to others.
Q: Naturally. But if one wants to operate outside the whole corrupt field of power games, mustn't one be truly humble ...?
U.G.: No. Humility is an art that one practices. There is no such thing as humility. As long as you know, there is no humility there. The known and humility cannot coexist.
In saying this I am not giving you a new definition of humility. I believe there is no such thing as humility at all. I'm just not in conflict with society. So, to create the opposite of the brutality in the world--humility--does not occur to me. Society cannot be anything other than what it is. So, since there is no demand to bring about a change in me, there is no corresponding demand to change society. I am not a reformer. I am not a revolutionary either. In fact, there is no such thing as revolution. All that is bogus. It is another commodity to be sold in the marketplace, to hoodwink gullible people.
Q: In other words, there is no difference between the world of Gandhi and the world of Ho Chi Minh, or between the values Christ propagated and those Lenin fought for?
U.G.: That's right. No difference at all.
Q: Tell me something. J. Krishnamurti told me during a conversation that his entire worldview survives because he looks at life from a detached viewpoint. He is not the first one to say this. Many great men of religion and art have said the same thing. Do you agree that he sees most clearly who stands apart?
U.G.: Did Krishnamurti say this, or did his followers say this?
Q: He claims to have no followers.
U.G.: First of all, I have no worldview, no structure of thought that can help you.
Q: But you have perhaps created a structure of thought which helps you.
U.G.: Nothing helps me. This certainty I have is something that cannot be transmitted to anyone else. And yet this certainty has no value at all.
Q: How did you arrive at this certainty?
U.G.: I stumbled upon it. You see, my grounding was in Madras, in the same kind of environment that produced J. Krishnamurti. I was surrounded by religious people, all kinds of strange people. I realized early on that they were all fakes whose lives and preachings were miles apart. So it [the environment] wasn't worth anything, as far as I was concerned. I know all about these saviors, saints, and sages. They have all cheated themselves and fooled everybody. But you may be sure that I am not going to be fooled by anybody. I am in a position to say they are ALL wrong.
The "change', if that is the word you want to use, that occurred to me is a purely physiological event, with no mystical or spiritual overtones at all. Anybody who gives a religious slant to any physical happening like this is kidding himself and is kidding the whole of mankind. The more clever and cunning you are, the more successful you will be in persuading people. So you acquire power from people, then project it upon others. You get tremendous power from your followers, then project it back on them. So it gives you the illusion that it is affecting everyone around you. You then come out with some ridiculous statement that this has affected the whole of human consciousness. Actually, it has no psychological or social content at all.
It is not that I am antisocial. As I have said, I am not in conflict with society at all. I am not going to destroy all the temples or churches, or burn any books. No such thing. Man cannot be anything other than what he is. Whatever he is, he will create a society that mirrors him.
Q: Yes, but how did you stumble upon such wisdom?
U.G.: Aha! That's the question!
Q: You obviously don't get it by sitting under a tree in the moonlight ...
U.G.: No, there is nothing to get ...
Q: I refer not to some romantic achievement, but to that certainty you possess. You have a certainty, that's all. I feel that I and others don't have it. Neither do I know how to get it.
U.G.: You must find your basic question. My basic question was: "Is there anything behind the abstractions the holy men are throwing at me? Is there really anything like enlightenment or self-realization?" I didn't want the question. I just had it. So naturally I had to experiment. I tried so many things, this, that, and the other for a while. Then you find out one day that there is nothing to find out at all! You reject them completely and totally. This rejection is not a movement of thought at all, not a superficial denial. It is not done to attain or achieve something.
Q: ... like the need to get something spiritual ...?
U.G.: There is nothing to get. There is nothing to find or to find out. The understanding that there is nothing to understand is all there is. Even that is an inferential statement. In other words, there is nothing to understand.
Q: The fact that there is nothing to understand is a certainty for you, but not me.
U.G.: First of all, you see, you don't have the hunger, the thirst to find out the answer to that. So you can't do a thing about it. Anything you do perpetuates that, keeps your hunger at bay. What seems to have happened to me is not that my hunger has been satisfied either with bread crumbs or a whole loaf of bread, but that the hunger found no satisfactory answer and burned itself out. All these thirst-quenchers haven't helped to quench my thirst. But somehow in my case the thirst burned itself out. I am a burnt-out case--but not in the sense in which you use that term. It's an entirely different kind of being burnt out.
What is there now is something living. There is no need for communication, No communication is possible on that level. The demand to know, to be certain, is not there at all.
Q: I don't understand ...
U.G.: It's just like the tree out there. What do you want to do with the trees? They are not even self-conscious that they are useful to other forms of life, providing shade.... Like the tree, I am never conscious that I can be of service to anyone.
Q: Don't you have any simple honorable sentiments like affection for another, love, or even lust? Haven't you ever seen a beautiful woman and wanted to make love to her?
U.G.: The movement of desire is so fast that it doesn't stop there. There is something--I wouldn't say it's more interesting or more attractive--but it changes that movement and demands your complete attention. Everything happening at that moment demands your complete and total attention. In that state there are no longer two things--lover and beloved, pursuer and pursued. What you call "a beautiful woman"--which is an idea--gives way to something else. And there comes a time when you can't love her in the old way any more.
Q: You mean when you see a beautiful woman you are totally involved without having to get involved?
U.G.: The thought that she's a woman isn't there. Then you see what a beautiful woman can give you. "What can I get from this woman", is not there. Everything is constantly moving. There is no religious content to this at all.
Q: Forget about religion. We are talking about beautiful women. They affect you in a different way, you say. You don't exhibit the obsession with sex which so many of us do when in the company of beautiful women. Yet you are affected. I am obsessed with beautiful women and sex, and want to reduce the impact they have on me. How can I get some objectivity on the matter, as you seem to have?
U.G.: It's too much of a hassle to bother about that. Please remember that....
Q: Don't you think that an individual who has seen the light should lighten the way for others? Don't you feel some sense of responsibility for your fellow beings? Isn't it incumbent upon you to share with the world the truth you have "stumbled upon"?
U.G.: No. I have no way of transmitting it and you have no way of knowing it.
Q: Yes, but don't you want to inspire the world around you?
U.G.: Inspiration is a meaningless thing. So many things and people inspire us, but the actions born out of inspiration are meaningless. Lost, desperate people create a market for inspiration. So, I am not interested in inspiring anybody. All inspired action will eventually destroy you and your kind. That's a fact!
Q: Is there any way of preventing that? Is not life the only cure-all?
U.G.: What do you want to prevent? In you love and hate are born. I don't like to put it that way because love and hate are not opposite ends of the same spectrum; they are one and the same thing. They are much closer than kissing cousins.
If you don't get what you expect out of the so-called love, what is there is hate. You may not like me to use the word "hate", but it is apathy and indifference to others. I believe love and hate are the same thing. I tell this to people wherever I go, all over the world.
Q: Every year you spend four months in America, four months in India, and four months in Switzerland. That is dangerously close to the usual travel plans of J. Krishnamurti, isn't it? He covers an almost identical route year after year.
U.G.: I don't know why he is doing that. It is the weather that is responsible for my movements. When it is hot in India, I go to Switzerland. When it gets too cold in Switzerland, I move to California, then back to India again. This whole J. Krishnamurti thing no longer interests me.
Q: Perhaps. But you must have observed the entire thing very carefully because you were a part of it for a long while. Everyone knows of your past interest in J. Krishnamurti, and the fact that you eventually broke with him.
U.G.: In the early days he didn't have a huge organization like he has today. It was a small simple organization publishing a few books, that was all. He did a little traveling and public talking, organized informally by some friends. That was it. But now it is a limited concern, a growth industry like any other business. This kind of organization he has now, with worldwide real estate holdings, boards of trustees, vaults of insured tape recordings, millions of dollars, all runs counter to his basic teaching, which is that you can't organize truth. He shouldn't be building an empire in the name of spirituality.
Q: Have you ever met any of the "God-men" of India? You know, the famous ones making a fast buck in the holy business.
U.G.: No, I've never been a shopper. I've encountered a few of them for a few minutes in my travels, that's all.
What I am was born out of my own struggle. I learned everything about myself by myself. Both the secular and the spiritual schools of thought irritate me. The gurus and God-men are, therefore, of no interest to me at all. We have exported them to the United States and Europe. They have their own too ...
Q: Yes. The Reverend Moon, Jim Jones, scoundrels galore ...
U.G.: And now there is another Jones: Da Jones, "the one who gives" in Sanskrit. Any holy scam is welcome there, whether from Indonesia, Japan, India, or from Nepal. If they get popular enough in the West, make enough of a splash, we bring them back to India. It is similar to how Indian women bring back saris from the West to wear here. They pay three times the price there!
Q: Have you ever met Maharshi Yogi in Switzerland?
U.G.: No, never. I don't go out of my room, so I can't say. I'm not in touch with what's going on here in India. I don't care for the newspapers here, so I don't read them. Indian current events don't interest me, you see, because whatever happens here has no real effect on the world. India is not in a position to affect the world. Although there is no sure way to divide up opinions into spiritual, political, or otherwise. You may call this a political opinion.
How can India give direction to or influence the world? India has neither the power nor the moral status. The spirituality you claim does not actually work in the life of the country. You have to show the world that the oneness of life you have preached for centuries operates in the daily life of this country, as well as in the lives of individuals. That is difficult.
No one is interested in what India says or does. It doesn't have the necessary stature to affect world events. The only thing about India that interests the rest of the world is the question, "What will happen to her millions and millions of people? In which direction, towards what camp, is she going to move?" Nothing else.
Q: Does a religion like Marxism help? It has a spiritual content, after its own fashion. It seems to look at a broader, less archaic frame of reference.
U.G.: Marxism as a religion has failed. Even Maoism is dead. Even the Marxist countries are looking for a new God now. They have lost faith in man and are once again looking for a new God, new Church, new Bible, and a new priest. The search is on for a different kind of freedom.
Q: But Hinduism allows a great deal of freedom. It was never a conservative religion, like Christianity, Islam, or Marxism.
U.G.: The only difference between the East and the West is the difference in our religions. Christianity has not produced such weird characters as we have in this country. Here religion is an individual affair. Each one has set up his own shop and is selling his particular wares. That's why we have the variety here, which is lacking in the West. This variety is the most attractive part of our so-called heritage.
Hinduism is not a religion. It is a combination and confusion of many things. The actual word "Hindu" comes from a lost non-Sanskrit word no longer in use. You wouldn't know anything about it. The invading Aryans who set up the Brahmanic social structure found the native Indians to have a dark complexion and called their religion the religion of the blacks--the "Hindus". The scholars and pundits may not like my interpretation, but it is correct and historical.
Again, I repeat, Hinduism is not a religion in the usual sense; it is like a street with hundreds of shops.
Q: You mean Rajneesh's sex shop next to J. Krishnamurti's awareness shop, which is next to Maharshi's meditation shop, which is next door to Sai Baba's magic shop, which is next to....
U.G.: Basically they are all the same, exactly the same. Each claims that his wares are the best to be found in the market. Some products, like Pears Soap, have been in the market so long that people have come to know, depend upon them, and consider them superior to others. The durability of a particular product doesn't mean very much.
Q: What is your opinion of the Indian entertainment business? They say most of your following comes from this industry.
U.G.: Everything in this country is entertainment. The politicians thrive on the gullibility of men. Religions thrive on the credulity of others. Well, we are damn fools, you see. That's all there is to it.
Q: With such an opinion of mankind, you must not have any high hopes for the future of the race ...
U.G.: I don't think anything better will happen to man, or for man.
Q: But surely the incredible progress of technology, especially in the West, in the last hundred years, bodes well for man.
U.G.: That is true. But that is because of the industrial revolution. Nations like Russia, America, and other Western nations have taken advantage of the industrial revolution to push technology ahead.
Q: Man seems to have made more progress in the last one hundred years than he did in the previous four billions years.
U.G.: That's exactly what I am saying. It is because of the industrial revolution that far-reaching changes are sweeping the world. How effective these changes will be is anybody's guess. The regime of science and technology is already slipping ...
Q: Where do you think all this will take us?
U.G.: Why should it take us anywhere? Why? What for? "Progress" means "to advance into enemy territory". You are hopeful that unbridled progress will bring a solution to our problems. If it was that clear-cut, we might as well program the computers and see what they have to say regarding our future and our destinies.
Q: But if we are nothing more than the sum total of our past, the prediction becomes easy and accurate ...
U.G.: This will give us no guarantee as to where the future will lead.
Q: No, we have control over our futures.
U.G.: Something unexpected and unpredictable happens and the whole course is suddenly changed. We take it for granted that we can channel life in the direction we want, but there is no guarantee we will succeed. Events are really independent of one another. We create and put them together. We have created the philosophical structure of thought, but that does not mean that there is a pattern or purpose for everything. Nor does it mean that everything is predetermined.
Q: But what about hope? Surely man lives by hope.
U.G.: Man has always lived in hope and will probably die in hope. In the light of the tremendous destructive power he now has at his command, he will probably take every other form of life with him when he goes. This is not my doomsday song, but when you look realistically at our situation this seems to be the lot of us all, like it or not. You are mistaken if you think or hope that we can put the whole momentum of human history on a different track. We need to be saved from those saviors who promise the millennium just around the corner.
Q: How can you help it?
U.G.: The "how" creates another savior.
Q: Yes, but is there any other way of changing course than the spiritual?
U.G.: First of all, you see, to divide life into the material and the spiritual has absolutely no meaning to me. All this hogwash about spiritual life is born out of the assumption that there is a spirit which has an independent existence of its own. The assumption makes no sense.
Q: What about the notion that the body is destroyed, but the spirit lives on ...?
U.G.: It's just a belief. It doesn't mean anything at all. I have no way of transmitting this certainty to you. There is nothing that will rise or reincarnate itself after I die. For you to speculate on the beyond has no meaning.
Q: The body itself seems to seek a kind of immortality through procreation.
U.G.: That is the nature of life. The demand for survival and the need to reproduce oneself is inherent in the nature of life. Your sexuality, your progeny, your family structure, and so much more is an extension of this basic natural drive to survive and procreate.
Q: So when you die you are finished ...?
U.G.: If, when this body is buried, the memories people have of me are buried along with it, that will be the end of me.
Q: Some of your followers want to scatter your ashes...
U.G.: What for? Very often people ask me, "Are you not going to leave any instructions on how we should dispose of your dead body?" What the hell! Who wants to leave any instruction? It will begin to smell and become a nuisance to society ... It's not my problem, but society's. I am already in hell. There is no need for me to die to reach there.
Q: You have a family somewhere, don't you?
U.G.: My daughters, two of them, are in Hyderabad. One of my sons, Vasant, died recently of cancer. The other fellow, Kumar, is younger and was born in America. He is an electronics engineer there now. I see him occasionally when I visit the U.S.A. I don't have much contact with my family. They come and visit me sometimes. That's all. I have no emotional links with them, or with anybody for that matter. Not even with Valentine, the old Swiss lady I have been with for the last twenty years. I don't think I have any emotional links with anybody.
Q: Have you ever had any emotional links with anybody?
U.G.: I don't know. I probably did not, even with my wife with whom I lived for twenty years. I really don't know what kind of links one should have.
Q: You've never had any overwhelming feelings towards another person, man or woman?
U.G.: What obsessed me most was to find out the answer to my question. It was the one overriding thing for me. What was behind the abstractions these people, including J. Krishnamurti, were throwing at me? If there is nothing there, how could they have created all this mischief in the world? I understood that you could kid yourself and others; but I wanted an answer. I never got an answer. The question just burnt itself out.
That does not mean that I am enlightened, or that I know the Truth. Those who have claimed such things have fooled themselves and others. All of them are wrong. Not that I am superior to them or any such thin; it is just that they are making claims that have no real basis at all. That was and is my certainty. There is no power in the world that can make me accept anything. So I am not in conflict with the power structure. I am not interested in taking anything away from anybody.
Q: We sense a kind of remoteness or disinterestedness in you. Haven't you ever been carried away by anything, say, a beautiful woman, a beautiful sunset, or a beautiful piece of music? Has nothing ever totally swamped you and made you want to go away from everything, I don't know where to...?
U.G. Whatever else I may or may not have been, I've never been a romantic in that sense. All that is romanticism for me. Romanticism is not my reality. Nothing has ever, or will ever, sweep me off my feet. It is not that I am the opposite of that, a man of reason. It is the element of reason in me that revolted against itself. I am not anti-rational or arational, just unrational. You may infer a rational meaning in what I say or do, but it is your doing, not mine. I am not interested in anyone's search for happiness, romance, or escape ...
Q: It could be more than mere romanticism. It could be a self-abandonment, a crazy, frenzied, or a terrifying, magnificent, spiritual or sexual experience.
U.G.: There is no experience here. So, how can there be these dramatic, crazy experiences? I have no way of separating myself from events; the event and I are one and the same. I'm sure you don't want me to say any crude things as far as sex is concerned. It's just a release of tension. I don't romanticize at all about this kind of stuff. As I once told my wife, "Don't talk of love and intimacy to me; what keeps us together is sex. The problem is that I for some reason cannot have sex with another woman. That is my problem. I have no way of freeing myself from this problem." I don't know if all this makes any sense to you. All this talk of love never meant anything to me. That's the end of this obsession with sex.
Q: But at one stage you did make love with another woman ...
U.G.: Yes, but that was a situation not of my own making. I won't say I was seduced. It doesn't matter whether one seduces another or is himself seduced. The fact is you did it. It was not that person who was responsible. I myself was responsible. It was a peculiar kind of auto-eroticism that was involved in this case.
Q: How can you say that?
U.G.: I was using that person. It is a terrible thing to use somebody to get pleasure. Whether you use an idea, a concept, a drug, or a person, or anything else, you cannot have pleasure without using something. This revolted me. What are you laughing about? This is my life, take it or leave it.
I am not interested in using, influencing, or changing anybody. This is a statement on what I am, how I lived, nothing more. This will not be of any tremendous value for mankind and should not be preserved for posterity. I don't believe in posterity. I have no teaching. There is nothing to preserve. Teaching implies something that can be used to bring about change. Sorry... There is no teaching here, just disjointed, disconnected sentences. What is there is only your interpretation of either the written or spoken word, nothing else. The answers you get are yours. They are your property, not mine. For this reason there is not now, nor will there ever be, any kind of copyright for whatever I am saying. I have no claims.
Q: Tell me, U.G., what was your childhood like?
U.G.: My mother died when I was seven days old. My maternal grandparents took care of me. My grandfather was a Theosophist. He was a wealthy man and instilled a strong religious atmosphere around the house. So, in that sense, J. Krishnamurti was also part of my background. They had his picture on every wall; I could not avoid him. I did not go to him in search of anything. He was just part of my background. It would have been remarkable had I never gone to see him. My problem was to free myself from the whole background that was strangling me. That's all.
Q: Where did you grow up?
U.G.: Mostly in Madras, in the Theosophical Society. I went to the University of Madras. I lived most of my formative years with and amongst the Theosophists.
Q: Did they repel you from the very beginning?
U.G.: From the very beginning, in a way. But I continued to fend for myself. I wanted so much to free myself from my past. I tried so hard. After J. Krishnamurti walked out on the whole thing I eventually broke from them [the Theosophists] also.
Q: Do you have memories of Annie Besant?
U.G.: Oh, yes! She was a remarkable woman. I met her when I was fourteen. I remember her oratory. My grandfather was very close to Annie Besant. She was an institution. I think India has every reason to be thankful to her, in more respects than one. But the modern generation doesn't know a thing about her. Neither do they know much of Gandhi. It is difficult to say how much people now remember about him. This new film on him will probably spark some interest in his life.
Q: What do you think of Gandhi's beliefs?
U.G.: You want my opinion. I will freely give it. For some reason or other I never liked him. Perhaps it was my Theosophical background. Above all, he was a mixture of a saint and a politician. I think he was the only man amongst the whole lot who really tried to model his life after what he professed to believe in. He may have failed--he has failed in my opinion--but the fact that he tried to live according to the model he had before him, made him an interesting chap. Many others besides him were instrumental in gaining India's freedom. What he has left this country is nothing. It is a sentimental thing to give lectures on him every year on his birthday. He and his followers talked everlastingly, but, as the new film shows, he used violence from start to finish.
Q: But you can also say that of Christ, Buddha, and Mohammed. It is those who come after a great teacher that misapply his teachings ...
U.G.: You cannot exonerate the founders and leaders of religions. The teachings of all those teachers and saviors of mankind have resulted in only violence. Everybody talked of peace and love, while their followers practiced violence.
There is something funny about the whole business. It was this gap between word and deed that signaled to me early on that something was very wrong. I felt that the teachings were wrong, but I lacked certainty. I had no way of brushing them aside, putting them entirely out of my consciousness. I was not ready to accept any of them on sentimental grounds. Even when my efforts to be rid of them resulted in episodes of Christ and Buddha consciousness, still I was discontent. I knew that there must be something wrong somewhere. This was really my problem, you know.
Q: You reject things on both sentimental and rational grounds. What is left?
U.G.: It is like the man who is riding a tiger and is thrown off. The tiger, maintaining its own momentum, continues on -- it's gone. That's all there is to it. You cannot do anything with the tiger anymore. So you never again have the fear of encountering or riding the tiger. It is finished. It has gone.
So I think there is little point in my doing anything in society -- it has its own momentum. Anything you try to do will engulf you and add to that momentum.` Who has given the mandate to all these people to save mankind? Compassion and love are two of their gimmicks.
Q: Did you ever meet that strange old Theosophist called Leadbeater during your Theosophical days?
U.G.: Yes, I met him. He was also part of my background. He never impressed me very much. I am aware that there were rumors that he was a homosexual. It doesn't matter to me. Sex is a part of life. Homosexuality, lesbianism, heterosexuality, it's all the same. I don't have any moral position. Society, which has created all these sociopaths, has invented morality to protect itself from them. Count me out. Society has created the "saints" and "sinners". I don't accept them as such.
There can be error, mistakes, weakness, but no sin for me. I personally see no reason why we should bother with the Bible, the Koran, the Gita, or the Dhammapada(1). We have a political body with its civil and criminal codes. That should be sufficient to handle the problem.
(1) Dhammapada: A Buddhist classic, officially a part of the Suttapitaka, one of the three "baskets" containing the teachings of the Buddha collected about the third century B.C.