The beginning of the religious mind is self-knowledge – not the knowledge of the Supreme Self; that is sheer nonsense. How can a petty mind, a narrow mind, a nationalistic mind, a mind that is begotten through fear, through compulsion, through imitation, through authority – how can that petty, shallow mind try to find out what is the Supreme Self? To seek the Supreme Self is an escape; it is pure unadulterated romanticism. The fact is: you have to understand yourself first. How can a thought which is the result of fear enquire? How can a thought which is the result of contradiction, of sorrow, of pain, of ambition, of envy – how can that thought search out the unsearchable? Obviously, it cannot; but that is what we are doing all the time. So, beginning to understand yourself as you are is the beginning of wisdom; and also the beginning of meditation is to see without distortion the fact of what you are, not what you think you should be. When you think, as most of you do, that you are the Supreme Self, that there is a spiritual entity in you, all that idea is the result of your past conditioning. You have to be aware of that fact and not accept that you are the Supreme Self. The idea has no meaning. What has meaning and significance is the fact of what you are every day, not what you should be. Again the idea, the ideation, the ideal is a piece of mythology; it has no significance. The fact has significance. The fact that you are envious has significance, but not the idea that you should be in a state of non-envy.
Another peculiarity of the religious mind is that it is rid of ideas, rid of ideals. You are all idealists – that is, you are concerned with what you should be, not with what you are. But the religious mind is concerned with the fact and moves with the fact. The scientist is concerned with the fact. He is investigating matter, investigating life as matter in his laboratory. He is investigating it under the microscope. He has no fear; he moves from fact to fact and he builds up knowledge; and that knowledge helps him to investigate further, only along a particular, narrow, restricted line which is science. But we are concerned with the totality of life, not with science only; not only with buildings, but with anger, with ambition, with quarrels, with what we are – the totality of life. Science does not include the totality of life, but a religious mind does.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of meditation. Knowing yourself psychologically as you are is the beginning of the religious mind. But you cannot know yourself, if you deny what you see, if you try to interpret what you see. Please follow this. If you deny psychologically what you see in yourself, or if you want to change it into something else, then you are not understanding the fact of what is. If you are vain and if you try to change it and cultivate humility, then there is a contradiction. If you are vain and if you try to cultivate; the ideal of humility, there is a contradiction between the two; and that contradiction dulls the mind, it brings about a conflict. You have to look at the fact that you are vain; you have to see that fact completely and not introduce a contradictory ideal. But to see that you are vain, you cannot say, « I must not be vain ». Obviously that is fairly simple, because to see something you must give your attention totally to it. When you say that you must not be vain, your mind has gone away from the fact, and the going away from the fact creates a problem – not the fact; the fact never creates the problem. It is only the avoidance of the fact, the running away from the fact, trying to change the fact, trying to make it conform or approximate to the ideal, that creates a problem – never the fact of what is.
So, when you observe yourself very clearly, when you are aware choicelessly of every thought, of every feeling, then you will come upon something – which is: that there is a thinker and there is the thought; that there is an experiencer, an observer, and there is the experience, the observed. This is a fact, is it not? – there is a censor, an entity which judges, evaluates, which thinks, which observes; and there is the thing which is observed.
So a religious mind is a mind that has no belief, that has no dogma, that has no fear, that has absolutely no authority of any kind. It is a light to itself. Such a mind, being free, can go very far. But that freedom must begin very close, very near – which is: the freedom is in yourself, in the understanding of yourself – and then you can go very far. Then you will find out for yourself that extraordinary stillness of the mind – it is not an idea but an actual fact. A mind that is completely still without any distraction, a still mind, but not the romantic mind, a mind that is not begotten through conflict or through contradiction or through misery – it is only such a mind that is completely quiet and therefore completely alive, totally sensitive; it is only such a mind that can receive that which is immeasurable.