Ojai 4th Public Talk 24th July 1949
I would like this morning to discuss what is simplicity and perhaps from that arrive at the discovery of sensitivity. We seem to think that simplicity is merely an outward expression, a withdrawal: having few possessions, wearing a loin cloth, having no home, putting on few clothes, having a small bank account. Surely, that is not simplicity. That is merely an outward show. And it seems to me that simplicity is essential; but simplicity can come into being only when we begin to understand the significance of self-knowledge, which we have discussed previously, and which we will be discussing here till the end of August.
Simplicity is not merely adjustment to a pattern. It requires a great deal of intelligence to be simple and not merely conform to a particular pattern, however worthy outwardly. Unfortunately, most of us begin by being simple externally, in outward things. It is comparatively easy to have few things, and to be satisfied with few things; to be content with little, and perhaps to share that little with others. But, a mere outward expression of simplicity in things, in possessions, surely does not imply the simplicity of inward being. Because, as the world is at present, more and more things are being urged upon us, outwardly, externally. Life is becoming more and more complex. And, in order to escape from that, we try to renounce, or be detached from things - from cars, from houses, from organizations, from cinemas, and from the innumerable circumstances outwardly thrust upon us. We think we shall be simple by withdrawing. A great many saints, a great many teachers, have renounced the world; and it seems to me that such a renunciation on the part of any of us does not solve the problem. Simplicity which is fundamental, real, can only come into being inwardly; and from that there is an outward expression. How to be simple, then, is the problem; because that simplicity makes one more and more sensitive. A sensitive mind, a sensitive heart, is essential, for then it is capable of quick perception, quick reception.
So, one can be inwardly simple, surely, only by understanding the innumerable impediments, attachments, fears, in which one is held. But most of us like to be held - by people, by possessions, or by ideas. We like to be prisoners. Inwardly, we are prisoners, though outwardly we seem very simple. Inwardly we are prisoners to our desires, to our wants, to our ideals, to the innumerable motivations. And simplicity cannot be found unless one is free inwardly. Therefore, it must begin first inwardly, not outwardly.
We were discussing yesterday afternoon the freedom from beliefs. Surely, there is an extraordinary freedom when one understands the whole process of belief why the mind is attached to a belief. And, when there is freedom from beliefs, there is simplicity. But that simplicity requires intelligence; and, to be intelligent, one must be aware of one's own impediments. To be aware, one must be constantly on the watch, not established in any particular groove, in any particular pattern of thought or action. Because, after all, what one is inwardly, does affect the outer. Society or any form of action, is the projection of ourselves; and, without transforming inwardly mere legislation has very little significance outwardly; it may bring about certain reforms, certain adjustments; but, what one is inwardly, always overcomes the outer. If one is inwardly greedy, ambitious, pursuing certain ideals, that inward complexity does eventually upset, overthrow outward society however carefully planned it may be.
So, surely, one must begin within - not exclusively, not rejecting the outer. You come to the inner, surely, by understanding the outer, by finding out how the conflict, the struggle, the pain, exists outwardly; and as one investigates it more and more, naturally one comes into the psychological states which produce the outward conflicts and miseries. The outward expression is only an indication of our inward state; but to understand the inward state, one must approach through the outer. Most of us do that. And, in understanding the inner - not exclusively, not by rejecting the outer, but by understanding the outer and so coming upon the inner - , we will find that, as we proceed to investigate the inward complexities of our being, we become more and more sensitive, free, It is this inward simplicity that is so essential. Because, that simplicity creates sensitivity. A mind that is not sensitive, not alert, not aware, is incapable of any receptivity, any creative action. That is why I said that conformity as a means of making ourselves simple, really makes the mind and heart dull, insensitive. Any form of authoritarian compulsion, imposed by the government, by oneself, by the ideal of achievement, and so on - any form of conformity must make for insensitivity, for not being simple inwardly. Outwardly you may conform and give the appearance of simplicity, like so many religious people do. They practise various disciplines, join various organizations, meditate in a particular fashion, and so on - all giving an appearance of simplicity. But, such conformity does not make for simplicity. Compulsion of any kind can never lead to simplicity. On the contrary, the more you suppress, the more you substitute, the more you sublimate, the less there is simplicity; but the more you understand the process of sublimation, suppression, substitution, the greater the possibility of being simple.
Our problems - social, environmental, political, religious - are so complex that we can solve them only by being simple, not by becoming extraordinarily erudite and clever. Because, a simple person sees much more directly, has a more direct experience, than the complex person. And, our minds are so crowded with an infinite knowledge of facts, of what others have said, that we have become incapable of being simple and having direct experience ourselves. These problems demand a new approach; and they can be so approached only when we are simple, inwardly really simple. That simplicity comes only through self-knowledge, through understanding ourselves: the ways of our thinking and feeling, the movements of our thoughts, our responses; how we conform, through fear, to public opinion, to what others say, what the Buddha, the Christ, the great saints have said - all of which indicates our nature to conform, to be safe, to be secure. And, when one is seeking security, one is obviously in a state of fear, and therefore there is no simplicity.
Without being simple, one cannot be sensitive - to the trees, to the birds, to the mountains, to the wind, to all the things that are going on about us in the world. And, if one is not simple, one cannot be sensitive to the inward intimation of things. Most of us live so superficially, on the upper level of our consciousness; there we try to be thoughtful or intelligent, which is synonymous with being religious; there we try to make our minds simple, through compulsion, through discipline. But that is not simplicity. When we force the upper mind to be simple, such compulsion only hardens the mind, does not make the mind supple, clear, quick. To be simple, in the whole, total process of our consciousness, is extremely arduous. Because, there must be no inward reservation, there must be an eagerness to find out, to inquire into the process of our being, which means, to be awake to every intimation, to every hint; to be aware of our fears, of our hopes, and to investigate and be free of them more and more and more. Only then, when the mind and the heart are really simple, not encrusted, are we able to solve the many problems that confront us.
Knowledge is not going to solve our problems. You may know, for example, that there is reincarnation, that there is a continuity after death. You may know, I don't say you do; or you may be convinced of it. But that does not solve the problem. Death cannot be shelved by your theory, or by information, or by conviction. It is much more mysterious, much deeper, much more creative, than that.
So, one must have the capacity to investigate all these things anew; because, it is only through direct experience that our problems are solved; and to have direct experience, there must be simplicity, which means, there must be sensitivity. A mind is made dull by the weight of knowledge. A mind is made dull by the past, by the future. But, only a mind that is capable of adjusting itself to the present, continually, from moment to moment, can meet the powerful influences and pressures constantly put upon us by our environment.
So, a religious man is not really one who puts on a robe, or a loin cloth, or lives on one meal a day, or one who has taken innumerable vows to be this and not to be that; but, it is he who is inwardly simple, who is not becoming anything. Such a mind is capable of extraordinary receptivity, because there is no barrier, there is no fear, there is no going toward something; therefore, it is capable of receiving grace, God, truth, or what you will. But a mind that is pursuing reality, is not a simple mind. A mind that is seeking out, searching groping, agitated, is not a simple mind. A mind that conforms to any pattern of authority, inward or outward, cannot be sensitive. And it is only when a mind is really sensitive, alert, aware of all its own happenings, responses, thoughts, when it is no longer becoming, is no longer shaping itself to be something - only then is it capable of receiving that which is truth. It is only then that there can be happiness; for happiness is not an end, it is the result of reality. And, when the mind and the heart have become simple, and therefore sensitive - not through any form of compulsion, direction, or imposition - then we will see that our problems can be tackled very simply. However complex our problems, we shall be able to approach them anew and see them differently. And that is what is wanted, is it not?, at the present time: people who are capable of meeting this outward confusion, turmoil, antagonism, anew, creatively, simply; not with theories, not with formulas, whether of the left or of the right. And you cannot meet it anew, if you are not simple.
You know, a problem can be solved only when we approach it anew. But we cannot approach it anew if we are thinking in terms of certain patterns of thought, religious, political, or otherwise. So, we must be free of all these things, to be simple. That is why it is so important to be aware, to have the capacity to understand the process of our own thinking to be cognizant of ourselves, totally; and, from that there comes a simplicity, there comes a humility which is not a virtue or a practice. Humility that is gained, ceases to be humility. A mind that makes itself humble, is no longer a humble mind. And it is only when one has humility, not a cultivated humility, that one is able to meet the things of life that are so pressing; because, then one is not important, one doesn't look through one's own pressures and sense of importance; one looks at the problem for itself, and then one is able to solve it.
Question: I have been a member of various religious organizations, but you have destroyed them all. I am utterly bored, and work because hunger forces me to it. It is difficult to get up in the morning, and I have no interest in life. I realize I am merely existing from day to day, without any human sense of value; but I can feel no spark of enthusiasm for anything. I am afraid to commit suicide. What on earth am I to do? (Laughter)
Krishnamurti: Though you laugh, are not most of us in that position? Though you may still belong to many organizations - religious, political, and otherwise - , or you may have given them all up, is there not in you the same inward despair? You may go to analysts, or to confession, and so feel pacified for the time being; but isn't there the same ache of loneliness, a sense of loss, a despair without end? Joining organizations, indulging in various forms of amusement, being addicted to knowledge, performing daily rituals, and all the rest of it, does offer an escape from ourselves; but, when those have ceased, when those have been pushed away intelligently and not replaced by other forms of escape, one comes to this, doesn't one? You may have read many books, you may be surrounded by your family, children, wealth - a new car every year, the latest literature, the newest phonograph, and all the rest of it. But, when you intelligently discard distraction, you are inevitably faced with this, aren't you? - the sense of inward frustration, the sense of hopeless despair without an end. Perhaps most of you are not aware of it; or, if you are, you run away from it. But it is there. So, what is one to do?
First of all, it seems to me, it is very difficult to come to that position; to be so aware that you are directly confronted with that thing. Very few of us are capable of facing that thing directly, as it is, because it is extremely painful; and when you do face it, you are so anxious to leave it, that you might do anything, even commit suicide - or run far away, into any illusion, any distraction. So, the first difficulty is to be fully aware that you are confronted with it. Surely, one must be in despair to find something. When you have tried everything about you, every door through which you can possibly escape, and none of them offer an escape, you are bound to come to this point.
Now, if you are at this point, really, actually - not fancifully, not wishing to be there in order to do something else - , if you are actually faced with it, then we can proceed and discuss what to do. Then it is worthwhile to proceed. If you have ceased substituting one escape for another, leaving one organization and joining something else, pursuing one thing after another: if all that has stopped - and it must eventually stop for every intelligent man - , then what? Now, if you are in that position, what is the next response? When you are no longer escaping, when you are no longer seeking an outlet a way to avoid it - then what happens? If you observe, what we do is this: because of a sense of fear with regard to it or the desire to understand it, we give it a name. Don't we? We say, "I am lonely, I am in despair; I am this, I want to understand it." That is, we establish a relationship between ourselves and that thing which we call loneliness, emptiness, by giving it a name. I hope you understand what I am talking about. By verbalizing our relationship to it, we give it a neurological as well as a psychological significance. But, if we do not name it, but merely regard it, look at it, then we shall have a different relationship to it; then it is not away from us, it is us. We say, for example, "I am afraid of it." Fear exists only in relationship to something; that something comes into being when we curb it, when we give it a name, as being lonely. Therefore, there is the feeling that you and that loneliness are two separate things. But is that so? You, the observer, are observing the fact, which you term as being lonely. Is the observer different from the thing which he observes? It is different only as long as he gives it a name; but if you do not give it a name, the observer is the observed. The name, the term, acts only to divide; and then you have to battle with that thing. But, if there is no division, if there is an integration between the observer and the observed, which exists only when there is no naming - you can try this out and you will see - , then the sense of fear is entirely gone. It is fear that is preventing you from looking at this when you say, you are empty, you are this, you are that, you are in despair. And fear exists only as memory, which comes when you term; but when you are capable of looking at it without terming, then, surely, that thing is yourself.
So, when you come to that point, when you are no longer naming the thing of which you are afraid, then you are that thing. When you are that thing, there is no problem, is there? It is only when you do not want to be that thing, or when you want to make that thing different from what it is, that the problem arises. But if you are that thing, then the observer is the observed, they are a joint phenomenon, not separate phenomena; then there is no problem, is there?
Please, experiment with this, and you will see how quickly that thing is resolved and transcended, and something else takes place. Our difficulty is to come to that point, when we can look at it without fear; and fear arises only when we begin to recognize it, when we begin to give it a name, when we want to do something about it. But, when the observer sees that he is not different from the thing which he calls emptiness, despair, then the word has no longer a meaning. The word has ceased to be, it is no longer despair. When the word is removed, with all its implications, then there is no sense of fear or despair. Then, if you proceed further, when there is no fear, no despair, when the word is no longer important, then, surely, there is a tremendous release, a freedom; and in that freedom there is creative being, which gives a newness to life.
To put it differently: We approach this problem of despair through habitual channels. That is, we bring our past memories to translate that problem; and thought, which is the result of memory, which is founded upon the past, can never solve that problem, because it is a new problem. Every problem is a new problem; and when you approach it, burdened with the past, it cannot be solved. You cannot approach it through the screen of words, which is the thinking process; but when the verbalization stops - because you understand the whole process of it, you leave it - , then you are able to meet the problem anew; then the problem is not what you think it is.
So, you might say at the end of this question, "What am I to do? Here I am in despair, in confusion, in pain; you haven't given me a method to follow, to become free." But, surely, if you have understood what I have said, the key is there: a key which opens much more than you realize if you are capable of using it. You can see then how words play an extraordinarily important part in our lives, words like God, like nation, like political leader, like Communism, like Catholicism - words, words, words. What extraordinary significance they have in our life! And it is these words that are preventing our understanding the problems anew. To be really simple is to be uncluttered with all these impressions, words and their significance; and to approach the problem anew. And I assure you, you can do it; it is quite an amusement, if you will do it, for it reveals so much. And I feel this is the only way to tackle any fundamental problem. You must tackle a problem which is very deep, profoundly, not at the superficial level. And this problem of loneliness, of despair, with which most of us are somewhat, in our rare moments, acquainted, is not a thing to be dissolved by merely running off into some kind of distraction or worship. It is always there, until you are capable of dealing with it directly and experiencing it directly, without any verbalization, without any screen between yourself and it.
Question: What have you to say to a person who, in quiet moments, sees the truth of what you say, who has a longing to keep awake, but who finds himself repeatedly lost in a sea of impulse and small desires?
Krishnamurti: This is what happens to most of us, isn't it? We are awake at moments, at other moments we are asleep. At moments we see everything clearly, with significance; at other moments all is confused, dark, misty. Sometimes there are extraordinary heights of joy, unrelated to any kind of action; at other moments, we struggle for that. Now, what is one to do? Should one memorize, keep awake to those things that we have caught a glimpse of, and hang on to them grimly? Or, should we deal with the little desires, impulses, the dark things of our life, as they arise from moment to moment? I know most of us prefer to cling to that joy; we make effort, discipline ourselves to resist, to overcome the petty little things, and try to keep our eyes fixed on the horizon. That is what most of us want, isn't it? Because that is so much easier - at least, we think so. We prefer to look to an experience that is over, that has given us a great delight, a joy, and hold on to it, like some old people who look to their youth; or, like some other people, who look to the future, to the next life, to some greatness which they are going to achieve next time, tomorrow, or a hundred years hence. That is, there are those who sacrifice the present to the past, enriching the past; and those who enrich the future. They are both the same. Different sets of words are employed, but the same phenomenon is there.
Now, what is one to do? First of all, let us find out why we want to cling to a pleasurable experience, or avoid something which is not pleasurable. Why do we go through this process of holding on, clinging to something which has given us a great joy physically or psychologically? Why do we do this? Why has an experience that is over, so much more importance? Because, don't we feel that without that extraordinary experience, there is nothing in the present? The present is an awful bore, a trial; therefore, let us think of the past. The present is irksome, nagging, bothersome, therefore, let us at least be something in the future - a Buddha, a Christ, or God knows what.
So, the past and the future become useful, or pleasurable, only when we do not understand the present. And against the present, we discipline; the present, we resist. Because, take away the past, all your experiences, your knowledge, your accumulations, your enrichments - and what are you? With that past, you meet the present. Therefore, you are really never meeting the present: you are merely overshadowing the present by the past, or by the future. And, we discipline ourselves to understand the present. We say, "I must not think of the past, I must not think of the future; I am going to be concentrated in the present." You see the fallacy, the absurdity, the infantilism of thinking yourself as some marvellous entity tomorrow, or in the past, and you say, "Now I must understand it." Can you understand anything through discipline through compulsion? You may force a boy to be quiet, outwardly by disciplining him; but inwardly, he is seething, isn't he? Likewise, when we force ourselves to understand, is there any understanding? But, if we can see the real futility, see the significance of our attachment to the past, or to our becoming something in the future - if we really understand it - , then that gives sensitivity to the mind, to meet the present.
So, our difficulty is not the understanding of the present. Our difficulty is our attachment to the past or to the future. So, we have to investigate why it is that we are attached. Why is the past so important to old people, as the future is to others? Why are we so attached to it? Because we think, do we not?, that the experiences have enriched us; so, the past has significance. When one was young, one caught a light on the sea, a glimmer; there was a freshness which has faded now. But, at least one can remember that glimmer, that extraordinary sense of elan, that feeling of otherness, of youth. So, one goes back and lives there. That is, one lives in a dead experience. It is over, it is dead, it is gone; yet, one gives it life by thinking about it, living in it. But it is a dead thing. So, when one does that, one is also dead in the present - like so many people are - or in the future. In other words, one is afraid to be nothing in the present, to be simple, to be sensitive to the present, so one wants to be enriched by one's experiences of yesterday. Is that enrichment? Are the experiences of yesterday enriching? Surely, you have the memory of them. Is memory enriching? Or, is it merely words, with very little content? Surely, you can see that for yourself, if you will experiment. When we look to the past for enrichment, we are living on words. We give life to the past; the past has no life in itself; it has life only in relationship to the present. And when the present is disagreeable, we give life to the past; and that, surely, is not enrichment. When you are aware that you are rich, you are surely poor. To be aware of yourself as being something, obviously denies that which you are. If you are aware that you are virtuous, surely, you are no longer virtuous; if you are aware that you are happy, where is happiness? Happiness comes only when there is self-forgetfulness, when there is no sense of the me as important. But, the me becomes important, the self becomes important, when the past or the future is all-significant. So, mere disciplining of oneself to be something, can never bring about that state in which there is no self-consciousness as the me.
Question: I am not interested in anything, but most people are busy with many interests. I don't have to work, so I don't. Should I undertake some useful work?
Krishnamurti: Become a social worker, or a political worker, or a religious worker - is that it? Because you have nothing else to do, therefore you become a reformer! (Laughter) Sir, if you have nothing to do, if you are bored, why not be bored? Why not be that? If you are in sorrow, be sorrowful. Don't try to find a way out of it. Because, your being bored has an immense significance, if you can understand it, live with it. But if you say, "I am bored, therefore I will do something else", you are merely trying to escape from boredom. And, as most of our activities are escapes, you do much more harm socially and in every other way. The mischief is much greater when you escape, than when you are what you are and remain with it. The difficulty is, how to remain with it, and not run away; and as most of our activities are a process of escape, it is immensely difficult for you to stop escaping, and face it. So, I am glad if you are really bored; and I say: full stop, let's stay there, let's look at it. Why should you do anything? How do you know that in that state, when you are escaping, you are not causing much more harm to people? Your escape into something is an illusion; and when you go into an illusion and propagate that illusion, you are doing much more harm, aren't you?, than by merely remaining bored. Sir, if you are bored, and remain so, what can you do? This person says he has enough money to live, so he has not that problem for the time being.
If you are bored, why are you bored? What is the thing called boredom? Why is it that you are not interested in anything? There must be reasons and causes which have made you dull: suffering, escapes, beliefs, incessant activity, have made the mind dull, the heart unpliable. To find out what are the causes that have made you dull, is not to analyze. That is quite a different problem, which we will discuss another time. But, if you could find out why you are bored, why there is no interest, then surely you would solve the problem, wouldn't you? Then the awakened interest will function. But, if you are not interested in why you are bored, you cannot force yourself to be interested in an activity, merely to be doing something - like a squirrel going around in a cage. I know that this is the kind of activity most of us indulge in. But, we can find out inwardly, psychologically, why we are in this state of utter boredom; we can see why most of us are in this state: we have exhausted ourselves emotionally and mentally; we have tried so many things, so many sensations, so many amusements, so many experiments, that we have become dull, weary. We join one group, do everything wanted of us, and then leave it; we then go to something else, and try that. If we fail with one psychologist, we go to somebody else, or to the priest; if we fail there, we go to another teacher, and so on; we always keep going. This process of constantly stretching and letting go, is exhausting, isn't it? Like all sensations, it soon dulls the mind.
So, we have done that, we have gone from sensation to sensation, from excitement to excitement, till we come to a point when we are really exhausted. Now, realizing that, don't proceed any further: take a rest. Be quiet. Let the mind gather strength by itself, don't force it. As the soil renews itself during the winter-time, so, when the mind is allowed to be quiet, it renews itself. But it is very difficult to allow the mind to be quiet, to let it lie fallow after all this, for the mind wants to be doing something all the time. And when you come to that point where you are really allowing yourself to be as you are - bored, ugly, hideous, or whatever it is - , then there is a possibility of dealing with it.
What happens when you accept something, when you accept what you are? When you accept that you are what you are, where is the problem? There is a problem only when we do not accept a thing as it is, and wish to transform it - which does not mean that I am advocating contentment; on the contrary. So, if we accept what we are, then we see that the thing which we dreaded, the thing which we called boredom, the thing which we called despair, the thing which we called fear, has undergone a complete change. There is a complete transformation of the thing of which we were afraid.
That is why it is important, as I said, to understand the process, the ways of our own thinking. Self-knowledge cannot be gathered through anybody, through any book, through any confession, psychology, or psychoanalyst. It has to be found by yourself, because it is your life; and without the widening and deepening of that knowledge of the self, do what you will, alter any outward or inward circumstances, influences - it will ever be a breeding ground of despair, pain, sorrow. To go beyond the self-enclosing activities of the mind, you must understand them; and to understand them is to be aware of action in relationship, relationship to things, to people, and to ideas. In that relationship, which is the mirror, we begin to see ourselves, without any justification or condemnation; and from that wider and deeper knowledge of the ways of our own mind, it is possible to proceed further; then it is possible for the mind to be quiet, to receive that which is real.
July 24, 1949
Ojai 4th Public Talk 24th July 1949
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