Ojai 7th Public Talk 6th August 1949
For the last three weekends, we have been discussing, in different ways, the problem of self-knowledge and how it is necessary to understand the process of our own thinking and feeling. Without understanding oneself clearly and definitely, it is not possible to think rightly. But, unfortunately, it seems to have left an impression among many, or at least among those who are committed to a particular form of prejudice which they call thinking, that this approach is individualistic and utterly selfish and self-centred, and does not lead to reality; that there are many paths to reality, and that this particular approach of self-knowledge must invariably lead to inaction, to self-centredness and individual ruggedness.
Now, if you go into it very clearly and thoroughly, with intelligence, you see that to truth there can be no path; there is no path, as yours and mine: the path of service, the path of knowledge, the path of devotion, and the other innumerable paths that philosophers have invented, depending on their particular idiosyncrasies and neurological responses. Now, if one can think clearly about this matter, without prejudice - I mean by prejudice, being committed to a particular action of thought or belief, and being utterly unaware that one particular form of thinking, one particular approach, must inevitably limit, whether it is the path of knowledge, the path of devotion, or the path of action - , one will see that any particular path must invariably limit, and therefore cannot lead to reality. Because, a path of action, or a path of knowledge, or a path of devotion, in itself, is not sufficient, surely. A man of learning, however erudite, however encyclopaedic his knowledge may be, if he has no love, surely his knowledge is worthless; it is merely book learning. A man of belief, as we discussed, must inevitably shape his life according to the dogma, the tenet, that he holds, and therefore his experience must be limited; because, one experiences according to one's beliefs, and such experience can never be liberating. On the contrary, it is binding. And, as we said, only in freedom can we discover anything new, anything fundamental.
So, the difficulty with the majority of us is, it seems to me, that we are committed to so many beliefs, dogmas, that they prevent us from looking afresh at anything new; and therefore - as reality, God, or what you will, must be something unimaginable, something immeasurable - the mind cannot possibly understand. Do what it will, it cannot go beyond itself. It can create reality in its own image; but it will not be reality. It will be only its own self-projection. And, therefore, to understand reality, or for that immensity to come into being, one must understand the process of one's own thinking. That is, surely, the obvious approach. It is not my approach or your approach: it is the only intelligent approach. And intelligence is not yours or mine: it is quite beyond all countries and all paths, beyond all religious, social, or political activity. It does not belong to any particular society or group. Intelligence comes into being only with the understanding of oneself - which does not mean, surely, emphasis on the individual. On the contrary. It is the insistence on a path or a belief, on any ideology, that emphasizes the individual, though that individual may belong to a large group, be identified with a large group. Mere identification with the collective does not mean that one is free from the limited individuality.
So, it is important, surely, to understand, that reality or God or what you will, is not to be found through any particular path. The Hindus have very cleverly divided human beings into various types, and established paths for them. And, surely, any path - which is the emphasis of individuality, and not the freedom from individuality - cannot lead to reality, because it cultivates a particularity; it is not the freedom from selfishness, from prejudice, which is so essential to understanding. Therefore, we have been discussing, for the last three weeks, the importance of self-knowledge - which is not emphasis on individuality, on the personal, at all. If I do not know myself, I have no basis for thinking; whatever I think is merely an imposition, an external acceptance of various influences, circumstantial enforcement. Surely, that is not thinking. Because I have been brought up in a particular society, of the left or of the right, and have accepted a certain ideology from childhood, it does not mean that I am capable of thinking of life anew. I merely function in that particular pattern, and reject anything else that is given to me. Whereas, to think rightly, truly, profoundly, one has to begin by questioning the whole environmental process, and the influence of the environment from the outside, of which I am a part. Without understanding that process, in all its subtlety, surely I have no basis for thinking.
So, it is absolutely essential, is it not?, that the process of the mind be thoroughly understood - not only the conscious, the upper level, the superficial level of the mind, but the deeper levels of the mind. Because, it is comparatively easy to understand the superficial mind; to watch its reactions, its responses, to see how instinctively it acts and thinks. But that is only the beginning, is it not? It is much more difficult to go more profoundly, more deeply, into the whole process of our thinking; and, without knowing the whole process, the total process, then what you believe, what you don't believe, what you think, whether you believe in Masters or don't believe in Masters, whether you believe in God or don't - all that is really irrelevant, is almost immature.
Now, it is comparatively easy, in listening to another, to see in that relationship a mirror in which we discover ourselves; but our problem is also to go into it much more profoundly, and that is where our difficulty lies. Perhaps a few of us can throw off our superficial prejudices, beliefs, give up a few societies and join new organizations - the many things that one does; but surely it is much more important, isn't it?, to go below, to the deeper layers of consciousness, and find out exactly what is taking place: what are our commitments of which we are so unconscious, our beliefs, our fears of which we are utterly unaware, but which actually guide and shape our action. Because, the inner always overcomes the outer. You may cunningly sift the outer, but the inner eventually breaks down the outer. In any Utopian society, you may build a social order very carefully and very cunningly; but without this psychological understanding of man's whole make-up, the outer is always smashed.
How is it possible, then, to go into the deeper layers of consciousness? Because, that is where most of our idiosyncrasies, most of our fears that create beliefs, most of our desires, ambitions, lie hidden. How is it possible to open them up, to expose and understand them? If we can have the capacity to delve into that and really experience these things, not merely verbally, then it is possible to be free of them, isn't it?
Take, for example, anger. Is it possible to experience anger and be aware of anger without giving it a name? I do not know if you have ever tried, if you have ever experienced a state which is not named. If we have an experience, we give it a term, and we term it in order to explore it, or to communicate it, or to strengthen it. But we never experience a thing without naming it. That is extremely difficult, isn't it?, for most of us. Verbalization comes almost before experience. But if we do not name an experience, then perhaps it is possible to go into the deeper layers of consciousness. And that is why we must be aware, even at the superficial level, of our prejudices, fears, ambitions; of our fixations in a particular groove, whether we are young or old, whether of the left or of the right. Therefore, there must be a certain discontent - which is obviously often denied to the older, because they don't want to be discontented. They are fixed, they are going to disappear slowly; therefore they establish, crystallize in a particular groove, and deny everything new. But, surely, discontent is necessary - not the discontent that is easily canalized into a particular groove, a particular action, a particular belief, but discontent that is never satisfied. Because, most of our discontent arises from dissatisfaction. The moment we have found satisfaction, dissatisfaction ceases, discontent comes to an end. So most of our discontent is really a search for satisfaction. Where- as, discontent, surely, is a state in which there is no search for satisfaction. The moment I am easily satisfied, the problem is over. If I accept the left ideology, or the right, or some particular belief, my dissatisfaction is easily gratified. But discontent is of another quality, surely. Contentment is that state in which what is, is understood. To understand what is, there must be no prejudice. To see things as they are, requires enormous alertness of mind. But if we are easily satisfied, that alertness is dulled, made blunt.
So, our problem is, in all this - which is a question of relationship - , to be aware of ourselves in action, in what we are thinking, in what we are saying; so that, in relationship, we discover ourselves, we see ourselves as we are. But to superimpose our beliefs on what we are, surely does not help to bring about understanding of what we are. Therefore, it is necessary to be free of this imposition - political, sociological, or religious - , which can only be revealed in relationship. And as long as that relationship is not understood, there must be conflict, between two or between many. For the ending of that conflict, there must be self-knowledge; and when the mind is quiet - not made quiet - , then only is it possible to understand reality.
Many questions have been given to me, and naturally they cannot all be answered; but I will try to answer as many representative questions as possible, though sometimes the questions may be put in different words, with a change of terms. So, I hope you will not mind.
Question: If I am perfectly honest, I have to admit that I resent, and at times, hate almost everybody. It makes my life very unhappy and painful. I understand intellectually that I am this resentment, this hatred; but I cannot cope with it. Can you show me a way?
Krishnamurti: Now, what do we mean by `intellectually'? When we say that we understand something intellectually, what do we mean by that? Is there such a thing as intellectual understanding? Or is it that the mind merely understands the words, because that is our only way of communicating with each other? Do we understand anything verbally? That is the first thing we have to be clear about: whether so-called intellectual understanding is not an impediment to understanding. Surely, understanding is integral, not divided, not partial. Either I understand something, or I don't. To say to oneself, `I understand something intellectually', is surely a barrier to understanding. It is a partial process, and therefore, no understanding at all.
Now, the question is this: How am I, who am resentful, hateful, how am I to be free of, or cope with that problem? How do we cope with a problem? What is a problem? Surely, a problem is something which is disturbing.
Please, may I suggest something? Just follow what I am saying. Don't try to solve your problem of resentment and hate - just follow it. Although it is difficult to go into this so that at the end you are free of it, let us see if we can do it now. It will be rather an interesting experiment to try together.
I am resentful, I am hateful; I hate people, and it causes pain. And I am aware of it. What am I to do? It is a very disturbing factor in my life. What am I to do, how am I to be really free of it - not just momentarily slough it off, but fundamentally be free of it? How am I to do it?
Now, it is a problem to me because it disturbs me. If it were not a disturbing thing it would not be a problem to me, would it? Because it causes pain, disturbance, anxiety, because I think it is ugly, I want to get rid of it. Therefore, the thing that I am objecting to is the disturbance, isn't it? I give it different names at different times, in different moods; I call it one day this, and one day something else, But the desire is, basically, not to be disturbed. Isn't that it? Because pleasure is not disturbing, I accept it. I don't want to be free from pleasure, because there is no disturbance - at least, for the time being. But hate, resentment, are very disturbing factors in my life, and I want to get rid of them.
So, my concern is not to be disturbed, and I am trying to find a way in which I shall never be disturbed. And why should I not be disturbed? I must be disturbed, to find out, must I not? I must go through tremendous upheavals, turmoil, anxiety, to find out, must I not? Because, if I am not disturbed, I shall go to sleep; and perhaps that is what most of us do want - to be pacified, to be put to sleep, to get away from any disturbance, to find isolation, seclusion, security. So, if I do not mind being disturbed - really, not just superficially; if I don't mind being disturbed. because I want to find out - , then my attitude toward hate, toward resentment, undergoes a change, doesn't it? If I do not mind being disturbed, then the name is not important, is it? The word `hate' is not important, is it? Or `resentment' against people is not important, is it? Because, then I am directly experiencing the state which I call resentment without verbalizing that experience. I do not know if I am explaining myself.
That is, anger is a very disturbing quality, as hate and resentment are; and very few of us experience anger directly, without verbalizing it. If we do not verbalize it, if we do not call it anger, rely there is a different experience, is there not? Because we term it, we reduce a new experience or fix it in the terms of the old. Whereas, if we do not name it, then there is an experience which is directly understood; and this understanding brings about a transformation in that experiencing. Am I making myself clear? Please, it is not simple.
Take, for example, meanness. Most of us, if we are mean, are unaware of it mean about money matters, mean about forgiving people, you know, just being mean. I am sure we are familiar with that. Now, being aware of it, how are we going to be free from that quality? - not to become generous, that is not the important point. To be free from meanness implies generosity, you haven't got to become generous. So, obviously, one must be aware of it. You may be very generous in giving a large donation to your society, to your friends, but awfully mean about giving a bigger tip - you know what I mean by `mean'. One is unconscious of it. When one becomes aware of it, what happens? We exert our will to be generous; we try to overcome it; we discipline ourselves to be generous, and so on, and so on. But, after all, the exertion of will to be something is still part of meanness in a larger circle. So, if we do not do any of those things, but are merely aware of the implications of meanness, without giving it a term, then we will see that there takes place a radical transformation. Take anger: if you do not give it a term, but merely experience it - not through verbalization, because verbalization is a process of dulling the experience - but if you do not give it a term, then it is acute, it becomes very sharp, and it acts as a shock; and only then is it possible to be free.
Please, experiment with this. First, one must be disturbed; and it is obvious that most of us do not like to be disturbed. We think we have found a pattern of life - the Master, the belief, whatever it is - and there we settle down. It is like having a good bureaucratic job, and functioning there for the rest of one's life. With that same mentality we approach various qualities of which we want to be rid. We do not see the importance of being disturbed, of being inwardly insecure, of not being dependent. Surely, it is only in insecurity that you discover, that you see, that you understand. We want to be like a man with plenty of money, at ease; but surely, he will not be disturbed; he doesn't want to be disturbed.
So, disturbance is essential for understanding; and any attempt to find security is a hindrance to understanding; and when we want to get rid of something which is disturbing, it is surely a hindrance. But if we can experience a feeling directly, without naming it, I think we will find a great deal in it; then there is no longer a battle with it, because the experiencer and the thing experienced are one; and that is essential. As long as the experiencer verbalizes the feeling, the experience, he separates himself from it, and acts upon it; and such action is an artificial, illusory action. But if there is no verbalization, then the experiencer and the thing experienced are one. That integration is necessary and has to be radically faced. I hope this is clear. If not, we will discuss it at other meetings.
Question: I listened to you some years ago, and it did not mean much to me then; but listening to you now seems to mean a great deal. How is this?
Krishnamurti: There are various explanations for this: that you have matured, that you have progressed, that life has knocked at your door, that you have suffered a great deal, and so on, and so on. That is, if what we are discussing means something to you. If you think it is all rot, then it is very simple. Now, people who believe in progress will give one kind of explanation: that you have slowly matured, that you must have time, not only a few years but another life, that time is essential for understanding; and that, though you have not understood at the beginning, you will understand later through gradual ripening of experience - you know, all the various theories one has. But, surely, there is a much simpler way of looking at it, isn't there? For some unknown reason your friend, perhaps, brings you here, and you listen casually and go away; it doesn't mean much, except there are nice trees, you have had a nice drive, you know, and all the rest of it. And you go away. But, unconsciously, surely, you have taken something in. Haven't you noticed, when you are driving, or walking though your conscious mind may be attending to the driving, or seeing a particular thing attentively, the other part of your mind is absorbing unconsciously. Something has taken place, a seed has been sown, of which you are unconscious; but later it comes out. It is there. So what at the beginning may not have meant much - because you have listened to something of which you have not been conscious - later reacts on you.
Surely, that is the whole purpose of propaganda, isn't it? Not that I am a propagandist - I have a horror of propaganda. But that is what is happening in the world, isn't it?, with the newspapers, magazines, cinemas, the radio, and all the rest of it. You go on, really interested in what you are doing, and the radio or the newspaper is giving you propaganda. Your mind is elsewhere, but you are absorbing unconsciously; and later on, when that absorption is called forth, it comes out - like the automatic response to war, to nationalism, to the acceptance of certain beliefs, whether of the right or of the left. How do you think children, are impregnated with certain ideas? It is the constant impingement of those ideas on the unconscious. And they accept; when they grow up, they are the same, either of the left or of the right, of this religion or that religion, with innumerable beliefs and conditioned minds. The unconscious has been absorbing all the time. And, it can absorb the ugly as well as the beautiful, the true as well as the false. And our difficulty is, is it not?, to be free of all these imprints, and to look at life anew. Is it possible to be free from the influence of these constant impacts? That is, to be aware of these impacts, and not to be influenced by them? Because they are there. Can we be sensitive enough, alert enough, so that we know what is false, what is untrue; so that there is no resistance even? Because, the moment you resist, you strengthen what you are resisting, therefore you become part of it. But if you understand it, surely, then there is no longer its influence on the conscious or on the unconscious.
So, is it possible to be free from all the conditioning influences in which we have been brought up? From nationalism, class differences, from the innumerable beliefs of religions and political ideologies? Surely, one must be free, otherwise one cannot find out what lies beyond freedom. But, to be free, one must examine all these things, must one not?, and not accept a thing - which is not the cultivation of doubt. Therefore, for that very process one must understand the content of one's own consciousness, of what one is. Question: Would you talk to us about sin?
Krishnamurti: Every organized religion has unfortunately cultivated, for purposes of civilization, the feeling of guilt. Most of us have it - the more sensitive we are, the more acute the feeling. The more you feel responsible, the more guilty you feel. You see this world mess, the impending wars, and all the chicanery that is going on, and - being sensitive, being alert, being sufficiently interested and intelligent - you feel that you are responsible. And, as one can do so little, one feels guilty. That is one part of it. Then, in order to hold man within civilized limits, this sense of doing wrong has been very carefully, sedulously cultivated, has it not? Otherwise you would go over the border. Because, if we had no standards, if we had no sanctions, if we had no moral code - not that there is much now - it would be worse. So, religion, organized belief, has carefully maintained, cultivated this sense that you must toe the line, that you must not sin, that you must not commit ugly things. It has held us within a pattern; and it is only the very few that can go beyond the pattern, because we want to remain in the pattern. We want to be respectable - fear of public opinion, and so many things hold us to the pattern. And, being afraid, not depending on our own understanding, most of us rely on another: the priest, the psychologist, the leader, the politician, you know, the innumerable dependencies that one cultivates. All those naturally strengthen our inherent anxiety to do the right thing. From all this, the sense of guilt arises.
And, there is the rigmarole in religion about sin. But, there are certain obvious things, are there not? - for example, that virtue is essential. But virtue which is cultivated, is no longer virtue; it is merely the strengthening of oneself with a different name. Virtue comes into being only when there is the freedom from desire to be something; when one is not afraid of being nothing. And, it is the repetition of a particular disturbance, of a particular action that has brought misfortune to others and to oneself, which may be called a sin. Surely, that is the first thing, is it not? To see something very clearly, which is discovered in relationship, and not to repeat it. The repetition, surely, is the mistake, not the first action; and to understand that, the repetitive quality of desire, one has to understand the whole structure of oneself.
So, there is this thing called sin, the feeling of guilt. One may have done something wrong, like worry, like gossip; but to keep on at it, surely, is the worst thing that one can do. If you see that you have done something wrong, observe it, go into it thoroughly, and be rid of it - don't keep on repeating it. Because, surely, this sense of worry about something that one has done in the past, or which one may do the next minute, this constant anxiety about it, this fear, only strengthens the restlessness of the mind, does it not? Gossip, worry, indicate the restlessness of the mind. When there is no restlessness, no distraction, but alertness, watchfulness, then the problem disappears, does it not? The feeling of guilt, with the majority of us, holds us in check. But that is only fear; and fear, surely, does not bring about clarity of understanding. In fear there is no communion. And it is that fear that must be eradicated, not the feeling that one is sinning.
Question: There is no possibility of collective action without a co-ordinated plan, which involves the subservience of the individual will to the common purpose. If individuals were selfless, then control and authority would be needless. How can we achieve a common aim without curbing the erratic will of the individual, even if he is now and then well-intentioned?
Krishnamurti: In order to have collective action, we resort to compulsion or authoritarianism; or to a form of fear, threat, or reward, with which we are all familiar. The State, or a group of individuals, establishes a certain aim, and then compels, coaxes, or persuades others to co-operate by giving them re- wards or punishments - all the various ways to bring about co-ordinated action which we know. And the questioner wants to know if the emphasis on the individual, which is implied, does not prevent co-ordinated action. Which means, if there is a common purpose, with which we all agree, then must we not submit to that, and put aside our own will?
How is co-operation possible - that is really the crux of the matter, isn't it? Co-operation, co-ordination in action, lies either through fear, or through intelligence and love. When a particular nation is at war, then there is co-operation through fear; and apparently, fear, hatred, jealousy, brings people together more quickly than intelligence and love. Clever statesmen, politicians, are aware of this, and instigate it - with which, again, we are familiar. But is it possible to bring people together intelligently, through affection? That is really the problem, isn't it? Because, we see more and more people coming together through hatred, through fear, through compulsion - mass movements, the use of psychological methods to persuade, propaganda, and all the rest of it. And if that is the way, then what we are discussing is futile. But if you do not co-operate, come together, through greed, is there any other way? And, if there is a way, must you not submit the individual will to a higher purpose?
Say, for example, we all agree that there must be peace in the world. And how is that peace possible? Peace is possible only when there is selflessness, surely; when the me is not important. Because I in myself am peaceful, therefore in my actions I will be peaceful; therefore, I will not be antisocial. And anything that makes for antagonism, I will put away from myself. Therefore, I must pay the price for peace, must I not? But it must originate from me. And the more of us there are who are for that, surely, the greater the possibility of peace in the world - which does not mean the subservience of the individual will to the whole, to a purpose, to a plan, to an Utopia. Because, I see that there can be no peace until I am peaceful; which means, no nationalism, no class, you know, all the things that are involved in being peaceful - which means being completely selfless. And when that is there, then we will co-operate. Then, there is bound to be co-operation. When there is compulsion from the outside to make me co-operate with the State, with a group, I may co-operate, but inwardly I will be fighting, inwardly there is no release. Or I may use the Utopia as a means of self-fulfilment, which is also expansion of oneself.
So, as long as there is the submitting of the individual will to a particular idea through greed, through identification, there must be conflict eventually between the individual and the many. So, the emphasis, surely, is not on the individual and the collective as opposed to each other, but on the freedom from the sense of the me and the mine. If that freedom exists, then there is no question of the individual as opposed to the collective. But, as that seems almost impossible, we are persuaded to join the collective to produce a certain action, to sacrifice the individual for the whole; and the sacrifice is urged upon us by others, by the leaders. Whereas, we can look at this whole problem, not as concerning the individual and the collective, but intelligently, and realize that there can be no peace as long as you and I are not peaceful in ourselves; and that peace cannot be bought at any price. You and I have to be free from the causes that are producing conflict in ourselves. And the centre of conflict is the self, the me. But most of us do not want to be free from that me. That is the difficulty. Most of us like the pleasures and the pains that the me brings; and as long as we are controlled by the pleasure and the pains of the me, there will be conflict between the me and society, between the me and the collective; and the collective will dominate the me, and destroy the me, if it can. But the me is much stronger than the collective; so it always circumvents it, and tries to get a position in it, to expand, to fulfil.
Surely, the freedom from the self, and therefore the search of reality, the discovery and the coming into being of reality, is the true function of man. Religions play with it in their rituals and rigmarole - you know, the whole business of it. But, if one becomes aware of this whole process, which we have been discussing for so many years, then there is a possibility for the newly awakened intelligence to function. In that there is not self-release, not self-fulfilment, but creativeness. It is this creativeness of reality, which is not of time, that sets one free from all the business of the collective and the individual. Then one is really in a position to help create the new.
August 6, 1949.
Ojai 7th Public Talk 6th August 1949
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