Colombo, Ceylon 1950
Colombo Ceylon 5th Public Talk 22nd January, 1950
This is the last talk, and it will be more or less a summary of what we have been discussing here for the last four or five weeks.
It must seem very odd to most of us that life has become such a struggle at all levels of existence - not only physically, but psychologically as well; inwardly as well as outwardly. We seem to be on a battle field of the world; and we have accepted, we have taken for granted, that conflict is the natural state of man. This conflict, this struggle, is the picture of man which so-called philosophers seem to have created; and we have accepted that as our normal life in relationship, not only with regard to property, but also in our relationship with people. There is this constant battle, individual and collective, between men and women, between man and man, between man and society; and there is also conflict between ideas, between the ideology of the left and of the right, between various beliefs, whether religious or secular, whether economic, social or political. So, there is constant division going on between man and man, not only outwardly, but inwardly.
Can we understand, can we actually create anything, in a state of conflict? Can you write a book, paint a picture, can you appreciate another human being, feel with him or love him, if there is conflict? Surely, conflict is the antithesis of understanding, and through conflict there can be no understanding at any time at any level. We have philosophically accepted that conflict is inevitable, and perhaps we are entirely wrong to accept such a thesis, such an idea. Can understanding come from conflict, from warfare, from a proletarian revolution? To understand the structure of society and bring about a radical revolution, must you not understand what is actual, and not create the opposite and thus bring about conflict? Does conflict bring about a synthesis? To understand, surely, we must see, examine, what is actually, and not bring in other ideas about it; obviously, only then is it possible to solve the problem, As long as we approach the problem with ideas, with a conclusion, with opinions, with belief, with schemes, with systems of any kind, surely it prevents understanding. There are the problems of starvation, of unemployment, of war, to be solved. What is actually happening? The systems, based on left or right ideologies, are setting man against man; and in the meantime, there is still starvation. So, systems, ideologies, obviously do not solve the problem; yet we are fighting each other over ideas and particular systems. Surely, we must approach the problem without any conclusions of the past; for it is obvious that conclusions prevent understanding of the problem.
So, we can see that conflict at any level indicates deterioration - it is a sign of the disintegration of society as well as of the individual. If we see, not theoretically but actually, that conflict invariably prevents understanding, that through conflict you can never bring about harmony, surely then our approach to the problem is entirely different, is it not? Then our attitude undergoes a fundamental change. Up to now, our approach to the problem has created other problems, mounting sorrow and pain, which are ever the result of conflict and lack of understanding of the problem; and understanding can come only when there is no conflict. If I want to understand you, there must not be any conflict; on the contrary, I must look at you, I must observe you, I must study you, not with previous conclusions, schemes or systems. Those are all prejudices, and prejudice prevents understanding. I must have a very clear mind, undimmed by any prejudice, any previous knowledge. Only such a mind is capable of understanding the problem, and in that approach lies the solution. The purgation of the mind, surely, is the first requirement in understanding the problem. The mind which is constantly in conflict, grappling, must be free from its own conditioning to meet the problem, whether economic, personal, or social.
So, what is important is how we approach any problem. It is essential that we see very clearly the relationship which creates conflict. It is the lack of right relationship that brings about conflict; and it is therefore essential that we understand conflict in relationship, the whole process of our thought and action. Obviously, if we do not understand ourselves in relationship, whatever society we create, whatever ideas, opinions we may have, will only bring about further mischief and further misery. Therefore, the understanding of the whole process of oneself in relationship with society is the first step in understanding the problem of conflict. Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom; because, you are the world, you are not separate from the world. Society is your relationship with another, you have created it; and the solution lies through your own understanding of that relationship, the interaction between you and society. Without understanding yourself, to seek for a solution is utterly useless - it is merely an escape. Therefore, what is important is understanding relationship. It is relationship which causes conflict, and that relationship cannot be understood unless we have the capacity to be passively watchful; then, in that passive alertness, in that awareness, there comes understanding.
Question: What is the simple life, and how can I live a simple life in the modern world?
Krishnamurti: The simple life has to be discovered, is it not so? There is no pattern for a simple life. Having few clothes, a loin cloth and a begging bowl, does not indicate a simple life. It must be discovered. Surely, to make a pattern for a simple life does not bring about simplicity; on the contrary, it creates complexity. What do we mean by the simple life? Having but few clothes, going about half-naked, possessing little - does that indicate the simple life? Is not life much more complex than that? Obviously, one must have but few things. It is silly, foolish, stupid, to have many things and depend on them. Man has many possessions and he clings to them - his property, his title, and so on. But is it the simple life for a man to have innumerable beliefs, or even one belief? Dependence on systems, authority, the urge to become, to attain, to acquire, to imitate, to conform, to discipline oneself according to a particular pattern - is that the simple life? Does that indicate simplicity? Surely, simplicity must begin, not merely in the expression of outward things, but much deeper. The man who is simple has no conflict. Conflict indicates an escape towards the more or towards the less. That is, conflict indicates acquisitiveness, the desire to become something more or something less; and a man who wants to become something, is he a simple entity? You despise the man who is trying to acquire wealth, possessions, and you appreciate the man who is supposed not to be interested in worldly things but who is striving to become virtuous, or to become like Buddha, Christ, or to follow a certain pattern - you will say he is a marvellous entity. Surely, the man who is striving to become something in the world is the same as the man who wants to be spiritual. Both are united in one desire - to become someone or something, either respectable or so-called spiritual.
Surely, the simple life is not something theatrical. It can be discovered in daily life; in this rotten world, which after two dreadful wars is perhaps preparing for a third, we can live simply, not only outwardly but inwardly. Why do we give such importance to the outward manifestations of simplicity? Why do we inevitably begin at the wrong end? Why don't we begin at the right end, which is the psychological? Surely, we must begin at the psychological end to find what is the simple life, because it is the inner that creates the outer. It is inward insufficiency that makes people cling to property, to beliefs; it is this sense of inward insufficiency that forces us to accumulate goods, clothes, knowledge, virtue. Surely, in that way we can only create much more mischief, much more harm. It is extraordinarily difficult to have a simple mind - not the so-called intellectual mind of the educated, but the simplicity that comes when we understand something, that simplicity that perceives the problem of what is. Surely, we cannot understand anything when our mind is complex. I don't know if you have noticed that when you are worried over a problem, when you are concerned about something, you do not see anything very clearly, it is all out of focus. Only when the mind is simple and vulnerable is it possible to see things clearly, in their true proportion. So simplicity of the mind is essential for simplicity of life. The monastery is not the solution. Simplicity comes when the mind is not attached, when the mind is not acquiring, when the mind accepts what is. It really means freedom from the background, from the known, from the experience it has acquired. Only then is the mind simple, and then only is it possible to be free. There cannot be simplicity as long as one belongs to any particular religion, to any particular class or society, to any dogma, either of the left or of the right. To be simple inwardly, to be clear, to be vulnerable, is to be like a flame without smoke; and therefore you cannot be simple without love. Love is not an idea, love is not thought. It is only in the cessation of thinking that there is the possibility to know that simplicity which is vulnerable.
Question: I find that loneliness is the underlying cause of many of my problems. How can I deal with it?
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by loneliness? Are you actually aware that you are lonely? Surely, loneliness is not a state of aloneness. Very few of us are alone; we don't want to be alone. It is essential to understand that aloneness is not isolation. Surely, there is a difference between being alone, and isolation. Isolation is the sense of being enclosed, the sense of having no relationships, a feeling that you have been cut off from everything. That is entirely different from being alone, which is to be extraordinarily vulnerable. When we are lonely, a feeling of fear, anxiety, the ache of finding oneself in isolation, comes over one. You love somebody, you feel that without that somebody you are lost; so that person becomes essential to you in order for you not to feel the sense of isolation. So, you use the person in order to escape from what you are. That is why we try to establish relationship, a communion with another, or establish a contact with things, property - just so that we feel alive; we acquire furniture, dresses, cars, we seek to accumulate know- ledge, or become addicted to love. By loneliness we mean that state which comes upon the mind, a state of isolation, a state in which there is no contact, no relationship, no communion with anything. We are afraid of it, we call it painful; and being afraid of what we are, of our actual state, we run away from it, using so many ways of escape - God, drink, the radio, amusements - anything to get away from that sense of isolation. And are not our actions, both in individual relationship and in relationship with society, an isolating process? Is not the relationship of father, mother, wife, husband, an isolating process for us at the present time? Is not that relationship almost always - a relationship based on mutual need? So, the process of self-isolation is simple - you are all the time seeking, in your relationships, an advantage for yourself. This isolating process is going on continually, and when awareness of isolation comes upon us through our own activities, we want to run away from it; so we go to the temple, or back to a book, or turn on the radio, or sit in front of a picture and meditate - anything to get away from what is.
So, we come to the actual question which is the desire to escape. What do you fear, why are you afraid of the unknown, that insufficiency in yourself, that emptiness? If you are afraid, why do you not look into it? Why should you be afraid of losing what you have, of losing association, contact? What exactly do you know, with your pretensions of knowledge? Your knowledge is but memory; you don't know the living, you know the past - the dead things, the decadent things. So, is it not our trouble that we never find what is? We never face the conflict of our insufficiency - we keep smothering it down and suppressing it, running away from it, and we don't know what is. Surely, when we approach it without any fear or condemnation, then, we come to find the truth of it; and it may be extraordinarily more significant than the significance we give it through fear. Through fear of insufficiency, the mind is operating upon thought - the mind never looks at it; and it is only when we have the capacity to look at thought that there is the possibility of understanding what has made that thought, and thus is revealed to us the whole process of escape from what is. Then loneliness is transformed, it becomes aloneness; and that aloneness is a state of vulnerability which is capable of receiving the unknown, the imponderable, the measureless. Therefore, to understand that state of vulnerability, we must understand the whole process of thinking - which means that we must look at it and see its extraordinary qualities. That state cannot be accepted verbally; it must be experienced.
Question: You lay great emphasis on being aware of our conditioning. How can I understand my mind?
Krishnamurti: Is not conditioning inevitable - inevitable in the sense that it is actually taking place all the time? You condition your children as Buddhists, Sinhalese, Tamil, Englishmen, Chinese Communists, and so on. There is a constant impingement of influences - economic, climatic, social, political, religious - acting all the time. Look at yourself: you are either a Buddhist, Sinhalese, Hindu, Christian, or Capitalist. That is the whole process - the mind is constantly being conditioned, which means the mind is a result of the past, is founded upon the past. Thought is the response of the past. Mind is the past, mind is part of the past; and the past is tradition, morality. So, action is patterned on the past, or on the future as the ideal. This is the actual state of all who are conditioned. We are the product of the environment, social, economic, or what you will. What you believe is the product of what your father and society have put into you. If they had not put into you the idea of Buddhism, surely you would be something else - Roman Catholic, Protestant, or Communist. Your beliefs are the result of your environment, and these beliefs are also created by you; because you are the product of the past, and the past in conjunction with the present creates the present social entity. So, your mind is conditioned; that conditioned mind meets the challenge the stimulus, and invariably responds according to its conditioning, and this is what creates a problem. So, a conditioned mind meeting the challenge creates a problem, because the response of a conditioned mind to the challenge is inadequate. Inadequacy of the conditioned response creates the problem. The problem is always new, the challenge is always new; challenge implies newness, otherwise it is not challenge. So, the conditioned mind meeting the challenge creates a problem, which brings on conflict.
Now, if you ask, "Can I be free from conditioning?", your question has validity, not otherwise. As long as the mind is conditioned according to a pattern, it will always respond according to that pattern. There are those who say that the mind cannot be unconditioned, that it is an impossibility; therefore, they substitute a new form of conditioning for the old. Instead of the capitalists, there is the communist; instead of the Roman Catholic, the Protestant or the Buddhist. That is what is actually happening now all over the world. They speak of revolution; it is not revolution, but merely substitution of ideas. Ideas don't produce revolution; they only produce a modified continuity, not revolution. So, there are those who say the mind cannot be unconditioned, but can only be reconditioned in a different way. The very assertion implies conditioning. If you say that it can, or that it cannot, you are already conditioned. Therefore, what is important is to find out if the mind can be unconditioned - completely, not superficially or momentarily. How can we do it?
Now, why do you call yourselves Buddhists? You have been told from childhood that you are Buddhists - and why do you accept it and hold on to it? If you can understand that, you will be free of it. What would happen if you didn't hold on to it? If you didn't call yourself a Buddhist, you would feel that you were left out and isolated. So, you do it for economic reasons - that is one factor. Another factor is that you identify yourself with something larger, otherwise you feel lost. You are nobody; but when you say you are a Buddhist, you are somebody, it gives you colouration. So, your desire to be somebody, your desire to be identified with something great, conditions you. The desire to be somebody is the very essence of conditioning. If you had no desire to be somebody, you would not be conditioned in the deeper sense. Surely being what is, is the beginning of virtue; contentment is the understanding of what is. The desire to be something invariably conditions thought, and therefore creates a problem ever deeper and wider, increasing conflict and misery. To be free from conditioning is very simple - experiment with it. When you don't want to be an artist, a Master, a minister, a great, wise, or learned person, then you are nobody. That is the fact, but we don't like to accept it; so we cling to possessions, furniture, books, property. Instead of indulging in pretensions, why not just be small? Then you will see that the mind is extraordinarily pliable, capable of quickly responding to challenge. Such a mind is capable of responding anew to the challenge. Surely, that is clear. Conditioning is not only superficial, in the upper layer of the mind - it is also in the deeper layers; in both the hidden as well as the upper content of the mind there is the desire to be somebody. It is the desire to be somebody, to seek a result, that brings about conditioning; and a conditioned mind can never be revolutionary, it is merely acting according to a pattern - it is somnambulant, not revolutionary. Revolution comes into being when the mind is free, when it does not act according to the past and is aware of its conditioning. Only when the mind is quiet can it be free.
Question: What is right meditation?
Krishnamurti: This is a very complex subject, and it requires a great deal of understanding. Let us go into the question. You and I are going to find out what is right meditation, which means that you and I are going to meditate. How do we understand anything? What is the state of the mind for understanding? We are going to find out the many implications of what is meditation. To understand something, you must have communion with it - there must be no barriers. There must be complete integration if you want to understand something new. How would you approach it? You will have to look at it, not condemn or justify it. To understand the problem, the mind must be passively watchful. Meditation is the process of understanding, it is the passive state which brings about discovery of truth. I have discussed meditation before, but now we are discussing it anew. The mind must be extremely quiet to understand deeply. If I want to understand something, my mind must be silent. If I have a problem and want really to understand it, I must not go to it with a worried and agitated mind. I must go with a free mind; for only a passive, alert mind can understand. A mind that is capable of being silent is in a position to receive the truth. Because, you don't know what truth is; if you know the truth, it is not truth. Truth is utterly new, free. It cannot be approached through preconceptions, it is not the experience of another. So, to discover truth, reality, the mind must be absolutely still. That is a requisite for the understanding of any problem, political, economic, or mathematical.
So, it is essential for the mind to be quiet in order to understand. The mind is new only when it is quiet; it is free, tranquil, only when it is not conditioned by the past. It is only then that the unknown is instinctively discovered. So, there must be freedom; and a mind that is disciplined, regimented, is not a free mind, it is not still. Its function is conditioned when it is under discipline. Such a mind is made still by discipline, it is controlled, shaped to be still. For the mind to be really still, there must be freedom, not at the end, but at the beginning. A mind that is overburdened, or a disciplined mind, is incapable of understanding a problem. What brings about freedom? - not a qualified freedom, prompted by desire. How does freedom come into being, so that the mind may receive the truth? Such freedom can be only when there is virtue. At present, you are striving to become virtuous, and to become something obviously means another form of conditioning. When you strive to become non-violent, the actual process of striving is violence. That is, in trying to become non-violent you are imitating the ideal of nonviolence, which is your own projection. So, the ideal is homemade, it is the outcome of your own violence. Being violent, you create the opposite; but the opposite always contains its own opposite, therefore the ideal of non-violence must inevitably contain the element of violence - they are not different. So, the mind that is trying to become merciful, to be- come humble, is conditioned, and therefore can never see the truth. Virtue is the understanding of what is without escape. You cannot understand what is if you resist it, because understanding requires freedom from conditioned response to what is, it not only requires freedom from condemnation and justification, but also from the whole process of terming or giving a name. Virtue is a state of freedom, because virtue brings order and clarity. Virtue is free from becoming; it is the understanding of what is. Understanding is not a matter of time; but time is required to escape through the process of acquiring virtue. So, only the mind that is silent can receive the unknown; because, the unknown is immeasurable. That which is measured is not the unknown; it is known, therefore it is not true, not real. Freedom comes from virtue, not through discipline. A disciplined mind is an exclusive mind; and there is freedom only when each thought is completely understood without exclusion or distraction. What is called concentration is merely a process of exclusion, and the mind that knows how to exclude, to resist, is not a free mind. You cannot understand thought if you resist it. The mind must be free to meet each thought and understand it fully, and then you will see that thought as an accumulative process comes to an end.
There is also the question of making the mind still through various practices. Is not the thinker, the observer, the same as the thought which he observes? They are not two different processes, but one process. As long as there is the thinker as an observer apart from thought, there is no freedom. Meditation is the process of understanding the thinker; meditation is the process of understanding the mediator - that is, understanding oneself at all levels as "my house", "my property", "my wife", "my beliefs", "my knowledge", "my acquisition", "my work". As long as the thinker is separate from thought, there must be conflict, there cannot be freedom. So, understanding the mediator is self-knowledge, which is what we have been doing this evening. The beginning of meditation is the beginning of self-knowledge, because we cannot be free without self-knowledge. Understanding yourself requires passive alertness. There must be freedom at the beginning, not at the end. Truth is not an ultimate end to be personally achieved; it is to be experienced, lived at every minute in relationship. The mind that is silent - not made silent - alone can perceive the immeasurable. The solution to the problem of bringing about quietness without compulsion lies in understanding relationship; therefore meditation is the beginning of self-knowledge, and self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is not the accumulation of knowledge and experience; wisdom is not acquired from books, from ceremonies, or by compulsion. Wisdom comes into being only when there is freedom of the mind; and a still mind will find the timeless, which is the immeasurable come into being. That state is not a state of experience; it is not a state to be remembered. What you remember, you will repeat, and the immeasurable is not repeatable, it cannot be cultivated. The mind must be moved to receive it afresh each time; and a mind that accumulates knowledge, virtue, is incapable of receiving the eternal.
January 22, 1950
Colombo, Ceylon 1950
Colombo Ceylon 5th Public Talk 22nd January, 1950
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