Madras 9th Public Talk 2nd February 1952
As I was saying last Saturday the problem of deterioration of the mind is a grave one. It not only affects the older generation but also the young people. This deterioration is a common factor throughout the world.
This deterioration is bound to come when there is the exercise of the will in action, the will being the choice between two opposites, the essential and the non-essential, the desire to be or to become. Obviously, the will is a deteriorating factor in our life and most of us would not admit it because we have been brought up through our educational and psychological systems, through our religion and so on, to use the will as a means of achieving, of acquiring, of gaining an end in which is involved the whole process of choosing. Is it not one of the major factors in our life which brings about deterioration, repetition, imitation, conformity of idea?
What I would like this evening, if we can experiment, is to go into this whole problem of the mind, mind as a repetitive machine, as a store house of memory, guiding, shaping controlling and therefore producing no creative action, mind as a process of consciousness which when thwarted becomes the `I', the `me'. The self-conscious individual seeks fulfilment and therefore, in the very desire for fulfilment, there is frustration, from which arises sorrow.
One of the major factors of deterioration is the process of thought which is repetitive, imitative, conforming; because, we know what happens when we are repetitive, conforming and imitative; the mind becomes merely a machine automatically responding, functioning, reacting according to circumstances, according to memory like a physical machine put together. All that, we know. We do not know any other process. Our thinking is purely repetitive; though we think it is a new idea, a new reaction, it is a process of the past in conjunction with the present. You can only meet the present with the screen, the limitation of the past. So, if you watch your mind, you will see it is conforming, it is repetitive, it is imitating.
Here arises the problem of how you listen. Are you listening to me at the verbal level or are you watching what I am saying with what is actually happening in your mental process? Are you merely responding to the verbal vibration or are you watching, which is a stimulation of what I am saying? It is a very important thing that you should go slowly into this matter and as you have got a full hour before you, you can go into it very carefully. If you are watching your own mind using me, using what I am saying, as a mirror and therefore observing, then what I am saying will be of extraordinary significance. But if you are merely listening, then you are imitating; you are merely responding to the words; words create an image and the pursuit of that image is referred to as thinking, which is `I', the `me' stimulating you to observe. There fore that stimulation becomes weary, dull; but whereas if you observe your own thinking in relation to what I am saying, then you will discover whether your mind is merely repetitive or it is something beyond the mechanical quality of a machine. I hope you have understood the point. Have I made myself clear?
The question we are discussing is the deteriorating factor of the mind, whether in the old or in the young. This deteriorating factor is observed as we grow older; old age is to most of us a problem, because we see the mind obviously deteriorating. You may not be conscious of it; but others may be conscious of the deterioration in you.
The application of the ideal as a means of action is an imitative, repetitive, conforming process like tradition. You may throw off the outward tradition, being forced by the modern economic pressure; but inwardly, you are still following tradition which is repetitive, conforming. So, the problem is: `Is the mind merely a machine incapable of going beyond this mechanical quality, or can the mind be made to be non-mechanical?' That is, we have so far used the mind as a machine to achieve a result, to be something, to gain something, in which process conformity or repetition is essential. If I want to be successful, I must conform, I must repeat, I must imitate. So, we have used the machinery of the mind which is a thought process, as a way of bringing about the desired end. That is, we want to produce a certain end, and we use the thought process as the machine like the one we find in a factory. The machine is the mind; and when we want a result, we use it. In this process, the mind becomes merely repetitive.
Is not repetition, imitation, a sign of disintegration, which is observable as we grow older. You can see how old people talk, the same thing over and over again, the same beliefs, the continuity, crystallized, stabilized and held firmly. All these are signs of deterioration. Are they not? Don't ask what would happen to society or what would happen to our relationship if there was no repetition or conformity. We will find that out. A mind that thinks about what will happen if one is not mechanical, is obviously a mind already in the process of deterioration.
It is very important for us to go into this matter very care fully and with intelligence, be cause we see more and more how the old people govern the young - not that the young are very much more intelligent, but we are observing the fact. All the government places, all the religious positions and all other high offices are filled by people who are in their sixties and seventies. The perfect bureaucratic machine which the average citizen worships, is made up of these old people. Don't apply this to any particular person, please. I see several of you smiling at the idea of your old leaders or some other particular person being referred to as repetitive. Well, aren't you yourself repetitive? We are discussing, not any individual, but this whole process of repetition and deterioration.
Is the mind which is the only instrument we have, merely to be used as a machine, routine-ridden, repeating and conforming? How is the mind to be made non-mechanical? That is, how to remove the factor or factors that bring about deterioration? Surely, this is an important question. Is it not? This seems to me to be one of the gravest issues in the present crisis of our culture - the world culture and not the Madras culture, the whole cultural process - because every sensation, every experience, every problem becomes repetitive.
Is it possible for the mind to free itself from this mechanical process? What do we mean by the mechanical process? Is not thought itself, please follow this, a factor of deterioration? We mean by thought a verbalizing reaction to experience. I am not defining, so don't learn the definitions. Is not thought the verbalizing process of memory, the memory being the past in conjunction with the present? Please watch your own mind. Don't listen to me verbally, but watch the process of your thinking. That is what we are discussing. It is not my problem; it is a problem which you and I must solve. Unless we are creative in a wholly different sense, all our education, religious system, political system, civilization, ideas are utterly useless because they contain deteriorating factors. So, it is a problem which you and I must solve; to solve it, we must consider this question of thought. That is the only instrument we have, or that is the only instrument which we are using. If that instrument is not valid in the process of bringing about integrated society, integrated beings, there must be some other means. That is what we are out to discover.
As I was saying, is not thought a process which is the continuation of the past modified by the present response? What is our thinking? It is memory in action. Please do not ask what we would do if we had no memory. That is not the problem. If you have no memory, you will be locked up for suffering from amnesia. Our problem is this. Thought is repetitive; the thought process is the result of continued response according to a certain background, which can only produce mechanical results; and therefore it is merely a process of repetition. Can thought be any other factor than deterioration? We think thought will produce a new sensation, a new way of living, a new culture and so on. That is, we think intellect which is thought, is the way of creation. If that is not, then what have we?
The mind which is so accustom ed to the thought process, the mind which is thought itself, which is accumulated memory, responding to every experience, observable and non-observable, conscious and unconscious, is certainly repetitive. The whole content of consciousness as we function now, is thus repetitive. I think that is fairly clear. Is it not? When you seek to go beyond the repetitive, you will find that the projection of that thought, that image, is all the outcome of the past, and that which you pursue as the ideal, is the outcome of the past. Therefore, the whole content of consciousness, whether we are conscious of it or not, is a mechanical process. I mean by mechanical process a response of the past conditioned by the present, which is nothing but repetitive.
Please do not learn the definition, because definitions are not going to solve the problem. What we have to do is to find out how the mind, how the whole machinery of the mind can be changed so that it is not repetitive. After all, creation at any level, truth, is non-repetitive. So the mind, to recognize the truth, must be non-repetitive.
Take a very simple example. You have an experience of the beauty of a flower, or of the sunset, or of the shade of a tree. At the moment of experiencing, there is no recognition; there is only a state of being. As that moment slips away, you begin to give it a name; you say `How beautiful that was!' That is, a process of recognition comes into being, and there is the desire for repetition of that sensation. This is simple and not complicated; just follow it and you will see. I see the tree lit by the evening sun; at that moment there is perception, experience and there is nothing more; it is a state of being which is not describable. Then, as the state of being moves forward, I give it a name and thereby recognize it; and that creates a sensation in me. Then I say `How beautiful, how marvellous that feeling was. I want to repeat that sensation. So, I begin next evening to look at the tree in the evening light, and there is a certain vague sensation that I want it. So, I have set the repetitive machinery going.
You watch your own process of mind and you will see the truth of this. You have a beautiful statue in your room, or a picture. The first moment, it gives a great delight; you see something extraordinary and the mind captures it. You then say `I want more of it'. So you sit down in front of the picture or image, and repeat; you hope to repeat that sensation. You have therefore set the mechanical process of the mind going; it is not only at the conscious level, but more profoundly; it brings about conflict, struggle.
Our mind is used to routine, repetition, imitation, conformity; and it knows nothing else. If it perceives something, it immediately wants to make it a daily affair. That is clear, is it not? Nobody denies this. This is a psychological, observable fact of our daily existence.
Now, how can the mind which is the only instrument we have, not be mechanical? First of all, how few of us have asked this question? Or, how few of us are aware of this whole problem? Now that I put it in front of you and that you are aware of it, what is your response? I observe this whole process, and do I know anything else? I do not, obviously. That is, if I said there was something else, it would still be a process of thought, which is a projection of the past into the present. This is a very complex problem because in this is involved the whole process of naming the giving of symbols and the importance of words, not only neurologically but psychologically, not only at the conscious level but at the deeper level. That is the deteriorating factor.
Can the mind which is so much used to function mechanically, stop? This machinery has to be stopped before you can find an answer. If you project the answer either according to Marx or Bhagavad Gita, then you are repetitive and destructive. Can the mind which has been going on for centuries, stop? The `me' is the result of the whole human being, rather, of the whole humankind, and the mind involves the `me'. Can that process of the mind, can that machinery which is so cunning, so devouring, so urgently demanding, so mighty, stop? That is, can it come to an end? If it cannot, you cannot find out the answer.
If you use the mind, then you are only continuing thought as a means of achieving something. Please watch it. If you are tired, do not listen. If you are not tired, just watch it. Can the machinery which has been functioning for generations, centuries, can that come voluntarily to an end - not forced, cornered or compelled? If you are compelled, then your response will be one of continuance and there fore of thought.
How will the mind come to an end? That is an important question but you do not know how to solve it. The mind must be stopped so that it can jump to the other state. You cannot let it function mechanically and jump. In speculation, it is the past responding, and there is nothing new. A mind that is mechanical, can never find anything new. It must come to an end. Now how is this to be done? Is that the right question? The `how' is important. You are following all this? We know the mind is mechanical. Then the next response is: How am I to stop it? In putting this question, the mind has become mechanical. Do you follow? That is, I want a result, the means is there, and I follow it. What has happened? The `how' is the response of a mechanical mind, the response of the old; and the following or the practicing of the `how' is the continuation of the machine. See how false our thinking has become. We are always concerned with the past, the how, the way, the practice and so on. You see all this process. The `how' is empty, and an enquiring mind really becomes the old repetitive mind through the practice of this `how'.
There are two different states of the mind, one pursuing the `how' and the other enquiring and not seeking a result. The mind which enquiries, which pursues in research, will only help us. Enquiry and seeking a result are two entirely different states. Now which is the state of your mind, the one that seeks a result or the one that is enquiring? If you seek a result, you are merely pursuing mechanically; then, there is no end; that leads to deterioration and destruction. That is obvious.
Is your mind really enquiring to find out the answer whether the mind can come to an end, not how to make it come to an end? The `how' is entirely different from the `can'. Can it? Have you put that question yourselves? If you have, with what motive, with what intention, with what purpose have you put it? That is very important. If you have put the question `can it?' with the motive that you want a result of which you are conscious, then you are back again in the mechanical process. So, you have to be extraordinarily alert and extremely subtle to answer that question - not to me but to yourself. If you really put the question without the intention to find out what happens, if you enquire, you will find that your mind is not seeking a result, it is waiting for an answer; it is not speculating about a answer; it is not desiring for an answer; it is not hoping for an answer; it is waiting.
Look at this. I ask you a question; what is your response? Your immediate response is to think, to reason, to look, to find out a clever argument to reply. Question and response is a daily observable psychological action, verbally and psychologically. That is, you are not answering, you are responding, you are giving what are the reasons; in other words, you are seeking an answer. If you want to find out the answer to a question, the response is mechanical, other than waiting. That is, the mind that waits for an answer to come is non-mechanical, because the answer must be something which you don't know; the answer which you know is mechanical. But if you are faced with the question and you wait for the answer, then you will see your mind is entirely in a different state. Waiting is more important than answer. You stand? Then, mind is no longer mechanical but quite a different process; it is quite a different thing that comes into being without being invited.
Question: You said that it is our idea of fear that stands in the way of facing it. How is one to overcome fear?
Krishnamurti: First of all, one must be conscious of it, one must be aware of it. Are you? May we try together and experiment? Let us see, in our explaining this thing, whether fear will not completely go away from us. I am going to take you on the journey. If you willingly come, so much the better. If you are willing to come, let us go to the end of it, not stop in the middle of it.
We know various forms of fear - fear of public opinion, fear of death of someone, fear of what people will say, fear of losing an object; there are innumerable forms of fear. You ask `How am I to overcome fear'? Can you overcome anything? You know what is meant by overcoming conquering, being on top of it, suppressing it, going beyond it. When you overcome something, you have still again to conquer it, haven't you? So the very process of overcoming is a continuation of constant conquering. You cannot overcome your enemy because, in the very over coming, you strengthen the enemy. That is one factor.
We are concerned with understanding fear and seeking the implications of it. We are going to take the journey together. How does fear come into being? Is it the word `fear' or the fact of fear? You understand? Is it the word that is causing me fear, or the fact of some thing in relationship to something else? Which is causing fear? It is not complex, it is very simple if you watch.
Am I afraid of the word `fear'? We are going to find out. Now what happens when one is afraid? The obvious reaction is to run away from it in many ways - drink, women, temple, master, beliefs; they are all at the same level, they are no better, no worse. A man who runs away from fear through drink, is as righteous as one who runs away from fear through virtue. Sociologically, it may have different values; but they are all the same, mentally, psychologically.
What is the reaction to fear? To escape from it. That is, our reaction to fear is condemnation, is it not?, or justification. Am I really afraid? Do I think of the term `I am afraid of' when I am running away from it? Obviously not. I cannot understand fear if I run away from it, if I justify or condemn it, or even if I identify myself, or say `I am afraid', and reason. So if I am to under stand fear, there must be no escape. And our mind is made up of escapes. So mind is unwilling to face that thing, understand, respond to, discover what is causing fear; and so I run away from it.
What is then important, fear or running away from it? What is the most important thing in our life when there is fear? Running away from it, is it not? Not how to dissolve fear, but how to escape from it. I am more concerned with escapes rather than understanding. And can I understand it when I am looking in the other direction? I can look at it when I am completely concentrating about it. Is there any possibility of complete awareness, full concentration of it, when I am all the time dreading it? Obviously not.
To understand fear, you don't run away by suppression, domination, by belief, virtue and so on. Then, you are nearer to the fact which is causing you fear. What is your relationship to it? Is it verbal? - verbal in the sense that the mind speculates about it and is afraid of the speculation, the mind foresees and says `if that happens, this will happen; and therefore I am afraid'. So what is your relationship to it? Follow this closely, because on that relationship depends your solution. Are you related to what is causing fear, merely verbally - that is, speculatively - , or are you confronting it without speculation, which is non-verbalization? If you are related to it verbally, you have no direct communication with it, you have escaped from it. If you confront it, you have ceased to run away, there is no escape whatsoever.
Let us next consider the relation ship of words and their meaning. Is fear caused by the word or by the fact? Do you understand? The word being the mind, the mind is creating a screen through verbalization and not facing it. So, is fear created by the word - that is, the mind by thinking about it, thought being the process of verbalization? If so, your thought about it is to escape from it. Otherwise, you are facing the fact without verbalization, without thought process, without escape; then you are directly in relationship with it, directly in communion with it.
When you are directly in communion with something, what happens? Have you been directly in communion with anything without thought process, have you? Obviously not. When you are, the thing which you have named as fear, has ceased to be. It is these screens, these escapes, this verbalization, this mental process, that create fear, not the fact itself. So these screens between you and the fact are productive of fear, not the fact; there is no overcoming of the fact. If you see the whole process and have followed this step by step, you will see you have no fear. Then, you are observing the fact, and the fact is going to alter, the fact is going to take action and not you in movement towards an escape.
Question: How can the thinker and the thought be united?
Krishnamurti: The `how' is a school boy's question. But we are going to find out if it is possible to bring together the two separating processes of things at work. First, we know the thinker and the thought are separate. Are we aware of it? To you, the thinker and the thought are two separate entities; and you want to find out if they can be brought together. If the thinker is separate and always dominating thought, thought is always crippled and the thinker is always conquering. There will be no alleviation, there will be constant battle between the thinker and the thought. I want to find out if it is possible for the two to be together so that there is no division, no battle; because I see that it is only when there is no struggle, there is something new.
Violence does not produce peace; it is only when violence is not, peace is. Similarly, I have to find out if the thinker and the thought are two separate entities, eternally dividing, never brought together.
You and I are going to take the journey of discovering and really experiencing the fact. We know that the thinker and the thought are separate. Most of us have never even thought about it, we take it for granted. It is only when somebody outside of you asks the question, then you are enquiring. I am asking, and therefore you are enquiring, you are taking the journey of enquiry.
Taking the journey is understanding of `what is', what is actually taking place, not what you would like, but what actually happens.
Why are the thought and the thinker separate? Not that they should not be or must not be, but why are they separate? They are separate because of habit. We have not doubted it; we have accepted it, taken it for granted; therefore, it has become a habit for us. The thinker is separate from his thought and the struggle between the two, the domination of the thinker over the thought, is our daily habit - habit being routine, repetitive. That is a fact, is it not?
What would happen if the thinker and the thought were not separate? My mind is used to this habit. What would happen to my mind if this habit stops? The mind would feel lost, would it not? It would be puzzled, bewildered by something unexpected, something new; so the mind prefers to live in habit; so it says `I keep my habit going. I don't know what would happen if these two come together, and I shall prefer the old things to continue'. So you are more interested in the continuation of habit, rather than in enquiring what would happen if they come together.
Why do we want the old to continue? For the obvious reason that we want security, certainty, some thing to hold on to; because it is the only thing we know. We are sure of the thinker and the thought. We have not thought of what would happen if they come together. Certainty makes us hold on to the old. That is a psychological fact, an observable fact. Our problem then is not how to bring the thinker and the thought together, but why the mind is seeking security, certainty. Can the mind exist without certainty, without seeking something to which it can hold on - knowledge, belief, what you will? The mind cannot be without the process of security. The mind that we know is secure; it is not interested in finding out; it is interested in being completely safe, completely secure.
Why does the mind seek security? Because you realize that thought suddenly changes any moment; there is no actuality in thought; so thought creates the thinker as a permanent entity which will go on indefinitely, so, in the thinker, it has vested interests. And so the mind has found security in the thinker, certainty which is the old habit.
Our problem then is whether the mind can ever have security, or is it only an illusion of security to which it clings. The mind has the power to create the illusion of security and clings to it; therefore, so long as it is seeking security, it cannot understand the other. So long as the mind is not interested in discovering what will happen if the thinker and the thought come together, it would hold on to something it is already sure of.
So our problem is whether there is security, certainty. Is there? Obviously not - neither in God, nor in wife nor in property which you would want to have. There is no security. Of that you are not convinced; of that, you have had no experience. There is complete loneness without any dependability, without anything on which the mind can rest, hold and cling to. Because the mind is afraid to be alone, it invents the thinker as a permanent entity that will continue. Or if the thinker is not, it would in vent God, or property, or wife, any thing - a tree would do, a stone would do, a carved image.
The mind in its desire for security, has created the thinker as separate from the thought, and has accustomed itself to this division by habit; where there is habit there is permanence, and mind becomes mechanical. When you realize, not merely verbally but in actual experience, that the thinker is the result of thought, that it seeks permanency, that it seeks continuity, then you will see there is no effort by the mind to bring the two together. Then there is only a state of understanding, with out any words, without the thought process of the thinker and the thought. For that, you must have an extraordinary insight into the whole process of consciousness which we have been considering this evening, which is the process of meditation. That meditation is only possible when the mind understands the whole content of consciousness, which is yourself.
February 2, 1952
Madras 9th Public Talk 2nd February 1952
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