London 2nd Public Talk 8th April 1952
As we were saying yesterday, we look to ideas for the solution of our problems, and we base our action on ideas, - at least, we approximate our action to a certain set of ideas. And is it ever possible to be free from the conflict of idea and action? Because, between action and idea there is a wide gap, and we are everlastingly trying to bridge this gap, and so we are in constant conflict. And when the mind is in conflict, obviously there is confusion. And when we are in a state of confusion, any choice of idea, any choice of action, is bound to be equally confused. And so, we are caught in a series of conflicts, never ending, but always getting more and more complex. And we can see that only when the mind is very still and quiet, not choosing, is there a possibility of tranquillity.
When the mind is merely accumulating knowledge, - either of the past or of the future, accumulating ideas, and thereby trying to find an action which will bring about the cessation of conflict, not only within ourselves but with society and all about us, - does not the mind merely become then the instrument of conflict, the source of conflict? That is, does knowledge, - the accumulating process of ideas, of information, of that which is of the past or the hope of the future, does knowledge help in bringing about the cessation of conflict? And must conflict go on indefinitely? - conflict within and without, in our relationships and in ourselves?
If that conflict is to continue, and that seems the lot of all of us, everlastingly and without end, - then we must find escapes, - political, religious, every kind of escape, - so that we can at least drown ourselves in some kind of darkness, illusion, in some theory, in some complicated action which never produces freedom.
If we would really go more deeply into this question of conflict, - whether it will ever produce greater progress, a greater understanding, a greater freedom in our relationships, more love, - then we must find out the source of conflict. For if conflict is ultimately to produce a sense of freedom of the mind, and therefore love, then conflict is necessary. We have taken it for granted that it is essential in one form or another; and without conflict we think we shall become stagnant. We have built our life, our philosophy, our religious thinking, on this series of conflicts, hoping that it will eventually bring about freedom, - be ennobling, and so on. So should we not, before we accept the inevitability of conflict, find out whether conflict ever brings understanding?
When you and I are in conflict, emotionally, verbally, deeply, is there understanding? And, does conflict cease with knowledge? Is not knowledge the very centre of the me, of the self, which is everlastingly acquiring, trying to become something? And, does not this conflict lie in this desire to become, to be? This process of accumulating knowledge, - which is really information, words put together, - will that bring about the cessation of conflict, put an end to the me which is the centre of accumulation, which is the centre of conflict? Is it ever possible to suppress knowledge, and this process of accumulation? We may possess very little, - a few clothes, a little property; we may be unknown, living in a small place; but we are always accumulating knowledge, we are always trying to gather to ourselves virtue. And that is the process of the mind.
I do not know if you have ever thought of this problem of acquiring knowledge, - whether knowledge does ultimately help us to love, to be free from those qualities that produce conflict in ourselves and with our neighbours; whether knowledge ever frees the mind of ambition. Because ambition is, after all, one of the qualities that destroy relationship, that put man against man. And if we would live at peace with each other, surely ambition must completely come to an end - not only political, economic, social ambition, but also the more subtle and pernicious ambition, the spiritual ambition, - to be something. Is it ever possible for the mind to be free from this accumulating process of knowledge, this desire to know?
What is it we want to know? We want to know about ourselves, what we have been and what we shall be. We may want to know about scientific information, but that is merely a side-issue. Fundamentally we all want to know, what? - to know if we are loved, and if we ourselves love; to know if we are free, if we are happy, if we are creative, if we are somebody, something. We want to know either what we have been or what we shall be; so that knowledge becomes a means of personal security, a psychological necessity for one's continuance. And so we gather information, - religious, political, social, and so on; and with that we are satisfied, for we use that knowledge to exploit others or cover ourselves.
So surely, one of our problems is, is it not?, whether it is possible to live in this world without the psychological process of accumulation, without this constant battle to know what one will become, psychologically. So long as we are trying to become something, - accepting certain princi- ples, ideals, beliefs, and then approximating ourselves to them, surely knowledge becomes a means of self-satisfied security, certainty. And the moment you have acquired, you want more, and so there is the battle, the struggle of this constant desire to be something more, to become something. And for that we must have knowledge. And this accumulating process of the me, the I, the ego, is the centre of this recognition, is the knower, is the knowledge. And, this centre is always translating every experience according to its knowledge, according to its prejudices. And so, this centre of knowledge, this entity that is everlastingly inquiring in order to know, can only experience that which it has known; it cannot experience anything new. The mind that is burdened with knowledge can never be creative; it cannot know what it is to be in that state wherein creation can take place. Every experience has already been tested; and whatever it experiences is its own projection.
A mind that would be in a state in which the new can take place, - whether it be the truth, whether it be God, or what you will, - must surely cease to acquire, to gather; it must put aside all knowledge. Because that which is capable of recognizing is still within the field of time. And a mind which is the result of time, which is the result of accumulation, a mind burdened with knowledge, cannot possibly understand, surely, that which is real, which is not measurable. But most of us are afraid to be in that state, to be entirely free from this centre which is everlastingly accumulating.
All this is not a matter of conviction. You are not being persuaded by me to accept any set of ideas, - that would be a horror. Then our relationship would be one of propagandists. But surely, what we are concerned with is to find out the truth of this thing which we call the me, the centre that is the cause of conflict, and whether that centre can ever be resolved. And one of its qualities, part of its nature, is the accumulating process of knowledge, the gathering in of memories, of the past and of the future, so that it can be secure. I am not trying to convince you of it; and we need not argue about it. It is not a matter of logic, - logic is always rather cheap. But we can surely try to find out if the mind can be free, can be in that state of not knowing, when it is not gathering or projecting from its own knowledge. Surely that requires investigation, not conviction, not belief. For that you do not have to read any books. All that one has to do is to watch oneself, go into the intricacies of the mind, watch the ways of the self, gathering and rejecting. And then one can see that conflict is not necessary; conflict is not the way to an integrated existence, to a complete life. But so long as the mind is trying to become, acquiring, reaching for more experience, for a greater wealth of information and knowledge, - the more there must be conflict.
Reality, or God, or what you will, is not to be reached through conflict. On the contrary, there must be the cessation of the me as the centre of accumulation, - either of information, or of virtue, or experience, or of any of those qualities that the mind seeks in order to enlarge itself. Only then, surely, is it possible for that state of reality to come into being.
Question: I have tried out many of the things you have suggested in your various talks, but I don't seem to get very far. What is wrong with you or with me?
Krishnamurti: You see, the difficulty is that we want to get "very far", we want to reach a result; we want the "more". So we experiment in order to arrive; we study, we listen, in order to compare, in order to become something. What I say may be utterly wrong; you have to find out, not accept it. What is important in this question is, is it not?, the desire to become more, to reach far, to arrive somewhere. And so, with that motive in the background you study, you experiment, you observe yourself, you are aware of your actions. With that hidden motive, - to progress, to achieve, to become a saint, to know more, to reach the Master, - with that hidden, subtle motive driving you, you do all; you read, you study, you inquire. And naturally, you do not get very far. So what is important is to understand that motive, that drive. Why should you get very far? Far in what? - in your knowledge, in your ambitions, in your so-called virtues, which are really not virtues at all but the becoming greater in yourself?
You see, the difficulty is that we are so deeply ambitious. As the clerk strives to become the manager, so we want to become the Masters, the saints. We want to arrive ultimately at a state of peace. So ambition is the motive; ambition is driving us. And instead of understanding that ambition, and putting an end to it completely, we turn our face towards becoming more and more, to reaching deeper, going very far. So we deceive ourselves, we create illusions. Obviously, the man who is ambitious is not only antisocial, destructive, but he will never understand what truth is, what God is, or whatever name you like to give to it.
So, if I may suggest, do not try to get "very far", but inquire into the motive, into the activities, of the mind that desires to go far. Why do we want this? Either we want to escape from ourselves, or we want to have influence, prestige, position, authority. If we want to escape from ourselves, any illusion is good enough.
And it is not a matter of time. The mind is the instrument of achievement; and with the mind, which is the result of time, one cannot understand that which is beyond measure, which is not vague, not mysticism as opposed to occultism - a very convenient division of the thoughtless. To understand this motive, this drive to become something, is what is important; and that we can observe in our daily actions, in our everyday thought, - this urge to be something, to dominate, to assert. It is there that the truth lies, not away from it. It is there that we must find it.
Question: Is it possible for the ordinary individual to lead a spiritual life without having a set of beliefs or taking part in ceremonies and ritual?
Krishnamurti: I wonder what we mean by a spiritual life? Do you become spiritual by performing ceremonies and rituals, having innumerable beliefs, or by having principles according to which you are trying to live? Does that make you spiritual? Ceremonies and rituals sometimes, perhaps, at the beginning, give a certain sensation, so-called uplift. But they are repetitious, and every sensation that is repeated soon wearies of itself. The mind likes to establish itself in a routine, in a habit; and rituals, ceremonies provide this and give to the mind an opportunity to separate itself, to feel itself superior, to feel that it knows more, and to enjoy the sensations of repetitious pleasures. Surely there is nothing spiritual about rituals and ceremonies; they only divide man against man. Since they are repetitious they do not free the mind from its own self-projected sensations. On the contrary, for a spiritual life, a free life, a free mind, a mind that is not burdened by the ego, the me, is necessary - it is essential to see the falsity of ceremonies. To find reality, or God, or what you will, there must be no ceremonies, no rituals round which the mind can wrap itself and feel itself different, enjoying the sensations of oft-repeated actions. And a mind burdened with belief, - is such a mind capable of perception, of understanding? Surely, a mind burdened with belief is an enclosed mind, - no matter what belief it is, whether it is in nationalism, or any particular principle, or the belief in its own knowledge. A mind that is burdened with beliefs, either of the past or of the future, is surely not a free mind. A mind crippled with belief is incapable of investigation, of discovery, of looking within itself. But the mind likes beliefs, because belief gives to it a certain security, makes it feel strong, energetic, aloof, separative.
We know all this as an everyday fact. And yet we continue in our beliefs, - that you are a Christian and I am a Hindu, - I with my set of idiosyncrasies, traditions and experience handed down from the past, and you with yours. Obviously, belief does not bring us together. Only when there is no belief, only when we have understood the whole process of belief, - then perhaps we can come together. The mind desires constantly to be secure, to be in a state of knowledge, to know; and belief offers a very convenient security. Belief in something, belief in a certain economic system, for which one is willing to sacrifice oneself and others, - in that the mind takes shelter, it is certain there. Or, belief in God, in a certain spiritual system; there again the mind feels secure, certain.
Belief, after all, is a word. The mind lives on words, it has its being in words; and there it takes shelter and finds certainty. And a mind that is sheltered, secure, certain, is surely incapable of understanding anything new, or receiving that which is not measurable. So belief acts as a barrier, not only between man and man, but also, surely, as a block, as a hindrance, to something that is creative, that is new. But to be in a state of uncertainty, of not-knowing, of not acquiring, is extremely difficult, is it not;-perhaps not difficult, but it requires a certain earnestness, without any distraction, inward or outward. But unfortunately most of us inwardly want to be distracted; and beliefs, ceremonies, rituals, offer good, respectable distractions.
So, what is important in this question is, is it not?, to free the mind from its own self-created habits, from its own self-projected experiences, from its own knowledge, - which is, from the entity which is gathering, accumulating. That is the real problem, - to be free inwardly, to be in that state when the mind is no longer inviting or accumulating experience. That is extremely arduous. And it is for everyone, not for the few, to free themselves from the process of time which is the process of accumulation, gathering in, the desire for the more. This is only possible when we understand the ways of the mind, how it is constantly seeking security, permanency, either in beliefs, in rituals, in ceremonies, or in knowledge. All these are distractions; and a mind that is distracted is incapable of quietness. To go into this problem very deeply, one has to be aware inwardly, both at the conscious and at the unconscious level, of those attractions and distractions that the mind has cultivated, - to observe them, and not try to transform them into something else, but merely observe. Then begins the freedom in which the mind is no longer acquiring, accumulating.
Question: I feel that much of my unhappiness is due to my strong urge to help and advise those I love - and even those I do not love. How can I really see this as domination and interference? Or, how can I know if my help is genuine?
Krishnamurti: You mean to say that you are unhappy because you cannot help another! I should have thought you would help others because you are happy. Because you love, you help; and if you do not help you are not unhappy. I think that is where the key of this problem is; you are unhappy because you cannot help. That is, helping gives you happiness. So, you are deriving your happiness from helping others. You are using others to get your own satisfaction. Please, this is not a clever, smart remark. But most of us are in that state; we want to be active, we want to do things, interfere, help, love, be generous; we want to be active doing something. And when that is thwarted, we are unhappy. And as long as we have the freedom to act, to fulfil, and that activity is not thwarted, we call it happiness.
Surely, the action of help is not of the mind. The generosity of the mind is not the generosity of the heart. But because we have lost the generosity of the heart, we are generous with our mind, - which when thwarted rebels, and there is the ache. And so we join groups, parties, create societies to help. When we have lost generosity we turn to social service; when we have lost love we turn to systems. So surely, in this problem the underlying difficulty is that we are seeking satisfaction; and that is a very difficult thing to be free of, because it is so subtle. We want to be satisfied in everything that we do; or, we go to the other extreme and become martyrs, put up with anything. Until we understand this desire to be satisfied, then help becomes interference and domination. The desire to help another becomes interference and domination until we understand the urge, the craving to find satisfaction.
The mind is always seeking satisfaction, is it not? - which is, seeking a result, to be sure that one is helping. And when you are certain that you are giving help, you feel satisfied, from which comes so-called happiness. So, is it possible for the mind to be free from this urge to be satisfied? Why do we seek satisfaction? Why do we seek gratification in everything? Why are we not merely content to be what we are? For, if we can see what we are, then perhaps we can transform it. But always seeking satisfaction away from what we are brings about the whole problem of interference and domination, - whether your help is genuine or not, and so on.
So, the problem of satisfaction is very difficult to resolve, because it is so extraordinarily subtle and varied. And it can only come to an end by constant watching, being aware of how the mind is seeking to be certain in its own satisfaction. Again, this is not a matter for disputation, for argument, to be convinced of it, - but it is to be inquired into, to be found. To really see that your mind is seeking satisfaction, - not merely to repeat what has been said, which leads nowhere, but to see the truth of it, brings about an extraordinary discovery. Then it is something new which you have found. To find out for yourself the ways in which the mind is subtly seeking satisfaction, to discover it, to see it, to be aware of it, brings freedom from it.
Question: How do you "see" a fact with out any reaction: without condemnation or justification, without prejudice or the desire for a conclusion, without wanting to do something about it, without the sense of the me and mine? What is the point of such "seeing" or awareness? Have you actually done this, and could you exemplify from your own experience?
Krishnamurti: First of all, do we see a fact? - not how do we see a fact, but do we see a fact? Do we see the fact, for example, of greed, of contradiction, in ourselves? What exactly do we mean by "seeing"? Am I aware that I am greedy? And how do I regard it? Am I capable of seeing that I am greedy, without explanations, without condemnation, without trying to do something about it, without justifying it, without the desire to transform it into non-greed? Let us take the example of envy, or greed, or feeling inferior or superior, or jealousy, and so on. Take one thing like that, and see what happens.
First of all, most of us are unaware that we are envious; we brush it casually aside as a bourgeois thing, as being superficial. But deeply, inwardly, profoundly, we are envious. We are envious beings. We want to be something, we want to achieve, we want to arrive, - which is the very indication of envy. Our social, economic, spiritual systems are based on that envy. First of all, be aware of it. Most of us are not. We justify it; we say, if we hadn't envy what would happen to civilization? - if we did not make progress and had no ambition, and so on, what would we do? - everything would collapse, would stagnate. So, that very statement, that very justification, surely prevents us from looking at the fact that we are, you and I, envious.
Then, if we are at all conscious, aware, seeing all this, - then what happens? If we do not justify, we condemn, don't we? - because we think that state of envy, or whatever state it is you feel, is wrong, not spiritual, not moral. So we condemn; which prevents us seeing what is, does it not? When I justify, or condemn or have a desire to do something about it, that prevents me from looking at it, doesn't it? Let us examine this glass in front of me on the table. I can look at it without thinking who made it, observing the pattern, and so on; I can just look at it. Similarly, is it not possible to look at my envy, not to condemn it, not to have the desire to alter it, to do something about it, to justify it? Then, if I do not do all that, what happens? I hope you are following this, substituting for envy your own particular burden. I hope you are not merely listening to me telling you something about it, but are observing your own relation to a certain fact which is causing you disturbance, or pain, or confusion. Please watch yourself, and apply what we are saying to yourself, - watch your own mind in the process of thinking. We are partaking together, sharing together in this experiment to find out what "seeing" is, going more and more deeply into it.
So, if I would see that I am envious, be aware of it, see the content of it, then the desire to do something, to condemn, to justify, obviously comes to an end, because I am more interested to see what it is, what is behind it, what is its inward nature. If I am not interested to know more deeply, more intimately, the content of this whole problem of envy, then I am satisfied by merely condemning.
So, if I am not condemning, not desiring to do something about it, I am a little nearer, intimate, more close to the problem. Then, how do I look at it? How do I know I am greedy? Is it the word that is creating the feeling of wanting more? Is the reaction the outcome of memory, which is symbolized by a word? And is the feeling different from the word, the name, the term? And by recognizing it, giving it a name, a label, have I resolved it, have I understood it?
All this is a process of seeing the fact, isn't it? And then, to go still further, is the me, the observer, experiencing greed? Is greed something apart from me? Is envy, that extraordinarily exciting and pleasurable reaction, something apart from me, the observer? When I do not condemn, when I do not justify, when I am not desirous of doing something about it, have I not removed the censor, the observer? And, when the observer is not, then, is there the word greed? - the very word being a condemnation. When the observer is not, then only is there a possibility of that feeling coming to an end.
But in looking at the fact, I do not start with the desire to bring it to an end; that is not my motive. I want to see the whole structure, the whole process; I want to understand it. And in this process I discover the ways of my own thinking. And it is through this self-knowledge, - not to be gathered from books, from printed words and lectures, but by actually sharing together as in this talk, - that we find out the ways of the self. It is seeking the truth of the fact, - which I can only do when I have been through this process, - which frees the mind from that reaction called envy. Without seeing the truth of that, then do what you will, envy will remain. You may find a substitute for it, you may do everything to cover it up, to run away from it; but it is always there. Only when we can understand how to approach it, to see the truth of it, is there freedom from it.
April 8, 1952.
London 2nd Public Talk 8th April 1952
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.