Ojai 1st Public Talk 2nd August 1952
I think most of us are aware that some kind of change is necessary, not only in our individual lives, but as a group, as a race, as a nation. We see the importance of a radical change, a change that will bring lasting hope, that will give an assurance, a certainty, not of the mind, but of something which is above and beyond the mind. Surely, most of us feel - those of us, at least, who are serious - that within ourselves there must be this vital transformation; but transformation is not of the mind, because the mind can never solve any human problem. The more we investigate the process of thought and seek to resolve our problems by the sanctions of the mind, the greater are the complications; there is more and more degradation and suffering, and less of creative existence. Yet it is obvious that a vital change is necessary, and that is what I would like to discuss during the course of these talks: how to bring about, not a superficial reformation or a casual adjustment to some immediate challenge, but a change, a revolution, a radical transformation that will give us direct experience of something which is fundamental, eternal, not of time, and which may be called truth, God, or what you will. I feel this is the only essential study, the only fundamental inquiry, especially now that we are in a state of crisis, both individual and historic. To look for transformation to some philosophy, to some teacher, to some ideal or example, or to analyze our own complexities and try to do something about them within the field of the mind, within the field of time, is so utterly futile.
Let us see, then, if we cannot, during this and the subsequent talks, peacefully, tentatively and deeply go into the matter of how to change, how to bring about a real transformation within ourselves. One can see the importance, the necessity, the urgency of such a change; be cause mere reformation, superficial adjustment to an idea, to a particular end in view, is not a change at all. Most of us are concerned only with the immediate changes; we do not want to go more deeply, more fundamentally into the problem. Our desire for change is brought about through superficial thought, and in the process of our changing there is constant mischief in action. I am sure most of us are aware of this, and yet we do not know how to go beyond it; and, if I may suggest, I would like these talks to result in the discovery for each one of us, including myself, of how to touch that source which is not of the mind, which is not of time, which has nothing to do with any particular philosophy or political system, with any organized religion, code of ethics or social reform. Religion is the discovery of that which is unnameable; and if we can directly experience it and let that operate, let that be the impetus, the drive, then that will bring about this transformation which is so essential.
May I add here that there is a right way of listening. Not that you must accept or reject what I am saying, but you want to find out, do you not? Surely, that is why you are here - not to spend a pleasant afternoon amongst friends whom you have probably met after many years. You can do all that after wards. You have taken the trouble to come, and you must be somewhat serious. The art of listening is not to be merely vague and receptive, but to find out what it is I want to convey. Together - and I mean this - together we can discover it, discover something which is not merely at the verbal level, something which is not an idea to be opposed by another idea, something which is not mere knowledge, which you can not acquire, but which you and I together can experience directly; something which is the only transcendental value, which gives you extraordinary confidence, a confidence that no theory, no political or religious argument can evoke.
So, these talks are not mere lectures for you to listen to and for me to expound, but let us undertake a journey together to find out for our selves that which is not made up by the mind. I can invent, speculate, and so can you; I can put out some idea, and you can oppose it by another idea, a different argument; but surely, if I want to find some thing which is not of time, which is not of the mind, which is not merely the response to a particular challenge - if I really want to find out, I must go beyond the responses, the casual, superficial reactions.
To listen properly, then, is very important. We are discussing, talking over together problems which are very difficult and which face all humanity, every individual; and that requires a very subtle, hesitant, inquiring mind, a mind that is capable of going deeper and deeper, and not merely coming to a conclusion and adhering to it. So, if I may suggest, after each of these talks, go away by yourself, think about it, do not immediately get agitated and begin to talk about when and where you last met - you know the kind of superficial conversation that goes on.
What is important is to find out how to bring about a radical change in ourselves. I do not know if this is a problem to you. Probably it is not, because most of us are caught in inertia, in habit, in tradition; we have given ourselves over to a particular political or religious conviction, and we pursue that, hoping it will bring a lasting, fundamental change, a transformation, a revolution within us. Having committed ourselves to a certain pattern of thought, we pursue it for years, and we think we are changing. Surely, fundamental change is not to be found in the pursuit of a pattern of thought, how ever noble, nor in compliance with tradition, nor in the acceptance of any idea, belief or example; but what is required is a change that is not of the mind. So, please listen carefully and do not immediately translate what I am suggesting into the pattern with which you are familiar, whether it is of some book which you have read, or of a particular society or religious group to which you belong. Let us put aside all those things and think of the problem anew.
Now, I see the immense importance of a fundamental change in myself. I may be ambitious, I may be greedy, I may tell lies. How are these things to be changed completely? I see that ambition is a very destructive process, both individually and collectively; though one must have sufficient, the whole spirit of acquisitiveness, the craving for more, more, more, the self-defences which ultimately end up in lying, deception, illusion - all this is creating havoc in the world. Seeing all these patterns, the reactions, the stupidity, the vanity, the prejudices in which we are caught, how is one to transform them, not just verbally but actually? Those of us who have experimented with these things have already tried several ways, have we not? We have disciplined ourselves through action of the will, we have followed teachers, leaders, worshipped authority; and yet, in spite of various kinds of effort to be free from these things, we remain shallow, empty. Our problems are still there in a different form. I may cease to be a liar, or give up being ambitious; but what? I may be very kind, affectionate, considerate, but that spark, that flame has still never been touch ed; that thing which gives a quality of life I have never known. So, until I touch that, until there is the experiencing of that, all superficial reformation, the outward capacity to adjust, has very little meaning, because more adjustment on the out side does not give that faith, that hope, that conviction, that certainty, that tremendous feeling of some thing eternally new. And I feel if we can touch that, then the change will have an extraordinary meaning. Surely, that is the search for reality, for God, or what you will. Without having touched that, we are doing everything in our endeavour to shape, to alter, to mould the mind. That is why, when so-called religions have failed, as they inevitably do, political parties become all important; they offer a vision, a conviction, a hope, and we jump at these things because in ourselves we have lost the source, the spring of that which is unnameable.
So, it is not a question of mere social reformation, superficial change, but of how to bring about an experience which gives lasting faith - if I can use that word "faith" without introducing all the superstitious sentimentality that goes with it; an experience which brings confidence stripped of all our stupidities and selfish arrogance, a confidence born of clarity, of that thing which cannot be destroyed and for which we live and die. There is a certainty, a peculiar quality which gives, not the superficial hope in something, but a feeling which is in itself the flowering of something beyond the functioning of the mind. It is that, that we have to touch; and if we are really in earnest, it is our problem, yours and mine, to find it. Without touching that, we shall be everlastingly in misery, in confusion; there will be endless wars, perpetual conflicts between nations, races, groups, individuals; without that, there is no compassion, no love.
Now, you and I are not brilliant, we are not cursed with immense knowledge, we are ordinary people; perhaps there are some on the out skirts who are unbalanced, but that doesn't matter. Is it possible for ordinary people, for you and me, to go into this and to experience, not anything which the mind invents and then experiences, but something which is not of the mind at all? That is what we are going to find out - which may entail a great many denials, sacrifices, the putting aside of various personal ambitions, the desire to become great; for a mind that is caught in its own patterns of thought can never experience the eternal. If we are to inquire earnestly into this, we must study the mind - not the universal mind, or the mind of another, however great, but the mind that you and I have, with which we think, with which we operate and in the reactions of which we are caught. The mind is the only instrument we have, and without knowing how it works, merely to find out what is beyond the mind only leads to illusion; and most of us are caught in that illusion, especially the so-called religious people, the people who are seeking God.
So, if I want to understand, to experience directly something which is not of the mind, the first step is to understand the process of the mind, which is thinking. Only by penetrating, by going deeply into the process of thought, can thought come to an end. After all, our thinking has not led us very far; our ideas have not brought peace to the world or happiness to ourselves. Thought is a process of reaction, a conditioning of the past, and it is ever creating patterns which we instinctively follow. All that has to be understood, which means going into and dissipating the traditions, the prejudices, the particular patterns and peculiarities of the "me", stripping the mind, laying it bare, so that it becomes really still. Such stillness is not induced, it is not cultivated, it can not be brought about through discipline, because all those processes are still part of the mind. It is only a quiet mind, a still mind ex- perience that which is not of the mind; and it is one of the most, difficult things for the mind to be quiet. When the mind is as nothing, only then is there God. But we have cultivated the mind for centuries, it is the one thing that we worship, and therefore we have to understand the process of the mind. We will go into this at every talk. As we begin to discover, as we become aware of the process of our own thinking, through that understanding, through that awareness, there comes a tranquillity of the mind itself in which there is no longer any effort towards a particular end; and only then is the mind capable of receiving or experiencing something which is not a projection of itself. When there is the experiencing of that, however little it may be, then from that there is a transformation, from that there is a change - not the change of a shallow mind, which ends in mischievous action.
Question: Unity seems essential for the well-being of man. How is one to achieve this unity in a group or in a nation?
Krishnamurti: How do we generally achieve unity as it is practised in the various nations? Superficial unity is brought about through propaganda, through education, through various forms of compulsion; you are ceaselessly reminded that you are an American, a Hindu, a Russian, a German, and so on. Through various forms of conditioning, religious, social, economic, climatic, we are forced to unite; and that, we feel, is essential. We think that if we are identified with a particular group and give our life to it, we shall establish unity.
Now,is unity of the mind? Is unity limited to a particular group or nation? When, out of economic necessity, or for any other self-protective reason, we identify ourselves with any group or nation, is that unity? Or does all self-protective action bring about conflict within ourselves and therefore inwardly? When do we feel the sense of unity? When do you feel united with another? Surely, only when the self is absent. When the "me" and the "mine", my hurts, my prejudices, my tendencies - when all that is absent, then there is a possibility of unity with another. As long as the "me" is present, there is disunity, there is separation, is there not? Our education, our social distinctions, our economic, national and racial barriers all indicate the separativeness of the "me; the "me first" runs through it all, and over that we try to find unity. That is our problem, is it not? We try to establish superficial unity without love; and love is something which cannot be when the self is. With one hand we strengthen the self, and we try to find unity at the same time. There is a conflict between the "me" and the ideal, and therefore society, like the individual, is everlastingly in conflict.
So, unity cannot be brought about by any superficial means. No psychological training, no inculcation of ideas, no special form of education, however carefully worked out, can bring about unity until we really dissolve the separating element, that process in which the "me" is predominant. Surely, that is what we are going to find out: how to eliminate completely, if we can, the "me". Do not say it is impossible, that it cannot be done. Let us find out, let us inquire.
Question: Ever since I began reading you a number of years ago, I have been attempting to be complete, but I find that it eludes me. In what wrong process of thinking am I caught?
Krishnamurti: Let us go into this matter as fully as we can and find out for ourselves whether completeness is possible, even for a fleeting second, and what the experiencing of it implies.
Why do we want to be complete in ourselves? Because we are incomplete, we are insufficient, we are in worldly poor, miserable. we have innumerable conflicts; we want love, we want praise, we want peace, we want to be patted on the back, we want to be told what wonderful beings we are, we want to worship, we want somebody to help us. Being incomplete, we strive after completeness; we want to be self-sufficient, not dependent, inwardly rich, unfettered, without a shadow of sorrow, and without a shadow of sorrow, and so on. But we are fettered; we are in sorrow; and with out understanding what we are, we try to pursue something which we are not. The thing we are pursuing, which we call completeness, becomes an illusion; because, without under standing what we are, which is the fact, we pursue something which is not a fact. We think it is much easier to pursue that which is not a fact and imitate it, than to tackle and dissolve what we are. Surely, if I knew how to face this incompleteness, how to understand it, if I saw what are its colorations, its implications, those things which are not merely of the word - if I understood all that and knew how to deal with it, then I would not pursue completeness. So when, knowing that I am incomplete, I pursue completeness, there is a wrong process set going, because that pursuit is an escape into an idea, into a fancy, into an unreality. The fact is, I am inwardly poor, I am lonely, I am in conflict, in sorrow; my mind is petty, shallow; I indulge in mischief. That is what I am. Though occasionally I may have a glimmer of something which is not all this, the actual fact is, I am these things - it may be ugly, but it is am. Why can't I deal with it? How am I to understand it and go beyond it? That is the problem, not how to be complete. If you say, "Well, I once caught a glimpse of something which is more than this, therefore I am going to pursue it", then you are living on the dead. As a boy I may have had an experience of something beautiful; but if I live in that, I am incapable of understanding the fact of what I am.
So, to go beyond what I am, I have to understand it, I have to break it down, and not try to become complete; because, when that which I am is not, there is completeness, I don't have to look for it. I don't have to look for light when I can see; it is only when I am caught in darkness, in misery, in travail, that I think of something beyond it. What is important, then, is to find out if I can understand the thing which I am. Now, how do I set about it? I hope I am making this very clear, because the pursuit of completeness is a wrong process altogether. If I pursue completeness, it will always elude me, for then it is an illusion, an invention of the mind. The fact is what I am, however ugly or beautiful. I can deal with the fact, but not with the illusion. So, how can I look at the fact in order to understand it and go beyond it? That is my problem. Have I the capacity to look at it? Can I actually see that I am poor, insufficient, and not invent ideas about the fact? The fact is one thing, and the idea about the fact is another. When I look at the fact, I am full of ideas about it, and the ideas frighten me, they prejudice me, they help me to run away from incompleteness through worship, drink, amusement, and other forms of escape. So, we have to understand the idea about the fact.
Let us say I am dishonest, ambitious, a liar, what you will. I am that. Now, can that be transformed without the idea? Please follow this; because the moment I introduce the idea of what it should or should not be, i am not bringing about a fundamental transformation, I am only dealing with it superficially. But I want to deal with the fact fundamentally, to transform it with a different force altogether. If I deal with it superficially, I may cease to be ambitious, or jealous, or envious - but then what? I am still empty, I am still striving, I am still incomplete. I see, then, that when the mind acts upon the fact, it cannot fundamentally alter it; it can modify it, it can cover it up, it can move it to another place, but it cannot transform the fact and go beyond it.
So, is it possible to experience a fundamental change which is not a result of the mind? And how am I to bring about such a transformation in the thing which I have called ugly, or whatever it is, so that there is a different action altogether upon it which is not a calculated, self-assertive, self-deceptive action of will? I hope I am making myself clear. It is rather difficult to explain this.
Let us suppose I am ambitious, and I see all the implications of ambition as well as its obvious manifestations in society, in relationship every where. I see that an ambitious person, like an ambitious nation, is destructive, shallow, bringing misery and conflict to others and to himself. Now, how am I to be free of ambition without controlling, subjugating, without trying not to be ambitious? That is the problem, is it not? If I struggle against ambition, I am still ambitious in a different direction; I am ambitious not to be ambitious because I think that by being free of ambition I shall achieve some other thing: peace, tranquillity, God, or what you will. So, how am I to be free from ambition without the exertion of will? For, the moment I apply will, it has a motive, it has a tail attached to it, an acquisitive tentacle; and yet I see the immense necessity, the urgency of really changing that thing which I have called ambition. So, I have to inquire into the problem of change, what change implies. Change brought about by the mind is still very shallow, therefore there is always conflict in it. Then what am I to do? As it is a problem to me, because I really want to go into this and be free of ambition, I have to study, not ambition, but the question of change - whether change is in time, or from a point which have nothing to do with time. So, I have to discover or experience a state which is not of time. And can I experience that - a state which is not of memory, which is not of accumulated knowledge? Can I experience something eternal, which is beyond time? And if I can experience it, then the problem of change, of trying to resolve ambition, has completely gone.
So, what is important is not how to be complete, but how to bring about a transformation which is not of time; and that, as I said, we will talk over in all these meetings.
August 2, 1952
Ojai 1st Public Talk 2nd August 1952
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