Ojai 3rd Public Talk 9th August 1952
The last two times we met, we were considering the problem of change; and I would like, this after noon, to go into the question of power, and whether power, as we know it, can bring about a fundamental psychological transformation within one self. The difficulty in going into this problem lies, I think, in understanding the usage of words. That is one of our major difficulties, is it not? Words like God, love, discipline, power, communist, American, Russian, have a very specific psychological significance in our lives, and when they are touched upon, we react nervously, emotionally, there is a psychological response. So, if we are to go further into this problem of change, I think we also have to consider the fact that certain words have a psychological influence on each one of us. We have built about ourselves so many verbal barriers, and it is very difficult to transcend those barriers and see the significance that lies beyond the word. After all, words are a means of communication; but if particular words cause a neurological or psychological reaction in us, then it becomes very difficult to communicate. And surely, this is another of our difficulties: that in trying to understand the problem of change, we have to strip ourselves of all ideals; because, conformity to a particular pattern, how ever reasonable, however logical and well thought out, is not a change at all, is it? Change implies a complete transformation, not the continuity of a modified thought. So, there are many factors to be considered in this whole problem of how to bring about a fundamental change, not only psychologically, within ourselves, but also outwardly.
I see the necessity of certain changes in myself; and I can either deal with the problem superficially or go into it very profoundly and find out what are its implications. When I see that I have to change, that it is a necessity, I generally exercise the will, do I not? Any process of change implies resistance, the application of effort, which is will. With that we are familiar. That is, I perceive in myself a state which is socially not good, or a state which brings conflict within me, and I want to go beyond it; I want to break down that particular quality or condition, so I suppress it, or I discipline myself to resist it, which necessitates a certain power of the will. We are accustomed to that process, are we not? So we think power in different forms - social, political, economic, inward, spiritual and so on - is a necessity.
Now, is not this whole process of will a self-centred activity in which there is no release from the condition in which I am caught, in which the mind is held, but only a covering up and a continuity of the same thing in a modified form? And our education, our reforms, our religious thinking, our psychological struggles are all based on this process, are they not? I am this, and I want to become that; and in becoming that, I must employ a certain force of will, there must be resistance, control. And is not this process of control, of discipline, a self-centred activity which engenders a sense of power? The more you discipline, control yourself the more there is of a certain concentrated activity; but is not that activity still within the field of the self, of the "me" and the "mine"? And is reality, God, or what you will, the outcome of self-centred activity do not all your religious books, your teachers, the various sects or which you belong - do t not all imply, fundamentally, can be brought about through compulsion, through conformity, through the desire for success, that is, to achieve a certain result? But is not that whole process an activity of the "me" in his desire to be something more? And can we, realizing it, bring that process to an end?
I do not know if you see the problem as I see it. All this activity, however reasonable, however noble or well calculated, is still within the field of the mind; it is the activity of the self, the result of desire, of the "me" and the "mine", is it not? And can the self, that consciousness which is always within the limits of the mind and therefore always in conflict - can that self ever go beyond itself? Will that self not always create conflict between individuals, and therefore between groups, bet when nations?
Now, it seems to me very important to understand this; but is it a problem to each one of us? We see that a radical change is necessary in society, in ourselves, in our individual and group relationships; and how is it to be brought about? If change is through conformity to a pattern projected by the mind, through a reason able, well-studied-out plan, then it is still within the field of the mind; therefore, whatever the mind calculates becomes the end, the vision, for which we are willing to sacrifice ourselves and others. If you maintain that, then it follows that we as human beings are merely the creation of the mind, which implies conformity, compulsion, brutality, dictatorships, concentration camps - the whole business. When we worship the mind, all that is implied, is it not? If I realize this, if I see the futility of discipline, of control, if I see that the various forms of suppression only strengthen the "me" and the "mine", then what am I to do? Have you ever put yourself that question I see that to exercise any power over myself is evil, it is merely a continuation of the "me" in a different form and I also see that the "me" must entirely cease if there is to be peace in the world and in myself. The "me" as a person, as an entity, as psychological process of accumulation, the "me" that is always struggling to become something, the "me" that is assertive, dogmatic, aggressive, the "me" that is kind, loving - that is the centre from which arise all conflicts, all compulsion, all conformity, all desire for success, and it is only in bringing it to an end that there is a possibility of peace within myself and outwardly. When I realize this, what am I to do? How am I to put an end to the "me"?
Now, if this is a serious problem to each one of us, what is our response to it? Naturally, we cannot all give our replies; but we can see that any movement of the self in order to become better, nobler, any movement of suppression, any desire for success, must come to an end. That is, the mind, which is the centre of the "me", has to become very quiet, has it not? The mind is the centre of sensation, it is the result of memory, the accumulation of time; and my movement on the part of the mind to become something is still within the limits of the "me", of sensation. And can the mind, which is sensation, which is memory, which is tradition, which is the calculating machine of the "me", which is everlastingly seeking security, hiding behind words - can that mind, out of its own desire, by any exercise of its own will, come to an end? Can it cease by its own volition?
So, I must study my own mind, I must be aware of all its reactions - just be aware of my mind, without any desire to transform it. Is that not the first necessary step? - if I can use that word "step" without introducing the idea of time. To be aware of the process of my mind without condemnation, to observe the fact without judgment, to be merely aware of what is - is it possible to do that? Some may say "yes", some may say "no" - but what others say about this matter is of very little importance, is it not? You have to experiment with this, experience it; and is it possible to experience without building up images, symbols? That is, we generally experience only the things that we recognize, do we not? We are conscious of experiencing only when we recognize the experience; and if we are not capable of recognizing it, there is no experience. So, the factor of recognition is essential to what we call experience. Now, is God, truth, or what you will, a matter of recognition? If I can recognize something, it implies that I have already experienced it before, does it not? That which I have experienced before becomes a memory; and when there is a desire for the continuation of that experience, I project that memory and recognize it, experience it. That is, through memory, through recognition, through experience, I build the centre of the "me".
So, for most of us, it is extremely arduous to go into this problem of change and really bring about a transformation within ourselves. Can I change if I am constantly experiencing through the process of recognition, whether on the verbal level or the psychological level? That is, when I meet you for the first time, I do not know you; but the second time I meet you, I have certain memories of you, there is like or dislike, pain or pleasure. So, through the dictates of pain and pleasure, I say I have met you, there is a process of recognition. That recognition is established verbally or psychologically; and, if I am to go beyond and discover a state which is not mere recognition, recollection, memory, must not the centre of the "me", which is the process of recognition, come to an end? There is this entity as the "me" which is everlastingly craving experience, seeking more of what it has known, whether outwardly or psychologically; and as long as the "me" continues to exist, whatever I experience only strengthens the "me", does it not? Therefore I create more and more problems, endless conflict. And is it possible for the mind to be so still that the process of recognition ceases? After all, that is creation is it not?
Please, in listening to these talks it seems to me that what is impor- tant is, not to accept all this, but to let the significance a the words penetrate and see whether they have any validity, any truth. It is that quality of truth which liberates, not the verbal denial or assertion; and so it is very important to listen rightly, that is, not to be caught in words, in the logic of certain statements, or in your own experiences. You are here to find out what another says, and to find out you must listen; and to listen rightly is one of the most difficult things to do, is it not? Because, when I use words like "experience", "truth" and so on, you immediately, have certain responses; certain images, symbols come up; and if the mind gets caught in those symbols, you cannot go beyond.
So, our problem is how to free the mind of this self-centred activity, not only at the level of social relation ships, but also at the psychological level. It is this activity of the self that is causing the mischief, the misery, both in our individual lives and in our life as a group, as a nation; and we can put an end to it only if we understand the whole process of our own thinking. Can thought bring about a vital change? Up to now we have relied on thought, have we not? The political revolution, whether of the right or the extreme left, is the result of thought. And can thought fundamentally change man, change you and me? If you say it can, then you must see all the implications: that man is the product of time, that there is nothing beyond time, and so on and on. So, if I am to create a fundamental change in myself, can I rely on thought as an instrument to bring about that transformation? Or, can there be a fundamental change only when there is the ending of thought? My problem, then, is to experiment, to find out; and I can find out only through self-knowledge, through knowing myself, watching, being aware in moments when I'm off guard. It is only when I begin to understand the process of my own thinking that I can find out whether or nut there is a possibility of a fundamental change; until then, mere assertion that I can or cannot change is of little significance. Though we see the importance of a radical change in the world and in ourselves, there is very little chance of such a change as long as we do not understand the thinker and his thought. The economist and the politician are never revolutionary. It is only the truly religious person that is revolutionary, the man who is seeking reality, God, or what you will. Those who merely believe, who follow a pattern, who belong to a particular society, sect or group - they are not seekers, therefore they are not real revolutionaries. We can bring about a transformation within ourselves only when we understand the process of our own thinking.
Question: What do you mean by ambition? Would you consider any improvement of oneself ambitious? At what point does ambition begin?
Krishnamurti: Do we not know when we are ambitious? When I want something more, when I want to assert myself, when I want to be come something, is that not ambition? Can we say where it begins and where it ends? Is not all self-improvement a form of ambition? I may not be ambitious in this world, I may not want to be a leader with great political power, or a big business man with a lot of property, position; but I may be very ambitious spiritually. That is, I want to become a saint, I want to be free from all pride. Is not the very assertion of wanting to be something, the beginning of ambition? The desire not to be ambitious - is that not self-improvement, and there fore self-centred activity? If I am proud and, seeing the implications of pride, I cultivate humility, is not that cultivated humility a self-centred activity? And is that not ambition? And if you are not to cultivate humility, then what are you going to do with pride? How is one to deal with it? The very desire to get rid of one thing in order to be something else - is that not a self-centred activity, which is ambition? Please see how extremely difficult it is, when you know what you are, not to struggle to be something else. This process of struggle, this trying to become great, or humble, or generous, is called evolution, is it not? I am this, and I am going through a struggle to be come that. From thesis I proceed to antithesis, and out of that create synthesis. This process is called growth, evolution, is it not? Now, in that is implied self-centred activity, the improving of the self, the "me". But can the "me" ever be improved? It may be improved within its own field; but if I want to go beyond and find out if there is something which is not of the "me", will self-improvement help to bring about that discovery? So, being ambitious, what am I to do? Should I suppress ambition? And is not the very suppression of ambition a form of ambition which negatively strengthens the "me" and in which there is a certain sense of power, dominance?
I see that I am ambitious; and what am I to do? Is it possible to be free from it? - which does not mean that I must become non-ambitious. Is it possible to be free from ambition? I can think it out logically, see the conflicts, the ruthlessness, the brutality of ambition in my relationships, and so on. And will that help me? Will explanations of the perniciousness of ambition help me to be free from ambition? Or, is there only one way, which is to see all the implications of ambition without condemnation, just to be aware of the fact that I am ambitious, not only at the conscious level, but at the deeper levels of my own thinking? Surely, I must be completely aware of it, without any resistance, because the more I struggle against it, the more vitality I give it. Ambition has become a habit with me, and the more I resist a habit, the stronger it becomes. Whereas, if I am aware of it, merely see the fact of it, does that not bring about a radical change? I am no longer concerned with suppressing ambition, or with putting it aside, nor am I satisfied with any explanation - I am directly concerned with the fact of ambition. So, when I look at it, what do I see? Is ambition mere habit? Am I caught in the habit of a society which is based on ambition, on success, on being somebody? Am I stimulated by challenge, by the sense of achievement, and with out that stimulation do I feel lost, and so I depend on stimulation? Is it not possible to be aware of all this, to see the implications of it and not react - just see the fact? And will that perception not bring about a radical change? If I acknowledge that I am ambitious and see the implications of it, not only at the verbal level, but also inwardly which means that I am aware of the influence of habit, sensation, tradition and so on, then what has happened? My mind is quiet with regard to that fact, is it not? My mind does not react to it any more: it is a fact. And the quiet acceptance of what is - is a release from that fact, is it not?
Please do not accept this. Experiment with it and you will see. First be aware that you are ambitious, or whatever it is, and then see all your reactions to it, whether those reactions are habitual, traditional, verbal. Merely to oppose the verbal responses by another series of words, will not free you; or if it is tradition, in the mere cultivation of a new tradition or habit you will not find release. The very desire to suppress ambition is a trick of the mind to be something else - which is part of ambition. So, when the mind sees that any movement it makes with regard to a particular quality is part of the process of its own sustenance and security, what can it do? It cannot do any thing; therefore, it is immediately quiet with regard to that quality. It is no longer related to it. But this is an arduous task, is it not?
A revolutionary inward change is essential, and if we are to understand the problem of change, we must go into all this and study the problem of the "me" from different angles.
August 9, 1952
Ojai 3rd Public Talk 9th August 1952
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