Bombay 8th Public Talk 4th March 1953
I think it may be said that most of our lives are very confused; and being confused and in constant struggle we try to find a way out of the confusion. So we turn to anyone who can give us help. When we are economically strained, we turn to the economist or the politician; and when there is confusion psychologically, inwardly, we turn to religion. We turn to another to find a way, a method, out of our confusion, out of our misery. And I would like, if I can this evening, to find out if there is a method, a way to overcome our sufferings through any accumulation of knowledge or experience; or, if there is quite a different process, quite a different attitude, quite a different way that is far more important than the search for a system, a technique, or the cultivation of a particular habit.
So if I may, I would like to quietly and hesitatingly explore this question; and, in this exploration, you are going to take part also, because it is also your problem. The problem is a way out, a system, to help me fundamentally to resolve the cause, the substance or the very nature of the mind that creates the problem. Is that possible through any form of accumulation, both of knowledge and of experience? Knowledge is the outward accumulation which is the gathering of technical knowledge, and the inward accumulation of psychological experience the `knowing' the capacity to know. Will these actually help to bring about complete freedom - not a momentary alleviation but a total freedom - from this constant battle within myself? Because, it is this battle, this conflict, this incessant uncertainty, that creates outward activities which produce mischief, which produce chaos, which bring about the expression of personal ambition - the desire to be somebody, the aggressive attitude towards life.
I think it is very important to understand whether by the cultivation of any particular attitude or by the development of any particular knowledge or technique, suffering can come to an end? Or can suffering come to an end only with a mind that is not seeking, that does not know, that is not gathering? Most of us have certain attitudes towards life, certain values with which we approach our activities, which create the pattern which we have established, culturally, outwardly or inwardly; and we say, `I know, I know what to do'. Do we know what we know? And should we not very earnestly endeavour to probe into the question of what we call `knowledge', whether we can know anything at all, and whether it is fallacious thinking to say, `I know'? Is it not very important to find out, when a mind says `I know', what it does know? And will that knowledge at any time, dissipate the conflicting process of the mind which creates such innumerable conflicts within one, so many frustrations, fears?
The problem is: can knowledge dissipate suffering? We know that technological knowledge at one level can dissipate suffering when the body is ill physically, psychologically. At one level knowledge is essential, is necessary. Knowledge is also necessary when we are concerned with the evil of poverty. We have the technological knowledge to put an end to poverty, to have plenty, to have sufficient clothing and shelter. Scientific knowledge is essential to make life more easy, purely on the physical level. But the knowledge that we accumulate, the knowledge that the mind gathers, in order to be free, in order not to have suffering; the practices; the techniques; the meditations; the various adjustments the mind makes in order not to have conflict; will they bring about the cessation of conflict? You read various books and try to find a method, a way of life, a purpose of life; or you go out to find it from another; and according to that purpose you act, you try to live; but the suffering goes on, the conflict goes on.
The constant adjustment of `what is' to `what should be' is the deteriorating factor of struggle. So our life inwardly is full of tears, turmoil and suffering and there must be a way of meeting life not with the accumulated knowledge of experience, but a different way in which this battle is not going on. We know how we meet life, how we meet the challenge always with knowledge, with experience, with the past. That is, I say, `I know', `I have accumulated experience', `Life has taught me; so I always begin with knowledge, with a certain residue of experiences; and with that, I meet my suffering. The suffering is the conflict between `what is' and `what should be'. We know the inward nature of suffering: the death of someone, the suffering of poverty, the psychological inward frustration, the insufficiency, the struggle to fulfil and the everlasting pain of fear; and we meet suffering always with knowledge, do we not? So I say, `I know what to do', `I believe in reincarnation, in Karma, in some experience, in some dogma', and with this, I meet the everyday occurrences of life.
Now I want to question that knowledge, that thing with which we say we meet life. There is never a sense of complete humility in a mind that says, `I know'. But there is a complete humility which says, `I do not know'. And is that not an essential state, an absolute necessity when you meet life, when you meet a problem, when you meet suffering, when you meet death? That sense of humility is not induced, is not cultivated, is not brought about, is not put together. It is the feeling that you do not know.
What do you know? What do you know of death? You see bodies being burnt, relations dying; but what do you know except the things that you have learnt, the beliefs? You do not know what is the Unknown. Can the mind which is the result of time, which is the result of accumulation, which is the result of the total past, can such a mind know the Unknown, namely `What is after death'? Hundreds of books have been written about what is after death, but the mind does not know.
So is it not essential in order to discover anything true, to have that complete sense of humility of not knowing? Then only is there a possibility of knowing. It is only when I do not know what God is, there is God.
But I think I know. I have already tasted the idea of what God is - not God, but the idea of God. I have sought him out, I have suffered; therefore I go to the guru, to the book, to the temple. My mind has already got a glimpse of what is Reality; I know, I have a little experience, I have read, I have tasted. So there is, in essence, vanity, a strange sense of vanity which is based on knowing.
But what I know is only a memory, an experience - which is a conditioned response an everyday movement of life. So I start with vanity: `I know God speaks to me', `I have knowledge', `I have visions; and I call that, wisdom - which is absurd. I organize schools of thought, I gather; and there is never a moment when I can honestly say with complete humility, with complete integration that `I do not know'. Because, I think I know. But what I know is the past accumulation of experience, of memory; and that does not solve my problem of suffering, nor the problem of how to act in life with all its confusion, its contradictions, its pulls, its influences and urges.
Can your mind which is already contaminated by vanity, by knowledge, by experience, can such a mind be completely free? Can it have that feeling of complete humility? Not to know is humility, is it not? Please follow, please listen. When you realize that you do not know, then you are beginning to find out. But the state of not-knowing- ness cannot be cultivated. The state of not knowing comes only with complete humility. Then when such a mind has a problem, it is not knowing, and the problem gives the answer - which means, the mind that is giving answers must completely, totally, inwardly, deeply, profoundly be without vanity, in a state of complete not-knowing. But the mind objects strongly to that state. Watch your own minds, Sirs. You will see how extraordinarily difficult it is for it to face itself and to say, `I do not know'. The mind objects to that statement because it wants something to lean on. It wants to say, `I know the way of life', `I know what love is', `I have suffered', `I know what it means' - which is really a mind clothed in its own knowledge. Therefore, it is never innocent. It is the innocent mind, the mind that says, `I do not know,' which has no vanity, no trimmings; it is such a mind that can find the Real which is the true answer. It is only a mind that says `I do not know', which receives that which is Truth.
When the mind enquires the way to freedom, the way to Truth, the way of any psychological technique, all that it is concerned with is the accumulation of knowledge by which it hopes to dispel this constant struggle within itself. But that knowledge does not dissolve it. You know that, don't you? From your books, from the experiences of your everyday life, you know sufficiently; but has that prevented you from suffering?
Is it not possible for a mind to be completely in a state of not knowing, so that it is capable of sensitivity, so that it can receive? Is not the highest form of thinking the completely negative state of the mind in which there is no accumulation, in which therefore there is complete poverty of mind - poverty in the most dignified, profound sense? It is new soil, it is a mind in which there is no knowledge; therefore, it is the Unknown. It is only then the Unknown can come to the Unknown. The known can never know the Unknown. Sirs, this is not just a statement; but if you listen to it, if you listen to the real meaning of it, you will know the truth of it. But the man of vanity, the man of knowledge, the scholar, the man who is pursuing a result, can never know the Unknown; therefore he cannot be a creative being. And at the present time it is the creative being - the man who is creative - that is essential in our daily life, not a man who has a new technique, a new panacea. And there can be no creativeness if there is already a residue of knowledge. The mind must be empty to be creative. It means, the mind must be totally and completely humble. Then only is there a possibility of that creativity to come into being.
Question: In a world that needs collective action, why do you emphasize the freedom of the individual?
Krishnamurti: Is not freedom essential for co-operation? Must you not be free in order to co-operate with me or I with you? And does freedom come into being when you and I have a common purpose? When you and I intellectually, verbally, theoretically establish a common purpose, a common aim, and you and I work together, are we really working together? Does the common end bind us? You think I have a common aim; but when I have a common aim, am I free? I have established an aim, a purpose, because of my knowledge, because of my experience, of my erudition; and I say that is the purpose of man. When I have established it, has that aim not caught me? Am I not a slave to it? Therefore, is there creativeness? To be creative, we have to be free of common purpose.
Is collective action possible, and what do we mean by collective action? There can be no collective action because we are individuals. You and I cannot paint a picture together. There is no collective action, there is only collective thinking, is there not? It is collective thinking that brings us together, to act together. So what is important is not collective action but collective thinking.
Now, can there be collective thinking? And what do we mean by collective thinking? When do we all think alike? When we all are Communists, when we are all Socialists, Catholics, then all of us are being conditioned to a certain pattern of thought, all of us are acting together. And what happens when there is collective thinking? What happens? Does it not involve concentration camps, liquidation, control of thought, so that you must not think differently from the party, from the whole which the few have established? So collective thinking leads to more misery; collective thinking leads to destruction of people, to cruelty, to barbarity. What is necessary is not collective thinking, but to think rightly - not according to the right, not according to the Communist, Socialist, but to know how to think, not what to think.
We think that by conditioning the mind to what to think, there would be collective action. But that only destroys human beings, does it not? When we know what to think, has not all creative investigation, the sense of complete freedom come to an end? So our problem is not collective action or collective thinking, but to find out how to think. And this cannot be learnt from a book. The way to think what is thinking, can only be found in relationship, in self-knowledge. And there cannot be self-knowledge if you have no freedom, if you are afraid you are going to lose a job, if you are afraid of what your wife, your husband, your neighbour says.
So in the process of self-knowledge there comes freedom. It is this freedom that will bring about collective action, not the conditioned mind that is made to act. Therefore, there is no collective action in any form of compulsion, coercion, reward or punishment. It is only when you and I are capable of finding what is Truth through self-knowledge, that there can be freedom; then there is a possibility of real collective action.
There is no collective action when there is common purpose. We all want a happy India, a cultured India, a cultured world; we all say that is our aim; we know that, we repeat it; but are we not throwing it away all the time? We all say there must be brotherhood, there must be peace and love of God; that is our common aim; and are we not destroying each other though we profess we have a common purpose. And when the leftist says there must be collective action through collective thinking, is he not destroying, bringing about misery, war, destruction? So a common purpose, a common idea, the love of God, the love of peace, does not bring us together.
What brings us together is love which comes into being with self-knowledge and freedom. The `myself' is not a separate unit; I am in relationship with the world; I am the total process. So in understanding the total process which is the `me' and which is the `you', there is freedom. This self-knowledge is not the knowledge of `me' as a separate entity. The `me' is a total `me' of everyone of us, because I am not isolated; there is no such thing; no being can exist in isolation. The `myself' is the total process of humanity, the `myself' is `you, in relation with one another. It is only when I understand that `myself', there is self-knowledge; then in that self-knowledge there is freedom. Then the world becomes our world - not your world, or a Hindu world, or a Catholic world, or a Communist world. It is our world, yours and mine, in which to live happily, creatively. That is not possible if we are conditioned by an idea, if we have a common end for all of us. It is only in freedom which comes with the understanding of the `me' which is the total process of man, that there is a possibility of collective thought and action.
That is why it is important in a world that is torn apart by religions by beliefs, by political parties, that this should be very clearly understood by each one of us. Because, there is no salvation in collective action; that way lies more misery, more destruction and more wars; it ends in tyranny. But most of us want some kind of security. The moment the mind seeks security, it is lost. It is only the insecure that are free, but not the respectable, not the man who is secure. Please listen to this. In any enriching of the mind in any belief, in any system, there is never freedom. And because the mind is secure in some form or pattern of action, because of its bondage, it creates action which produces more misery. It is only the free mind - that is, when you understand the process of the self, the `me' with all its contents, the mind is free - that can create a new world. Then that is our world; it is a thing we can build together, not create to the pattern of some tyranny, of some god. Then you and I can work; then it is our world to be built, to be nurtured, to be brought into being.
Question: When I see and hear you, I feel myself before an immeasurable sea of stillness. My immediate response to you is reverence and devotion; surely that does not mean that I establish you as my authority. Is it not so?
Krishnamurti: Sir, what do we mean by reverence and devotion? Reverence and devotion surely is not to something. When I am devoted to something, when I reverence somebody, then I create an authority, because that reverence and devotion, unconsciously, deep down, gives me comfort, a certain sense of gratification; therefore, I depend upon it. As long as I am devoted to somebody, as long as there is reverence towards something, I am a slave; there is no freedom.
Is reverence, devotion, not capable of existence by itself? That is you reverence a tree, a bird, the child in the street, the beggar, or your servant; the reverence is not to something, it is not to somebody; but it is in yourself, the feeling of respecting. The respect of somebody - is that not based on fear? Is not the feeling of respecting more important and essential than respect to some deity, to some person? If that feeling exists then there is equality. The equality which the politicians, the lawyers, the Communists, are trying to establish, is not equality, because inequality will always exist when you have a higher capacity, better brains, more gifts than I. But when I have that respect, not to somebody but the respect in itself, then that inherent respect is love, not love of something. When I am conscious that I am revering something outside of me, a person or an image, then there is no love; then there is the division between you whom I revere and me who am lowly.
So devotion and reverence surely are inherent when I begin to understand the whole process of life. Life is not merely the `me' in action, but the life of the animal, the life of nature, the child begging in the street. How often do we look at a tree? Do you ever look at a tree or a flower? And when you do, is there a sense of reverence - not to the flower that is going to fade away, but to the beauty of the flower, to that strange thing that is life? This means really, the complete sense of being humble without any sense of begging. Then your mind in itself is still; then you do not have to see somebody who is still. And in that stillness there is no you and I, there is only stillness. And it is in that stillness you will find that there is respect, not in something but in itself. Life is then extraordinarily vital, there is no authority, the mind is completely still. Question: When I am aware of my thoughts and feelings, they disappear. Later, they catch me unawares and overwhelm me. Can I ever be free from all the thoughts that plague me? Must I always live between depression and elation?
Krishnamurti: Sir, what is the way of thought? What is thinking? I am asking you a question; I am sure you have an answer. Your mind immediately jumps and answers. It does not say, `I do not know; I am going to find out'. Watch your own mind and you will find an answer to this.
What is thinking, not right thinking and wrong thinking but this whole process of thinking? When do you think? Only when you are challenged. When you are asked a question, you begin to respond according to the background, according to your memory, according to your experience. So thinking is the process of response to a challenge, such as: `I am unhappy, I want to find a way out; so I begin to enquire. `I want to find a way out' - that is my problem, that is my question. If I do not find the answer outside, then I begin to enquire within myself. I depend on my experience, on my knowledge; and my knowledge, my experience, always responds - which is, to find a way out. So I start the process of thinking.
Thinking is the response of the past, the response to the past. I do not know the way to your house and you tell me because you know it. I ask you what God is and you immediately respond, because you have read, your mind is conditioned, and that condition responds. Or if you do not believe in God, you will respond also according to your conditioning. So thinking is a process of verbalization to the reaction of the past.
Now the question is: can I be aware of the past and thereby put an end to thinking? The moment I think fully, focus fully, there is no thinking. Observation of an idea, of an action - the concentration in something - still implies thinking because you are concentrating, in which there is exclusion. The mind is focussed, concentrated on an idea, writing a letter, in thinking out a problem; in that concentration, there is exclusion. In that, there is a process of thinking, conscious or unconscious.
But when there is total awareness - awareness not of an idea, not the concentration on an idea, but the awareness of the whole problem of thinking - there is no concentration; there is awareness without exclusion. When I begin to enquire how to be rid of a particular thought, what is implied in it?
Please follow this and you will see what I mean by awareness. There is a particular thought that is disturbing you and you want to get rid of it. And so you proceed to find a way out of resisting that particular thought. But you want to keep the pleasant thoughts, the pleasant memories, the pleasant ideas. You want to get rid of those thoughts that are painful, and hold on to things which are pleasurable, which are satisfying you, which give you vitality, energy and drive. So when you want to get rid of one thought, you are at the same time holding on to the things that give you pleasure, memories which are delightful, which give you energy; and then what happens? You are concerned not with the total process of thinking, but only how to hold on to the pleasant and how to get rid of the unpleasant. But here we are concerned with the whole, with the total process of thinking - not with how to get rid of a certain thought. If I can understand the whole past and not just how to get rid of a particular past, then there is the freedom of the past, not of a particular past.
But most of us want to hold on to the pleasant and put away the unpleasant. That is a fact. But when we are enquiring into the whole question of the past from which there is thinking, then we cannot look at it from the point of view of the good thought and the bad thought, what is the good past and what is the un- pleasant past. Then we are only concerned with the past, not with the good and the bad.
Now can the mind be free from the past, free from thought - not from the good or bad thought? How do I find out? Can the mind be free from a thought, thought being the past? How do I find out? I can only find out by seeing what the mind is occupied with. If my mind is occupied with the good or occupied with the bad, then it is only concerned with the past, it is occupied with the past. It is not free of the past. So, what is important is to find out how the mind is occupied. If it is occupied at all, it is always occupied with the past, because all our consciousness is the past. The past is not only on the surface, but on the highest level, and the stress on the unconscious is also the past. So can the mind be free from all its occupations? Watch your own minds, Sirs, and you will see.
Can the mind be free from occupation? This means - can the mind be completely without being occupied, and let memory, the thoughts good and bad, go by, without choosing? The moment the mind is occupied with one thought, good or bad, then it is concerned with the past. It is just like the mind sitting firmly on the wall watching things go by, never occupied with anything as memory, thought, whether it is good, pleasant or unpleasant - which means, the total freedom of the past, not just the particular past. If you really listen - not just merely verbally, but really, profoundly - then you will see that there is stability which is not of the mind, which is the freedom from the past.
Yet, the past can never be put aside. There is a watching of the past as it goes by, but not occupation with the past. So the mind is free to observe and not to choose. Where there is choice in this movement of the river of memory, there is occupation, and the moment the mind is occupied. it is caught in the past: and when the mind is occupied with the past, it is incapable of seeing something real, true, new, original, uncontaminated.
A mind that is occupied with the past - the past is the whole consciousness that says, `this is good; `that is right; `this is bad; `this is mine; `this is not mine' - can never know the Real. But the mind unoccupied can receive that which is not known, which is the Unknown. This is not an extraordinary state of some yogi, some saint. Just observe your own mind; how direct and simple it is. See how your mind is occupied. And the answer, with what the mind is occupied, will give you the understanding of the past, and therefore the freedom from the past.
You cannot brush the past aside. It is there. What matters is the occupation of the mind - the mind that is concerned with the past as good or evil, that says, `I must have this' or `I must not have this', that has good memory to hold on to and bad memory to let go. The mind that is watching the thing go by, without choice, is the free mind that is free from the past. The past is still floating by; you cannot set it aside; you cannot forget the way to your home. But the occupation of the mind with the past - in that there is no freedom. The occupation creates the past; and the mind is perpetually, everlastingly, occupied with good words, with virtue, with sacrifice, with the search for God, with happiness; such a mind is never free. The past is there, it is a shadow constantly threatening, constantly encouraging and depressing. So, what is important is to find out how the mind is occupied, with what thought, with what memory, with what intention, with what purpose.
Question: Talk to us of `Meditation'.
Krishnamurti: Are you not meditating now? Meditation is when the mind, not knowing, not desiring, not pursuing, is really inquiring, when the mind is really probing, not towards any particular idea, not to any parti- cular image, to any particular compulsion; when the mind is merely seeking - not an answer, not an idea, not to find something. When do you seek? Not when you know the answer, not when you are wanting something, not when you are seeking gratification, not when you want comfort. Then, it is no longer seeking. It is only when the mind, understanding the whole significance of comfort and of wanting security, puts aside all authority, only when the mind is free, that it is capable of seeking. And is not that the whole process of meditation? Therefore, is not the seeking itself devotion, is not the seeking itself reverence?
So, meditation is the stillness of the mind, when it is no longer wanting, vibrating, searching out in order to be satisfied. It is not meditation when it is repeating words, cultivating virtue. A mind which is cultivating virtue, repeating words, chanting - such a mind is not capable of meditation; it is self-hypnosis and in self-hypnosis you can create marvellous illusions. But a mind that is capable of real freedom - freedom from the past - is a mind that is not occupied; therefore it is extraordinarily still. Such a mind has no projections; such a mind is in the state of meditation. In that meditation there is no meditator - I am not meditating, I am not experiencing stillness - there is only stillness. The moment I experience stillness, that moment it becomes memory; therefore, it is not stillness; it is gone. When a mind is occupied with something that is gone, it is caught in the past.
So in meditation there is no meditator; therefore, there is no concentrator who makes an effort to meditate, who sits cross-legged and shuts his eyes to meditate. When the meditator makes an effort to meditate, what he then meditates on in his own projection, his own things clothed in his own ideas. Such a mind cannot meditate; it does not know what meditation means.
But the man who understands the occupation of his mind, the man who has no choice in his occupation, such a man will know what is stillness - the stillness that comes from the very beginning, the freedom. Freedom is not at the end; it is at the very beginning. You cannot train a mind to be free. It has to be free from the very beginning. And in that freedom the mind is still, because it has no choice; it is not concentrating, it is not absorbed in anything. And in that stillness, that which is Unknown is concentrating.
March 4, 1953
Bombay 8th Public Talk 4th March 1953
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