Ojai 8th Public Talk 12th July, 1953
I would like to talk over this morning a problem which I think is sufficiently important: that of the constant urge in each one of us to seek a permanent state which nothing will disturb. It is really quite a complex problem, and may I suggest that you listen to it passively, without acceptance or rejection, as one would listen to the song of a bird. Surely, if one would try to understand a very complex problem, there must be a certain alertness in which the mind is passive but not hypnotized by words. This does not in any way imply that you must accept what I am saying. On the contrary, mere acceptance, or conformity to what you consider to be the truth, has no significance at all. What has significance is to discover for yourself what is true; and you cannot discover what is true if your mind is constantly agitated by comparison, or by remembering what somebody else has said, or what you have read in various books. All that must intelligently be put aside so that one can listen with a passive awareness in which there is no self-projection, no defensive or antagonistic spirit. One cannot find out what is true if one is over-anxious, or in any way distracted. To see the truth of anything requires a peculiar attention, does it not? It is an attention which is effortless, as when you are listening to something which you really love.
Are not most of us seeking permanency at different levels of our consciousness? If we are merely worldly, we want permanency in name, in form, permanency in our good looks, in furniture, in property. That is, desire is seeking a permanent state in which there will be no disturbance of any kind; and if we are very superficial, we look for that permanency in the social order, either of the left or of the right. If we are not caught up in that kind of worldliness, then we seek permanency in what we call love, in our relationship with certain people; and if we go beyond that, we seek permanency in belief, in ideas, in knowledge dogma, tradition. And there is also the desire to find a permanency in which there is no action from oneself. The mind says, "I surrender my will to God; he knows best, therefore let him function". One immolates oneself to what one considers to be God, or to the idea of the group, of the nation. Whether our activities are imposed by external circumstances, or are self-imposed through fear, through hope, through various forms of utopian illusion, the fundamental desire is to find a permanency in which the mind can take shelter and feel safe.
So desire is constantly seeking a state of permanency, a state in which there will be complete self-fulfilment through property, through persons, or through ideas, and in which the mind can never be disturbed. Is that not what most of us are after, consciously or unconsciously? We want to fulfil, to find permanent security, and this very urge gives rise to anxiety, to fear, and to various forms of destructive activity which we then try to reform, control, discipline.
Now, is it possible for the mind not to seek permanency, not to pursue a state which it has conceived to be happiness, reality? Can the mind be free from the experience of yesterday so that it does not permanently condition the present? And is there an action, a state of being, which is not the outcome of desire, which is beyond time, which has no continuity? To find out if there is such a state, surely the mind must inquire into and understand the process of its own desire. As long as one is seeking any kind of permanence, any kind of security, every experience becomes a hindrance to further understanding, all knowledge a block to further discovery. Surely, then, if you and I would discover whether there is or is not the timeless, we must first understand how the mind is seeking, through property, relationship or belief, a condition in which it can dwell securely day after day. In whatever guise, that is, in essence, what we are after, is it not? Our life is very complex, fluctuating, changing; there is uncertainty, pain, sorrow. Realizing all that, consciously or unconsciously we want the opposite, something quite different from what is; and that is why we build churches, pursue Utopias, cling to dogmas, beliefs. We may see the fallacy of all that and consciously reject it, we may reason out that there is nothing permanent - and there is nothing permanent - but unconsciously, deep down, the human urge, the individual urge, is to find something which is beyond the conflict of desire.
Now is there such a thing as security? Is there a permanency which continues everlastingly in spite of calamities, in spite of death? Is there something which the mind can cling to? If through education, culture, tradition, through the conditioning of certain beliefs, one asserts that there is or is not, surely that response has no validity. A man who would really inquire into this question must obviously free himself from his conditioning; and that is one of our greatest difficulties, is it not?
The mind, which is thought, is constantly seeking in many subtle ways to have a permanent, unvarying state in which it can continue day after day. Though we don't say so, that is what we consciously or unconsciously demand; and thought finds the means to produce that permanency. Thought creates the thinker, and then the thinker becomes the permanent entity who guides and controls thought. But the thinker is the thought; there is no thinker apart from thought.
Thought is seeking security at various levels; and when it seeks outward security, it is inviting insecurity. When you build up armaments in the hope of creating security for yourselves in this world, your security is destroyed by war. The mind that has found some measure of security becomes conservative, it wants to hold, to build, to continue as it is without being disturbed; it changes only under compulsion, when the pressure of the inevitable forces it to do so. But there is no such thing as security, permanency, that is, a state of complete conservation.
Inwardly, psychologically, the whole process of memory, which is the accumulation of experience, of knowledge, is a means through which the "me", the ego, can find security and perpetuate itself. Deep down there is the unconscious desire to fulfil, so we try various forms of fulfilment, various activities, jobs, functions. And is there fulfilment for the "me"? Can I ever fulfil myself? Surely, the "me" is only an idea, it has no reality. The "me" that is seeking prosperity, wealth, position, pleasure, the "me" that is avoiding pain, that is constantly endeavouring to increase, to become, to grow - that entity is merely an idea, it is a desire which has identified itself with a particular form of thought. So, is there ever fulfilment for you and me? And as long as each one of us is trying to fulfil, we are antagonistic, in competition with each other. You want to fulfil yourself through beauty, through harmony, and I want to fulfil myself through violence, through irresponsibility, through so-called freedom. Are we not antagonistic to each other? You are seeking peace, and I am ambitious. Can the man who is pursuing peace and the man of ambition live together in the same social order? Obviously not. To seek fulfilment in peace, or in anything else, is not to be peaceful, and as long as each one of us is seeking fulfilment there must be conflict. And yet, for most of us, the desire for fulfilment is an intense urge which must at all costs be satisfied. At all the different levels of our being, waking or sleeping, we are constantly seeking a state which nothing can disturb, a continuity of thought as the "me" - the "me" with experiences, the "me" that has suffered, the "me" that has gathered so much information, knowledge. Not having found outward security, the "me" proceeds to find that state at other levels, beyond the superficial. So we meditate in order to achieve peace, to have a quiet mind. We think that a still mind will give us the state of permanency which we have not found in any other direction, and then the question arises, "How am I to be still?" So a whole new problem begins, and in that we get caught.
Surely, the thought that wants to be still can never free itself from conflict, because it is the very centre of the "me". It is thought as the "me" which identifies itself with the group, with the nation. You forget the "me" by throwing yourself into this or that activity. The "me" is forgotten, but the activity remains. Being an escape from the "me", your activity must be protected; and so there is antagonism, there are battles between various activities, between various national groups. And if you do not indulge in some activity, or in nationalism, you become a religious entity, identifying yourself with a particular belief, which then becomes immensely important because you are part of it.
Now, without going into too many details, all this is a true statement of an obvious fact; and if you really see the truth of what I am saying, surely your mind is no longer consciously or deeply seeking any state; it is beginning to be aware of everything as it arises, and is trying to understand it without storing up that understanding for use on future occasions. So there is a certain sense of freedom, and when you come to that point, you will find that there is an action taking place which is not the outcome of desire. Ordinarily we know only the activity of desire, which is the activity of the mind identified as the "me". That "me" is very petty, very small, narrow, shallow; though it may extend widely through identification, it is still very shallow, and therefore it can never find that which is real. A petty mind seeking God will find a god which is also petty. A superficial mind, however much it may discipline itself and assert that it must love, be compassionate, kind, gentle, will still be superficial.
Now, if the mind can see the truth of all this, then perhaps it will discover quite a different state, a state of silence which is not self-projected which is not the outcome of any desire, compulsion, or fear. In the silence there is no activity of the mind, and therefore there is no continuity. That which is continuous is the result of time, it is a process of time. Time is the mind, the mind that desires a continuity. Desiring continuity in experience, the mind is made continuous through memory and such a mind can never find anything new, it can never meet reality, the unknowable.
So the mind is the result of time,. it is the outcome of memory, of knowledge, of experience; and can such a mind, being aware of its own total process, cease to project, and remain silent? In that silence, surely, great depths are known which the conscious mind can never experience and retain; because the moment the conscious mind interferes and takes pleasure in that experience, there is born the experiencer apart from the experienced, and so the division begins. There is then the conflict of the experiencer who is always pursuing that which is beyond himself. That is why it is very important, it seems to me, to understand this whole process of desire: the desire that is always creating the duality of the me who is the experiencer apart from the experienced, the thinker who is always dominating, controlling, shaping thought, pursuing the more pleasurable experience.
Seeing all this can thought which is a very complex process come to an end so that there is stillness of mind? In that stillness there are depths which the mind cannot possibly conceive; but a still mind knows those things. When the mind can experience without retaining, with out storing up the experience as memory, only then is it capable of receiving that which is timeless, eternal; and without a glimpse of that, life is a series of empty struggles, an everlasting process of conflict and misery. Understanding does not come through escape, but through constant watchfulness in which there is no condemnation or comparison. Condemnation and comparison are of desire. When it is free of desire, watchfulness becomes clear, simple; there is immediate perception without analysis or judgment. Being choicelessly aware, the mind comes unknowingly to that state where there is stillness; and then it is possible for reality to be.
Question: What significance has physical death in the life of the in- dividual? Is it not the great liberation from all our miseries?
Krishnamurti: Does death solve all our problems? And why is it that so many of us are afraid of death? The older we grow, the more anxious we become. Why? And does death, the coming to an end of the physical state, resolve our complex thoughts? Has not thought continuity? It may not continue in me, but thought is continuous; and thought which is continuous can never find release from its misery. So, being afraid of death, we have theories, hopes of a continuity; we say there must be reincarnation, that I must be born next life for a greater opportunity. I am not finished; and what is the value of all my accumulations, of the knowledge and experiences I have gathered, unless I can fulfil myself in the next life, or be resurrected in the future, or find a place in heaven? We are always afraid of the unknown, of the tomorrow, and so we set about finding ways and means of avoiding that finality. Or we reason logically, saying that everything comes to an end and is reborn: I die, I dissolve physically so that I can be born again in another form, or nourish another entity. Reasonably, logically, we pierce through the fear of death, and are satisfied. Or we are satisfied through belief in a future life, in something after death to which the mind can cling. So the mind is everlastingly seeking its own continuity; but that which is continuous is the known, and the known can never find the unknowable. That is our problem, is it not? In the midst of living we are dying, because we are the result of the known. We never for a moment put aside all the things that we know and become completely denuded of the past; we never allow the mind to be totally empty, consciously and unconsciously naked, inwardly stripped of all its experiences, of all its beliefs, of all its learning, so that the unknown can be.
After all, what is it that we know? Actually, what do you know? You know the way to your house; you have certain information, certain political or economic data; you know how to run a job. You know your name, your insurance, the make of your car; and you are a little bit aware of your own desires and appetites, of the experience and reactions which are the outcome of your conditioning. Beyond that, what else do you know? You know the everlasting struggle to be something: if you are conceited, proud, you try to be humble, and so on. That is all we know. We move within the field of the known, the known of pleasure and pain; and with that mind we try to convince ourselves that there is no death by inventing theories, the belief in reincarnation, in resurrection - all the innumerable illusions that the mind creates in order to escape from its own knowing quality. So while we are living, we are dying in the field of the known.
Surely, if you would find out what is immortal, what is beyond the mind, then the mind, which is the known, must come to an end; it must die to itself. You have read of all these things, or you have listened to me quite often; and yet the mind is continually seeking an answer, asking what lies beyond death. All the stupid societies thrive on your appetite to know what lies beyond; and when they tell you, you are satisfied, at least temporarily. But the real problem, which is fear of the unknown, is still there like a canker.
So, realizing that the mind can function only within the field of the known, cannot one remain completely and passively aware of the known without making a positive movement into the unknown? Which means, really, being open to death, to the unknown, the real. One carries on with the known as best one can and knows its limitations completely; and knowing its limitations, there is no projection into the future into the tomorrow. Then there is no fear of the unknown; then death is not something to be afraid of - which does not mean you have a new theory, a new explanation, that you must form new groups to discuss what lies beyond, which is infantile. But when you see the limitations of the mind, of the known, when you see that you are limited and are totally aware of it, consciously as well as in the deeper layers of your consciousness, there is a complete cessation of the activity of the mind; the mind as thought, as "I know", ceases. Then there is a possibility of the unknown coming into being. But you cannot invite the unknown: you cannot invite God, truth, or what name you will. When you do, it is already the known. What is known is purgatory, hell; the unknown is heaven. But the unknowable has no relation with the known; it comes into being only when the mind is completely still. Mind as thought must come to an end, must die, and only then is it possible for that which is eternal to be.
Ojai 8th Public Talk 12th July, 1953
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