Banaras 1954, Hindu University
Banaras, India 17th January 1954 2nd Talk at Banaras Hindu University
It seems to me that, without understanding the way our minds work, one cannot understand and resolve the very complex problems of living. This understanding cannot come through book knowledge. The mind is in itself quite a complex problem. In the very process of understanding one's own mind, the crisis which each one of us faces in life can somewhat be understood and gone beyond.
I do not know if you have heard it said that the cultural influence of the west is destroying the so-called culture of the east. We accept one part of the western culture - science and militarism and nationalism - and yet retain our own so-called culture. Though we have taken off a part of the western culture, a section or a layer of it, this is gradually destroying, poisoning the other layers of our being. This can be seen when we look at the incongruity of our modern existence in India. I think it is very important and indicative how we are talking of India as taking on the western culture, without totally understanding what we are doing. We are not adopting entirely the western culture, but retaining our own and merely adding to it. The addition is the destructive quality, not the total adoption of the western culture.
Our own minds are being destroyed by the adoption of certain western attitudes without understanding their attitude and their way of life. So there is a mixture of the western and the eastern in our minds. It seems to me that it is very important to understand the process of our own minds if we are not to be poisoned by an outside culture. Very few of us have really gone into the philosophies, the systems, the ideas of others, but we have merely adopted or imitated some of them.
We do not know the workings of our own mind - the mind as it is, not as it should be or as we would like it to be. The mind is the only instrument we have, the instrument with which we think, we act, in which we have our being. If we do not understand that mind in operation as it is functioning in each one of us, any problem that we are confronted with will become more complex and more destructive. So, it seems to me, to understand one's mind is the first essential function of all education.
What is our mind, yours and mine? Not according to Sankara or Buddha or someone else. If you do not follow my description of the mind, but actually, while listening to me, observe your own mind in operation, then perhaps it would be a profitable and worthwhile thing to go into the whole question of thought.
What is our mind? It is the result, is it not?, of climate, of centuries of tradition, the so-called culture, social, economic influences, of the place, the ideas, the dogmas that society imprints on the mind through religion, through so-called knowledge and superficial information. Please observe your own minds, and not merely follow the description that I am giving, because the description has very little significance. If we can watch the operations of our mind, then perhaps we shall be able to deal with the problems of life as they concern us. The mind is divided into the conscious and the unconscious. If we do not like to use these two words, we might use the terms, superficial and the hidden, the superficial parts of the mind and the deeper layers of the mind. The whole of the conscious as well as the unconscious, the superficial as well as the hidden, the total process of our thinking - only part of which we are conscious of, and the rest which is the major part we are not conscious of - is what we call consciousness. This consciousness is time, is the result of centuries of man's endeavour.
We are made to believe in certain ideas from childhood, we are conditioned by dogmas, by beliefs, by theories. Each one of us is conditioned by various influences and, from that conditioning, from those limited and unconscious influences, our thoughts spring and take the form of a communist, the Hindu, the Mussulman or the scientist. Thought obviously springs from the background of memory, of tradition, and it is with this background of both the conscious as well as the unconscious, the superficial as well as the deeper layers of the mind, we meet life. Life is always in movement, never static. But, our minds are static. Our minds are conditioned, held, tethered to dogma, to belief, to experience, to knowledge. With this tethered mind, with this mind that is so conditioned, so heavily held, we meet the life that is in constant movement. Life with its many complex and swiftly changing problems is never still, and it requires a fresh approach every day, every minute. So, when we meet this life, there is a constant struggle between the mind that is conditioned and static and the life that is in constant movement. That is what is happening, is it not?
There is not only a conflict between life and the conditioned mind but such a mind meeting life, creates more problems. We acquire superficial knowledge, new ways of conquering nature, science. But the mind that has acquired knowledge, still remains in the conditioned state, bound to a particular form of belief.
So, our problem is not how to meet life but how can the mind with all its conditioning, with its dogmas, beliefs, free itself? It is only the free mind that can meet, not the mind that is tethered to any system, to any belief, to any particular knowledge. So, is it not important, if we would not create more problems, if we would put an end to misery, sorrow, to understand the workings of our own minds? The understanding does not come into being by following anybody, it does not come through authority, it does not come through imitation or through any form of compulsion. But it comes into being when one is actually aware how one's mind is working.
Each one of us can observe our motives, our activities, our purposes, understand them and solve this problem of existence without creating more misery, more wars, more confusion. To understand the workings of the mind is the most essential thing. After all, relationship is the mirror in which the mind can be seen in operation, the way I talk to the servant, the way I create a big mind. There, I can observe the operation of my mind and see the extraordinary intricacies of motives - for instance, when I do puja, the innumerable rituals, the absurdities of following somebody who offers you a heavenly reward. In the process of our relationship, we can observe the mind; and if we can observe it without any sense of judgment, without any sense of condemnation and comparison, then that observation begins to free the mind from the thing to which it is tethered.
If you would experiment with this, you would see that your mind is tethered to a particular dogma, to a particular tradition. In that very observation, in that very awareness of the particular dogma or tradition to which the mind is bound - mere awareness without domination, without judgment. without wanting to be free - you will see that the mind begins, without making an effort, to free itself.
Freedom comes without compulsion, without resistance, without struggle. Take, for instance, the superficial example of your doing a puja, a ritual as a Hindu or a Mussulman or a Christian whatever you are. You do it out of tradition, there is no thought behind it. Even if you think about it, the very thought about this puja is conditioned because you do it as a Hindu or a Christian. When you think about the Puja or the `mass', your thought is conditioned either to accept or reject; you cannot think about it afresh, anew, because your whole background or whole tradition, conscious as well as unconscious, the superficial and the deeper layers, are held in Hinduism or Christianity; and when you do think about it, there is no clarity but only a reaction which provokes another form of complication, another problem.
I do not know if you have observed all these in yourself. If you have observed, how is one to be free from a ritual? I am taking that as a superficial example without an analytical process. I do not know if this is too complex or too difficult.
When a particular issue is analysed the analysis is still conditioned, because the thinker is conditioned; his analysis is bound to be conditioned and, therefore, whatever he does, will produce problems more complex than the problem which he is trying to resolve. After all, in our thinking, there is the thinker and the thought, the observer and the observed. Now, when you do puja, the observer, the thinker, is always analysing what is wrong, what is right; but the analyser the observer, the thinker, is conditioned in himself. So, his analysis, his observations, his experiences are conditioned, are limited by bias. I think, till we see this really very important point, mere self-introspection and analysis - whether psychoanalysis or the analysis which intellectually and theoretically you perform on yourself - are utterly useless.
Is there a thinker, an observer, an analyser, different from the observation, the analysis? Is there a thinker without the thought? If there is no thinking, there is no thinker. If the thinker were not a part of the mind, part of the consciousness, then that thinker must be free from all conditioning, in our analysis and understanding. But if one observes, there is no thinker without thinking. When I am thinking, I am analysing, I am observing, the I is still the result of thought which is conditioned. I, as a Hindu or Communist, observe. The thought which produces the I is the result of communist background or the result of a Hindu or Christian belief. So, the thinker is always conditioned as long as there is thought, because thought has produced the thinker, and thought is conditioned, limited by bias.
Your thoughts arise. If you want to go into them deeply, the question arises whether thought can ever come to an end - which is not a forgetfulness, but which is really a very deep problem of meditation. As long as there is the meditator, meditation is illusion; because, the meditator is the result of thought, the result of a mind that is conditioned and is shaped by the whole process of living with its fears, apprehensions, ambitions, desires, longing for happiness, longing to be able to live with success, without fear or favour and so on. All that creates the thinker. We give a quality of permanency to the thinker who, we think, is above all passing, transient experience. But the thinker is the result of thought. There is no thinker if there is no thinking. So, there is only thought which is the reaction to a form of experience and that experience is the result of our condition. So, thought can never resolve our problems.
Our problem is freedom from the conditioning which produces limited thought. This is the whole process of meditation, not the stereotyped traditional illusory form of meditation, but the meditation that comes into being when we understand the whole process of our thinking, the whole worries of our complex living, and in which there is no thinker, but only the uncovering of that and therefore the ending of that; and therefore at the time of such meditation the mind is still. This quality of stillness is not just acquired through some stupid determined effort to be quiet.
The mind has to understand the whole significance of the thought process and how it creates the thinker, and understand the whole process about the stillness of the mind. It is in this stillness of the mind that the problems are resolved, and not multiplied by the stupidity of the thinker who is conditioned.
I think really, you must go into this problem as most serious people must, because the crises are much too many and the problems that are pressing on us are much too intense.
Surely, it is the function of education, not how to meet life but how to free the mind from all its conditioning, from all its traditional values, so that the free mind can meet and therefore resolve the innumerable problems that arise daily. Only then is it possible to realize what we call God, truth. It is only truth that resolves the problems.
Question: Is it wrong to be full of desires and passions?
Krishnamurti: Which is more important, to understand the desires and passions or to condemn them? The moment you use the word, `wrong' or `right' the implication is condemnation, is it not? If you are really interested, please follow it to the end. You are trained from childhood to condemn, because the older people do so; they have no time, no interest, and condemnation is the easiest way of resolving any problem.
The question is `Is it wrong to have desires and passions?' The first thing to see is that any form of condemnation puts an end to every thought or thinking, to every form of investigation and enquiry. A mind which functions in `do's' and `don'ts,' is the most stupid mind. Unfortunately, most of us are educated with stupidity; when we can get over that, we can begin to enquire into the whole problem of desire, not if it is right or wrong but to understand it. Because, if we understand something, then it is no longer a problem to us. If I know how to run the motor, the engine, it is no problem to me; I do not say it is wrong or right, I know how to work it. If I do not know, I do not condemn the motor. The same is the case with desires. It is no use getting confused or frightened encouraging or condemning them. If I can understand the workings of desire, then the desire is no problem. It is only the fearful attitude towards desire, that creates the problem.
Where is this I? What is desire? Please listen without any condemnation or justification. Desire has to be understood. In the very understanding of it, desire becomes something else, not a thing to be frightened, to be repressed.
What is desire? I see a beautiful car, highly polished, new, of the latest model, full of power. There is perception, then there is contact, then sensation and desire. Desire is as simple as that - perception, contact, sensation and desire. Desire is born through this process of seeing, touching, sensation and desire. Then with that desire comes the urge to acquire and the identification process - which is, I desire that car. Then the whole problem arises whether I should desire or not desire, the desire being conditioned or questioned by my background. If you are brought up in America, you are psychologically persuaded all the time to possess a car. So, your desire to have a car is not a problem. But if your tendency is towards asceticism, towards renunciation, to turn to God, then the problem arises. Then there is the desire for various forms of beauty, of sensation, for various things for which the mind craves such as, comfort, security, a demand for permanency. We all want permanency - permanency in relationship, permanency in security, in continuity. Then we think there is a permanent God, there is permanent truth, and so on. Such an abstraction becomes theoretical, valueless, academic.
If you can understand this process of desire, which is very complex, very subtle, then there is a possibility of the mind seeing all the significance of desire, all the implications, and going beyond it. But we do not understand the significance of all this but merely say `this is a right desire', `that is a wrong desire' and `the cultivation of right desire is essential'. If we adopt such an attitude towards desire, then the mind becomes merely an automatic, thoughtless, insensitive mechanism. Therefore, it cannot meet this whole complex problem of living.
Question: I am afraid of death. What is death and how can I cease to be afraid of it?
Krishnamurti: It is very easy to ask a question. There is no `Yes' or `No' answer to life. But our minds demand `Yes' or `No', because our minds have been trained in what to think not how to understand, how to see things. When we say `What is death and how can I not be afraid of it?', we want formulas, we want definitions; but we never know how to think about the problem.
Let us see if we can think out the problem together. What is death? Ceasing to be, is it not?, coming to an end. We know that there is an ending, we see that every day all around us. But I do not want to die, the I being the process: `I am thinking, I am experiencing, my knowledge, the things which I have cultivated, the things against which I have resisted, the character, the experience, the knowledge, the precision and the capacity, the beauty'. I do not want all that to end, I want to go on, I have not yet finished it, I do not want to come to an end. Yet, there is an ending; obviously every organization that is functioning must come to an end. But my mind won't accept that. So, I begin to invent a creed, a continuity; I want to accept this because I have complete theories, complete conditioning - which is: I continue, there is reincarnation.
We are not disputing whether that is continuity or not, whether there is rebirth or not. That is not the problem. The problem is that even though you have such beliefs, you are still afraid; because, after all, there is no certainty, there is always uncertainty. There is always this hankering after an assurance. So, the mind, knowing the ending, begins to have fear, longs to live as long as possible, seeks for more and more palliatives. The mind also believes in continuity after death.
What is continuity? Does not continuity imply time, not the mere chronological time by a watch but time as a psychological process? I want to live. Because I think it is a continued process without any ending, my mind is always adding, gathering to itself in the hope of continuity. So, the mind thinks in terms of time and if it can have continuity in time, then it is not afraid.
What is immortality? The continuity of the me is what we call immortality - the me at a higher level, the Atma, or whatever you call it. You hope that the me will continue.
The me is still within the field of thought, is it not? You have thought about it. The me, however superior you may think it to be, is the product of thought; and that is conditioned, is born of time. Sirs, do not merely follow the logic of what I say, but see the full significance of it. Really immortality is not of time, and therefore, not of the mind, not a thing born out of my longings, my demands, my fears, my urges.
One sees that life has an ending, a sudden ending, what lived yesterday may not live today, and what lives today may not live tomorrow. Life has certainly an ending. It is a fact, but we won't admit it. You are different from yesterday. Various things, various contacts, reactions, compulsions, resistance, influence, change `what was' or put an end to it. A man who is really creative, must have an ending, and he accepts it. But we won't accept it, because our minds are so accustomed to the process of accumulation. We say `I have learnt this today', `I learnt that yesterday'. We think only in terms of time, in terms of continuity. If we do not think in terms of continuity, there will be an ending, there will be dying, and we would see things clearly, as simple as they are, directly.
We do not admit the fact of ending because our minds seek, in continuity, security in the family, in property, in our profession, in any job we do. Therefore, we are afraid. It is only a mind that is free from the acquisitive pursuit of security, free from the desire to continue, from the process of continuity, that will know what immortality is, but the mind that is seeking personal immortality, the me wanting to continue, will never know, what mortality is; such a mind will never know the significance of fear and death, and go beyond.
Question: Thinking does not solve the problem, it is its product. Is this not a piece of thinking or is this different from the thinking which you impugn?
Krishnamurti: When one sees the limitations of reason, one goes beyond reason. But one must know how to think, how to reason. But if you do not know how to reason, how to think, you can never go beyond it. Most of us do not know what thinking is, we know what to think, which is entirely different. But to know the extraordinary complexity of the mind which cannot be learnt from another, to find out for yourself how the mind works, you have really to observe. What you learn of psychology or philosophy in a college or in a lecture hall, is not a living thing, that is a dead thing. But if you observe your own thoughts and action in daily living - when you talk to a servant, or to your wife or child, when you react to beauty - if you see your motives in action, then, out of that observation, you will know the various barriers of your mind, how the mind deceives itself, how the mind twists in the knowing of it, in the way it reasons. Seeing all that, you go beyond all thought, beyond reason, and there is freedom.
This is not a thing to be casually interested in or casually repeated. Some of you who have heard me may say, `Poor fellow!. He does not know what he is talking about. How can thinking come to an end? If there was no thinking, how could there be progress of the questions that the mind puts in order to understand the whole complex problem of thought?'
It is very important to find out how we think. Unfortunately, most of our educationists teach you what to think, and you repeat. If you can repeat either in Sanskrit or in English or in any other language, you think you are marvellously learned. But to find out, to discover, the ways in which your mind works, and to speak of what you have discovered, without repeating what another has said, is a tremendous thing; that is the indication of initiative; that is the beginning of creative living.
Unfortunately, in India, we are clerks from the high to the low; we have been trained in what to think. That is why we are never revolutionary in the deep creative sense. We are merely gramophone records, playing the same tune. Therefore, there is never true discovery.
Question: What is the significance of life?
Krishnamurti: The significance of life is living. Do we live, is life worth living when there is fear, when our whole life is trained in imitation, in copying? In following authority, is there living? Are you living when you follow somebody, it does not matter if he is the greatest saint or the greatest politician or the greatest scholar?
If you observe your own ways, you will see that you do nothing but follow somebody or another. This process of following is what we call `living', and then, at the end of it, you say `What is the significance of life?' To you, life has significance now; the significance can come only when you put away all this authority. It is very difficult to put away authority.
What is freedom from authority? You can break a law, that is not the freedom from authority. But there is freedom in understanding the whole process, how the mind creates authority, how each one of us is confused and therefore wants to be assured that he lives the right kind of life. Because we want to be told what to do, we are exploited by gurus, spiritual as well as scientific. We do not know the significance of life as long as we are copying, imitating, following.
How can one know the significance of life when all that one is seeking is success? That is our life; we want success, we want to be completely secure inwardly and outwardly, we want somebody to tell us that we are doing right, that we are following the right path leading to salvation, to moksha and so on. All our life is following a tradition, the tradition of yesterday or of thousands of years; and every experience we make into an authority to help us to achieve a result. So, we do not know the significance of life. All that we know is fear - fear of what somebody says, fear of dying, fear of not getting what we want, fear of committing wrong, fear of doing good. Our mind is so confused, caught in theory, that we cannot describe what significance life has to us. Life is something extraordinary.
When the questioner asks `What is the significance of life?', he wants a definition. All that he will know is the definition, mere words, and not the deeper significance, the extraordinary richness, the sensitivity to beauty, the immensity of living.
Question: How can peace be established in the world? We and the whole world are trying to be in peaceful atmosphere; but the dangers of the world war are approaching towards us.
Krishnamurti: We want to live in peace. Do you? Don't you compete with your neighbour? Don't you want a job, as much as your neighbour? Don't you hate? Don't you call yourself an Indian with all the patriotic nonsense of conflicts? How can you have peace when you are doing the opposite thing, the thing which is contrary to peace? As long as you call yourself a Hindu or a Mussulman or a Christian or a communist, you will never have peace in the world.
Peace is in the layman. As long as one is following one party, political or otherwise, opposed to another party, as long as politics is merely a division of power, obviously you will have no peace in the world. Politicians are not concerned with people, they are concerned with power; and as long as the party system exists, there must be no peace, there cannot be any peace. This does not mean that there must be only one party. Parties really are not concerned with people at all; they are concerned with ideas of how to give people food, and therefore there is little action in the matter of actually giving food.
So, as long as we are pursuing the path of war, as long as we have armies, police and lawyers, we will have wars. We are talking all the time about non-violence, and yet we support armies. On the one hand, we are prepared in ourselves, through our present-day education, to hate one another; and on the other hand, we want peace. In ourselves, we are in contradiction, each one of us - the nation, the group, the race. There can be peace in the world only when that contradiction in each one of us is dissolved. What is essential is for each one of us to think out for oneself, to enquire, to search out. Repetition of slogans or the carrying of flags are of little use.
We want to be nationalistic, we want to have our flag. Because, the individual through identifying with the greater gets a satisfaction, gets a sense of security. That is what is being done in India, America, Russia and elsewhere. So, we are preparing for complete and utter destruction. In schools and universities, our education is nothing but the cultivation of this hatred and aggressive acquisitiveness.
Peace is surely something which is not a reaction to a particular system of society, to a particular-organization, to ideas or action. Peace is something entirely different. It comes into being, surely, when the whole total process of man is understood, which is the understanding of myself. This self-knowledge cannot be had from a book, cannot be learnt from another. When there is love in your heart and when you observe and understand yourself every moment of your life, truth comes into being; and out of that truth comes peace.
January 17, 1954
Banaras 1954, Hindu University
Banaras, India 17th January 1954 2nd Talk at Banaras Hindu University
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