New York 1954
New York 2nd Public Talk 23rd May 1954
As I was saying yesterday, I think it is important not merely to listen to what I am saying, but rather to experience the thing that is being said, because this is not an ordinary lecture from which you are going to learn something. If you merely listen in order to learn, I am afraid you will be disappointed; but if you listen in order to discover for yourself, then you will find astonishing results. Unfortunately, most of us are so conditioned, our thinking is so obstructed with unknown fears and anxieties, that we are incapable of really experiencing directly, and therefore we miss the deeper significance of what is being said. Words have a limited significance, they are only symbols, and I feel it is important to go beyond the symbol; but most of us worship symbols, and we are blocked, we are hindered by merely accepting certain verbal definitions and living within those definitions. So, may I again suggest that in listening to what is being said you relate it to yourself, directly experiencing it rather than merely following the description.
I feel that as long as the world is broken up into innumerable nationalities, as long as it is divided by many faiths, many beliefs and dogmas, there can be no peace at all. There can be peace only when all nationalism ceases, when all beliefs which divide man come to an end; and that can happen only when the mind is free from all conditioning when the mind no longer thinks in terms of America or of Russia, when it no longer thinks as a communist, a socialist, or a capitalist, as a Catholic, a Protestant, or a Hindu. We can deal with the many problems that arise only when we approach them as human beings, that is, when we are not conditioned in any of these patterns which have been cultivated for generations; and it is very arduous, really difficult to break down the enclosures that the mind has built around itself. So, I would like to talk about it, go into the matter; and if you, on your part, will take the journey, not merely following what I am talking about, but seeing the actual state of your own mind as we go along, then I think listening to a talk of this kind will have significance. As I said yesterday, the very act of listening breaks down the barrier, the conditioning, because to listen implies no resistance. I am obviously not asking you to join anything, to believe anything, or to accept anything, but to investigate your own mind, the mind that is functioning daily; and also, perhaps, to look into the unconscious.
It is impossible to be aware of the total process of our being as long as we are not aware of our own conditioning; and if we are to survive in this mad, chaotic world, surely it is imperative that each one of us who is at all earnest and thoughtful should consider this problem of freeing the mind from its conditioning. This does not mean the cultivation of a better conditioning, but freedom from all conditioning. Each one of us is conditioned by the climate, by the food we eat, and by other physiological influences. Those we know how to deal with. But of the deeper conditioning of the psyche, the inward, very few of us are aware, and it is that which dictates, controls and shapes our actions.
If we are to have peace in the world, we can no longer belong to any particular nationality or religion, because it is this very division of nationalities, of groups, of religious faiths, that is destroying us; and unless we are alert to this whole problem, it will bring still greater misery. Surely, if you are thoughtful, if you are alert to the problem, you will see that we have to begin by inquiring whether the mind can free itself from all conditioning. Those who are important people in the world, who have great wealth, who have position, prestige, will naturally not experiment with this at all, because it is too dangerous. It is only the ordinary people, those who have no power no position, and who are struggling, trying to understand - it is they, perhaps, who will begin to experiment and find out for themselves.
As most of us are unconscious of our conditioning, is it not first of all essential to be aware of it? Each one of us is conditioned as a Christian, or as belonging to some other group with certain ideas, with certain beliefs and dogmas which are contrary to other beliefs, to other ideas and dogmas. Obviously, then, these very beliefs and dogmas create enmity between man and man, do they not? And, realizing that beliefs do create enmity and maintain this division between man and man, why do we cling to certain beliefs and try to have others join our particular group?
So is it not important to ask ourselves whether it is possible for the mind to free itself from all conditioning? Is it possible not to belong to any group, to any religion? - which does not mean entering some other conditioned state, becoming an atheist, a communist, or something else. To be free from all conditioning is not to seek a better conditioning. I think that is the real crux of the matter, because it is only when the mind is unconditioned that it can tackle the problem of living as a total process, and not just on one sectionalized level of our existence.
Can you and I be aware of our conditioning? Is it possible to be free of it? And will any action of the will bring about that freedom? Do you understand the problem? I realize that I am conditioned as a Hindu, or what you will, and I see the effects of that conditioning in my relationship with others, which is really a relationship of resistance, creating its own problems. I realize that. And can I, realizing it, break down that conditioning by an act of will, by saying to myself that I must not be conditioned, that I must think differently, that I must consider human beings as a whole, and so on? Can the conditioning be broken down through any action of the will? After all, what is it that we call the will? What is the will? Is it not the process of desire centred in the "me" that wants to achieve a result?
Please, this is not a highbrow talk. If we can think simply about the matter, we shall find the right solution to the problem; but it is very difficult to think simply because within ourselves we are so complex. We have so many ideas, we have read so much, so many things have been told us, and amidst this complexity it is very difficult to think directly and simply; but that is what we are trying to do.
I see I am conditioned, and I want to know how to break it down, because that conditioning prevents me from thinking clearly. It prevents a direct relationship with people. It creates resistance, and resistance creates its own problems. So seeing the whole implication of the effects of conditioning, how is my mind to free itself from conditioning? Do you understand the problem? Is the entity that desires to free the mind from conditioning, different from the mind itself? If it is different, then the problem of effort, the action of will, comes into being. Is the "I", the thinker, the person who says, "I am conditioned and I must be free", the "I" who makes an effort to be free, is that "I", that will, that desire, different from the conditioned state? Please, this is not complicated. You are bound to ask yourself this question when you look at the problem. Am I who wish to free myself from conditioning, different from the conditioning, or are they both the same? If they are the same, which they are, then how is it possible for the mind to free itself from conditioning? Do you understand?
I realize I am conditioned as a Hindu, with all its implications: the superstitions, the information, the experiences of a Hindu. My mind is conditioned in that way. Let us take that as an example. Now, I see the importance of freeing the mind from conditioning. How is that to be done? Does freedom come through an action of will? If I say, "I must free myself from the conditioning of the past", then the "I" who wishes to free himself from the past conditioning is different from it; but is that "I" different from conditioning, or is it still a conditioned result? And if that "I", which is the will, is not different, then in trying to break down conditioning, it is only finding a substitute for the previous conditioning.
Please, as I said, what is important is for you to listen and experiment. Perhaps this is something which you have not heard before, therefore you are puzzled, there is a resistance; but if you can listen without any resistance, merely observing your mind in action, then the very listening becomes an experiment. Your own mind is conditioned, and it is this conditioning that is really preventing peace, that is creating war, destruction and misery. Unless you resolve your conditioning completely, there will be no real peace in the world; there will be the peace of politicians between two immense powers, which is terror. To have peace, the mind must be totally unconditioned. One must realize that, but not superficially, not as insurance for your security, or for your bank account. Peace is a state of mind, it is not the development of monstrous means of destroying each other and then maintaining peace through terror. I do not mean that. To have real peace in the world is to be able to live happily, creatively, without any sense of fear, without being secure in any thought, in any particular way of life. To have such peace, surely the mind must be totally free from all conditioning, either externally imposed or inwardly cultivated. And can your mind, which is conditioned - because all minds are conditioned - , can such a mind free itself from its own effects, from its own desires, from its own conditioned state? So, the problem is, is there a part of the mind which is not conditioned and which can take over, control, or destroy the conditioned mind? Or is the mind totally conditioned at all times, and therefore cannot act upon itself? When it realizes that it cannot act upon itself, will not the mind then be utterly still, without movement towards its own conditioning?
For most of us this implies freedom from something. Freedom from something is resistance against something, and therefore it is not freedom. I am talking, not of freedom from something, but of being free. Being free is not becoming free, being peaceful is not becoming peaceful. There is no gradual process towards freedom, towards peace. Either you are peaceful, or you are not peaceful; and what we are trying to find out is whether the mind which has been conditioned for centuries, generation upon generation, whether such a mind can free itself. Surely, it can be free only when there is no action of will, when it realizes that it is conditioned and does not make any effort to free itself from its own conditioning. When my mind knows that its way of thinking is oriental, whatever that may mean, when it fully realizes that, will it then think along the western line, which is another form of conditioning, or will it cease thinking in any particular pattern and therefore be free to think?
You see, I feel this is a very important point to understand, it is the crux of the matter, because a conditioned mind can never find out what is true, a conditioned mind can never discover what God is. It can project its own images, its own dogmas, its own beliefs, and think it has found God, but that is still the action of a limited, conditioned mind. And if I see that, if I perceive it as a fact, will any action on my part be necessary? If I know I am blind, then I have quite a different approach to life, I develop a totally different perception. In the same way, when I know that I am conditioned, that my thinking is limited, and that a limited mind, whatever its experiences may be, however much knowledge it may acquire, is still limited; when I realize that, is any action on my part necessary to break down that limitation? Will not that limitation break down of itself when I know the mind is limited? Therefore, is there not an instantaneous freedom from conditioning? Most of us think that an analytical process will ultimately bring about the freedom of the mind because we are so used to thinking in terms of making effort. We say, "I must break down this conditioning, I must produce a result, I must do something." But the "I" who is acting is itself conditioned, the "I" is the conditioned mind, and therefore it cannot break down that conditioning. Now, when the whole of me realizes that I cannot break down the conditioning, that whatever I do about it - discipline, worship, prayer, anything through which the "me" makes an effort to break down any part of itself - is still limited, then does not the action of the "me" come to an end? And the very ending of this effort is the cessation of conditioning.
Please, you experiment with this. If you have listened rightly, you will see that the mind cannot do a thing about its conditioning. It can explore, it can analyze, it can achieve certain results, but it is always limited. Whatever its projections, its hopes, its fulfilments, they are always the result of its own background, and therefore limited; and when the mind realizes that, is there not an instantaneous cessation, without any compulsion, of this "I" which is seeking searching hoping gaining and thereby being frustrated? After all, that is meditation, which is really not through any action of will; it is the meditation of the mind, which is tranquillity. A mind that is merely caught in desires, in achieving a result, in knowing, in experiencing can never be a still mind; and when a limited mind meditates, when it thinks of God, its God and its meditation are still petty. It seems to me that however much a mediocre mind may be expanded. however much it may know, it is still mediocre, small petty, and therefore its problems will always remain petty, unsolvable.
So, what is important is to realize all this, not merely through hearing what I am saying, but through seeing it for yourself, experiencing directly for yourself that your mind is small, limited, and being limited however much it may know, whatever experiences it may have, it is still limited, and therefore it can never find out what is true, what is real. Reality comes into being only when there is a total cessation of all conditioning, that is, when the mind is free - not from something, but being free - and therefore it is still.
I have some questions which I will try to answer - or, rather, not answer, because there are no answers, there are only problems. Please, this is not a witty or a clever remark, but a true thing, because a mind that is seeking an answer to a problem will find an answer according to its own desires. Most of us have problems, and we are always groping for an answer. That is why there are churches, these picture halls. All of us are trying to find somewhere an answer, and we may find it, but it will not be the real thing. What is true is the problem. If there is an understanding of the problem, there is the cessation of the problem, not an answer to the problem. Please, this is important to listen to. It is the petty mind, the shallow mind, that seeks an answer, that wants to know what happens when I die; it has innumerable questions, and all it is concerned with is the answer. But to understand this problem requires an alert mind, a mind that is not seeking a result, an escape, or trying to cover up its own emptiness. So, the solution of the problem is in the problem itself, only I must know how to approach the problem; and I cannot approach it rightly if I desire to solve it, if I wish to find an answer to it, because then my mind is concentrated on the answer and not on the problem. I think it is very important to understand this, which is really a revolution in our way of thinking. You see, we create the problem by our way of thinking, and then try to resolve the problem through further thinking; we begin to question, we go to analysts, to priests, to God knows what else, trying to find an answer. So, we must know how to remain with the problem, to look at it with- out translating it according to our wishes, according to our belief, according to our tradition. It is our tradition, our belief, our dogma that has created the problem, and if we would understand the problem we must be free from all these things and look at it directly.
Question: I have always tried to be sincere to my ideals, but you say they are destructive. What have you to offer in their stead?
Krishnamurti: There are several things involved in this problem: sincerity, ideals, and if there are no ideals, whether there is something to put in their place. Let us go into the problem slowly and look at it.
What do we mean by sincerity? To be sincere to something. If I have an ideal, I try to live according to that ideal; and if I live as much as I can according to that ideal which I have set for myself, I am considered a sincere person. Now, the ideal is the creation of my mind in seeking its own security, is it not? Please follow this, don't resist it. You will go on with your ideals, you will go on with your particular pattern of action, unfortunately, so you don't have to resist what is being said; but you can at least listen to find out.
You have an ideal because it gives you comfort. It may be a difficult ideal for you to live up to but the very struggle to live up to that ideal gives you satisfaction, it gives you a sense of conformity, a sense of well-being, a sense of respectability. In essence, the ideal gives you security, and that is why you project these ideals. If I am violent, I do not like that state of violence, so I project the ideal of non-violence and pursue it. The ideal and the pursuance of that ideal give me security, a sense of well-being. I am being sincere to my own desire, I am being sincere to what I want; and such a man, who is pursuing what he wants, you call noble.
So, ideals are destructive because they are separative; they are the projection of our own desires; they bring about a conflict between what I am, which is the actuality, and what I should be. The ideal creates a duality between what I am and what I should be, and this struggle between what I am and what I should be is called living according to the ideal. We are afraid not to struggle because, being conditioned to struggle everlastingly between good and bad, between the evil and the noble, we say, "If I do not struggle, what will happen?" If the ideal is taken away we feel completely lost, and the questioner wants to know what can be placed in its stead.
To me, the idealist is one who is caught between what is and what should be, and is therefore in a state of hypocrisy; because what should be is not. Why should I turn my attention to what should be? I can only understand what is. If I am violent, can I not resolve my violence rather than try to become non-violent? Instead of pursuing the ideal and thereby creating a conflict between what is and what should be, this conflict of the opposites which creates innumerable problems, can I not look at what is? Instead of projecting the opposite and creating the conflict, can I not look at what I actually am? But that is the very thing we avoid, is it not? Because most of us do not want to know what we actually are. Either we are ashamed of it and we condemn it, or we are afraid of it, or we want to change it into something else.
So we never look at what is; and before we can change what is, must we not know its structure, what it is in actuality? And how can I know what it is when I am all the time con- cerned with trying to change it, to rearrange it, to run away from it? We are so afraid of being naked, empty, without a thing. We want to fill our emptiness with something. If I am lonely, I run away from that loneliness, I turn on the radio, read a book, go to church, pray, plunge into social activities, do anything to escape from it; but if I do not escape from it, I am afraid of it.
So, fear prevents us from understanding what is, fear makes us carry on various forms of activity which act as an escape from the reality of what is. Therefore, is it not important for each one of us to put away all ideals, since they have no meaning, and see what is actually taking place in us from moment to moment? And if we are aware of ourselves from moment to moment, choicelessly, without condemning, without judging, without yielding to that which we have considered before as fearful, ugly, bad, evil, will it then exist? Fear exists only when we are running away. The very process of running away is fear; and when, without running away, we can look at the thing that we have condemned before, the thing from which we have run away, the thing which we are struggling to change, when we can look at it without doing any of these things, will not the very thing from which we have been trying to escape, cease to exist?
If you really go into this question you will see that when a mind is violent, because it has the ideal of non-violence, because it is escaping from the state in which it is, because it wants to alter that state, therefore it is resisting violence. This does not mean that the mind must yield to violence; but when the mind is free from all resistance with regards to violence, does the problem exist at all? Surely, the problem exists because the mind resists.
Please, as I said, this thing has to be thought over, or, which is much better, directly experienced; and then you will see that when the mind has no ideal, when it is not trying to become something, there is a state of being in which time is not. For time is the problem. Old age, the sense of frustration, the fear of not achieving, not becoming, not fulfilling - all that involves time, and that is all we know, in that state we live and function, we struggle. So, this conflict between what is and what should be is a neverending process; and when the mind realizes that, then is there not a freedom of being in which there is no becoming? Therefore you don't need any ideal, and I think it is very important to understand this. Surely, this is the real revolution, not the process of creating the antithesis, and then struggling with the antithesis to produce a synthesis. If you can think in these terms, not of becoming, but of being - which is astonishingly difficult and subtle to understand - , then you will find that the many problems which involve time completely cease. Therefore the mind is free to uncover and to find out what is the real, and the blessing of it.
May 23, 1954
New York 1954
New York 2nd Public Talk 23rd May 1954
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.