Banaras 4th Public Talk 30th January 1955
If each one of us could really solve any given human problem, I think a great deal of our misery and incapacity to meet life would come to an end. Is it that we don't know how to go about solving a problem and must therefore depend on others to solve our problems, or is it that we are not really aware of the problems that we have? I think it would be worthwhile if we could at this meeting find out if there is an actual problem which all of us have, a problem which is significant, and then see if together we cannot resolve it; because if we can once resolve for ourselves any human problem, then we shall have the capacity to resolve all future problems as they arise. As long as we are not capable of resolving a problem, we neglect, suppress, or escape from it, thereby giving root to a multiplicity of other problems. When we don't know how to tackle a problem and merely escape from it, that very escape becomes another problem, so one problem breeds several more; whereas, if we could attack and understand any given problem, then perhaps we should be able to bring about a mind which is not burdened with problems, but is capable of meeting each human problem as it arises. Such a mind, being silent, always gives the true response, and it is because we cannot give the true response to every challenge that our problems increase.
After all, a problem which all of us have, if we are conscious of it, is the inadequacy of our response to any challenge. Not being capable of responding adequately to challenge, we give rise to a problem, and having a problem, we escape from it or try to find an immediate or convenient solution, which again becomes another problem. So one problem always breeds several other problems, which is what is happening, not only in the life of the individual, but also in the collective life of the group, of the nation. This is obvious, is it not? We go after peace, individually or collectively, and in the very search for peace we are introducing various elements which produce conflict, misery, strife.
Now, can we understand how to meet any human problem? If we are at all aware of a problem, how do we actually meet it? Could we dwell on that for the moment? Because I think the really important thing is not what the problem is, but how we approach it. Surely, the problem is one thing, and our approach to the problem is another. Can one be conscious of one's approach to any problem, actually and not theoretically? What is one's process of thinking when one is confronted with a problem? Please don't merely listen to me, but watch your own mind and see how you approach your own problems. Don't you always approach any problem with a conclusion, that is, with your mind already made up about the problem? In other words, you have various theories, opinions, formulas with regard to the problem, and with that mentality you approach the problem or seek an answer. Either the mind is approaching the problem with a conclusion, with a formula, with a belief, or it is seeking an answer, so its approach is essentially an evasion of the problem, is it not? If you watch your own mind you will see this process in operation.
What is the state of a mind that is seeking an answer, a solution? Obviously, it is seeking in terms of its own gratification. Please watch your own mind, because I am only describing what is actually taking place. If you are merely listening to me, what I am saying will be utterly superficial; but if you are following the description of your own mind, which means being aware of your own mental processes, then what is being said will have significance.
When the mind seeks a solution to a problem, its approach is invariably a process of choice, its choice being based on its own gratification; it wants an easy solution, an answer in which no effort will be needed. In its search for a solution to the problem, the mind is looking through the various memories it has collected, the experiences it has gathered, and it chooses from among those experiences the answer most suitable to the problem. So your approach to the problem is that of choosing the most gratifying solution, is it not? Please watch, investigate your own mental processes, and you will see that your mind approaches any problem with opinions, conclusions, or it seeks an answer, or it tries to find ways and means of avoiding the issue. That is our general approach to every problem, which means that the mind is not tackling the problem directly but is translating the problem in terms of its old memories, its conclusions, concepts, formulas. So the problem remains and takes root in the soil of the mind, because the mind is not fresh in its approach. If the mind could be made fresh, then its response to the problem would be entirely different.
Now, can we proceed from there? The question is, not how to resolve the problem, but whether the mind can be fresh in its approach, for the problem exists only because of the inadequacy of the mind's response to the challenge. However much the mind may wish to solve the problem, as long as its response is inadequate there will be a problem. It is because the mind is inadequate, not fresh in its response, that it is incapable of dealing with the problem in its totality, and hence there must be a further multiplication of problems, which means an increase of pain, misery and suffering. Psychologically, this is what is actually taking place, is it not? To see it does not require much thought, and there need not be a great ado about it.
So, is it possible to approach any problem afresh, with a mind that is not burdened with conclusions, that is not seeking an answer or a means of evasion? Can the mind make itself fresh, innocent, so that it is capable of meeting the problem anew? Innocence is not the cutting off of experience, because you can, not cut off experience. But the mind is the result of experience, of the process of time; and how can the mind, being the result of time and therefore of experience and knowledge, make itself new, fresh, innocent to understand the problem? If the approach is innocent the problem will be tackled with wisdom, with understanding; but as long as the mind comes to the problem with previous knowledge, the problem multiplies. I don't know if you have ever watched this process in your approach to a human problem. Even in mathematical problems it works, I believe.
You have a problem. If the mind approaches the problem as though it had never thought about it before, if it comes upon the problem being fully aware of its own bondages and hindrances so that it is free of them, then is there a problem? I hope I am making myself clear. We say that we must understand the problem, we must find an answer to it, we must search out the cause and resolve it, but the very instrument that is seeking the cause and is trying to find an answer is itself the problem; the problem is not outside of itself. So, how does the mind of each one of us approach a problem? Go very slowly and investigate how your own mind approaches any problem. Be aware of the process.
Now, can the mind ever confront a problem without seeking a solution, without having any conclusions about it, and without running away? That is, can the mind face the problem and not look back upon its own experiences, not delve into the pigeon-holes of memory in order to choose the answer most suitable to the problem? Can the mind ever say, `I don't know how to tackle the problem'? Do you understand, sirs? Because it is very important actually to feel and not just to say that in front of any given human problem the mind, which is the result of the past, is confronted with something new and therefore cannot answer with the memories of the old.
So, can the mind be in a state of not-knowing? And should not the mind always be in that state? Surely, the man who says, `I know', does not know. He knows only the things that have occurred and are over, and therefore he is burdened with memory. But the man who says, `I do not know' is in a process of investigation, of constant inquiry, therefore his mind never accumulates and then responds from that accumulation. Being actually and not theoretically in the state of not knowing, is not his mind really experiencing out of silence? And to such a mind, is there a problem to be solved? Such a mind is not in a condition of lethargy, it is completely alive, therefore it neither has a problem nor is it creating a problem. Then begins, I think, an extraordinary thing, which is the whole sense of what is holy, what is sacred.
You see, further inquiry in this direction will only be a description, therefore a speculation, unless you are actually experiencing as we go along. One may have an occasional comprehension of what is holy, of what is true, but a second later it becomes memory, and therefore it has already turned to ashes; and I think one is inevitably caught in sorrow, in misery, as long as one does not understand this whole problem. Therefore it is essential that the mind should know itself and its workings, which is self-knowledge. Without self-knowledge, any verbal statement, any belief or non-belief really has no value at all. The mind must start, not with what should be, but with what is, it must begin by watching itself from moment to moment, seeing its actual responses and not getting lost in speculative hopes and fears. Actually moving with each response as it takes place brings about an astonishing aware- ness of the mind in which every thought, because it moves slowly, can be completely understood, all the details being immediately perceived. Without such a mind, all searching for reality, going to priests, doing puja, is really rubbish, it has no meaning; but for most of us the rubbish has become extraordinarily significant. To put away all that rubbish is to understand the ways of the mind and how it operates in relation to that rubbish. Then the mind can go extraordinarily far; then the mind itself becomes a limitless, timeless thing.
Question: Throughout my working day the mind masks its mediocrity behind socially useful ends, but during the time of meditation is faced with its mediocrity, it is in torture and despair. What am I to do about it?
Krishnamurti: Sir, what do you mean by meditation? And to what are you giving importance? To everyday work, with its social responsibilities and so on, or to meditation? I am not putting meditation in opposition to the operation of the mediocre mind while it is working or helping to bring about various social reforms. I am asking why the mind separates the two and gives greater significance to one than to the other.
Question: In the ordinary working day one is conscious of the usefulness of the social ends to which the mind is directed, therefore the attention is not on mediocrity; but when one sits quietly for awhile the mask is down, so one is conscious of mediocrity and nothing else.
Krishnamurti: You are saying that when it is not occupied the mind is aware of its mediocrity; all the masks having fallen away, the mind is confronted and tortured by its own pettiness, so what is one to do? As long as the mind is occupied with social and other activities, it is unaware of itself; but the moment it stops being occupied, the whole content of the mind is revealed to itself.
Questioner: Not necessarily.
Krishnamurti: The moment the noise stops, one is aware of the mediocrity of the mind, and you are asking what one is to do about it.
Now, is not an occupied mind mediocre? Surely, an occupied mind is petty, whether it is occupied with business, with physics, with the kitchen, or with the sacred books and the pursuit of God. Please go slowly with me, sirs, let us go into it together. The mind of the housewife, that is, of a lady, who is concerned with the kitchen, with food, with children, with keeping the household clean, and so on, you would consider very trivial, whereas the man who is seeking God, who does puja and all the rest of it, is looked upon as being very noble; but his mind also is occupied, is it not? Only the occupation is different, that is all. The object of occupation is at a different level, but the mind is still occupied. And is not the mind that is everlastingly occupied, with itself or with anything else, mediocre? What does mediocrity mean? Average, ordinary - which is what our minds are, is it not? Our minds are constantly occupied, the student with his examination, the father with his job, and so on.
Now, can the mind be free from occupation? Can it do the kitchen work, study physics, or what you will, and still not be occupied, so that the mind has space and is not filled with occupation? Can the mind ever stop producing thoughts - which is occupation, is it not? When the mind is occupied with the kitchen, with God, with sex, with this or that, this or that, it is obviously producing thoughts, thinking. And is not thinking itself mediocre? Because after all, what is thinking? It is the response of the background, the response of memory, of experience; and is not the investigation of that process, which is what we have done just now, real meditation? To meditate is to find out whether the mind can really stop producing thoughts one after another, which means being aware of and observing the processes of one's own thinking so that the mind sees and understands the fact that its thinking is conditioned, and therefore thought comes to an end. Only then is there not a state of mediocrity. Then the mind can act totally differently for any social end.
Sir, after all, there is space, there is silence between two words, between two notes, but to most of us the word or the note is important, not the silence. If there were no silence there would be one continuous noise, and that is the state of the mind which is ceaselessly occupied; like a machine that is kept in constant operation, it wears itself out. But the mind that has space, that has wide gaps of silence, renews itself in that very silence, and therefore its action in any direction has quite a different significance.
Question: Can the mind work and at the same time not be occupied?
Krishnamurti Try it, sir. For most of us, work is occupation. The moment the mind `works', as one calls it, it is thinking, and therefore it is occupied.
Sir, the difficulty in answering these questions is that in your listening you are not aware of what is actually taking place, you do not see the process of your own mind in operation. You are listening to me, that is all, and saying that it does not work; you are just sitting there while somebody else is speaking, and therefore it has no meaning. When you go to a football match in which you are not participating, you sit on the seats and criticize the players. Similarly, you are here merely as spectators at a game which is a lecture or a talk. Whereas, if you were not mere spectators but through the description of the speaker you were actually watching your own minds in operation, then you would find an extraordinary thing happening to you, the coming into being of a state in which there is neither the spectator nor the player. You see, that is why it is very important to have self-knowledge.
Have I answered your question?
Question: You said the teacher should have the intention not to influence the child. Is it possible to avoid influence altogether?
Krishnamurti: What do you think, sirs? Are you waiting for me? Again you are assuming the role of the spectators.
What is influence? Don't you know what influence is? Are you not influencing your children? The teacher, the parents, the government, the Bible, the Upanishads, the sun, the food we eat, the words we use - everything is influencing us, is it not? Take the word `love'. What an extraordinary neurological influence merely the word itself has on us. So everything is influencing us, and we in turn are influencing others. When we read a newspaper we are being influenced by the proprietors, by the columnist, by the pictures; we are influenced by propaganda, by the so-called spiritual magazines, by books, by lectures, by the way we dress, the way we sit. Everything is influencing us, and the questioner wants to know whether there can ever be the cessation of influence, even when one has the intention not to influence the child. This is really a complex question, so let us take time to go into it.
We see that everything, physical and mental influences us. Where is one to draw the line? I may not want to influence my child, but influence is going on, conditioning his mind; the magazines he reads, his friends at school, his teachers, everything around him is influencing him. Consciously or unconsciously I am myself influencing the child, and the whole culture or civilization in which we live is conditioning his mind to be a Communist or a Capitalist, a Hindu or a Christian, and so on. So the question is not whether it is possible to stop all influence, but whether one can help the child to understand and be free of the influences which are conditioning him. Is it possible for education to help the student to be so intelligent that he will see and understand for himself those influences which are conditioning his mind, and put them away? Surely, that is our inquiry, not how to stop influence, or what kinds of influence the child should have.
Now, what is it that conditions the mind? If the mind were completely secure, it would have no fear, would it? And when the mind has nothing to lose, it is completely secure, is it not? Which means that in its own insecurity there is security. As long as the mind demands to be secure, as long as it is seeking permanency in any form, it creates influences which will condition it. But cannot the mind be aware of total insecurity, of being completely insecure - which in fact it is? Life is insecure, impermanent. The resistance, the denial of the fact that life is completely insecure produces opposition between the desire to be secure and the fact, thereby creating fear, and it is this fear that conditions the mind, the fear that comes into being when you do not accept the fact. This fear may be described in different terms as the fear a boy has towards his parents, or the fear of not passing an examination, or the fear of being scolded, or the fear which arises when the mind wants to fulfil and is denied. The mind which is ambitious at any level has always with it the shadow of fear, because however much its ambition is being fulfilled it may at any moment be thwarted.
So, can the student be given an environment of complete security? - which means, really, an environment in which he is not compared with the less clever or the more clever, in which there is no sense of condemnation, so that he feels completely at home. He generally does not feel at home with his parents because they do not know what it means to give the child that feeling of complete security. The parents want the boy to be something, they say, `You are not studying as well as your brother, who is so clever', and so they destroy the poor boy by instilling fear. When the mind of the student feels completely secure he can study more easily; but that means the educator must be totally free of his own demand to be secure, because the moment he demands security he instills fear. That is why teaching is a dedication, not a job.
Question: I am an engineer by profession, and I think it is obvious that your idea of truth goes far beyond the standard or common place meaning of that word. Could you kindly explain further?
Krishnamurti: Sir, an engineer is surely concerned with facts, not with speculations. If he has to build a bridge he must examine the proposed site and not imagine what the site should be. He may be aware of the aesthetic value of a certain line in building a bridge, which may be entirely different from what is called for by the actual facts he discovers at the site. With ourselves it is not like that. We think we are something, the Atman, the Paramatman, we have theories, speculations about the permanent and the impermanent, a vast number of beliefs, and so we are a mass of unreality which we are unwilling to face and look at. The fact is one thing, and our thoughts or opinions about the fact are entirely different. Only the mind that is capable of looking at the fact finds out what is true. The fact is that there is no such thing as permanency, and if the mind makes permanency into a fact, then that permanency is an opinion, it is what the mind would like the fact to be. It is as simple as that. If we can look at the fact without the myth of opinion, of knowledge, of judgment and evaluation, then the truth of the fact will have its own evaluation and produce its own action. To approach the fact with evaluation, with judgment, is entirely different from approaching it without judgment, without evaluation, and therefore understanding the fact.
Now, can one look at the fact that one is greedy, that one is a liar, that one is ambitious, without evaluating it, without condemning or saying it is all right? If the mind can just see the fact, then the truth of the fact operates on the mind in the most unexpected manner, and that operation is its own evaluation, not the mind's evaluation. But a mind which has gathered the truth of the fact and acts from what it has gathered is surely incapable of looking at the fact, because it is looking through the screen of memory, of knowledge, of experience, of evaluation. That is why the mind must die each day to itself, to every experience, to all the knowledge it has gathered. The mind objects to that death, because experience and knowledge are a means of its own security, permanency; and a mind that has permanency, a sense of security, is never creative. It is only for the mind which is totally secure and is therefore no not wanting a state of security that reality comes into being.
January 30, 1955.
Banaras 4th Public Talk 30th January 1955
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.