Banaras 5th Public Talk 6th February 1955
Perhaps it might be worthwhile to find out what is the function of our thinking, because without understanding the whole process of our thought, conscious as well as unconscious, the mind cannot be free to discover what is true. We may search for truth, but our search will be in vain if we do not understand the content or the background of the reaction which we call our thinking. Our thinking is obviously supposed to guide our action, but our action is now so automatic that there is hardly any thinking at all. Besides, through various forms of education, the education that we receive at school and college, as well as the whole education imposed by society, our minds are conditioned to adjust or submit to the demands of a particular culture. We accept certain things as inevitable, depending on our sociological, religious, or economic background, and having accepted, we act; hence our action becomes almost automatic. Thinking is hardly necessary any more, and it seems to me very important to re-examine the whole process of our thinking and see if we cannot totally break away from the background in which we have been brought up, thereby bringing about a revolution in our lives which will in turn create a different kind of culture altogether. Real revolution is not Communist, Socialist, Capitalist, or anything of that kind, because it can only be based on the search for reality, for God, or what you will. That search is in itself the revolution, but such revolution cannot take place as long as our thinking is merely the repetitive reaction of a certain form of conditioning.
So, it is obviously very important for all of us to find out how our minds operate, which is to have self-knowledge. If we don't know the ways of our own thinking, if we are unaware of our reactions and of how our thought is conditioned by the culture in which we have been brought up; if the mind does not penetrate deeply into the whole problem of its own background, which is really the `me', the self, then surely all knowledge, except perhaps mechanical knowledge, becomes detrimental and mischievous. Is it not possible, then, to investigate the process of our thinking, not according to any formula, guide, or guru, but for ourselves, and thereby find out how the mind works? Now, what is thinking? Can thinking ever be original, or is it always a repetitive process, the reaction of a background? Can thought lead us to reality, to God, to that extraordinary something which is beyond the process of the mind and which we call the ultimate, the absolute, or is thought a hindrance to the discovery of that reality?
Please, may I suggest that you are not merely listening to a talk. You cannot help listening because you are here and I am talking, but if in the very process of listening you observe how your own mind works, then these talks will have significance. What I am saying is nothing extraordinary, it is merely a description of the ways of the mind so that as we are listening each one of us can be aware of the process of his own thinking. If one merely listens to a set of words and phrases and tries to catch their meaning, a talk of this kind will have no great depth; but if in the process of listening one can pursue one's own thinking and discover from what source it springs, then listening will be a self-revealing process, not just an acceptance or denial of what is being said.
Can thinking ever be the means to find out what is true, what is God? Surely, if we do not find out for our, selves what that reality is, mere reform or amelioration within the social structure can only lead to further misery. After all, man exists to find that supreme thing which is the foundation of all foundations; and without search, inquiry, without the constant watchfulness of our reactions, our thoughts and feelings, to see if they lead to that ultimate reality, to that something beyond the mundane, all our beliefs and religious activities become utter nonsense, mere superstitions leading to further mischief.
Does thought lead to reality, that reality which is never constant, which cannot be qualified in terms of time but must be discovered from moment to moment? To seek that reality, the mind must also be of that quality, otherwise it cannot have the comprehension or the feeling of what is true. So, can thinking help to discover that reality? And can thinking be original, or is all thinking imitative? If thinking is imitative, then obviously thinking cannot lead to that reality, it is not the way out, it is not a process by which to uncover what is true. And yet our whole process of search is the cultivation of thinking, of various practices, disciplines, which are all based on thought. If thought can open the door to reality, then it has significance; but thought may be a barrier to reality, so one must find but the truth of the matter for oneself, and not merely accept or reject.
Surely, what we call thinking is the response of memory. That is fairly obvious. You have been brought up in a certain tradition; as a Hindu, a Christian, a Buddhist, a Communist, or whatever it be, you have various associations, memories, beliefs, and that background responds to any challenge, which is called thinking. So the background is not different from thinking; thinking is the background. When you are asked a question about your religion, what you believe in, immediately your mind responds according to your conditioning, in terms of the various traditions, experiences and beliefs that you have. You respond according to your particular background, as a Christian or a Communist also does. So thinking is an impediment in the sense that it is merely the response of the background, of a particular conditioning. Surely, that again is obvious. Such a response, which we call thinking, definitely cannot open the door to reality. To find out what reality is, one must totally cease to be a Hindu, a Christian, a Communist, this or that, so that the mind is no longer conditioned and is therefore free to discover what is true.
Is it possible for the mind to be free from its whole conditioning as a Hindu, a Moslem, a Christian, or whatever it be? And who is the entity that is going to free the mind from its background? Do you understand the question? When you say, `I must be free from my conditioning as a Hindu', who is the entity that is going to bring about this freedom? Who is the analyzer of the background? Can the analyzer break up the background? Am I making myself clear?
As a Hindu I have certain formulas, concepts, beliefs, traditions, and I see the necessity of being free from them all, for if I am not, it is obviously impossible to find out what reality is. If I am conditioned as a Communist, or if my mind is moulded according to any other belief, how can I ever find out what is real? Such a mind can only experience that to which it has been conditioned. Unless the mind is free from all conditioning, its search is merely a sociological reaction and it will find only what it has been conditioned to. Then how am I to free myself from all conditioning? Is there an entity who is going to help me to free myself from conditioning? That is, is there in me a thinker, an analyzer, an observer, who is not contaminated by my conditioning?
You see, so far we have assumed that there is a thinker apart from thought, have we not? We are used to the idea that there are two separate processes, one being a permanent state as the thinker, the analyzer, the observer, and the other being the movement of thought. We have always believed that there is the Paramatman, a permanent spiritual entity who by analyzing the process of thinking is going to reject whatever is false and keep only what is true. Now, is there such a permanent entity apart from impermanent thought? Or is there only thinking, which is entirely impermanent and therefore creates the thinker in order to make itself permanent? Surely, thinking creates the thinker, it is not the thinker who creates the thought. This is really very important to understand for oneself, it is not a thing to accept or reject. Has not thinking created the thinker, and not the other way round?
After all, if there were no thinking, would there be a thinker? It is thinking that gives rise to the thinker, and the thinker then becomes the permanent analyzer, the observer who is untouched by time; but that entity has been created by thought, surely. It is like a diamond. The qualities of the diamond make the diamond. Remove the qualities of the diamond, and there is no diamond at all. Similarly, various desires, urges, compulsions create in their movement the entity which becomes the actor, the embodiment of will, which is the `I' of assertive action, of assertive thought. But that will is made up of many desires. If there were no desires, there would be no will, no `I'.
So, if there is only thinking and not the thinker, then the thinker who says, `I will free myself from my conditioning' is himself the outcome of conditioned thought; therefore the thinker, the observer, the analyzer, the experiencer, cannot free the mind from its conditioning. The mind may separate itself as the thinker and the thought, as will and desire, as the good and the bad, as the higher self and the lower self, but that whole process is still within the field of thought, it is only a self-deception leading to a great deal of mischievous action. The question then is, can the mind free itself from its own conditioning when there is no censor, no analyzer, no superior self who is going to cleanse the mind?
Are you following this? Please, if this much is not clear, to go further will have no meaning. It is essential to understand this, otherwise you will cling to the idea of a higher self, a spiritual something which is God given, timeless, but encased in ignorance, and which is always pushing away the ignorance that is coming upon it - which is all absurd. And if there is no permanent self at all, but only thinking which creates the permanent self in different forms, then can thinking free the mind to find out what is true?
As long as we have not found out what is true, what is God, what is that extraordinary something which fills life with greatness, goodness and beauty, all our activities at whatever level can have only a superficial meaning. Unless we are directly experiencing that which is true from moment to moment, our culture becomes mechanical and therefore destructive. Surely, man exists to find God, not merely to earn a livelihood and adjust himself to a particular pattern of society. Society does not help man to find truth. On the contrary, society prevents man from discovering what is true, because society is based on the desire to be secure, to have permanency, and a mind that is secure, safe, that is seeking permanency, can never find reality. But the man who understands what is true, who is experiencing reality from moment to moment, helps to bring about a totally new society. Reformation, adjustment, or any form of revolution within the framework of society can only lead to further misery and destruction as is shown in the world at the present time, where every effort to solve one problem leads to a hundred more. Whereas, if the mind can understand what is true, experience it directly, then that very understanding creates its own action which brings about a new culture.
Our question then is, can the mind free itself from its own conditioning? If there is no `I', no self, no Atman to free it, then what is it to do? Do you follow the problem? We have invented the `I' which is going to free the mind from conditioning. But as we investigate the process of the `I', we discover that the `I' has no reality, it is merely a product of thought, which is a reaction of the background. So there is only thinking, thinking according to the background. Thinking is the response of the background, which is the mind's conditioning as a Christian, a Buddhist, a Hindu, and so on. If thought is the response of the background, and all background is conditioning, then thought cannot lead to freedom; and it is only in freedom that you can find out what is true. So, to find what is God, what is true, thought must come to an end. Please, this is not only logical, it is factual. Thought must come to an end. But the moment you ask, `How am I to end thought?', there is an entity who operates, who practices the `how' in order to put an end to thinking. So there is no `how' at all, and this is very important to understand, because for all of us the `how' is the most important thing. We say, `How am I to do this, what is the discipline I must practise?' and all that business, which we now see has no meaning. So at one sweep we get rid of this whole problem of the `how'.
This may sound too facile, but it is not facile, it is not easy; on the contrary, it demands a great deal of attention, not concentration but attention. Concentration is exclusive because it implies a motive, an incentive, whereas attention has no motive and is therefore not exclusive. In the mind's observation of itself there comes self-knowledge, which is not the knowledge of the higher self. The higher self is an invention of the mind that wants to escape from the actuality of thought in relationship to people, to things, and to ideas. When it wants to escape from what is, the mind goes off into all kinds of absurdities. But when the mind begins to inquire into the process of its own being, when it sees the implications of thought and how thought comes into being, then that very perception puts an end to thought. There is no thinker who puts an end to thought, therefore no effort is involved. Effort arises only when there is an incentive to gain something. If the mind as an incentive the desire to break away from its conditioning, then that incentive is the reaction its conditioning in a different direction.
So, it is very important to understand the whole process of our thinking, and the understanding of that process does not come through isolation. There is no such thing as living in isolation. The understanding of the process of our thinking comes when we observe ourselves in daily relationship, our attitudes, our beliefs, the way we talk, the way we regard people, the way we treat our husbands, our wives, our children. Relationship is the mirror in which the ways of our thinking are revealed. In the facts of relationship lies truth, not away from relationship. There is obviously no such thing as living in isolation. We may carefully cut off various forms of physical relationship, but the mind is still related. The very existence of the mind implies relationship, and self-knowledge lies through seeing the facts of relationship as they are without inventing, condemning, or justifying. In relationship the mind has certain evaluations, judgments, comparisons, it reacts to challenge according to various forms of memory, and this reaction is called thinking. If the mind can just be aware of this whole process, you will find that thought comes to a standstill. Then the mind is very quiet, very still, without incentive, without movement in any direction, and in that stillness reality comes into being.
Question: It is difficult to follow you, and I find it much easier to follow people who have understood your teachings and can explain them to us. Don't you think there is need for such people to spread your teachings? It was recently pointed out in a newspaper article that you are intolerant of all beliefs and guides which help us.
Krishnamurti: As long as one wants to follow there will be a guide, and following destroys the possibility of finding out what is true. If the mind follows anybody it is following its own interest, which is not to understand what is true. You are surely not following me, because I am only trying to point out the operations of your own mind. If you follow somebody you are not inquiring into the ways of your own mind, and without understanding the ways of your own mind, to follow another can only lead you to more misery. To follow another is it does not matter who it is, whether it be Christ, Buddha, myself, or anybody else. Following is destructive, for imitation breeds fear. It is fear that makes you follow, not the search for truth. We don't understand the miseries of life, the transient happiness, the mystery of death, the extraordinary complexities of relationship, and we hope that by following somebody all this will somehow be explained and disappear. But to understand all these complexities is not to follow anybody. This mass of complexities has been created by each one of us, and we have to understand the cause of it, which is our own thinking.
The questioner says, "I find it much easier to follow people who have understood your teachings and can explain them to us", which is to have interpreters. For God's sake, sirs, keep away from interpreters, because the interpreter is bound to interpret according to his conditioning and his vested interest. This again is so obvious, it does not need much thinking. But you see, you want somebody to help you, and the moment you demand help you have brought into being the whole process of corruption, which really indicates that you have no confidence in being able to go to the source of things for yourself. The source is not me, but you, the way you think. The source is yourself, and why should you follow anybody or listen to interpreters to understand yourself? What is it the interpreters understand which you don't understand? They may have a better command of words than you or I, but keep away from interpreters, do not become a follower, because the source of mischief is in yourself, in the ways of your own thinking, and as long as you are imitating, following someone who is interpreting, you are escaping from yourself. The escape may be pleasant, it may temporarily give you gratification, but there is always in that escape the sting of sorrow.
And you don't have to spread my teachings, because if you don't understand yourself you cannot spread them. You may be able to buy and distribute a few books, but surely that is not at all so essential as to understand yourself. When you understand yourself, then you will spread understanding in the world, you will bring greater happiness to man. But if you are spreading somebody else's teachings you are creating more mischief, for then you are merely propagandists, and propaganda is not truth.
"It was recently pointed out in a newspaper article that you are intolerant of all beliefs and guides which help us." Sirs, what is tolerance? Why should you be tolerant or intolerant? Facts don't demand either tolerance or intolerance. Facts are there for us to take them or leave them. Why do we beat this drum of tolerance? All beliefs, the Christian, the Hindu, the Moslem, are a source of enmity between people. Is it being intolerant to point out that obvious fact? But if you cling to your belief you will say I am intolerant, because you are unwilling to look at the fact. The fact is so patent that as long as we are divided as Moslems, Hindus, Christians, it is bound to create antagonism. We are human beings, not a mass of conflicting beliefs. But you see, we have a vested in- terest in our belief. Belief is profitable. Societies are founded on it, religions with their priests thrive on it, and to them any questioning of belief is intolerance. But the man who faces facts as they are is surely not concerned with either tolerance or intolerance.
Belief is not reality. You may believe in God, but your belief has no more reality than that of the man who does not believe in God. Your belief is the result of your background, of your religion, of your fears, and the non-belief of the Communist and others is equally the result of their conditioning. To find out what is true the mind must be free from belief and non-belief. I know you smile and agree, but you will still go on believing because it is so much more convenient, so much more respectable and safe. If you did not believe, you might lose your job, you might suddenly find that you are nobody. It is being free of belief that matters, not your smiling and agreeing in this room.
With regard to guides, gurus, and all the rest of it, you follow because you have a motive, an incentive, which is that you want to be happy, to find God. So you are always seeking, and the guru is supposed to help you to find. But can a guru help you to find what is real? Reality must be outside the field of time, it must be something totally new, uncontaminated by the past or the future. If it is outside the field of time, then the mind which is the result of time can never find it. As long as you are following somebody in order to find reality, God, you are merely following the desires of your own mind. You are following because it gratifies you, therefore it is not leading you to truth. That is why it is important not to follow, not to have gurus. When you seek, your search is the outcome of your desire, and your desire projects that which you are seeking. It is only when the mind is not seeking, when it is really quiet, completely still, without any form of incentive, that there is the coming into being of that thing which is not caught by the mind, which is not found in books, and of which no guru knows; because to know is not to know.
Question: When you say that discipline is destructive, how can you obviate the danger of producing an army of sanctimonious nincompoops?
Krishnamurti: I don't know what the questioner means, but we can see for ourselves the effects of so-called discipline. Now, what do we mean by discipline, and why should there be discipline? We have accepted discipline as necessary in schools, in daily life, in the political party, we discipline ourselves to find reality, and so on. There are various forms of discipline at different levels of our conscious and unconscious activities. Discipline is a process of resistance, of submission or adaptation, is it not? You adapt yourself to society's demands, because if you don't you will be destroyed; you suppress yourself and submit to society in order to be a good or moral citizen, and so on. Surely, discipline implies shaping the mind to a certain formula, either externally imposed, or imposed by yourself. Through tradition, the evaluations of religion, culture and all the rest of it, society imposes a certain discipline on the mind. It says, `Keep within the limits, otherwise you will not be respectable, you will become dangerous', and so on, which one can understand. But the idea of imposing a discipline on oneself seems wholly absurd, because who is the entity that disciplines? The mind has divided itself as the one who disciplines and the part which is to be disciplined, but it is all the same mind playing a trick on itself. Surely, that is obvious. For its own convenience the mind has divided itself as the one who disciplines and the part that has to be disciplined, and we play this game with ourselves, which is absurd, because it has no reality at all. It is a convenient form of self-deception.
Now, can a mind which is so disciplined, which is controlled, shaped through tradition, through certain evaluations which society calls moral - we are not now questioning whether they are moral or immoral - , can such a mind ever find out what is true? Or does the mind, in seeking what is true, create its own way of life which is disciplinary? Obviously, the man who is seeking truth must be virtuous, but virtue is not an end in itself. Virtue is to bring order, it has no validity in itself. If virtue has validity in itself it leads to respectability, which society loves. But the mind that is understanding itself creates its own order, which is not an imposition, not an adjustment to any form of compulsion. The mind that is aware is all the time bringing order within itself, which is not the order imposed by society or religious sanctions, though outwardly they may seem to correspond. But a mind that is merely controlled through fear of going wrong, through fear of what people will say, that is imitating, trying to live according to what Shankara or anyone else has said, such a mind can never find out what is real. It is only the free mind that can discover the real, and to be free the mind has to understand itself. But merely to state that the mind is free has no meaning. It is like the schoolboy wanting to do exactly what he likes, which he calls freedom. That is obviously not freedom. Whereas, if the mind is aware of its own ways in relationship, if it is capable of watching its own movements without condemnation or evaluation, then it will understand what it is to be free, and only such a mind can discover that which is eternal.
February 6, 1955
Banaras 5th Public Talk 6th February 1955
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