Bombay 2nd Public Talk 20th February 1955
One of our greatest difficulties is the understanding of the whole significance of desire, For most of us, de- sire has become an urge which must be controlled, guided, shaped, and given impetus in a certain direction, but I would like to talk about it this evening from a different point of view altogether, which to me is the truth. If we can understand desire, which is really very complex, then perhaps we shall be able to bring about quite a different action in our daily life. If instead of trying to control, sublimate, or transcend desire, we can be confronted with the fact of desire and begin to understand its ways, then I think there will come about a totally different kind of attention. But the difficulty is going to be that most of us have opinions about desire, we want to suppress it in order to achieve a state of desirelessness, or we are caught up in it so vehemently and persistently that the mind becomes a confusing field of contradictory thoughts.
Now, I am not going to indulge in any theory, in any speculation, I am going to deal only with the fact and not with anything else. So, if I may suggest, please just listen to what is being said here without relating it to your previous conclusions; just let your mind follow it without interfering, and I think you will find that an extraordinary thing takes place in spite of yourself. If you can listen in that manner so that you are confronted with the fact and do not translate what you hear in terms of what you know, or in terms of what has been said by Shankara, Buddha, or anyone else with regard to desire, then you will find that a peculiar thing happens: the very fact itself brings about an action. The mind may give opinions or ideas about the fact, but it cannot deal with the fact. All it can do is to look at the fact, and in the very process of observation, in the very awareness of the fact, there begins a radical transformation. It is the fact itself that alters the way of thinking, and not the multiplication of opinions or conclusions about the fact.
So, let us quietly talk over together this whole problem of desire. After all, desire is energy, energy which is outward going, and because it is assertive, dominating, powerful, society tries to control and shape it. Society is the product of that desire, which seeks to shape itself in order to be more efficient and to function within the limits of social morality. Again, that is a simple fact. This outward-going desire, which is energy must be controlled, shaped, guided, disciplined - at least, that is what society, what religions and our own compulsive urges demand. But in the very process of disciplining desire, there is frustration, because anything that is blocked must find a way out.
Surely, sirs, everywhere there are blockages of desire established by society: thou shalt do this and not that, this is right and that is wrong, and so on. All the religious books, all the teachers, and our own pain and pleasure, indicate that desire must be shaped, controlled, disciplined, and in that very process there is frustration, there is conflict, not only at the superficial level, but also at the deeper levels of our consciousness. If there were no blockages, if this outward-going desire, this outward going energy were given freedom, there would be no frustration; but society, conventional morality, our whole education, and our own fears, all shape, control and block it, and that very blocking is frustration. This is a very simple psychological fact in our everyday life, it is not a philosophical speculation.
So this outward-going energy meets a wall of social morality, of so-called religion, and all the rest of it and then it begins to recoil inwardly. This inward recoil is not a free movement, it is merely a reaction. That is outward-going energy has met a blockage in its forward movement, so it reacts inwardly and says, `I must be noble, I must be good, I must be unselfish, I must find God'. Whether this inward movement is superficial or deep, it is still only a recoil, and this whole process of outward-going and inward-going energy is the movement of the self, the `me'. Again, this is an observable, experienceable fact, it is not a theory, an opinion. This outward and inward movement of desire creates a society, a culture, a religion and a relationship based on the `I', the self, and in this movement, energy becomes less and less, because it is a process of self-enclosure. When desire is controlled, disciplined, it may act efficiently, but it loses its tremendous vitality.
Please just listen to what I am saying, don't translate it in terms of what you have learnt. Our problem is this. In the process of its outward and inward movement, this extraordinary energy, desire, gets throttled, because through pain and pleasure the `I' learns to control, to shape, to guide desire; that is, by its own activity, energy is conditioning itself. Watch this process actually taking place in yourself, and you will quickly see what it means. The moment thought says, `I must suppress, shape, discipline desire, I must canalize energy to make it efficient, moral, socially respectable', and all the rest of it, in that very process energy is decreased, destroyed; and one needs tremendous free energy, not disciplined energy, to find out what is truth or God. So it is not a matter of suppressing, sublimating, controlling desire, but what matters is for this outward and inward movement of desire to come to an end.
Is this all too difficult, sirs? I do not think so. You see, our minds want examples, details, practical applications, but that is not the first question. The first question is to understand the whole process, and then we can work out the details. So let us look at this whole thing, and not ask how it is to be made practical. Once you understand the full significance of this extraordinary phenomenon of the outward and inward movement of desire, which is energy, you will find that that very understanding brings about its own action which is much more practical than the `practicality' we practise now.
What is it that we are doing now? There is outward-going energy, which is desire, which is thought, and in its outward movement this energy is blocked, so there is frustration, there is pain, suffering. Therefore desire withdraws and seeks inwardly for a state in which there will be no pain, a permanent state of peace. This turning inward of the mind in search of a state in which it will not be disturbed, in which it will have a sense of peace, security, is merely a reaction; so the opposites are created. Meeting frustration in its outward movement, desire turns inward, and this very turning inward sets going the dual process of the outer and the inner, the whole conflict of duality.
Now, must not this outward and inward movement of desire cease in order that energy shall be released in a totally different direction? Do you understand the question, sirs? I have a desire, and that desire is frustrated by society, and by my own moral sanctions; being frustrated, there is fear, pain, suffering, and then desire seeks inwardly for a state in which there will be no suffering, in which there will be peace, a permanent tranquillity, and so on. Once it went outward, and now it is recoiling within, but it is still the same movement of desire. This movement is the self, the `me', it is self-enclosing, and therefore energy is becoming less and less. Desire, instead of releasing energy like a river, instead of creating tremendous vitality, complete abandonment, through the very disciplining of itself destroys energy, and that is what is happening to most of the people in the world. But you must have complete abandonment, tremendous attentive energy to find out what is truth, God.
Our problem, then, is not how to be without desire, or how to suppress or sublimate it, but to understand this outward and inward movement of desire, which creates its own narrowing discipline in the shape of individual and social sanctions, thereby gradually destroying this extraordinary energy. That is what is happening in our daily life, is it not? I put out my hand in friendship to somebody, and he hits it; but I have ideals, and instead of attacking the man I withdraw my hand and begin to cultivate compassion, goodness, kindness. Therefore that energy is not set free, but is being dissipated through inner conflict.
So our problem is how to bring about a state of energy which is completely still, so that that energy can be used by reality in any direction it wishes. At present we only know this outward and inward movement of desire which has produced all kinds of misery, mischief, passing joys, and a culture based on the search for security; and whether that desire is seeking within or without, it is essentially the same movement. Now, can that outward and inward movement come to an end? Please listen. The mind cannot make it come to an end, because any effort on the part of the mind to bring that movement to an end is still the same desire moving in another direction, and therefore a dissipation of energy. So the mind has got into a vicious circle. But if this energy, which is everlastingly going outward or recoiling within, can become still without any form of compulsion, if it can be quiet, free from all outward and inward movement, then you will find that, like a river, this energy creates its own right action because it is free from the self. Being still, energy perceives what is truth; then energy itself is truth, and that truth creates its own movement, which is not the movement of going out or recoiling within.
If one has understood all this, then discipline will have quite a different meaning; but at present discipline is merely conflict, conformity, and is therefore destroying energy. Look at what has happened to almost all of us. We have conformed to such an extent that we no longer have any creative energy, there is no initiative left in us; and it is only the man who has this creative energy, this enormous initiative, that finds out what is truth, not the man who conforms, who disciplines, shapes his desires.
What I am describing is a fact, not a theory or a mere idea, and if you listen to the fact, perceive it as it actually is without any judgment or conclusion, without any sense of resistance, then the fact itself will operate, and that is true revolution. The revolution brought about by a cunning mind, whether it be the mind of a Marx, a Shankara, or a Buddha, is no revolution at all. There is revolution only when this outward and inward movement of desire comes to an end without compulsion. Any form of compulsion, any effort of the mind to shape desire in a particular direction, is still part of the same movement. It is only when this movement stops that there is a quietness which is rich, full, vital, and in that quietness there is abundance of energy and not the diminution of energy. Then that which is quiet is the real, and the real produces its own action, its own activity.
So, it is not a matter of suppressing desire; but don't immediately ask, `Then can I do what I like?' You try doing what you like and you will see how difficult it is. Your parents, your grandmother, your neighbours, your religion and society, everything about you says `do' and `don't', so your mind is already conditioned; and any movement of a conditioned mind, whether outward or inward, is still part of its conditioning. Only when that movement ceases - but not in terms of discipline or the edicts of society - is there freedom. Freedom is not a reaction, it is not freedom from something; it is a state of being, and it is only in that state that energy is free to create.
This is very simple to understand, it does not need a great deal of mental training or the reading of books on philosophy, and if you really grasp it you will see that there is a totally different kind of action taking place in your life. Then there is no conflict, and where there is no conflict there is more energy, greater vitality. In the mind that is free from this outward and inward movement. there is immense attention, not fixed at any point. Attention which is directed is not attention at all, it is concentration; but attention without a fixed point is total awareness, and in that state the mind is creative, awake. And to find what is real, the mind must have this extraordinary energy, which is really the capacity to give complete attention without having any incentive. Our attention now is always with an incentive, a motive, and in that there is fear, conflict, strain, and the dissipation of energy.
Question: Please tell us plainly who you are and by what authority you speak. Your presence and your words intoxicate me. Is not intoxication bad in any form?
Krishnamurti: Surely, sir, who the speaker is, or by what authority he speaks, is not very important. There is no authority, he is only explaining what is the fact. He is not giving any system of philosophy, any method of meditation, or panacea, but is merely describing the fact, because the fact is the truth. Our minds are generally incapable of looking at facts without distorting them, but the mind that can look at a fact without opinion, without judgment, without a conclusion, such a mind is free, and a free mind brings its own authority. Not that you must obey, follow it, or be intoxicated by it; on the contrary, you must not follow, nor must you be intoxicated, for then you might as well take a drink. It is the lazy mind that so easily gets intoxicated, whether by a ritual, by a speech, or by some person in authority.
"Is not intoxication bad in any form?" Surely. But why do we look at everything in terms of good and bad, sirs? What is important is to see that intoxication in any form distorts one's own thinking, whether it be the intoxication of a Hitler or of any other person. the intoxication of an Utopia according to the Communists, or the intoxication of drink. And if you listen to the truth but do not let it operate, it poisons you. Please follow this. If you listen and see the truth for yourself, yet do not give it freedom to operate, then that very perception breeds the poison of conflict which is going to destroy you. That is, if you see what is true and do something else, the contradiction is a poison which destroys all your energy. That is why it is much better not to come to these meetings, sirs, if you want to remain as you are. It is good to be without the affliction of conflict, contradiction, pain, suffering; but to have that goodness, that tranquillity in which there is no conflict, you must allow the truth to operate, it must not be you who operate on the truth. To follow another, to be mesmerized by words, by books, by a strong personality, creates conflict and dissipates that extraordinary energy which is necessary to find out what is truth. What is important is to find out what is truth and let that truth bring about its own action.
Question: What is this self-knowledge of which you speak, and how can I acquire it? What is the starting point?
Krishnamurti: Now again, please listen carefully, because you have extraordinary ideas about self-knowledge: that to have self-knowledge you must practise, you must meditate, you must do all kinds of things. It is very simple, sir. The first step is the last step in self-knowledge, the beginning is the end. The first step is what matters, because self-knowledge is not something you can learn from another. No one can teach you self-knowledge, you have to find out for yourself; it must be your own discovery, and that discovery is not something tremendous, fantastic, it is very simple. After all, to know yourself is to watch your behaviour, your words, what you do in your everyday relationships, that is all. Begin with that and you will see how extraordinarily difficult it is to be aware, just to watch the manner of your behaviour, the words you use to your servant, to your boss, the attitude you have with regard to people, to ideas and to things. Just watch your thoughts, your motives, in the mirror of relationship, and you will see that the moment you watch you want to correct, you say, `This is good, that is bad, I must do this and not that'. When you see yourself in the mirror of relationship, your approach is one of condemnation or justification, therefore you distort what you see. Whereas, if you simply observe in that mirror your attitude with regard to people, to ideas and to things, if you just see the fact without judgment, without condemnation or acceptance, then you will find that that very perception has its own action. That is the beginning of self-knowledge.
To watch yourself, to observe what you do, what you think, what your motives and incentives are, and yet not condemn or justify, is an extraordinarily difficult thing to do, because your whole culture is based on condemnation, judgment and evaluation; you have been brought up on `Do this and not that'. But if you can look in the mirror of relationship without creating the opposite, then you will find that there is no end to self-knowledge.
You see, the inquiry into self-knowledge is an outward movement which later turns inward; first we look at the stars, and then we look within ourselves. In the same way, we look for reality, for God, for security, happiness, in the objective world, and when it is not found there, we turn inward. This search for the inner God, the higher self, or what you will, completely ceases through self-knowledge, and then the mind becomes very quiet, not through discipline, but just through understanding, through watching, through being aware of itself every minute without choice. Don't say, `I must be aware every minute', because that is just another manifestation of our foolishness when we want to get somewhere, when we want to arrive at a particular state. What matters is to be aware of yourself and to keep on being aware without accumulating, because the moment you accumulate, from that centre you judge. Self-knowledge is not a process of accumulation, it is a process of dis- covery from moment to moment in relationship.
Question: I am old and I can no longer escape from the imminent approach of death. How can I face it unafraid?
Krishnamurti: I do not think this is a problem only for the old, it is a problem for all of us. Now, what is death, and why is there fear of death? Either that fear exists because of the unknown tomorrow, or because death means letting go of the known. Do you understand? Either we are afraid of the unknown future, of what lies beyond, or of losing the known, the known being `my family', `my virtue', `my bank account', `my friends', all the things which we have gathered and which we cherish, the things we cling to. All that is the known, and we are afraid to let go of that; or we are afraid of the unknown something which lies beyond. That is the fact.
Now, we always want to know what happens beyond death, whether there is survival or annihilation. think that is a wrong question, sirs. The right question is whether it is possible to know death while living, to enter the house of death consciously while you are vital, full of health, not when you are drugged by disease or when you are losing your consciousness through the inevitable process of old age. Can you know what death is now, while you are living, conscious, while you have vitality, energy, while you have no overwhelming disease? That is the question, sirs; because when you know what death is, then there is no fear of death, then all the theories, the beliefs, the hopes and fears are gone.
So let us go into this question together, you and I. The question is not what life will be like in the unknown future, or whether you will continue beyond death, or how to let go of the known, but whether it is possible to know death while living, to enter the house of death while fully conscious, with complete awareness. That is the question, and it is an extraordinarily vital one, is it not?
The old man full of years, and the young man who is going to be full of years, will both have the same end; and can they both know now what death means? You put yourself that question, sir. I am putting it for you, but you put it to yourself; and if you put it to yourself with vigour, with attention, with earnestness, you will find the answer.
What does death mean? Please listen. What does death mean? Not the unknown, but letting the known go completely. the known being the thousand yesterdays with all their memories, experiences, knowledge, joys and pains. To let all that go is to be completely alone which is not loneliness, with its fear and ugliness, but a state of complete dissociation from the past. That state of aloneness is the death which we fear. We are afraid to be cut off from the known cut off from our families, our friends cut off from all the things which we want. But aloneness is not mere isolation, it is an extraordinarily rich state, a state of incorruption, because aloneness implies the cutting away of all knowledge, all experience, experience being a form of continuity through memory.
Do listen, sirs, and don't say, `I must be alone, and how am I to be in that state?' It is the foolish mind, the lazy mind that asks how. But a mind that is really attentive to what is being said, that is not mesmerized by words, will be in that state in which the mind is no longer contaminated by the past, or by the edicts and compulsions, of society. Then the mind is totally innocent, it is a fresh mind, a new mind, and such a mind alone has no fear of death.
If you have really listened to this you will find that, simply and without any kind of problem, an awakening comes, and then you will observe that your mind is cleansed by the very strange miracle of listening to what is a fact. When you listen to the fact without resistance, you have a fresh mind, a mind no longer caught by the conclusions of the past, and only such a mind is without fear. Because it is alone, such a mind is the external, the real, for truth is alone from moment to moment. Truth is not continuous. The moment you think in terms of continuity, you have already accumulated a fact of yesterday. Only the mind which is fresh, innocent, alone, can see the truth, and such a mind is in a state of constantly is renewed discovery of what is truth.
February 20, 1955.
Bombay 2nd Public Talk 20th February 1955
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