London 3rd Public Talk 19th June 1955
It seems to me that, especially in religious matters, our search is very superficial. We do not seem to be able to go beyond the surface depths. Most of us spend our days in searching for some reality that our conditioned thinking either projects or can only superficially comprehend. Is it not a problem with most of us, how to search really very deeply, to go beyond the superficial depths, to be free of all psychologists, of all prophets, teachers, Saviours, Masters, and disciplines, so that we, as individuals, can really find out for ourselves what is true? And we do not seem to be able to do it; because we are always looking for support, for confirmation from those who we think have already found, or who have been pointed out to us by the various religions. We have no confidence in our own capacity to find out. If we can have confidence in our own capacity, then perhaps we shall be free to find out for ourselves what is true, - that which is beyond the measure of the mind.
Now, how is one to have this capacity? Because, if one has it then one is free, one is liberated from all following, from all authority. from this sense of imitation, of conformity to the pattern laid down by any particular religion or philosophy. If we have this capacity to search really profoundly, to go to the very depths of our being, without distortion, without the fear of not discovering, of not finding a result, then perhaps we can be free of all culture, whether of the East or of the West. Because culture, it seems to me, does not help us to find reality, - that which is beyond measure, that which is beyond time. Western or Eastern influence has so conditioned us, so shaped our minds, that we think only in the pattern of our own culture.
I do not think culture will ever help us. On the contrary, I think we must be free of all culture, totally, - which means, to be free from the desire to be recognized by society.
The man who is capable of going to the very depth of things, he alone is the true individual. At present we are the mass, the collective, the result of culture, of tradition. of all the various beliefs and conditioned experiences. Surely it is only when we are free of all that, that we are truly individual; and it is only then that reality can come into being.
So, how is one to have this capacity which will set us free from all authority in spiritual matters, so that we are true individuals, capable of finding out for ourselves, never asking for encouragement, for confirmation, for support? I think that is a fundamental question. We rarely ask fundamental questions; and if we do ask them, we are easily satisfied with superficial answers, with the words of another. So, can you and I have this capacity? - not in the process of time, which is again an evasion; but can you and I have it immediately? Can one go beyond the superficial level? What is it that prevents me from being so clear that I understand the whole, the totality of my being? In the very process of understanding how my being is the result of tradition, of time, of culture, of fear, of experience, can I not set all that aside, so that the mind is fresh, clear, and able to find out, to perceive directly? I am sure most of us must have asked this question. Can the mind be free, not depending on another, whoever it be, not depending on any system or any path? If you pursue a system, a path, then obviously you will have the result of that system, of that path, but you are no longer an individual, a true seeker. A true seeker must obviously be free. So what is it that is preventing this extraordinary capacity to pursue very deeply and not be satisfied with superficial explanations and beliefs?
One of the reasons is, is it not? that we move, that we think, from accumulation to accumulation. Where there is accumulation there must be imitation. Every experience leaves a residue as memory, and from that memory we act, we gather, we strengthen ourselves. There is never a moment when the mind is really free, but always there is the residue of yesterday's experiences. It is this memory, - the result of years of accumulation, - which prevents the capacity to be clear, direct. So the mind is never free. I do not know if you have noticed how every experience leaves a residue, a result. and round that result all further experience is translated, gathered, accumulated, and held. So memory, as experience, as tradition, as knowledge, is the burden which prevents us from having this capacity to be free, to be completely individual, to discover for ourselves.
Being born a Hindu, or a Christian, naturally the mind is conditioned in a particular symbology, in various ideas of what reality is, what meditation is and through that conditioning the mind experiences, and so further strengthens its own conditioning. The Christian will always hold in spiritual matters to the vision of Christ, or the Virgin Mary, - and the Hindu does the same, in his own way. To be totally free, not superficially but completely, - which means, when there is no form of imitation. when there is no sense of conformity psychologically, inwardly, - only then, surely, ore has this capacity to search, to find out.
If you have followed this, the obvious question is. "How am I to free myself from all the accumulation of the past, from all my conditioning?" There is no `how', there is only the discovery of the truth, without asking `how to be free'. Because if our whole attention is given to the discovery of what is true, then that very perception, that very listening to that which is true, liberates. So long as we think in terms of belief, of illusion, of things we would wish to be, we are incapable of listening, giving our whole attention. Our beliefs, our traditions, our symbols, prevent the actual listening to any truth. It seems to me the only important thing is to give attention; complete attention is the complete good. Attention with an object in view is no longer attention, it is exclusion. Therefore if we can listen, not in order to gain something, - such attention becomes exclusive, narrow, limited, - but listen with our whole being, totally, without any object, then we will see that we will never ask the `how', the method. the system, the philosophy, the discipline. In that state of complete attention there is no contradiction within ourselves, there is no battle between the conscious and the unconscious; it is a total attention. And so there is no need to go through all the psychoanalytical process, delving into memory after memory, in order to be free.
So can we, you and I who are listening, actually experience, without each experience leaving a residue? You understand the problem? If I experience something, and it leaves a memory, that memory conditions future experiences; and so that which is measureless can never be experienced. That which is, is timeless; and memory is of time. Whether it is the superficial memory of a certain incident, or the memory of an experience that one has had on rare occasions when one has perhaps felt, known, something beyond the measurement of the mind, something eternal, - whatever it be, we are forever clinging to that experience, and so it prevents the mind from experiencing further, more profoundly. So long as experience leaves a mark of memory, which is time, that which is eternal can never be experienced. So the mind must die to itself from moment to moment, of all experience. Surely only in that state is it creative, And can one have the capacity to penetrate deeply? I think one can, but only when we are not satisfied with explanations, when we are no longer fed with words, when we no longer depend on other people's experiences, when we are not looking to anybody, when we are taking the journey completely alone, having shed all tradition, all culture, all belief, and above all, all knowledge, - because a mind that is cluttered with knowledge can only experience that which it knows. So can you and I, not theoretically, not just for the moment because you are listening to a talk, but actually, directly, put aside all the inherited racial accumulation, cease to be English or Hindu, cease to have religion in the sense of orthodoxy, dogmas, symbols? If we cling to all these we are no longer seekers; then we are merely pursuing satisfaction, the pleasure of an experience which the conditioned mind demands.
And I think this capacity is not of time. If we look to time, then we shall again be caught in the method. But to see the importance, feel the importance, be aware of the necessity of complete inward freedom, see the truth of it, - then that very perception, that very listening with full attention, brings the capacity.
Question: I want my child to be free. Is true freedom incompatible with loyalty to the English tradition of life and education?
Krishnamurti: This is what they say in India too, - can I be a Hindu, with loyalty to my country, and yet be free to find God? Can I still be a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Christian, and yet be free? Can you? One may have a passport, a piece of paper for travelling; but that need not make one a Hindu. Surely freedom is totally incompatible with any nationality, any tradition. There is the American way of life, the English way of life, the Russian way if life, and the Hindu way of life. Each one says "Our way is the only way", and clings to it; and yet we all talk of freedom, peace.
I think all this has to go it we are to bring about a different world, a world which is ours, a world in which there is no communism or socialism or capitalism or Hinduism or Christianity. The earth is our world in which to live undivided, to live happily, to live freely. But it cannot be our world so long as there are Englishmen, Hindus, Germans, Communists, and so on, - that way it can never be free. This freedom can only come about when we are really religious, when each one of us is really an individual in the true sense.
When we are religiously free, then we can create a world which is ours, and so give a different kind of education, - not merely condition the child to a particular culture, encase him i;i a particular system, train him to be a communist or atheist or Catholic or Protestant or Hindu; such individuals are not free, therefore they are not really religious, they are merely conditioned; and they create such misery. So if we are to create a totally different world, there must be a religious revolution, - not the going back to some belief, or going forward to some achievement, but freedom from all tradition, all dogma, all symbols, all belief, so that one is truly an individual, free to find, to search out, that which is measureless.
Question: The Western mind is trained to contemplate on object, the Eastern mind to meditate on subject. The first leads to action, the other to the negation of action. It is only by the integration of these two directions of perception within the individual that a total understanding of life can emerge. What is the key to that integration?
Krishnamurti: Why do we divide the human being as of the West or of the East? Is there not a different approach to this problem altogether? - not merely an attempt to integrate action with meditation. I think such an integration is an impossibility. Perhaps there may be a different approach to the problem altogether, instead of this attempt to integrate action with a state of mind which is aloof, which merely observes, contemplates. We have divided life as action and non-action, and therefore we seek integration. But if we do not divide ourselves at all, if we can eliminate from our thinking this whole issue of the orient as against the occident, and look at the problem differently, - then, in seeking reality the mind becomes creative, and in the very perception of that which is real there is action, which is contemplation; there is no division.
To the western mind the orient, with its mysticism and all that stuff, is foreign. Because of the cold climate in the west, because of the various forms of industrial revolution and all the rest of it, you must be active, you must bother with a lot of clothing. In the east, where there is a very warm climate and very little clothing is needed, one has time, leisure; and there is the old tradition that one must go away from society to find. Here, you are concerned entirely with reform, - better conditions, better living. So, how can the two be integrated? Both approaches may be false, - and surely they must be, when one gives exaggerated importance to the one and denies the other.
But if we try to find, seeking not as a group of Christians but as individuals, having no authority in our search for reality, then that very search itself is creative, and that very creativeness brings about its own action. If we do not seek that religious freedom, all reform leads only to further misery, - which is being shown everywhere. You may have peace through terror; but there will still be inward wars with each other, - competition, ruthlessness, the search for power by the group or by the individual. Only those people who are religious, in the deepest sense of that word, - who have shed all spiritual authority, who do not belong to any church, any group, who have not identified themselves with any particular doctrine, who are seeking everlastingly, timelessly asking, and never accumulating any experience, - only such people are truly creative. Such a mind is the only religious and therefore revolutionary mind, and it will act without dividing itself as the contemplative or the active, because such a one is a total being.
Question: I am afraid of death. I have lived a very rich and full life intellectually, artistically, and emotionally. Now that I am approaching death all that satisfaction is gone, and I am left with nothing but the religious beliefs of my childhood, - such as purgatory, hell, and so on, - which now fill me with terror. Can you give me any reassurance?
Krishnamurti: And I think the next question is also concerned with death, so I will read that too.
Question: I am a young man, till a few weeks ago in perfect health and enjoying life to the full. An accident has injured me fatally and the doctors only give me a few months to live: W Why should this happen to me, and how am I to meet death?
Krishnamurti: I think most of us, whether we are young or old, are afraid of death. The man who wants to finish his work, he is afraid of death; because he wants to achieve a result. The man who is making a successful career does not want to be cut off in the middle of it, so he is afraid of death. The man who has lived fully, with all the richness of this world, he also is afraid of death. So what is one to do? You see, we never ask fundamental questions. The person who has lived richly, fully, had never asked the question. His rich and full life was very superficial, because underneath, deep down, all the traditions of Christianity, of Hinduism or what you will, are there, hidden, lying dormant; and when his life is not being lived richly, fully, the sediments of the past come to the top, and he is afraid of purgatory, or he invents a heaven which will be satisfactory.
So there are in the unconscious the sediments of our culture, of our racial fears, and so on. And while we are active, thoughtful, healthy, it seems to me it is a necessity to inquire into the very depths of our being in order to find out and eradicate all these deposits, sediments, of tradition, of fear, so that when death does come we are capable of looking at it. Which means, really, that we should be able to ask a fundamental question now, and not be satisfied with superficial answers. There are those who believe in reincarnation; they say they will live next life, that there is a continuity, there is no annihilation; and they are happy in that belief. But they have not solved the problem, they are merely satisfied with words, with explanations. Or, if you are very intellectual, you say "Death is inevitable, it is part of existence. As I am born, I shall die. Why make an issue of it?" They have not solved the problem either.
Most of us are afraid, only we cover it up with beliefs, with explanations, with rationality. And there is the man who says "I am only young, why should I be cut off? I want to live, see the richness of life. And why should it happen to me?" When anyone says "Why should it happen to me?", obviously it means "It should happen not to me but to you". So we are all concerned with this issue. Now, can we search into it?
Please, will you experiment with what I am saying? - not merely listen, but really experience this now by actually following the description and applying it to yourself. The description is merely the door through which you are looking; but you have to look. If you do not look, the description, the door, has very little value. So, we are going to look, and find out for ourselves the truth of this problem, - but not by seeking explanations, not by changing one belief for another, not by substituting the Christian belief in heaven for the Hindu belief in reincarnation, and so on.
The fact is, there is death; the organism comes to an end. And the fact is, there may or may not be a continuity. But I want to know now, while I am healthy, vital, and alive, what it is to live richly; and I also want to find out now what it means to die, - not wait for an accident or a disease to carry me off. I want to know what it means to die, - living, to enter the house of death. Not theoretically, but actually, I want to experience the extraordinary thing it must be, - to enter into the unknown, cutting off all the known.
Not to meet with the known, not to meet a friend on the other side, - that is what is frightening us. I am afraid to let go of all the things I have known, the family, the virtue that I have cultivated, the property, the position, the power, the sorrow, the joy, everything that I have gathered, which is all the known, - I am afraid to let all that go, totally, deep down, right from the depths of my being, and to be with the unknown, - which is, after all, death. Can I, who am the result of the known, not seek to move into something also known, but enter something which I do not know, something which I have never experienced? Books have been written about death, various religions have taught of it; but those are all descriptions, those are all the things known. Death, surely, is the unknown, as truth is the unknown; and the mind that is burdened with the known can never enter into that realm of the unknown.
So the question is, can I put away all the known? I cannot put it away by will. Please, follow this. I cannot put away the known by will, by volition; because that entails a maker of the will, an entity who says "This is right and this is wrong", "This I want and this I do not want". Such a mind is acting from the known. is it not? It says "I want to enter that extraordinary thing which is death, the unknowable, and so I must relinquish the known". Such a person then searches the various corners of his mind. in order to push aside the known. This action allows the entity who deliberately pushed away the known to remain. But as that entity is itself the result of the known, it can never experience or enter that extraordinary state. Is this not clear? - that so lone as there is an experiencer, that experiencer is the result of the known; and then that experiencer wishes to understand that which is the not-known, the unknown. Whatever efforts he may make towards that, his experience will still be within the field of the known. So the problem then is, can the experiencer cease, totally? Because, he is the actor, he is the urge, he is the seeker, he is the entity who says "This is the known, and I must move towards the unknown". And surely any action, any movement on the part of the observer, the experiencer, is still within the field of the known.
So, can the mind, which is the result of the known, which is the result of time, - can that mind enter into the unknown? Obviously it cannot. So any explanation of death, any belief, is still the outcome of the known. Therefore can I, can my mind, denude itself totally of all the known? There is no answer. It depends on you. You have to find out, you have to inquire, you have to delve into this problem. Fundamental questions have no "yes" or "no" for an answer. You have to posit the fundamental question, and wait for it to unfold itself. It cannot unfold itself if you are merely seeking an answer, an explanation. This is the fundamental question, - Can I, who am the result of the known, enter into the unknown, which is death? If I want to do it, it must be done while living, surely, not at the last moment. At the last moment the mind is not capable of looking, understanding; it is diseased, tired, exhausted, it has very little consciousness. But while one is active, full of consciousness, alert, aware, - can one not find out? While living to enter the house of death is not just a morbid idea; it is the only solution. While living a rich, full life, - whatever that means, - or while living a miserable, impoverished life, can we not know that which ia not measurable, that which is only glimpsed by the experiencer in rare moments?
So can you and I put away the known? You understand the depths of the problem? The mind clings to every pleasurable experience, and wants to avoid the unpleasant. This accumulation of the pleasant is the known; and the avoidance of the unpleasant is also the known. Can the mind die from moment to moment to everything that it experiences, and never accumulate? Because if there is accumulation then there is the ex- periencer always looking from that accumulation; that accumulation itself is the experiencer; therefore he can never know what is beyond the known. I think it is very important for each one of us to understand this deeply, because then knowledge, then discipline, then belief and dogma, the pursuit of teachers and gurus and all the rest of it, have no meaning at all. For the disciplines, the methods, are all the known, - things to be practised and ends to be gained.
Can we see the totality of all that, giving our whole attention to it? - not in order to gain the unknown, for such attention is merely exclusion, a form of greed. Can we be aware that so long as there is any movement of the mind, that movement is born of time, of the known, and such a movement towards the unknown can never enter that field of freedom? If we can, then the mind, seeing the truth of it, becomes completely motionless. It is no longer seeking, asking, searching out; because it understands that any searching, asking, is from the known. Only when the mind is totally still is it possible for the unknown to be.
June 19, 1955
London 3rd Public Talk 19th June 1955
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.