Ojai 1st Public Talk 6th August 1955
Throughout the world we have many grave problems; and even though welfare states may be created, and the politicians may bring about a superficial peace of co-existence, with economic prosperity in a country of this kind where there is booming production and the promise of a happy future, I do not think that our problems can so easily be solved. We want these problems to be solved, and we look to others to solve them: to religious teachers, to analysts, to leaders, or else we rely on tradition, or we turn to various books, philosophies. And I presume that is why you are here: to be told what to do. Or you hope that through listening to explanations you will comprehend the problems that each one of us is confronted with. But I think you will be making a grave mistake if you expect that by casually listening to one or two talks, without paying much attention, you will be guided to the comprehension of our many problems. It is not at all my intention merely to explain verbally or intellectually the problems that we are confronted with; on the contrary, what we shall attempt to do during these talks is to go much deeper into the fundamental issue which makes all these problems so complicated, so infinitely painful and sorrowful.
Please have the patience to listen without being carried away by words, or objecting to one or two phrases or ideas. One must have immense patience to find out what is true. Most of us are impatient to get on, to find a result, to achieve a success, a goal, a certain state of happiness, or to experience something to which the mind can cling. But what is needed, I think, is a patience and a perseverance to seek without an end. Most of us are seeking, that is why we are here; but in our search we want to find something, a result, a goal, a state of being in which we can be happy, peaceful; so our search is already determined, is it not? When we seek, we are seeking something which we want, so our search is already established, predetermined, and therefore it is no longer a search. I think it is very important to understand this. When the mind seeks a particular state, a solution to a problem, when it seeks God, truth, or desires a certain experience, whether mystical or any other kind, it has already conceived what it wants; and because it has already conceived, formulated what it is seeking, its search is infinitely futile. And it is one of the most difficult things to free the mind from this desire to find a result.
It seems to me that our many problems cannot be solved except through a fundamental revolution of the mind, for such a revolution alone can bring about the realization of that which is truth. Therefore it is important to understand the operation of one's own mind, not self-analytically or introspectively, but by being aware of its total process; and that is what I would like to discuss during these talks. If we do not see ourselves as we are, if we do not understand the thinker - the entity that seeks, that is perpetually asking, demanding, questioning, trying to find out, the entity that is creating the problem, the `I', the self, the ego - , then our thought, our search, will have no meaning. As long as one's instrument of thinking is not clear, is perverted, conditioned, whatever one thinks is bound to be limited, narrow.
So our problem is how to free the mind from all conditioning, not how to condition it better. Do you under- stand? Most of us are seeking a better conditioning. The Communists, the Catholics, the Protestants, and the various other sects throughout the world, including the Hindus and Buddhists, are all seeking to condition the mind according to a nobler, a more virtuous, unselfish, or religious pattern. Everyone throughout the world, surely, is trying to condition the mind in a better way, and there is never a question of freeing the mind from all conditioning. But it seems to me that until the mind is free from all conditioning, that is, as long as it is conditioned as a Christian, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Communist, or what not, there must be problems.
Surely, it is possible to find out what is real, or if there is such a thing as God, only when the mind is free from all conditioning. The mere occupation of a conditioned mind with God, with truth, with love, has really no meaning at all, for such a mind can function only within the field of its conditioning. The Communist who does not believe in God thinks in one way, and the man who believes in God, who is occupied with a dogma, thinks in another way; but the minds of both are conditioned, therefore neither can think freely, and all their protestations, their theories and beliefs, have very little meaning. So religion is not a matter of going to church, of having certain beliefs and dogmas. Religion may be something entirely different, it may be the total freeing of the mind from all this vast tradition of centuries; for it is only a free mind that can find truth, reality, that which is beyond the projections of the mind.
This is not a particular theory of mine, as we can see from what is happening in the world. The Communists want to settle the problems of life in one way, the Hindus in another, and the Christians in still another; so their minds are conditioned. Your mind is conditioned as a Christian, whether you will acknowledge it or not. You may superficially break away from the tradition of Christianity, but the deep layers of the unconscious are full of that tradition, they are conditioned by centuries of education according to a particular pattern; and surely a mind that would find something beyond, if there is such a thing, must first be free of all conditioning.
So during these talks we are not discussing self-improvement in any way, nor are we concerned with the improvement of the pattern; we are not seeking to condition the mind in a nobler pattern, nor in a pattern of wider social significance. On the contrary, we are trying to find out how to free the mind, the total consciousness, from all conditioning, for unless that happens there can be no experiencing of reality. You may talk about reality, you may read innumerable volumes about it, read all the sacred books of the East and of the West, but until the mind is aware of its own process, until it sees itself functioning in a particular pattern and is able to be free from that conditioning, obviously all search is vain.
So it seems to me of the greatest importance to begin with ourselves, to be aware of our own conditioning. And how extraordinarily difficult it is to know that one is conditioned! Superficially, on the upper levels of the mind, we may be aware that we are conditioned; we may break away from one pattern and take on another, give up Christianity and become a Communist, leave Catholicism and join some other equally tyrannical group, thinking that we are evolving, growing towards reality. On the contrary, it is merely an exchange of prisons.
And yet that is what most of us want: to find a secure place in our ways of thinking. We want to pursue a set pattern and be undisturbed in our thoughts, in our actions. But it is only the mind that is capable of patiently observing its own conditioning and being free from its conditioning - it is only such a mind that is able to have a revolution, a radical transformation, and thereby to discover that which is infinitely beyond the mind, beyond all our desires, our vanities and pursuits. Without self-knowledge, without knowing oneself as one is - not as one would like to be, which is merely an illusion, an idealistic escape - , without knowing the ways of one's thinking, all one's motives, one's thoughts, one's innumerable responses, it is not possible to understand and go beyond this whole process of thinking.
You have taken a lot of trouble to come here on a hot evening to listen to the talk. And I wonder if you do listen at all? What is listening? I think it is important to go into it a little, if you do not mind. Do you really listen, or are you interpreting what is being said in terms of your own understanding? Are you capable of listening to anybody? Or is it that in the process of listening, various thoughts, opinions arise, so that your own knowledge and experience intervene between what is being said and your comprehension of it?
I think it is important to understand the difference between attention and concentration. Concentration implies choice, does it not? You are trying to concentrate on what I am saying, so your mind is focused, made narrow, and other thoughts intervene; so there is not an actual listening, but a battle going on in the mind, a conflict between what you are hearing and your desire to translate it, to apply what I am talking about, and so on. Whereas, attention is something entirely different. In attention there is no focusing, no choice; there is complete awareness without any interpretation. And if we can listen so attentively, completely, to what is being said, then that very attention brings about the miracle of change within the mind itself.
What we are talking about is something of immense importance, because unless there is a fundamental revolution in each one of us, I do not see how we can bring about a vast, radical change in the world. And surely, that radical change is essential. Mere economic revolution, whether communistic or socialistic, is of no importance at all. There can be only a religious revolution; and the religious revolution cannot take place if the mind is merely conforming to the pattern of a previous conditioning. As long as one is a Christian or a Hindu there can be no fundamental revolution in this true religious sense of the word. And we do need such a revolution. When the mind is free from all conditioning, then you will find that there comes the creativity of reality, of God, or what you will, and it is only such a mind, a mind which is constantly experiencing this creativity, that can bring about a different outlook, different values, a different world.
And so it is important to understand oneself, is it not? Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Self-knowledge is not according to some psychologist, book, or philosopher, but it is to know oneself as one is from moment to moment. Do you understand? To know oneself is to observe what one thinks, how one feels, not just superficially, but to be deeply aware of what is without condemnation, without judgment, without evaluation or comparison. Try it and you will see how extraordinarily difficult it is for a mind that has been trained for centuries to compare, to condemn, to judge, to evaluate, to stop that whole process and simply to observe what is; but unless this takes place, not only at the superficial level, but right through the whole content of consciousness, there can be no delving into the profundity of the mind. Please, if you are really here to understand what is being said, it is this that we are concerned with and nothing else. Our problem is not what societies you should belong to, what kind of activities you should indulge in, what books you should read, and all that superficial business, but how to free the mind from conditioning. The mind is not merely the waking consciousness that is occupied with daily activities, but also the deep layers of the unconscious in which there is the whole residue of the past, of tradition, of racial instincts. All that is the mind, and unless that total consciousness is free right through, our search, our inquiry, our discovery, will be limited, narrow, petty.
So the mind is conditioned right through, there is no part of the mind which is not conditioned; and our problem is, can such a mind free itself? And who is the entity that can free it? Do you understand the problem? The mind is the total consciousness, with all its different layers of knowledge, of acquisition, of tradition, of racial instincts, of memory; and can such a mind free itself? Or can the mind be free only when it sees that it is conditioned and that any movement from this conditioning is still another form of conditioning? I hope you are following all this. If not, we shall discuss it in the days to come.
The mind is completely conditioned - which is an obvious fact, if you come to think about. It is not my invention, it is a fact. We belong to a particular society, we were brought up according to a particular ideology, with certain dogmas, traditions, and the vast influence of culture, of society, is continually conditioning the mind. How can such a mind be free, since any movement of the mind to be free is the result of its conditioning and must therefore bring about further conditioning? There is only one answer. The mind can be free only when it is completely still. Though it has problems, innumerable urges, conflicts, ambitions, if - through self-knowledge, through watching itself without acceptance or condemnation - the mind is choicelessly aware of its own process, then out of that awareness there comes an astonishing silence, a quietness of the mind in which there is no movement of any kind. It is only then that the mind is free, because it is no longer desiring anything, it is no longer seeking, it is no longer pursuing a goal, an ideal, which are all the projections of a conditioned mind. And if you ever come to that understanding, in which there can be no self-deception, then you will find that there is a possibility of the coming into being of that extraordinary thing called creativity. Then only can the mind realize that which is measure, less, which may be called God, truth, or what you will - the word has very little meaning. You may be socially prosperous, you may have innumerable possessions, cars, houses, refrigerators, superficial peace, but unless that which is measureless comes into being there will always be sorrow. Freeing the mind from conditioning is the ending of sorrow.
There are many questions here; and what is the function of asking a question and receiving an answer? Do we solve any problem by asking a question? What is a problem? Please follow this, think with me. What is a problem? A problem comes into being only when the mind is occupied with something, does it not? If I have a problem, what does it mean? Let's say that my mind is occupied from morning till night with envy, with jealousy, with sex, or what you will. It is the occupation of the mind with an object that creates the problem. The envy may be a fact, but it is the occupation of the mind with the fact that creates the problem, the conflict. Isn't that so? Let's say I am envious, or I have a violent urge of some kind or another. The envy expresses itself, there is conflict, and then my mind is occupied with the conflict: how to be free of it, how to resolve it, what to do about it. It is the occupation of the mind with envy that creates the problem, not envy itself - which we will go into presently, the whole significance of envy. Our problem, then, is not the fact, but occupation with the fact. And can the mind be free from occupation? Is the mind capable of dealing with the fact without being occupied with it? We shall examine this question of occupation as we go along. It is really very interesting to watch one's mind in operation.
So, in considering these questions together, we are trying to liberate the mind from occupation, which means looking at the fact without being occupied with it. That is, if I have a particular compulsion, can I look at that compulsion without being occupied with it? Please, you watch your own peculiar compulsion of irritability, or whatever it be. Can you look at it without the mind being occupied with it? Occupation implies the effort to resolve that compulsion, does it not? You are condemning it, comparing it with something else, trying to alter it, overcome it. In other words, trying to do something about your compulsion, is occupation, is it not? But can you look at the fact that you have a particular compulsion, an urge, a desire, look at it without comparing, without judging, and hence not set going the whole process of occupation?
Psychologically it is very interesting to observe this, how the mind is incapable of looking at a fact like envy without bringing in the vast complex of opinions, judgments, evaluations with which the mind is occupied; so we never resolve the fact, but multiply the problems. I hope I am making myself clear. And I think it is important for us to understand this process of occupation, because there is a much deeper factor behind it, which is the fear of not being occupied. Whether a mind is occupied with God, with truth, with sex, or with drink, its quality is essentially the same. The man who thinks about God and becomes a hermit may be socially more significant, he may have a greater value to society than the drunkard; but both are occupied, and a mind that is occupied is never free to discover what is truth.
Please don't reject or accept what I am saying; look at it, find out. If each one of us can really attend to this one thing, give our full attention to the whole process of the mind's occupation with any problem without trying to free the mind from occupation, which is merely another way of being occupied - if we can understand this process completely, totally, then I think the problem itself will become irrelevant. When the mind is free from occupation with the problem, free to observe, to be aware of the whole issue, then the problem itself can be solved comparatively easily.
Question: All our troubles seem to arise from desire, but can we ever be free from desire? Is desire inherent in us, or is it a product of the mind?
Krishnamurti: What is desire? And why do we separate desire from the mind? And who is the entity that says, `Desire creates problems, therefore I must be free from desire'? Do you follow? We have to understand what desire is, not ask how to get rid of desire because it creates trouble, or whether it is a product of the mind. First we must know what desire is, and then we can go into it more deeply. What is desire? How does desire arise? I shall explain and you will see, but don't merely listen to my words. Actually experience the thing that we are talking about as we go along and then it will have significance.
How does desire come into being? Surely, it comes into being through perception or seeing, contact, sensation, and then desire. Isn't that so? First you see a car, then there is contact, sensation, and finally the desire to own the car, to drive it. Please follow this slowly, patiently. Then, in trying to get that car, which is desire, there is conflict. So in the very fulfilment of desire there is conflict, there is pain, suffering, joy, and you want to hold the pleasure and discard the pain. This is what is actually taking place with each one of us. The entity created by desire, the entity who is identified with pleasure, says, `I must get rid of that which is not pleasurable, which is painful'. We never say, `I want to get rid of pain and pleasure'. We want to retain pleasure and discard pain; but desire creates both, does it not? Desire, which comes into being through perception, contact, and sensation, is identified as the `me' who wants to hold on to the pleasurable and discard that which is painful. But the painful and the pleasurable are equally the outcome of desire, which is part of the mind, it is not outside of the mind; and as long as there is an entity which says, `I want to hold on to this and discard that', there must be conflict. Because we want to get rid of all the painful desires and hold on to those which are primarily pleasurable, worthwhile, we never consider the whole problem of desire. And when we say, `I must get rid of desire', who is the entity that is trying to get rid of something? Is not that entity also the outcome of desire? Do you understand all this?
Please, as I said at the beginning of the talk, you must have infinite patience to understand these things. To fundamental questions there is no absolute answer of `yes' or `no'. What is important is to put a fundamental question, not to find an answer; and if we are capable of looking at that fundamental question without seeking an answer, then that very observation of the fundamental brings about understanding.
So our problem is not how to be free from the desires which are painful while holding on to those which are pleasurable, but to understand the whole nature of desire. This brings up the question, what is conflict? And who is the entity that is always choosing between the pleasurable and the painful? The entity whom we call the `me', the self, the ego, the mind which says, `This is pleasure, that is pain, I will hold on to the pleasurable and reject the painful' - is not that entity still desire? But if we are capable of looking at the whole field of desire, and not in terms of keeping or getting rid of something, then we shall find that desire has quite a different significance.
Desire creates contradiction, and the mind that is at all alert does not like to live in contradiction, therefore it tries to get rid of desire. But if the mind can understand desire without trying to brush it away, without saying, `This is a better desire and that is a worse one, I am going to keep this and discard the other', if it can be aware of the whole field of desire without rejecting, without choosing, without condemning, then you will see that the mind is desire, it is not separate from desire. If you really understand this, the mind becomes very quiet; desires come, but they no longer have impact, they are no longer of great significance; they do not take root in the mind and create problems. The mind reacts, otherwise it is not alive, but the reaction is superficial and does not take root. That is why it is important to understand this whole process of desire in which most of us are caught. Being caught, we feel the contradiction, the infinite pain of it, so we struggle against desire, and the struggle creates duality. Whereas, if we can look at desire without judgment, without evaluation or condemnation, then we shall find that it no longer takes root. The mind that gives soil to problems can never find that which is real. So the issue is not how to resolve desire, but to understand it, and one can understand it only when there is no condemnation of it. Only the mind that is not occupied with desire can understand desire.
August 6, 1955.
Ojai 1st Public Talk 6th August 1955
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