Ojai 2nd Public Talk 7th August 1955
Perhaps it might be worthwhile first of all to talk over together what we mean by listening. You are here, apparently, to listen to and to understand what is being said; and I think it is important to find out how we listen, because understanding depends on the manner of listening. As we listen, do we discuss with ourselves what is being said, interpreting it according to our own particular opinions, knowledge and idiosyncrasies, or do we just listen attentively without any sense of interpretation at all? And what does it mean to pay attention? It seems to me quite important to differentiate between attention and concentration. Can we listen with an attention in which there is no interpretation, no opposition or acceptance, so that we understand totally what is being said? It is fairly obvious, I think, that if one can listen with complete attention, then that very attention brings about an extraordinary effect.
Surely, there are two ways of listening. One can superficially follow the words, see their meaning, and merely pursue the outward significance of the description; or one can listen to the description, to the verbal statement, and pursue it inwardly, that is, be aware of what is being said as a thing that one is directly experiencing in oneself. If one can do the latter, that is, if through the description one is able to experience directly the thing that is being said, then I think it will have great significance. Perhaps you will experiment with that as you are listening.
Throughout the world there is immense poverty, as in Asia, and enormous wealth, as in this country; there is cruelty, suffering, injustice, a sense of living in which there is no love. Seeing all this, what is one to do? What is the true approach to these innumerable problems? Religions everywhere have emphasized self-improvement, the cultivation of virtue, the acceptance of authority, the following of certain dogmas, beliefs, the making of great effort to conform. Not only religiously, but also socially and politically, there is the constant urge of self-improvement: I must be more noble, more gentle, more considerate, less violent. Society, with the help of religion, has brought about a culture of self-improvement in the widest sense of that word. That is what each one of us is trying to do all the time: we are trying to improve ourselves, which implies effort, discipline, conformity, competition, acceptance of authority, a sense of
security, the justification of ambition. And self-improvement does produce certain obvious results, it makes one more socially inclined; it has social significance and no more, for self-improvement does not reveal the ultimate reality. I think it is very important to understand this.
The religions that we have do not help us to understand that which is the real, because they are essentially based, not on the abandonment of the self, but on the improvement, the refinement of the self, which is the continuity of the self in different forms. It is only the very few who break away from society, not the outward trappings of society, but from all the implications of a society which is based on acquisitiveness, on envy, on comparison, competition. This society conditions the mind to a particular pattern of thought, the pattern of self-improvement, self-adjustment, self-sacrifice, and only those who are capable of breaking away from all conditioning can discover that which is not measurable by the mind.
Now, what do we mean by effort? We are all making effort, our social pattern is based on the effort to acquire, to understand more, to have more knowledge, and from that background of knowledge, to act. There is always an effort of self-improvement, of self-adjustment, of correction, this drive to fulfil, with its frustrations, fears and miseries. According to this pattern, which we all know and of which we are a part, it is perfectly justified to be ambitious, to compete, to be envious, to pursue a particular result; and our society, whether in America, in Europe, or in India, is essentially based on that.
So does society, does culture in this widest sense, help the individual to find truth? Or is society detrimental to man, preventing him from discovering that which is truth? Surely, society as we know it, this culture in which we live and function, helps man to conform to a particular pattern, to be respectable, and it is the product of many wills. We have created this society, it has not come into being by itself. And does this society help the individual to find that which is truth, God - what name you will, the words do not matter - , or must the individual set aside totally the culture, the values of society, to find that which is truth? Which does not mean - please let us remember this very clearly - that he becomes antisocial, does what he likes. On the contrary.
The present social structure is based on envy, on acquisitiveness, in which is implied conformity, acceptance of authority, the perpetual fulfilment of ambition, which is essentially the self, the `me' striving to become something. Out of this stuff society is made, and its culture - the pleasant and the unpleasant, the beautiful and the ugly, the whole field of social endeavour - conditions the mind. You are the result of society. If you were born and trained in Russia through their particular form of education, you would deny God, you would accept certain patterns, as here you accept certain other patterns. Here you believe in God, you would be horrified if you did not; you would not be respectable.
So everywhere society is conditioning the individual, and this conditioning takes the form of self-improvement, which is really the perpetuation of the `me', the ego, in different forms. Self-improvement may be gross, or it may be very very refined, when it becomes the practice of virtue, goodness, the so-called love of one's neighbour, but essentially it is the continuance of the `me', which is a product of the conditioning influences of society. All your endeavour has gone into becoming something, either here, if you can make it, or if not, in another world; but it is the same urge, the same drive to maintain and continue the self.
When one sees all this - and I am not necessarily going into every detail of it - one inevitably asks oneself, does society or culture exist to help man to discover that which may be called truth or God? What matters, surely, is to discover, to actually experience something far beyond the mind, not merely to have a belief, which has no significance at all. And do so-called religions, the following of various teachers, disciplines, belonging to sects, cults, which are all, if you observe, within the field of social respectability - do any of those things help you to find that which is timeless bliss, timeless reality? If you do not merely listen to what is being said, agreeing or disagreeing, but ask yourself whether society helps you, not in the superficial sense of feeding you, clothing you, and giving you shelter, but fundamentally - if you are actually putting that question directly to yourself, which means that you are applying what is being said to yourself so that it becomes a direct experience and not merely a repetition of what you have heard or learnt, then you will see that effort can exist only in the field of self-improvement. And effort is basically part of society, which conditions the mind according to a pattern in which effort is considered essential.
It is like this. If I am a scientist I must study, I must know mathematics, I must know all that has been said before, I must have an immense accumulation of knowledge. My memory must be heightened, strengthened and widened. But such a memory, such knowledge, actually prevents further discovery. It is only when I can forget the total acquisition of knowledge, wipe away all the information that I have acquired, which can be used later - it is only then that I can find something new. I cannot find anything new with the burden of the past, with the burden of knowledge, which is again an obvious psychological fact. And I am saying this because we approach reality, that extraordinary state of creativity, with all the burden of society, with the conditioning of a given culture, and so we never discover anything new. Surely, that which is the sublime, the eternal, must always be new, timeless, and for the new to come into being there cannot be any endeavour in the field in which effort is exercised as self-improvement or self-fulfilment. It is only when such effort totally ceases that the other is possible.
Please, this is really very important. It is not a question of gazing at your navel and going into some kind of illusion, but of understanding the whole process of effort in society, this society of which you are the product, which you have built, and in which effort is essential, because otherwise you are lost. If you are not ambitious, you are destroyed; if you are not acquisitive, you are trodden on; if you are not envious, you cannot be an executive or a big success. So you are constantly making effort to be or not to be, to become something, to be successful, to fulfil your ambition; and with that mentality, which is the product of society, you are trying to find something which is not of society.
Now, if one wishes to find that which is truth, one must be totally free from all religions, from all conditioning, from all dogmas, from all beliefs, from all authority which makes one conform; which means, essentially, standing completely alone, and that is very arduous, it is not a hobby for a Sunday morning when you go for a pleasant drive to sit under the trees and listen to some nonsense. To find out what is truth requires immense patience, gentleness, hesitancy. The mere studying of books has no value; but if as you listen you can be completely attentive, then you will see that this very attention frees you from effort so that without movement in any direction the mind is capable of receiving something which is extraordinarily beautiful and creative, something which is not to be measured by knowledge, by the past. It is only such a person who is really religious and revolutionary, because he is no longer part of society. As long as one is ambitious, envious, acquisitive, competitive, one is society. With that mentality, which is extraordinarily difficult to be free of, one seeks God, and that search has no meaning at all, because it is merely another endeavour to become something, to gain something. That is why it is very important to understand one's relationship to society, to be aware of all the beliefs, dogmas, tenets, superstitions that one has acquired, and to throw them off - not with effort, because then you will again be caught in it, but just to see these things for what they are and let them go, like the autumnal leaf that withers and is blown away, leaving the tree naked. It is only such a mind that can receive something which brings measureless happiness to life.
In discussing with you some of these questions, I am obviously not answering them, because we are trying to find out together the significance of the question. If you are merely listening for an answer to the question, I'm afraid you will be disappointed, because then you are not interested in the problem but are only concerned with the answer - as most of us are. I feel it is very important to ask fundamental questions and to keep on asking them without trying to find an answer; because the more you persist in asking fundamental questions, demanding, inquiring, the sharper and more aware the mind becomes. So what are the fundamental questions? Can anyone tell you what they are, or must you find out for yourself? If you can find out for yourself what are the fundamental questions, your mind has already altered, it has already become much more significant than when it asks a petty question and finds a petty answer.
Question: Juvenile delinquency in this country is increasing at an alarming rate, How is this mounting problem to be solved?
Krishnamurti: There is obviously revolt within the pattern of society. Some revolts are respectable, others are not, but they are always within the field of society, within the limits of the social fence. And surely, a society based on envy, on ambition, cruelty, war, must expect revolt within itself. After all, when you go to the cinema, the movies, you see a great deal of violence. There have been two enormous global wars, representing total violence. A nation which maintains an army must be destructive of its own citizens. Please listen to all this. No nation is peaceful as long as it has an army, whether it is a defensive or an offensive army. An army is both offensive and defensive, it does not bring about a peaceful state. The moment a culture establishes and maintains an army, it is destroying itself. This is historically a fact. And on every side we are encouraged to be competitive, to be ambitious, to be successful. Competition, ambition and success are the gods of a particularly prosperous society such as this, and what do you expect? You want juvenile delinquency to become respectable, that's all. You do not tackle the roots of the problem, which is to stop this whole process of war, of maintaining an army, of being ambitious, of encouraging competition. These things, which are rooted in our hearts, are the fences of society within which there is revolt going on all the time on the part of both the young and the old. The problem is not only that of juvenile delinquency, it involves our whole social structure, and there is no answer to it as long as you and I do not step totally out of society - society representing ambition, cruelty, the desire to succeed, to become somebody, to be on top. That whole process is es- sentially the egocentric pursuit of fulfilment, only it has been made respectable. How you worship a successful man! How you decorate a man who kills thousands! And there are all the divisions of belief, of dogma, the Christian and the Hindu, the Buddhist and the Moslem. These are the things that are bringing about conflict; and when you seek to deal with juvenile delinquency by merely keeping the children at home, or disciplining them, or putting them in the army, or having recourse to the various solutions offered by every psychologist and social reformer, you are surely dealing very superficially with a fundamental question. But we are afraid to tackle fundamental questions because we would become unpopular, we would be termed Communists, or God knows what else, and labels seem to have extraordinary importance for most of us. Whether it is in Russia, in India, or here, the problem is essentially the same, and it is only when the mind understands this whole social structure that we shall find an entirely different approach to the problem, thereby perhaps establishing real peace, not this spurious peace of politicians.
Question: I have gone from teacher to teacher seeking, and now I have come to you in the same spirit of search. Are you any different from all the others, and how am I to know?
Krishnamurti: Now, you are really seeking, and what does it mean to seek? Do you understand the question? You are obviously seeking something, but what? Essentially you are seeking a state of mind which will never be disturbed and which you call peace, God, love, or whatever it be. Is it not so? Our life is disturbed, anxious, full of fear, darkness, upheaval, confusion, and we want to escape from all that; but when a confused man seeks, his search is based on confusion, and therefore what he finds is further confusion. Are you following this?
First of all, then, we must inquire why we seek, and what it is we are seeking. You may go from teacher to teacher, each teacher offering a different method of discipline or meditation, some foolish nonsense; so what is important, surely, is not the teacher and what he offers, but what it is you are seeking. If you can be very clear about what you are seeking, then you will find a teacher who will offer you that. If you are seeking peace, you will find a teacher who will offer you that which you seek. But that which you seek may not be true at all. Do you understand? I may want perfect bliss, which means an undisturbed state of mind in which there will be complete quietness, no conflict, no pain, no inquiry, no doubt, so I practise a discipline which some teacher offers; and probably that very discipline produces its own result, which I call peace. I might just as well take a drug, a pill, which will have the same effect - only that's not respectable, whereas the other is. (Laughter). Please, it is not a laughing matter, this is what we are actually doing.
So, that which you are seeking you will find, obviously, if you are willing to pay for it. If you put yourself in the hands of another, follow some authority, discipline, control yourself, you will find what you want, which means that your desire is dictating your search; but you are really not aware of the motivation of your search at all, and then you ask me what my position is and how you are to know whether what I am saying is true or false. Having gone to various teachers and been caught, burnt, you now want to try this. But I am not telling you anything; actually I am not telling you anything at all. All that I am saying is to know yourself deeper and deeper, see yourself as you actually are, which nobody can teach you; and you cannot see yourself as you are if you are bound by beliefs, by dogmas, by superstitions, fears.
Sirs, for a mind that cannot stand alone, search will have no meaning at all. To stand alone is to be uncorrupted, innocent, free of all tradition, of dogma, of opinion, of what another says, and so on. Such a mind does not seek, because there is nothing to seek; being free, such a mind is completely still, without a want, without movement. But this state is not to be achieved, it isn't a thing that you buy through discipline; it doesn't come into being by giving up sex, or practising a certain yoga. It comes into being only when there is understanding of the ways of the self, the `me', which shows itself through the conscious mind in everyday activity, and also in the unconscious. What matters is to understand for oneself, not through the direction of others, the total content of consciousness which is conditioned, which is the result of society, of religion, of various impacts, impressions, memories - to understand all that conditioning and be free of it. But there is no how, to be free. If you ask how to be free you are not listening.
Say, for example, I am telling you that the mind must be totally unconditioned. Now, how do you listen to a statement of that kind? With what attention are you listening to it? If you are watching your own mind, which I hope you are, you will see that you are inwardly saying `How impossible this is', or, `It cannot be done', or, `Conditioning can only be modified', and so on. In other words, you are not listening to the statement attentively, but you are opposing it with your own opinions, with your own conclusions, with your own knowledge; therefore there is no attention.
The fact is that the mind is conditioned, whether as a Communist, a Catholic, a Protestant, a Hindu, or whatever it be, and either we are unaware of this conditioning, or we accept it, or we try to modify it ennoble it, change it; but we never put the question, can the mind be totally free from conditioning? Before you can really put that question attentively to yourself, you must first be aware that your mind is conditioned, as it obviously is. Do you understand what I mean by conditioning? Not the superficial conditioning of language, gesture, costume, and all the rest of it, but conditioning in a much deeper, more fundamental sense. The mind is conditioned when it is ambitious, not only in this world, but ambitious to become something spiritual. This whole endeavour of self-improvement is the result of conditioning; and can the mind be totally free from such conditioning? If you really put that question to yourself attentively without seeking an answer, then you will find the right answer, which is not that it is possible or impossible, but something entirely different takes place.
So it is important to find out how we pay attention to these talks. If you don't pay attention, I assure you it is a waste of time for you to come here every weekend. It may be pleasant to drive to Ojai, but it's hot. Whereas, if you can pay direct attention to what is being said, which is not to remember something you have read, or to oppose opinion by opinion, or to take notes and say, `I'll think about it later,' but actually to put the given question to yourself immediately, while you are listening, then that very actuality of attention brings about the right answer.
Question: It is now a well-established fact that many of our diseases are psychosomatic, brought on by deep inner frustrations and conflict; of which we are often unaware. Must we now run to psychiatrists as we used to run to physicians, or is there a way for man to free himself from this inner turmoil?
Krishnamurti: Which raises the question, what is the position of the psychoanalysts? And what is the position of those of us who have some form of disease or illness? Is the disease brought on by our emotional disturbances, or is it without emotional significance? Most of us are disturbed. Most of us are confused, in turmoil, even the very prosperous who have refrigerators, cars, and all the rest of it; and as we do not know how to deal with the disturbance, inevitably it reacts on the physical and produces an illness, which is fairly obvious. And the question is, must we run to psychiatrists to help us to remove our disturbances and thereby regain health, or is it possible for us to find out for ourselves how not to be disturbed, how not to have turmoil, anxieties, fears?
Why are we disturbed, if we are? What is disturbance? I want something but I can't get it, so I'm in a state. I want to fulfil through my children, through my wife, through my property, through position, success, and all the rest of it, but I am blocked, which means that I am disturbed. I am ambitious, but somebody else pushes me aside and gets ahead; again I am in chaos, in turmoil, which produces its own physical reaction.
Now, can you and I be free of all this turmoil and confusion? What is confusion? Do you understand? What is confusion? Confusion exists only when there is the fact plus what I think about the fact: my opinion about the fact, my disregard of the fact, my evasion of the fact, my evaluation of the fact, and so on. If I can look at the fact without the additive quality, then there is no confusion. If I recognize the fact that a certain road leads to Ventura, there is no confusion. Confusion arises only when I think or insist that the road leads somewhere else - and that is actually the state that most of us are in. Our opinions, our beliefs, our desires, ambitions, are so strong, we are so weighed down by them, that we are incapable of looking at the fact.
So, the fact plus opinion, judgment, evaluation, ambition, and all the rest of it, brings about confusion. And can you and I, being confused, not act? Surely, any action born of confusion must lead to further confusion, further turmoil, all of which reacts on the body, on the nervous system, and produces illness. Being confused, to acknowledge to oneself that one is confused requires, not courage, but a certain clarity of thought, clarity of perception. Most of us are afraid to acknowledge that we are confused, so out of our confusion we choose leaders, teachers, politicians; and when we choose something out of our confusion, that very choice must be confused, and therefore the leader must also be confused.
Is it possible, then, to be aware of our confusion, and to know the cause of that confusion, and not act? When a confused mind acts, it can only produce further confusion; but a mind that is aware that it is confused and understands this whole process of confusion, need not act, because that very clarity is its own action. I think this is rather difficult for most people to understand, because we are so used to acting, doing; but if one can watch action, see what its results are, observe what is happening in the world politically and in every direction, then it becomes fairly obvious that so-called reformatory action is merely producing more confusion, more chaos, more reforms.
So can we individually be aware of our own confusion, of our own turmoil, and live with it, understand it, without wanting to get rid of it, push it away, or escape from it? As long as we are kicking it, condemning it, running away from it, that very con- demnation, running away, is the process of confusion. And I do not think any analyst can solve this problem. He may temporarily help you to conform to a certain pattern of society which he calls normal existence, but the problem is much deeper than that, and no one can solve it except yourself. You and I have made this society, it is the result of our actions, of our thoughts, of our very being, and as long as we are merely trying to reform the product without understanding the entity that has produced it, we shall have more diseases, more chaos, more delinquency. The understanding of the self brings about wisdom and right action.
August 7, 1955.
Ojai 2nd Public Talk 7th August 1955
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