Ojai 8th Public Talk 28th August 1955
It is quite difficult, I think, to differentiate between the collective and the individual, and to discover where the collective ends and the individual begins; also to see the significance of the collective, and to find out whether it is at all possible ever to be free from the collective so as to bring about the totality of the individual. I do not know if you have thought about this problem at all, but it seems to me that it is one of the fundamental issues confronting the world, especially at the present time when so much emphasis is being laid on the collective. Not only in the Communistic countries, but also in the Capitalistic world where welfare states are being created, as in England, more and more significance is being given to the collective; there are collective farms and co-operatives in various forms, and looking at all this one wonders where the individual comes into the picture, and whether there is an individual at all.
Are you an individual? You have a particular name, a private bank account, a separate house, certain facial and psychological differentiations, but are you an individual? I think it is very important to go into this, because it is only when there is the incorruptibility of the individual, which I shall discuss presently, that there is a possibility of something totally new taking place. That implies finding out for oneself where the collective ends, if it ends at all, and where the individual begins, which involves the whole problem of time. This is quite a complex subject, and being complex, one must attack it simply, directly, not in a roundabout way, and if I may I would like to go into it this morning.
Please, if I may suggest, observe your own thinking as I am talking and do not merely listen with approval or disapproval to what is being said. If you are merely listening with approval or disapproval, with a superficial intellectual outlook, then this talk and the talks that have taken place will be utterly useless. Whereas, if one is capable of observing the functioning of one's own mind as I am describing it, then that very observation does bring about an astonishing action which is not imposed or compelled.
I think it is very important for each one of us to find out where the collective ends and where the individual begins. Or, though modified by temperament, personal idiosyncrasies, and so on, is the whole of our thinking, our being, the collective? The collective is the conglomeration of various conditionings brought about by social action and reaction, by the influences of education, by religious beliefs, dogmas, tenets, and all the rest of it. This whole heterogeneous process is the collective, and if you examine, look at yourself, you will see that everything you think, your beliefs or non-belief, your ideals or opposition to ideals, your efforts, your envies, your urges, your sense of social responsibility - all that is the result of the collective. If you are a pacifist, your pacificism is the result of a particular conditioning.
So, if we look at ourselves, it is astonishing to see how completely we are the collective. After all, in the Western world, where Christianity has existed for so many centuries, you are brought up in that particular conditioning. You are educated either as a Catholic or a Protestant, with all the divisions of Protestantism. And once you are educated as a Christian, as a Hindu, or whatever it be, believ- ing in all kinds of stuff - hell, damnation, purgatory, the only Saviour, original sin, and innumerable other beliefs - , by that you are conditioned, and though you may deviate, the residue of that conditioning is there in the unconscious. You are forever afraid of hell, or of not believing in a particular Saviour, and so on.
So, as one looks at this extraordinary phenomenon, it seems rather absurd to call oneself an individual. You may have individual tastes, your name and your face may be quite different from those of another, but the very process of your thinking is entirely the result of the collective. The racial instincts, the traditions, the moral values, the extraordinary worship of success, the desire for power, position, wealth, which breeds violence - surely, all that is the result of the collective, inherited through centuries. And from all this conglomeration is it possible to extricate the individual? Or is it utterly impossible? If we are at all serious in the matter of bringing about a radical change, a revolution, isn't it very important to consider this point fundamentally? Because it is only for the man who is an individual in the sense in which I am using that word, who is not contaminated by the collective, who is entirely alone, not lonely, but completely alone inwardly - it is only for such an individual that reality comes into being.
To put it differently, we start our lives with assumptions, with postulates: that there is or there is not God, that there is heaven, hell, that there must be a certain form of relationship, morality, that a particular ideology must prevail, and so on. With these assumptions, which are the product of the collective, we build a structure which we call education, which we call religion, and we create a society in which rugged individualism is either rampant or controlled. This society is based on the assumption that it is inevitable and necessary to have competition, that there must be ambition, envy. And is it possible not to build on any assumption, but to build as we inquire, as we discover? If the discovery is that of somebody else, then we immediately enter the field of the collective, which is the field of authority; but if each one of us starts with freedom from assumptions, from all postulates, then you and I will build a totally different society, and it seems to me that this is one of the most fundamental issues at the present time.
Now, seeing this whole process, not only at the conscious level, but at the unconscious level as well - the unconscious being also the residue of the collective - , is it possible to extricate from it the individual? Which means, is it possible to think at all if thinking is stripped of the collective? Is not all your thinking collective? If you are educated as a Catholic, a Methodist, a Baptist, or what you will, your thinking is the result of the collective, conscious or unconscious; your thinking is the result of memory, and memory is the collective. This is rather complex, and one must go into it rather slowly, neither agreeing nor disagreeing; we are trying to find out.
When we say there is freedom of thought, it seems to me such utter nonsense, because, as you and I think, thinking is the reaction of memory, and memory is the outcome of the collective, the collective being Christian, Hindu, and all the rest of it. So, there can never be freedom of thought as long as thinking is based on memory. Please, this is not mere logic. Don't brush it aside that way, saying, `Oh well, this is just intellectual logic'. It isn't. It happens to be logical, but I am describing a fact. As long as thought is the reaction of memory, which is the residue of the collective, the mind must function in the field of time, time being the continuation of memory as yesterday, today and to- morrow. For such a mind there is always death, corruptibility and fear, and however much it may seek something incorruptible, beyond time, it can never find it, because its thought is the result of time, of memory, of the collective.
So, can a mind whose thought is the result of the collective, whose thought is the collective, extricate itself from all that? Which means, can the mind know the timeless, the incorruptible, that which is alone, which is not influenced by any society? Don't assert or deny, don't say, `I have had an experience of it' - all that has no meaning, because this is really an extraordinarily complex question. We can see that there will always be corruption as long as the mind is functioning in the collective. It may invent a better code of morality, bring about more social reforms, but all that is within the collective influence, and therefore corruptible. Surely, to find out if there is a state which is not corruptible, which is timeless, which is immortal, the mind must be totally free from the collective; and if there is total freedom from the collective, will the individual be anti-collective? Or will he not be anti-collective, but will function at a totally different level which the collective may reject? Are you following all this?
The problem is, can the mind ever go beyond the collective? If there is no possibility of going beyond the collective, then we must be content with decorating the collective, opening up windows in the prison, installing better lights, more bathrooms, and so on. That is what the world is concerned with, which it calls progress, a higher standard of living. I am not against a higher standard of living, that would be silly, especially if one comes from India where one sees starvation as it is never seen in any other part of the world except perhaps in China, where people have half a meal a day and not even that, where there is sorrow suffering, disease, and the incapacity to revolt because they are starved. So, no intelligent man can be against a higher standard of living; but if that is all, then life is merely materialistic. Then suffering is inevitable; then ambition, competition, antagonism, ruthless efficiency, war, and the whole structure of the modern world, with occasional witch-hunting and social reform, is perfectly all right. But if one begins to inquire into the problem of sorrow - sorrow as death, sorrow as frustration, sorrow as the darkness of ignorance - , then one must question this whole structure, not just parts of it, not just the army, or the government, in order to bring about a particular reform. Either one must accept this society in its entirety, or one must reject it completely - reject it, not in the sense of running away from it, but finding out its significance.
So, if there is no possibility for the mind to extricate itself from this prison of the collective, then the mind can only go back and reform the prison. But to me there is such a possibility, because to struggle everlastingly in the prison would be to stupid. And how is the mind to extricate itself from this heterogeneous mass of values and contradictions, pursuits and urges? Until you do that, there is no individuality. You may call yourself an individual, you may say you have a soul, a higher self, but those are all inventions of the mind which is still part of the collective.
One can see what is happening in the world. A new group of the collective is denying that there is a soul, that there is immortality, permanency, that Jesus is the only Saviour, and all the rest of it. Seeing this whole conglomeration of assertions and counter-assertions, the inevitable question arises, is it possible for the mind to disentangle itself from it? That is, can there be freedom from time, time as memory, the memory which is the product of any particular culture, civilization, or conditioning? Can the mind be free from all this memory? Not the memory of how to build a bridge, or the structure of the atom, or the way to one's house; that is factual memory, and without it one would be insane, or in a state of amnesia. But can the mind be free from psychological memory? Surely, it can be free only when it is not seeking security. After all, as I was saying yesterday afternoon, as long as the mind is seeking security, whether in a bank account, in a religion, or in various forms of social action and relationship, there must be violence. The man who has much breeds violence; but the man who sees the much and becomes a hermit, he also breeds violence, because he is seeking security, not in the world, but in ideas.
The problem is, then, can the mind be free from memory, not the memory of information, of knowledge, of facts, but the collective memory which has accrued through centuries of belief? If you put that question to yourself with full attention and do not wait for me to answer, because there is no answer, then you will see that as long as your mind is seeking security in any form, you belong to the collective, to the memory of many centuries. And not to seek security is astonishingly difficult, because one may reject the collective, but develop a collective of one's own experience. Do you understand? I may reject society with all its corruption, with its collective ambition, greed, competitiveness; but having rejected it, I have experiences, and every experience leaves a residue. That residue also becomes the collective, because I have collected it; it becomes my security, which I give to my son, to my neighbour, so I again create the collective in a different pattern.
Is it possible for the mind to be totally free from the memory of the collective? That means being free from envy, from competitiveness, from ambition, from dependence, from this everlasting search for the permanent as a means to be secure; and when there is that freedom, only then is there the individual. Then a totally different state of mind and being exists. Then there is no possibility of corruption, of time, and for such a mind, which may be called individual or some other name, reality comes into being. You cannot go after reality; if you do it becomes your security, therefore it is utterly false, meaningless, like your pursuing money, ambition, fulfilment. Reality must come to you; and it cannot come to you as long as there is the corruption of the collective. That is why the mind must be completely alone, uninfluenced, uncontaminated, therefore free of time, and only then that which is measureless, timeless, comes into being.
Many questions have been sent in, and unfortunately they cannot all be answered. But what we have done is to select the more representative ones, and I am going to try to answer as many of them as possible this morning.
I hope that you are not being mesmerized by me. Please, what I am saying has meaning, I am not saying it casually. You listen with silence. If that silence is merely the result of being overpowered by another personality, or by ideas, then it is utterly valueless. But if your silence is the natural outcome of your attention in observing your own thoughts, your own mind, then you are not being mesmerized, you are not being hypnotized. Then you do not create a new collective, a new following, a new leader - which is a horror, it has no meaning and is most destructive. If you are really alert, inwardly observant, you will find that these talks will have been worthwhile, because they will have revealed the functioning of your own mind. Then you have nothing to learn from another, therefore there is no teacher, no disciple, no following. The totality of all this is in your own conscious- ness, and one who describes that consciousness does not constitute a leader. You don't worship a map, or the telephone, or the blackboard on which something is written. So this is not the creation of a new group, a new leader, a new following, at least, not for me. If you create it, it is your own misery. But if you observe your own mind, which is what the blackboard says, then such observation leads to an extraordinary discovery, and that discovery brings its own action.
Question: Many people who have been through the shattering experience of war seem unable to find their place in the modern world. Tossed about by the waves of this chaotic society, they drift from one occupation to another and lead a miserable life. I am such a person. What am I to do?
Krishnamurti: If you are in revolt against society, what generally happens? Through compulsion, through necessity, you conform to a particular social pattern, and so you have an everlasting battle within yourself and with society. Society has made you what you are, it has brought about wars, destruction. This culture is based on envy, turmoil, its religions do not make a religious man. On the contrary, they destroy the religious man. Then what is an individual to do? Having been shattered by war, either you become a neurotic, or you go to somebody who will help you to be non-neurotic and fit into the social pattern, thereby continuing a society that breeds insanity, wars and corruption. Or else - which is really very difficult - you observe this whole structure of society and are free of it. Being free of society implies not being ambitious, not being covetous, not being competitive; it implies being nothing in relation to that society which is striving to be something. But you see, it is very difficult to accept that, because you may be trodden on, you may be pushed aside; you will have nothing. In that nothingness there is sanity, not in the other. The moment you see that, the moment you are as nothing, then life looks after you. It does. Something happens. But that requires immense insight into the whole structure of society. As long as one wants to be part of this society, one must breed insanity, wars, destruction and misery; but to free oneself from this society, the society of violence, of wealth, of position, of success, requires patience, inquiry, discovery, not the reading of books, the chasing after teachers, psychologists, and all the rest of it.
Question: I am puzzled by the phrase you used in last week's talk, `a completely controlled mind'. Does not a controlled mind involve will or an entity who controls?
Krishnamurti: I did use that expression, `a controlled mind', and I thought I had explained what I meant by it. I see it has not been understood, so I shall explain again.
Isn't it necessary to have, not a controlled mind, but a very steady mind a mind that has no distractions? Please follow this. A mind that has no distractions is a mind for which there is no central interest. If there is a central interest, then there are distractions. But a mind that is completely attentive, not towards a particular object, is a steady mind.
Now, let us examine briefly this whole question of control. When there is control there is an entity who controls, who dominates, who sublimates or finds a substitute. So in control there is always a dual process going on: the one who controls, and the thing that is controlled. In other words, there is conflict. Surely, you are aware of this. There is the con- troller, the evaluator, the judge, the experiencer, the thinker, and opposed to him there is the thing which he examines, controls, suppresses, sublimates, and all the rest of it. So there is always a battle going on between these two, the one that is, and the one that says, `I must be'. This contradiction, this conflict is a waste of energy. And is it possible to have only the fact and not the controller? Is it possible to see the fact that I am envious without saying that it is wrong to be envious, that it is antisocial, anti-spiritual, and must be changed? Can the entity who evaluates totally disappear, and only the fact remain? Can the mind look at the fact without evaluation, that is, without opinion? When there is an opinion about a fact, then there is confusion, conflict. I hope you are following all this.
So, confusion is a waste of energy and the mind must be confused as long as it approaches the fact with a conclusion, with an idea, with an opinion, with a judgment, with condemnation. But when the mind sees the fact as true without opinion, then there is only the perception of the fact, and out of that comes an extraordinary steadiness and subtlety of mind, because there is then no deviation, no escape, no judgment, no conflict in which the mind wastes itself. So there is only thinking, not a thinker; but the experiencing of that is very difficult.
Look what happens. You see a lovely sunset. At the precise moment of seeing it, there is no experiencer, is there? There is only the sense of great beauty. Then the mind says, `How beautiful that was, I would like to have more of it', so the conflict begins of the experiencer wanting more. Now, can the mind be in a state of experiencing without the experiencer? The experiencer is memory, the collective. Oh, do you see it? And can I look at the sunset without comparing, without saying, `How beautiful that is. I wish I could have more of it'? The `more' is the creation of time, in which there is the fear of ending, the fear of death.
Question: Is there a duality between the mind and the self. If there is not, how is one to free the mind from the self?
Krishnamurti: Is there a duality between the `me', the self, the ego, and the mind? Surely not. The mind is the self, the ego. The ego, the self, is this urge of envy, of brutality, of violence, this lack of love, this everlasting seeking of prestige, position, power, trying to be something - which is what the mind is also doing, is it not? The mind is thinking all the time how to advance itself, how to have more security, how to have a better position, more comfort, greater wealth, increased power, all of which is the self. So the mind is the self; the self is not a separate thing, though we like to think it is, because then the mind can control the self, it can play this game of back and forth, subjugating, trying to do something about the self - which is the immature play of an educated mind, educated in the wrong sense of that word.
So, the mind is the self, it is this whole structure of acquisitiveness; and the problem is, how is the mind to be free of itself? Please follow this. If it makes any movement to free itself, it is still the self, is it not?
Look. I and my mind are the same, there is no division between myself and my mind. The self that is envious, ambitious, is exactly the same as the mind that says, `I must not be envious, I must be noble', only the mind has divided itself. Now, when I see that, what am I to do? If the mind is the product of environment, of envy, greed, conditioning, then what is it to do? Surely, any movement it makes to free itself is still part of that conditioning. All right? Do you understand? Any movement on the part of the mind to free itself from conditioning is an action of the self which wants to be free in order to be more happy, more at peace, nearer the right hand of God. So I see the whole of this, the ways and trickeries of the mind. Therefore the mind is quiet, it is completely still, there is no movement; and it is in that silence, in that stillness, that there is freedom from the self, from the mind itself. Surely, the self exists only in the movement of the mind to gain something or to avoid something. If there is no movement of gaining or avoiding, the mind is completely quiet. Then only is there a possibility of being free from the totality of consciousness as the collective and as opposed to the collective.
Question: having seriously experimented with your teachings for a number of years, I have become fully aware of the parasitic nature of self-consciousness and see its tentacles touching my every thought, word and deed. As a result, I have lost all self-confidence as well as all motivation. Work has become drudgery and leisure drabness. I am in almost constant psychological pain, yet I see even this pain as a device of the self. I have reached an impasse in every department of my life, and I ask you as I have been asking myself: What now?
Krishnamurti: Are you experimenting with my teachings, or are you experimenting with yourself? I hope you see the difference. If you are experimenting with what I am saying, then you must come to, `What now?', because then you are trying to achieve a result which you think I have. You think I have something which you do not have, and that if you experiment with what I am saying, you also will get it - which is what most of us do. We approach these things with a commercial mentality: I will do this in order to get that. I will worship, meditate, sacrifice in order to get something.
Now, you are not practising my teachings. I have nothing to say. Or rather, all that I am saying is, observe your own mind, see to what depths the mind can go; therefore you are important, not the teachings. It is important for you to find out your own ways of thinking and what that thinking implies, as I have been trying to point out this morning. And if you are really observing your own thinking, if you are watching, experimenting, discovering, letting go, dying each day to everything that you have gathered, then you will never put that question, `What now?'
You see, confidence is entirely different from self-confidence. The confidence that comes into being when you are discovering from moment to moment is entirely different from the self-confidence arising from the accumulation of discoveries which becomes knowledge and gives you importance. Do you see the difference? Therefore the problem of self-confidence completely disappears. There is only the constant movement of discovery, the constant reading and understanding, not of a book, but of your own mind, the whole, vast structure of consciousness. Then you are not seeking a result at all. It is only when you are seeking a result that you say, `I have done all these things but I have got nothing, and I have lost confidence. What now?' Whereas, if you are examining, understanding the ways of your own mind without seeking a reward, an end, without the motivation of gain, then there is self-knowledge, and you will see an astonishing thing come out of it.
Question: How can one prevent awareness from becoming a new technique, the latest fashion in meditation?
Krishnamurti: As this is a very serious question I am going into it rather deeply, and I hope you are not too tired to follow with relaxed alertness the workings of your own mind.
It is important to meditate, but what is still more important is to understand what is meditation, otherwise the mind gets caught in mere technique. Learning a new trick of breathing, sitting in a certain posture, holding your back straight, practising one of the various systems for silencing the mind - none of that is important. What is important is for you and me to find out what is meditation. In the very finding out of what is meditation, I am meditating. Do you understand? Take it easy, sirs, don't agree or disagree.
It is enormously important to meditate. If you do not know what meditation is, it is like having a flower without scent. You may have a marvellous capacity to talk, or to paint, or to enjoy life, you may have encyclopaedic information and correlate all knowledge, but those things will have no meaning at all if you do not know what meditation is. Meditation is the perfume of life, it has immense beauty. It opens doors that the mind can never open, it goes to depths that the merely cultured mind can never touch. So meditation is very important. but we always put the wrong question, and therefore get a wrong answer. We say, `How am I to meditate', so we go to some swami, some foolish person, or we pick up a book, or follow a system, hoping to learn how to meditate. Now, if we can brush all that aside, the swamis, the yogis, the interpreters, the breathers, the sitting-stillers, and all the rest of it, then we must inevitably come to this question: What is meditation?
So, please listen carefully. We are now asking, not how to meditate, or what the technique of awareness is, but what is meditation - which is the right question. If you put a wrong question you will receive a wrong answer; but if you put the right question, then that very question will reveal the right answer. So, what is meditation? Do you know what meditation is? Don't repeat what you have heard another say, even if you know somebody, as I do, who has devoted twenty-five years to meditation. Do you know what meditation is? Obviously you don't, do you? You may have read what various priests, saints, or hermits have said about contemplation and prayer, but I am not talking of that at all. I am talking of meditation - not the dictionary meaning of the word, which you can look up afterwards. What is meditation? You don't know. And that is the basis on which to meditate. (Laughter) Please listen, don't laugh it off, `I don't know.' Do you understand the beauty of that? It means that my mind is stripped of all technique, of all information about meditation, of everything others have said about it. My mind does not know. We can proceed with finding out what is meditation only when you can honestly say that you do not know; and you cannot say, `I do not know' if there is in your mind the glimmer of secondhand information, of what the Gita. or the Bible or Saint Francis has said about contemplation, or the results of prayer - which is the latest fashion, in every magazine they are talking about it. You must put all that aside, because if you copy, if you follow, you revert to the collective.
So, can the mind be in a state in which it says, `I do not know'? That state is the beginning and the end of meditation, because in that state every experience, every experience is understood and not accumulated. Do you understand? You see, you want to control your thinking; and when you control your thinking, hold it from distraction, your energy has gone into the control and not into thinking. Do you follow? There can be the gathering of energy only when energy is not wasted in control, in subjugation, in fighting distractions, in suppositions, in pursuits, in motivations, and this enormous gathering of energy, of thought, is without motion. Do you understand? When you say, `I do not know', then there is no movement of thought, is there? There is a movement of thought only when you begin to inquire, to find out, and your inquiry is from the known to the known. If you don't follow this, perhaps you will think it out afterwards.
Meditation is a process of purgation of the mind. There can be purgation of the mind only when there is no controller; in controlling, the controller dissipates energy. Dissipation of energy arises from the friction between the controller and the object he wishes to control. Now, when you say, `I do not know', there is no movement of thought in any direction to find an answer; the mind is completely still. And for the mind to be still, there must be extraordinary energy. The mind cannot be still without energy, not the energy that is dissipated through conflict, suppression, domination, or through prayer, seeking, begging, which implies a movement, but the energy that is complete attention. Any movement of thought in any direction is a dissipation of energy, and for the mind to be completely still there must be the energy of complete attention. Only then is there the coming into being of that which is not to be invited, that which is not to be sought after, that for which there is no respectability, which cannot be pursued through virtue or sacrifice. That state is creativity, that is the timeless, the real.
August 28, 1955
Ojai 8th Public Talk 28th August 1955
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