Sydney 1st Public Talk 9th November, 1955
As there are many misconceptions, fantastic ideas, and a great many hopes which have no fundamental basis, I think it is important that we should understand each other and establish the right kind of relationship between the speaker and the individual person who is here.
First of all, what I am going to speak about during these several talks is not based on any Indian religion, nor am I representing any particular philosophy. Thought has neither nationality nor frontier, and what we are trying to do this evening is to find out for ourselves what it is that most of us are seeking. You may have come here with various ideas, with certain hopes, seeking something from the speaker, and I think we ought to begin by clearing up any misconceptions; so I would like to suggest that you listen to find out what I want to convey, which is not merely to hear but really to understand what is being said. It is very difficult to listen rightly, because most of us have opinions, judgments, conclusions, values, and so we never really listen at all; we are only comparing, evaluating, translating, or opposing one idea with another. But if you can listen, not with a so-called open mind, but with the intention to understand, then perhaps you and I together will find out how to approach the many problems which we have.
We can understand our problems only if we have the capacity to listen, to pay full attention, and such attention is not possible if we are seeking an end, an answer. There is attention only when the mind is really quiet, and then it is able to receive, to comprehend; but a mind that is occupied with its own answers, that is caught up in the search for a result, is never quiet, and such a mind is incapable of full attention. So I think it is important to listen with full attention, not just to what is being said, but to everything in life, for only then is the mind free to discover what is true and find out if there is something beyond its own inventions.
That is what I would like to talk about this evening and throughout these talks. Is it possible to free the mind, not to accept, but to investigate, to inquire profoundly and find out if there is or there is not reality, God? Surely, the mind is incapable of such inquiry as long as it is merely concerned with finding solutions for its own petty problems, that is, as long as it is only concerned with escapes. The mind cannot be free unless it has understood the problem in which it is caught, and this implies self-knowledge, a full awareness of its own activities.
All our problems are really individual problems, because the individual is society. There is no society without the individual, and as long as the individual does not totally understand himself, his conscious as well as his unconscious self, whatever reforms he may devise, whatever gods he may invent, whatever truths he may seek, will have very little significance. So the individual problem is the world problem, which is fairly obvious; and the world problem can come to an end only when the individual understands himself, the activities of his own mind, the workings of his own consciousness. Then there is a possibility of creating a different world, a world in which there are no nationalities, no frontiers of belief, no political or religious dogmas.
So it seems to me very important to find out what it is we are seeking. This is not a rhetorical question, but a question that each one of us must inevitably put to himself; and the more mature, intelligent and alert we are, the greater and more urgent our demand to find out what it is that we are seeking. Unfortunately most of us put this question superficially, and when we receive a superficial answer we are satisfied with it. But if you care to go into the matter you will find that the mind is merely seeking some kind of satisfaction, some kind of pleasant invention which will gratify it; and once having found or created for itself a shelter of opinion and conclusion, therein it stays, so our search seemingly comes to an end. Or if we are dissatisfied we go from one philosophy to another, from one dogma to another, from one church, from one sect, from one book to another, always trying to find a permanent security, inwardly as well as outwardly, a permanent happiness, a permanent peace. Our search starts with a mind that has already been made petty and superficial by so-called education, so it finds answers which are equally petty and superficial.
Before we begin to seek, then, is it not important to understand the process of the mind itself? Because what we are seeking now is fairly obvious. We are discontented with so many things, and we want contentment. Being unhappy, in conflict with each other and with society, we want to be led to some kind of haven, and we generally do find a leader or a dogma that satisfies us. But surely all such effort is very superficial, and that is why it seems to me important to understand the ways of the mind and not try to find something. To understand oneself needs enormous patience, because the self is a very complex process, and if one does not understand oneself, whatever one seeks will have very little significance. When we do not understand our own urges and compulsions, conscious as well as unconscious, they produce certain activities which create conflict in ourselves; and what we are seeking is to avoid or escape from this conflict, is it not? So, as long as we do not understand the process of ourselves, of our own thinking, our search is extremely superficial, narrow and petty. To ask if there is God, if there is truth, or what lies beyond death, or whether there is reincarnation - all such questioning is infantile, if I may say so, because the questioner has not understood himself, the whole process of his thinking, and without self-knowledge such inquiry only leads one to assertions which have no basis.
So, if we really want to create a different world, a different relationship between human beings, a different attitude towards life, it is essential that we should first understand ourselves, is it not? This does not mean self-centred concentration, which leads to utter misery. What I am suggesting is that without self-knowledge, without deeply knowing oneself, all inquiry, all thought, all conclusions, opinions and values have very little meaning. Most of us are conditioned, conditioned as Christians, as Socialists, as Communists, as Buddhists, as Moslems, or what you will, and within that narrow area we have our being. Our minds are conditioned by society, by education, by the culture about us, and without understanding the total process of that conditioning, our search, our knowledge, our inquiry can only lead to further mischief, to greater misery, which is what is actually happening.
Self-knowledge is not according to any formula. You may go to a psychologist or a psychoanalyst to find out about yourself, but that is not self-knowledge. Self-knowledge, comes into being when we are aware, of ourselves in relationship, which shows what we are from moment to moment. Relationship is a mirror in which to see ourselves as we actually are. But most of us are incapable of looking at ourselves as we are in relationship, because we immediately begin to condemn or justify what we see. We judge, we evaluate, we compare, we deny or accept, but we never observe actually what is, and for most people this seems to be the most difficult thing to do; yet this alone is the beginning of self-knowledge. If one is able to see oneself as one is in this extraordinary mirror of relationship which does not distort, if one can just look into this mirror with full attention and see actually what is, be aware of it without condemnation, without judgment, without evaluation - and one does this when there is earnest interest - then one will find that the mind is capable of freeing itself from all conditioning; and it is only then that the mind is free to discover that which lies beyond the field of thought. After all, however learned or however petty the mind may be, it is consciously or unconsciously limited, conditioned, and any extension of this conditioning is still within the field of thought. So freedom is something entirely different.
What is important, then, is self-knowledge, seeing oneself as one is in the mirror of relationship. It is very difficult to observe oneself without distortion, because we are educated to distort, to condemn, to compare, to judge; but if the mind is capable, which it is, of observing itself without distortion, then you will find, if you will experiment with it, that the mind can uncondition itself.
Most of us are concerned, not with unconditioning the mind, but with conditioning it better, making it nobler, making it less this and more that. We have never inquired into the possibility of the mind's unconditioning itself completely. And it is only the totally unconditioned mind that can discover reality, not the mind that seeks and finds a gratifying answer, not the mind that is Christian, Hindu, Communist, Socialist, or Capitalist; such a mind only creates more misery, more conflict, more problems. Through self-knowledge the mind can free itself from all conditioning, and this is not a matter of time. Freedom from conditioning comes into being only when we see the necessity of a mind that is unconditioned. But we have never thought about it, we have never inquired, we have merely accepted authority, and there are whole groups of people who say that the mind cannot be unconditioned and must therefore be conditioned better.
Now, I am suggesting that the mind can be unconditioned. It is not for you to accept what I say, because that would be too stupid; but if one is really interested one can find out for oneself whether it is possible for the mind to be unconditioned. Surely, that possibility exists only if one is aware that one is conditioned and does not accept that conditioning as something noble, a worthwhile part of social culture. The unconditioned mind is the only truly religious mind, and only the religious mind can create a fundamental revolution, which is essential, and which is not an economic revolution, nor the revolution of the Communists or the Socialists. To find out what is true the mind must be aware of itself, it must have self-knowledge, which means being alert to all its conscious and unconscious urges and compulsions; but a mind which is the residue of traditions, of values, of so-called culture and education, such a mind is incapable of finding out what is true. It may say it believes in God, but its God has no reality, for it is only the projection of its own conditioning.
So our search within the field of conditioning is no search at all, and I think it is important to understand this. A petty mind can never find that which is beyond the mind, and a conditioned mind is a petty mind whether it believes in God or not. That is why all the beliefs and dogmas that we hold, all the authorities, especially the spiritual authorities, have to be put aside, and only then is there a possibility of finding that which is everlasting, timeless.
There are some questions here, but before we consider them together I think it is important to understand that serious questions have no assertive answers, either positive or negative. There is no "yes" or "no" to the questions of life. What is important is to understand the question, for the answer is in the question and not away from it. But for most of us this seems an impossibility, because we are so eager to find an immediate answer, a palliative for our suffering and confusion; and when we seek an immediate answer we are bound to be led into illusions, into further misery. It is extremely difficult for us to understand the problem because our minds are already seeking an answer and are therefore not giving full attention to the problem. We think of the problem as an impediment, as something to be got rid of, something to be pushed away, avoided. But if the mind can look at the problem without seeking an answer, without translating the problem in terms of its own comfort, then the problem undergoes a fundamental change.
Question: You have said that one can discover oneself only in relationship. Is the self an isolated reality, or is there no self at all without relationship?
Krishnamurti: This is really a very interesting question, and I hope you and I can think it out together. We are thinking it out together, you are not awaiting an answer from me. It is your problem, and if through my verbalization we can go into it seriously, I think we shall directly or indirectly discover a great many things and not have to be told.
I have said that one can discover oneself only in relationship. That is so, is it not? One cannot know oneself, what one actually is, except in relationship. Anger, jealousy, envy, lust - all such reactions exist only in one's relationship with people, with things, and with ideas. If there is no relationship at all, if there is complete isolation, one cannot know oneself. The mind can isolate itself, thinking that it is somebody, which is a state of lunacy, unbalance, and in that state it cannot know itself. It merely has ideas about itself, like the idealist who is isolating himself from the fact of what he is by pursuing what he should be. That is what most of us are doing. Because relationship is painful we want to isolate ourselves from this pain, and in the isolating process we create the ideal of what we should be, which is imaginary, an invention of the mind. So we can know ourselves as we actually are, consciously as well as unconsciously, only in relationship, and that is fairly obvious.
I hope you are interested in all this, because it is part of our daily, activity, it is our very life, and if we do not understand it, merely going to a series of meetings, or acquiring knowledge from books, will have very little meaning.
The second part of the question is this: "Is the self an isolated reality, or is there no self at all without relationship?" In other words, do I exist only in relationship, or do I exist as an isolated reality beyond relationship? I think the latter is what most of us would like, because relationship is painful. In the very fulfilment of relationship there is fear, anxiety, and knowing this, the mind seeks to isolate itself with its gods, its higher self, and so on. The very nature of the self, the "me", is a process of isolation, is it not? The self and the concerns of the self - my family, my property, my love, my desire - is a process of isolation, and this process is a reality in the sense that it is actually taking place. And can such a self-enclosed mind ever find something beyond itself? Obviously not. It may stretch its walls, its boundaries, it may expand its area, but it is still the consciousness of the "me".
Now, when do you know you are related? Are you conscious of being related when there is complete unanimity, when there is love? Or does the consciousness of being related arise only when there is friction, when there is conflict, when you are demanding something, when there is frustration, fear, contention between the "me" and the other who is related to the "me"? Does the sense of self in relationship exist if you are not in pain? Let us look at it much more simply.
If you are not in pain, do you know that you exist? Say, for instance, you are happy for a moment. At the precise moment of experiencing happiness, are you aware that you are happy? Surely, it is only a second afterwards that you become conscious that you are happy. And is it not possible for the mind to be free from all self-enclosing demands and pursuits so that the self is not? Then perhaps relationship can have quite a different meaning. Relationship now is used as a means of security, as a means of self-perpetuation, self-expansion, self aggrandisement. All these qualities make up the self, and if they cease, then there may be another state in which relationship has a different significance altogether. After all, most relationship is now based on envy, because envy is the basis of our present culture, and therefore in our relationship with each other, which is society, there is contention, violence, a constant battle. But if there is no envy at all, neither conscious nor unconscious, neither superficial nor deep-rooted, if all envy has totally ceased, then is not our relationship entirely different?
So there is a state of mind which is not bound by the idea of the self. Please, this is not a theory, it is not some philosophy to be practised, but if you are really listening to what is being said you are bound to experience the truth of it. These meetings will be utterly futile, they will have no meaning at all, if you are treating what is being said as a lecture to be listened to, talked over, and forgotten. They will have meaning only if you are listening and directly experiencing these things as they are being said.
Question: What do you mean by awareness? Is it just being conscious, or something more?
Krishnamurti: May I again suggest that you listen, not merely to my words, but to the significance of the words, which is really to follow experimentally through my description, the actual functioning of your own mind as you are sitting here.
I think it is important to find out what awareness is, because it is an extraordinarily real process. It is not a thing to be practised, to be meditated upon daily in order to be aware. That has no meaning at all.
What do we mean by awareness? To be aware is to know that I am standing here and that you are sitting there. We are aware of trees, of people, of noise, of the swift flight of a bird, and most of us are satisfied with this superficial experience. But if we go a little deeper we become conscious that the mind is recognising, registering, associating, verbalizing, giving names; it is constantly judging, condemning, accepting, rejecting, and to see this whole process in operation is also part of awareness. If we go still deeper we begin to see the hidden motives, the cultural conditioning, the urges, the compulsions, the beliefs, the envy, the fear, the racial prejudices that lie hidden in the unconscious and of which most of us are unaware. All this is the process of consciousness, is it not? So, awareness is to see this process in operation, both the outward consciousness and the consciousness which is hidden, and one can be aware of it in relationship, while one sits at table, while one eats, while one is travelling on a bus.
Now, is there something other than this? Is awareness something more than merely the awareness of the process of consciousness? The something more cannot be discovered if you have not understood the whole content of your consciousness, because any desire to find something more will be a mere projection of that consciousness. So you must first understand your own consciousness, you must understand what you are, and you can understand what you are only by being aware, which is to see yourself in the mirror of relationship; and you cannot see yourself as you are if you condemn what you see. That is fairly simple. If you condemn a child, obviously you do not understand him, and you condemn because that is the easiest way to get rid of the problem.
So, to be aware is to see the total process of the mind, not only of the conscious mind, but also of the mind which is hidden and which reveals itself through dreams; but we won't go into that now.
If the mind can be aware of all its own activities, both conscious and unconscious, then there is a possibility of going beyond. To go beyond, the mind must be completely still, but a still mind is not one that is disciplined. A mind that is held in control is not a still mind, it is a stale mind. The mind is still, tranquil, only when it understands the whole process of its own thinking, and then there is a possibility of going beyond.
November 9, 1955
Sydney 1st Public Talk 9th November, 1955
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