Sydney 2nd Public Talk 12th November, 1955
One of our great problems, it seems to me, is how to free the mind from its own shallowness, because most of our lives are very superficial, narrow and petty. Our thinking is also very shallow, and I feel that if we could free the mind from its pettiness, its self-centred activity, then perhaps there would be a possibility of wider, deeper experience and happiness.
If we are aware that we are petty and that all our thinking is shallow, we try to free the mind from this shallowness through various forms of effort. We dig deeply into ourselves, analysing, imitating, forcing, disciplining, hoping thereby to enlarge the mind and have wider experiences. But is it possible through thought to break down the self-enclosing walls of experience? Is thought the way to free the mind?
Before I go further may I suggest that you neither accept nor reject what is being said. Let us investigate the problem together so that you do not merely repeat what is being said but rather directly experience the truth or the falseness of it for yourself. To do that it seems to me very important to know how to listen, how to pay attention. A mind that is occupied cannot pay attention, and most minds are occupied with some kind of idea, opinion, judgment. When anything new is presented to such a mind, there is an immediate reaction either of acceptance or rejection, which actually prevents understanding, does it not? And what we are trying to do this evening is to see if the mind, which in most people is very shallow, petty, can be freed through any form of thinking, which is really the cultivation of memory. We have enormous problems before us, and a petty mind, however cunning, however clever, however scholarly, can never tackle these problems fully, completely, and hence breeds further misery. So, is it possible to free the mind through the process of thinking?
One is aware that one's thinking is petty, shallow, limited in every direction; and is it possible for such a mind to break down the walls of its own limitation through the process of thinking? That is what we are trying to do, is it not?
Now, does thinking free the mind? What is thinking? The mind, both the conscious and the unconscious, is the result of time, of memory, it is the residue of centuries of knowing, and the totality of this consciousness is the process of thinking. All thinking, surely, springs from a background of various cultures, of innumerable experiences, individual as well as collective, and this background is obviously conditioned.
If one observes oneself and is aware of one's own consciousness, one sees that it is the outcome of many influences: climate, diet, various forms of authority, the society about one, with its taboos, its do's and don'ts, the religion in which one has been brought up, the books one has read, the reactions and experiences one has had, and so on. All these influences condition and shape the mind, and from this background our thinking comes. This is an actual fact, and I do not think we need to discuss it at very great length.
So, thinking is obviously the result of memory, and this result has produced the chaos, the misery, the strife that exists within and without. The mind is the outcome of time, of many influences, of so-called culture and education, and how can such a mind free itself from its own destructive activities? I hope I am making myself clear.
We see there is chaos and misery in the world, a passing happiness. We have developed various forms of technique in order to earn a livelihood, and we have cultivated memory to a vast extent. All our education leads to the cultivation of memory, which is the process of time, and when the mind is functioning wholly within this area it is very superficial, narrow, limited. So, is it possible through thinking, which is the process of time, to reach or to discover something which is beyond time, where true creativeness is?
Most of us spend our energy in the most uncreative thinking, our lives are guided by respectability, by the edicts of society, by various forms of discipline, suppression, resistance, so there is always conformity and fear. Very few know this extraordinary sense of creativity which is obviously beyond time. It is not the creativity of writing a poem or of painting a picture, but a sense of being creative without necessarily expressing it in any form. This creativity may be reality, it may be the highest, the sublime, and until the mind is aware of this creative state, whatever thinking it does can only produce further misery.
So, is it possible for the mind to be aware of the whole process of influence, the influence of society, of culture, of relationship, of food, of education, of the books we read, the religions and the dogmas we follow? Can it be aware of all this and not create thought out of its awareness, but allow thought to come to an end? This is really the complete cessation of all movement of the mind which is the result of the past. Thinking can never discover anything new, because thinking is the result of time, of the past.
All verbalization of thought is the outcome of time, of memory, and through this process the mind can never discover anything new. Surely, that which you call God, truth, reality, or whatever name you like to give it, must be something totally new, unexperienced before. It must be discovered from moment to moment, and that can happen only when the mind is dead to the past, to all accumulated influences. When the mind, which is the product of time, of memory, is able to die from day to day to everything that it has accumulated, only then is it possible to experience something which is totally new, and this new thing is reality.
So, the mind which knows continuity, which is the product of time, of memory, can never discover the new. When the mind is totally still, not made still through desire, through any form of compulsion, repression or imitation, when there is that stillness which comes with the deep understanding of this whole process of thinking - it is only then that one can experience the new. Until that happens, all thinking is obviously petty. We may be very clever, erudite, capable of keen analysis and discovery, but such analysis and discovery only lead to further misery, as has been shown in the world. That is why it seems to me important for those who think differently, who are really seeking to go beyond the limitations of the mind, to understand themselves and the whole content of their consciousness, for only then is it possible to have an extraordinarily still mind; and perhaps in that stillness reality comes into being.
There are several questions, or problems. And what is a problem? Surely, the mind creates a problem when it is occupied in analysing, examining, worrying about something. Life is a series of challenges, and is it possible to meet these challenges without creating problems, that is, without giving soil in the mind for problems to take root and become corroding, destructive? To put it differently, can the mind be unoccupied so as to meet each challenge anew? After all, it is an occupied mind that creates problems, not an unoccupied mind. I think we shall discuss this in different ways during the coming talks.
Question: Some people say that there are actually two paths to the highest attainment, the occult and the mystic. Is this a reality, or a purposeful invention?
Krishnamurti: Most of us, I think, have an idea that reality, God, or whatever name you like to give it, is something fixed, permanent, and that there are various paths to that reality. Now, is there anything permanent? Or is it that the mind desires something permanent, something enduring, as it does in all relationship? Surely, the mind is seeking permanency, a permanent stillness, a permanent happiness, a reality which is secure, unchanging; and as long as the mind is seeking a permanent state, it must create paths to that state.
But is there a permanency, anything that is everlasting, enduring? Or is there no permanency, but a constant movement, not the movement that we know in time, but a movement beyond time? If it is believed that there is something permanent, fixed, unchangeable, in the sense in which we use those words within the area of time, then people will think that there are various paths to it, and the occult and the mystic become the purposeful invention of those who have a vested interest in both. So, what is important is to find out directly for ourselves whether there is anything permanent.
Though the mind may wish to have a permanent tranquillity, a permanent peace, bliss, or what you will, is there such a permanent state? If there is, then there must be a path to it, and practice, discipline, a system of meditation, are necessary to achieve that state. But if we look at it a little more closely and deeply, we find that there is nothing permanent. But the mind rejects that fact because it is seeking some form of security, and out of its own desire it projects the idea of truth as being something permanent, absolute, and then proceeds to invent paths leading to it. This purposeful invention has very little significance to the man who really wishes to find out what is true.
So there is no path to truth, because truth must be discovered from moment to moment. It is not a thing that is the outcome of accumulated experience. One must die to all experience, because that which is accumulating, gathering, is the self, the "me", which is everlastingly seeking its own security, its own permanency and continuity. Any mind whose thought springs from this desire for self-perpetuation, the desire to attain, to succeed, whether in this world or in the next, is bound to be caught in illusion, and therefore in suffering. Whereas, if the mind begins to understand itself by being aware of its own activities, watching its own movements, its own reactions; if it is capable of dying psychologically to the desire to be secure so that it is free from the past, the past which is the accumulation of its own desires and experiences, the past which is the perpetuation of the "me", the self, the ego, then you will see that there are no paths to truth at all, but a constant discovery from moment to moment.
After all, that which gathers, which hoards, which has continuity, is the "me", the self that knows suffering and is the outcome of time. It is this self-centred memory of the "me" and the "mine" - my possessions, my virtues, my qualities, my beliefs - which seeks security and desires to continue. Such a mind invents all these paths, which have no reality at all. Unfortunately, people who have power, position, exploit others by saying that there are different paths, the occult, the mystic, and so on, but the moment one realizes all this, one discovers for oneself that there is no path to truth. When the mind can die psychologically to all the things it has gathered for its own security, it is only then that reality comes into being.
Question: What according to you is freedom?
Krishnamurti: This is really quite a complex question, and if you have the patience let us go into it.
Is freedom something to be attained, or must it be from the very beginning? Is freedom to be achieved through discipline of the mind, through control, through suppression, through conformity, or must it come into being in the very moment of thinking, of feeling? Which does not mean that one must give way to one's desires.
Can freedom be discovered through conforming to the pattern of any particular society, or must freedom be encouraged from the very beginning? Society as we know it now is based on envy, greed, ambition, revenge, on the economic competition for success, on the desire to be something; and in conforming to this pattern, is there freedom? Or does freedom lie outside of this society? Surely, there is freedom only when the mind is no longer acquiring, possessing, when it has ceased to be greedy, envious. There is freedom only when the mind is not occupied with itself, with its own success, with its own concerns and problems, And does this freedom exist at the end or at the beginning? Everyone says, "Discipline yourself, conform, imitate in order to be free". We are all talking of freedom and at the same time exercising authority, so I think it is important to go into this question very deeply.
Does freedom lie within the field of time, within the field of consciousness, consciousness being the reactions and responses of a particular culture or society, the urges and compulsions of man, collective as well as personal? All that is your consciousness, is it not? The "you" is made up of this consciousness. You are the collective, you are not the individual. You may have a name, a bank account, a separate house, certain capacities, but essentially you are the collective, which is fairly obvious. Being Christian, Australian, Indian, Buddhist, or whatever it is, you have certain superstitions, prejudices, beliefs, therefore you are the result of the collective. One is really not an individual, and it is only when one understands the whole collective influence that there is freedom, and then perhaps the individual comes into being.
We can see that as long as we are conforming to the pattern of society and are merely the product of the collective there can be no freedom, but only greed and conflict, the conflict between groups and between the so-called individuals within the group. Conflict, discipline, the desire for expansion, and so on, are all within the pattern of society, and surely there is freedom only when there is no sense of acquisitiveness, when there is no demand to be psychologically secure, safe, when there is no envy. When we understand this pattern and are therefore free from all the beliefs that society has imposed, whether Communist or Capitalist, Christian or Hindu, then perhaps there is the true individual, one who is completely alone, not one who is lonely. The man who is lonely is caught up in his self-enclosing activity, completely cut off in his selfishness, his self-centred concern. But I am talking of something entirely different, of the aloneness which is incorruptible, and with that aloneness there is freedom.
Question: You said that it is possible to be unconditioned. Living in this world, how can we come to this unconditioned state and in what way will it transform our lives here?
Krishnamurti: I wonder if we are aware that we are conditioned? That is the first question, is it not? Do you and I know that we are conditioned as Christians or as Hindus, conditioned to a certain way of thinking, to a certain pattern of action, conditioned to the routine of an everyday job and to all the fears and the boredom involved in it? Do we know that we are the product of the innumerable influences of society? The churches, the ceremonies, the beliefs and dogmas, the very words we use, have an extraordinary influence on us, neurologically as well as psychologically.
Are we aware of all this? If we are, then do we not also want to improve, to become better? There is no noble and honourable conditioning, there is only conditioning, yet most of us are seeking a better way of being conditioned. And is it possible for the mind to uncondition itself? I know some people will say it is not possible and will advance various arguments to prove that it is not. But what we are first trying to do is to experience, not theoretically or in any illusory sense, but actually to experience the fact that we are conditioned, and then to see how the mind seeks a better form of conditioning.
The next thing to find out for ourselves, and not depend on some authority to tell us, is whether it is possible for the mind to be unconditioned. Obviously, if we accept any form of belief with regard to conditioning we are like the man who believes or does not believe in God. Neither the believer nor the non-believer can ever find out what is true. It is only when we free ourselves from both belief and non-belief that we are in a position to find out, to discover.
So, first we must be clear that we are conditioned, which is quite obvious. And if the mind is not capable of unconditioning itself, surely any form of thinking, any reform, any activity, will only produce further conflict, further misery.
Now, being aware that it is conditioned, what is the mind to do? As long as there is a separate entity who observes that his thought is conditioned, there can never be freedom from conditioning, because both the observer and the observed, the thinker and the thought, are conditioned. There is no separate thinker who is unconditioned, for the thinker is the result of thought, and thought is the outcome of conditioning; therefore the thinker cannot uncondition the mind by any practice. When the thinker is aware that he is the thought, that the observer is the observed - which is extremely arduous, it requires a great deal of penetration, insight, understanding - only then is it possible for the mind to be unconditioned.
The questioner wants to know in what way an unconditioned mind will transform the life, the daily activities of the individual. Will it be utilitarian? If the mind is unconditioned, in what way will it be useful to living in this world? Will such a mind help to change or reform the world? What relationship will it have with the society in which it must live? It may have no relationship at all with society, society being the activity of greed, envy, fear, acquisitiveness, and all the moral values based on this activity. A man who is unconditioned may affect society, but that is not his principal concern.
So, our problem is whether the mind can be unconditioned, is it not? If you really and honestly put this question to yourself, not temporarily, not just while you are sitting here, but if you actually let the seed of this question operate, rather than you operating on the question, then you will find out directly for yourself whether the mind can be liberated from all the influences of society, from the innumerable memories and traditional values which lie in the unconscious, and having unconditioned itself, whether this transformation has any significance in relation to society.
Most of us, unfortunately, never put serious questions to ourselves. We are afraid of putting a serious question to ourselves because it may result in serious action, it may create a revolution in our lives - and I assure you that it does. When you really put a serious question to yourself it brings about an extraordinary response, which you may not desire or wish to be aware of. But you are confronted with a serious question, whether you like it or not, because as the world is being conducted it is divided by nationalities, plagued by wars, misery and starvation, and a totally different approach must be made to find the right answer. The old answers, the old arguments, the beliefs, traditions and dogmas are utterly useless. Whether you are a Christian or a Hindu, a Communist or a Capitalist, is completely irrelevant. It is belief which is dividing the world, belief in nationalism, in patriotism, in the so-called superiority of this race or that; it is belief which divides people into Protestants and Catholics, mystics and occultists, which is all utter nonsense. So a different mind is required, a truly religious mind. Only the mind that loves is truly religious, and it is the religious mind that is revolutionary, not the mind that is weighed down by beliefs and dogmas. When the mind is choicelessly aware that it is conditioned, in this awareness there comes a state which is not conditioned.
November 12, 1955
Sydney 2nd Public Talk 12th November, 1955
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