Madanapalle 3rd Public Talk 26th February 1956
I think most of us find life very dull. To earn a livelihood we have to do a certain job, and it becomes very monotonous; a routine is set going which we follow year after year almost till our death. Whether we are rich or poor, and though we may be very erudite, have a philosophical bent, our lives are for the most part rather shallow, empty. There is obviously an insufficiency in ourselves, and being aware of this emptiness, we try to enrich it through knowledge, or through some kind of social activity, or we escape through various kinds of amusement, or cling to a religious belief. Even if we have a certain capacity and are very efficient, our lives are still pretty dull, and to get away from this dullness, this weary monotony of life, we seek some form of religious enrichment, we try to capture that unworldly state of being which is not routine and which for the moment may be called otherness. In seeking that otherness we find there are many different systems, different ways or paths which are supposed to lead to it, and by disciplining ourselves, by practising a particular system of meditation, by performing some ritual or repeating certain phrases, we hope to achieve that state. Because our daily life is an endless round of sorrow and pleasure, a variety of experiences without much significance, or a meaningless repetition of the same experience, living for most of us is a monotonous routine; therefore the problem of enrichment, of capturing that otherness, call it God, truth, bliss, or what you will, becomes very urgent, does it not? You may be well-off and well-married, you may have children, you may be able to think intelligently and sanely, but without that state of otherness, life becomes extraordinarily empty.
So, what is one to do? How is one to capture that state? Or is it not possible to capture it at all? As they are now, our minds are obviously very small, petty, limited, conditioned; and though a small mind may speculate about that otherness, its speculations will always be small. It may formulate an ideal state, conceive and describe that otherness, but its conception will still be within the limitations of the little mind, and I think that is where the clue lies - in seeing that the mind cannot possibly experience that otherness by living it, formulating it, or speculating about it. Surely, that is a tremendous realization: to see that, because it is limited, petty, narrow, superficial, any movement of the mind towards that extraordinary state, is a hindrance. To realize that fact, not speculatively but actually, is the beginning of a different approach to the problem.
After all, our minds are the outcome of time, of many thousands of yesterdays, they are the result of experience based on the known; and such a mind is the continuity of the known. The mind of each one of us is the result of culture, of education, and however extensive its knowledge or its technical training, it is still the product of time; therefore it is limited, conditioned. With that mind we try to discover the unknowable; and to realize that such a mind can never discover the unknowable, is really an extraordinary experience. To realize that, however cunning, however subtle, however erudite one's mind may be, it cannot possibly understand that otherness - this realization in itself brings about a certain factual comprehension, and I think it is the beginning of a way of looking at life which may open the door to that otherness.
To put the problem differently, the mind is ceaselessly active, chattering, planning, it is capable of extraordinary subtleties and inventions; and how can such a mind be quiet? One can see that any activity of the mind, any movement in any direction, is a reaction of the past; and how can such a mind be still? And if it is made still through discipline, such stillness is a state in which there is no inquiring, no searching, is it not? Therefore there is no openness to the unknown, to that state of otherness.
I don't know if you have thought about this problem at all, or have merely thought about it in terms of the traditional approach, which is to have an ideal and to move towards the ideal through a formula, through the practice of a certain discipline. Discipline invariably implies suppression and the conflict of duality, all of which is within the area of the mind, and we proceed along this line, hoping to capture that otherness; but we have never intelligently and sanely inquired whether the mind can ever capture it. We have had the hint that the mind must be still, but stillness has always been cultivated through discipline. That is, we have the ideal of a still mind, and we pursue it through control, through struggle, through effort.
Now, if you look at this whole process, you will see that it is all within the field of the known. Being aware of the monotony of its existence, realizing the weariness of its multiplying experiences, the mind is always trying to capture that otherness; but when one sees that the mind is the known, and that whatever movement it makes, it can never capture that otherness, which is the unknown, then our problem is, not how to capture the unknown, but whether the mind can free itself from the known. I think this problem must be considered by anyone who wants to find out if there is a possibility of the coming into being of that otherness, the unknown. So, how can the mind which is the result of the past, of the known, free itself from the known? I hope I am making myself clear.
As I said, the present mind, the conscious as well as the unconscious, is the outcome of the past, it is the accumulated result of racial, climatic, dietetic, traditional, and other influences. So the mind is conditioned - conditioned as a Christian, a Buddhist, a Hindu, or a communist - and it obviously projects what it considers to be the real. But whether its projection is that of the communist, who thinks he knows the future and wants to force all mankind into the pattern of his particular Utopia, or that of the so-called religious man, who also thinks he knows the future and educates the child to think along his particular line, neither projection is the real. Without the real, life becomes very dull, as it is at present for most people; and our lives being dull, we become romantic, sentimental, about that otherness, the real.
Now, seeing this whole pattern of existence, without going into too many details, is it possible for the mind to free itself from the known - the known being the psychological accumulations of the past? There is also the known of everyday activity, but from this the mind obviously cannot be free; for if one forgot the way to one's house, or the knowledge which enables one to earn a livelihood, one would be bordering on insanity. But can the mind free itself from the psychological factors of the known, which give assurance through association and identification?
To inquire into this matter, we shall have to find out whether there is really a difference between the thinker and the thought, between the one who observes and the thing observed. At present there is a division between them, is there not? We think the `I', the entity who experiences, is different from the experience, from the thought. There is a gap, a division between the thinker and the thought, and that is why we say, `I must control thought'. But is the `I', the thinker, different from thought? The thinker is always trying to control thought, mould it according to what he considers to be a good pattern; but is there a thinker if there is no thought? Obviously not. There is only thinking, which creates the thinker. You may put the thinker at any level, you may call him the Supreme, the Atman, or whatever you like; but he is still the result of thinking. The thinker has not created thought; it is thought that has created the thinker. Realizing its own impermanency, thought creates the thinker as a separate entity in order to give itself permanency - which is after all what we all want. You may say that the entity which you call the Atman, the soul, the thinker, is separate from thought, from experience; but you are only aware of a separate entity through thought, and also through your conditioning as a Hindu, a Christian, or whatever it is you happen to be. As long as this duality exists between the thinker and the thought, there must be conflict, effort, which implies will; and a mind that wills to free itself, that says, `I must be free from the past', merely creates another pattern.
So, the mind can free itself - and thereby, perhaps, that otherness can come into being - only when there is the cessation of effort as the `I' desiring to achieve a result. But you see, all our life is based on effort: the effort to be good, the effort to discipline ourselves, the effort to achieve a result in this world, or in the next. Everything we do is based on striving, ambition, success, achievement; and so we think that the realization of God, or truth, must also come about through effort. But such effort signifies the self-centred activity of achievement, does it not? It is not the abandonment of the self.
Now, if you are aware of this whole process of the mind, the conscious as well as the unconscious, if you really see and understand it, then you will find that the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet without any effort. The stillness which is brought about by discipline, control, suppression, is the stillness of death; but the stillness of which I am speaking comes about effortlessly when one understands this whole process of the mind. Then only is there a possibility of the coming into being of that otherness which may be called truth, or God.
Question: Do you not concede that guidance is necessary? If, as you say, there must be no tradition and no authority, then everybody will have to start laying down a new foundation for himself. As the physical body has had a beginning, is there not also a beginning for our spiritual and mental bodies, and should they not grow from each stage to the next higher stage? Just as our thought is kindled by listening to you, does it not need reawakening by getting into contact with the great minds of the past?
Krishnamurti: Sir, this is an age-old problem. We think that we need a guru, a teacher, to awaken our minds. Now, what is implied in all that? It implies the one who knows, and the other who does not. Let us proceed slowly, not in a prejudiced manner. The one who knows becomes the authority, and the one who does not know becomes the disciple; and the disciple is everlastingly following, hoping to overtake the other, to come up to the level of the master. Now, please follow this. When the guru says he knows, he ceases to be the guru; the man who says he knows, does not know. Please see why. Because truth, reality, or that otherness, has no fixed point, it obviously cannot be approached by a path, but must be discovered from moment to moment. If it has a fixed point, then that point is within the limits of time. To a fixed point there may be a path, as there is a path to your house; but to a thing that is living, that has no abode, that has neither a beginning nor an end, there can be no path.
Surely, a guru who says he will help you to realize, can help you to realize only that which you already know; for what you realize, experience, must be recognizable, must it not? If you can recognize it, then you say, `I have experienced', but what you can recognize is not that otherness. That otherness is not recognizable, it is not known; it is not something which you have experienced and are therefore able to recognize. That otherness is a thing that must be uncovered from moment to moment; and to discover it, the mind must be free. Sir, the mind must be free to discover anything; and a mind that is bound by tradition, whether ancient or modern, a mind that is burdened with belief, with dogma, with rituals, is obviously not free. To me, the idea that another can awaken you, has no validity. This is not an opinion, it is a fact. If another awakens you, then you are under his influence, you are depending on him; therefore you are not free; and it is only the free mind that can find.
So the problem is this, is it not? We want that otherness, and since we don't know how to get it, we invariably depend on someone whom we call the teacher, the guru, or on a book, or on our own experience. So dependence is created, and where there is dependence there is authority; therefore the mind becomes a slave to authority, to tradition, and such a mind is obviously not free. It is only the free mind that can find; and to rely on another for the awakening of your mind is like relying on a drug. Of course, you can take a drug that will make you see things very sharply, clearly. There are drugs that can momentarily make life seem much more vital, so that everything stands out brilliantly - the colours that you see every day, and pass by, become extraordinarily beautiful, and so on. That may be your `awakening' of the mind, but then you will be depending on the drug, as now you depend on your guru, or on some sacred book; and the moment the mind becomes dependent, it is made dull. Out of dependence there is fear - fear of not achieving, of not gaining. When you depend on another, whether it be the Saviour or anyone else, it means that the mind is seeking success, a gratifying end. You may call it God, truth, or what you like, but it is still a thing to be gained; so the mind is caught, it becomes a slave, and do what it will - sacrifice, discipline, torture itself - such a mind can never find that otherness.
So the problem is not who is the right teacher, but whether the mind can keep itself awake; and you will find it can keep itself awake only when all relationship is a mirror in which it sees itself as it is. But the mind cannot see itself as it is if there is condemnation or justification of that which it sees, or any form of identification. All these things make the mind dull, and being dull, we want to be awakened; so we look to somebody else to awaken us. But by this very demand to be awakened, a dull mind is made still more dull, because it does not see the cause of its dullness. It is only when the mind sees and understands this whole process, and does not depend on the explanation of another, that it is able to free itself.
But how easily we are satisfied with words, with explanations! Very few of us break through the barrier of explanations, go beyond words, and find out for ourselves what is true. Capacity comes with application, does it not? But we don't apply ourselves, because we are satisfied with words, with speculations, with the traditional answers and explanations on which we have been brought up.
Question: In all religions, prayer is advocated as necessary. What do you say about prayer?
Krishnamurti: It is not a matter of what I say about prayer, for then it merely becomes one opinion against another, and opinion has no validity; but what we can do is to find out what the facts are.
What do we mean by prayer? One part of prayer is supplication, petition, demand. Being in trouble, in sorrow, and wanting to be comforted, you pray. You are confused, and you want clarity. Books don't satisfy you, the guru does not give you what you want, so you pray; that is, you either silently supplicate, or you verbally repeat certain phrases.
Now, if you keep on repeating certain words or phrases, you will find that the mind becomes very quiet. It is an obvious psychological fact that quietness of the superficial mind is induced by repetition. And then what happens? The unconscious may have an answer to the problem which is agitating the superficial mind. When the superficial mind becomes quiet, the unconscious is able to intimate its solution, and then we say, `God has answered me'. It is really fantastic, when you come to think of it, for the petty little mind, being caught in sorrow which it has brought upon itself, to expect an answer from that otherness, the immeasurable, the unknown. But our petition is answered, we have found a solution, and we are satisfied. That is one form of prayer, is it not?
Now, do you ever pray when you are happy? When you are aware of the smiles and the tears of those about you; when you see the lovely skies, the mountains, the rich fields, and the swift movement of the birds; when there is joy and delight in your heart, do you indulge in what you call prayer? Obviously not. And yet, to see the beauty of the earth, to be cognizant of starvation and misery, to be aware of everything that is happening about us - surely, this is also a form of prayer. Perhaps this has much more significance, a far greater value, for it may sweep away the cobwebs of memory, of revenge, all the accumulated stupidities of the `I'. But a mind that is preoccupied with itself and its designs, that is caught up in its beliefs, its dogmas, its fears and jealousies, its ambition, greed, envy - such a mind cannot possibly be aware of this extraordinary thing called life. It is bound by its own self-centred activity; and when such a mind prays, whether it be for a refrigerator, or to have its problems solved, it is still petty, even though it may receive an answer.
All this brings up the question of what is meditation, does it not? Obviously, there must be meditation. Meditation is an extraordinary thing, but most of us don't know what it means to meditate; we are only concerned with how to meditate, with practising a method or a system through which we hope to get something, to realize what we call peace, or God. We are never concerned to find out what is meditation, and who is the meditator; but if we begin to inquire into what is meditation, then perhaps we shall find out how to meditate. The inquiry into meditation, is meditation. But to inquire into meditation, you cannot be tethered to any system, because then your inquiry is conditioned by the system. To really probe into this whole problem of what is meditation, all systems must go. Only a free mind can explore; and the very process of freeing the mind to explore, is meditation.
Question: The thought of death is bearable to me only if I can believe in a future lives. but you say that belief is an obstacle to understanding. Please help me to see the truth of this.
Krishnamurti: Belief in a future life is the result of one's desire for comfort. Whether or not there is a future life in reality can be found out only when the mind is not desirous of being comforted by a belief. If I am in sorrow because my son has died, and to overcome that sorrow I believe in reincarnation, in eternal life, or what you will, then belief becomes a necessity to me; and such a mind can obviously never find out what death is, because all it is concerned with is to have a hope, a comfort, a reassurance.
Now, whether or not there is continuity after death, is quite a different problem. One sees that the body comes to an end; through constant use, the physical organism wears out. Then what is it that continues? It is the accumulated experience, the knowledge, the name, the memories, the identification of thought as the `me'. But you are not satisfied with that; you say there must be another form of continuance as the permanent soul, the Atman. If there is this Atman which continues, it is the creation of thought, and the thought which has created the Atman is still part of time; therefore it is not spiritual. If you really go into this matter, you will see there is only thought identified as the `me' - my house, my wife, my family, my virtue, my failure, my success, and all the rest of it - , and you want that to continue. You say, "I want to finish my book before I die", or, "I want to perfect the qualities I have been trying to develop; and what is the point of my having struggled all these years to achieve something if in the end there is annihilation?" So the mind, which is the product of the known, wants to continue in the future; and because there is the uncertainty which we call death, we are frightened and want reassurance.
Now, I think the problem should be approached differently, which is to find out for oneself whether it is possible, while living, to experience that state of ending which we call death. This does not mean committing suicide; but it is to actually experience that astonishing state, that sacred moment of dying to everything of yesterday. After all, death is the unknown, and no amount of rationalization, no belief or disbelief, will ever bring about that extraordinary experience. To have that inward fullness of life, which includes death, the mind must free itself from the known. The known must cease for the unknown to be.
February 26, 1956
Madanapalle 3rd Public Talk 26th February 1956
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