Bombay 5th Public Talk 18th March 1956
The last four times we have met here, I have been talking about how important it is for the individual to free himself from the many social, cultural, and religious influences, for it is only then that there can take place the creative release of the good mind. It seems to me very important to understand the quality of the mind, and to bring about that which is good. Most of us are not concerned with bringing about the good mind, but only with what to do; action has become much more important than the quality of the mind. To me, action is secondary. If I may so put it, action does not matter, it is not important at all; because when there is the good mind, the mind that is creatively explosive, then from that creative explosiveness comes right action; it is not `doing is being', but `being is doing'.
For most of us, action seems vital, important, and so we get caught in action; but the problem is not action, though it may appear to be. Most of us are concerned with how to live, what to do in certain circumstances, whether to take this side or that side in politics, and so on. If you observe you will see that our search is generally to find out what is the right action to take, and that is why there is anxiety, this pursuit of knowledge, this search for the guru. We inquire in order to find out what to do; and it seems to me that this approach to life must inevitably lead to a great deal of suffering and misery, to contradiction, not only within oneself, but socially, a contradiction that invariably breeds frustration. To me, action inevitably follows being. That is, the very state of listening is an act of humility. If the mind is capable of listening, that very listening brings about the good mind, from which action can come into being. Whereas, without the good mind, without that strange, explosive quality of creativity, mere search for action leads to pettiness, to shallowness of heart and mind.
I do not know if you have noticed how most of us are occupied with what to do, and probably we have never had this quality of mind which immediately perceives the totality. The very perception of the totality is its own action, and I think it is important to understand this, because our culture has made us very shallow; we are imitative, traditionally bound, incapable of wide and deep vision, because our eyes are blinded by the immediate action and its results. Observe your own mind and you will see how concerned you are with what to do; and this constant occupation of the mind with what to do can only lead to very shallow thinking. Whereas, if the mind is concerned with the perception of the whole - not with how to perceive the whole, what method to use, which is again to be caught in the immediate action - , then you will see that from this intention comes action, and not the other way around.
What is it that most of us are now concerned with? With violence and non-violence, with acquiring a little virtue, with the particular caste or nation we belong to, with whether there is God or not, with what kind of meditation to practise, and so on - all of which is on a limited, petty scale. So the mind gets lost in little things; but this does not mean that one must not inquire into what is meditation. To discover what meditation is, is quite a different matter. But the mind is concerned with what system of meditation to use in order to arrive, and this preoccupation with a system makes the mind petty, shallow, empty - which is what is happening to most of us. We repeat the Gita, the Bible, the Koran, or some Buddhist book, or we quote Lenin or Marx, and think we have solved all the issues. Whereas, it seems to me that what is important is to bring about the good mind, that extraordinary quality of the mind that captures instantaneously the totality of feeling, the totality of being; and I think that the good mind is not possible as long as there is effort. As long as one is striving in any direction, making an effort to be or not to be this or that, the good mind, the mind that is capable of perceiving the whole, is not possible. It is only the mind that is freeing itself from effort, from striving, that can understand the totality of being.
Why do we make effort? Please, this is a serious question; let us think it out together. Effort is obviously necessary at a certain level of our existence - the struggle to acquire knowledge in school, to learn a technique, and so on; but why does the mind make an effort to be something, to be non-violent, or to be peaceful? Is it not because, being aware that it is violent, greedy, or stupid, the mind wants to transform that state into something else? The desire to change from what is to what should be, brings about a process of effort, does it not? I am ignorant, and I must have knowledge; I am envious, and I must be non-envious. So the desire to be non-envious breeds effort, the struggle to be something. To me, this effort, in which most people are caught, is the deteriorating factor. As I said, the very act of listening is humility; but we do not listen. We say to ourselves, "What is he talking about? What will happen to me if I make no effort to be something? How shall I live? How shall I get a job, or be promoted?" All life as we know it is struggle, effort, drive, compulsion; we are used to that rhythm, to that way of thinking, and so we never listen. We are listening through the objection of our own opinions.
Now, can we put all that aside and merely listen? When we are merely listening, what has happened? That very act of listening is humility. There is no effort involved, the mind has done nothing to be humble; it is humble. therefore it is capable of listening. Do you follow? Because I want to understand what another is talking about, I am not offering my opinion, my objections, my arguments; that is all laid aside, and I listen to what is being said. That very listening is humility; the mind is humble in that very act; therefore there is no effort to be humble. The arrogant mind cannot listen. The mind that is full of knowledge, argumentation, that has acquired, experienced - such a mind is incapable of listening, because it is full of vanity, conceit. So the problem is not how to get rid of conceit, but whether the mind is able to listen. When it can listen, the mind is in a state of humility, and then it is capable of perceiving totally, from which action follows. But what are we concerned with now? Most of us are concerned with the accumulation of a little virtue, a little knowledge, and with multiplying it, making it bigger, wider; but it is still an additive process. We have knowledge, we know what the Gita says, what our guru says, but the good mind is not; therefore the mind is incapable of perceiving, of understanding the whole, without this everlasting struggle.
So it seems to me that the greatest factor in the deterioration of the mind is this struggle to be something. After all, when you desire to be something, when you have a goal, an end in view, you struggle towards that end and your whole life is moulded by it; therefore your mind is not concerned with its own quality and depth, but only with the result of effort.
Do think about this and you will see how uncreative we are throughout the world. We are merely imitative, we are shaped by the pattern of society, by the blueprint of a particular culture; and can such a mind be creatively explosive? Obviously it cannot. Yet all we are concerned with is what to do. There is starvation in the world, there is misery, suffering, both outwardly and inwardly, and we are only concerned with how to put an end to it all. So the mind gets caught in the `how', the answer, the explanation: how to find God, how to meditate, whether or not there is a continuity after death, what is the right action, who is the right guru, which is the right book, and so on. That is all you are concerned with, is it not? You are not concerned with the quality of the mind, but only with the many `how's', which obviously make the mind shallow. You may have the best guru, read all the sacred books, be extraordinarily virtuous; but if you have not this creatively explosive quality of the good mind, your virtue becomes very shallow, respectable, therefore it has no validity, because virtue is not an end in itself.
So it seems to me that what is important is really to inquire into the quality of the good mind, which is a mind that is not imitative, that does not merely follow, but is literally creatively explosive; because without that quality, of what value is your virtue, your knowledge, your search for truth? And can the shallow, mediocre mind, the mind that is educated merely to fit into society, that is beaten, broken, suffering - can such a mind find this creatively explosive quality?
Sirs, first we must realize that our minds are shallow, empty; we may fill them with a lot of words, with the knowledge of books, but they are still empty. And can a petty, shallow mind break up its pettiness, its shallowness? Can it make itself vast and deep? Now, when you ask this question, with what intention do you ask it? Is it in order to arrive at a result, to find a method? Or do you ask it merely as the gardener plants a seed, waters it, and lets it grow? I do not know if I am making this issue clear. To me, the explanation of why the mind is petty, is of no importance; what is important is for the mind to find out why it is putting this question.
Realizing that it is empty, what does the mind do? It proceeds to acquire more knowledge, it makes effort to fill, to enrich itself. Because it feels shallow, the mind wants to be deep, and then the problem arises of how to be deep; so it practices a method which promises what it wants, and thereby it gets caught in the method. To me, this is a totally wrong process, it is most destructive, because it leads to further shallowness, emptiness. The mind that is caught in a method, is still petty, because it is only concerned with its own enrichment, it has not understood itself. Whereas, if the mind realizes that it is shallow, and asks of itself why it is shallow without seeking an explanation, an answer, then quite a different process takes place. As I said, it is like a gardener planting a seed and watering it. If the water and the soil are good, and if the seed has vitality, it puts out a shoot. Similarly, if the mind asks itself why it is shallow, and does not seek an answer or try to find ways and means of enriching itself, then that very question brings about its own explosion. Then you will find that there comes a totally different state in which the mind is no longer struggling to achieve, to accumulate; and such a mind knows no deterioration. At present our minds are all deteriorating, and what matters, surely, is to put an end to that deterioration. This cannot be done by merely searching out the cause of deterioration and explaining it. But if one is aware of this inner deterioration, and, without seeking an answer, one asks oneself why it exists, then that very questioning is an act of listening. To listen, there must be humility, and humility cleanses the mind of the past; the mind is fresh, innocent, and is therefore capable of perceiving the totality, the whole. It is only such a mind that can bring about order and create a new society with values entirely different from those that exist now.
Question: What do you say regarding Tapas, and the Sandhana mentioned in Hindu books for bringing about the cessation of thought?
Krishnamurti: I think it is a great mistake to interpret what the books tell you. Please follow this, I am not saying anything irrational. The books tell you to do this or that, and the books may be wrong; and it is also possible that thought can never cease. But what you can do is to find out directly for yourself, without depending on a single person or book, whether or not thought can come to an end. That is much more vital, much more significant, than practising some method that promises the cessation of thought. Now, why do you want thought to cease? Is it because thought is very disturbing, contradictory, transient? And how do you know thought can cease? Do you know because the books have said so? Or is your mind inquiring into the whole process of thinking? Do you follow, sirs? Our problem is to understand the process of thinking, and not how to end thought. You can end thought by taking a drug, or by learning a few tricks which you call meditation; but the mind will still be dull, shallow. Whereas, if you begin to inquire into what is thinking, then you will find out whether or not thought can come to an end. Let us be very clear about this. A method, however noble, however promising, can only stifle thinking, or hold it in a static state; but that is not the cessation of thought. You have only smothered, put a lid on thinking. Whereas, if you begin to inquire into the whole process of thinking, then you will find out what that process is. Thinking, surely, is the response of memory to challenge - memory being the continuity of the past. Behind thinking there are certain pressures, compulsions, which make thought crooked. When there is pressure of any kind behind thinking - pressure being motive, compulsion, urge - , thought must invariably be crooked. But if the mind can free itself from all pressures, from all motives, then you will find that the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet, and that in this quietness there is the cessation of what you call thinking. If you merely wish for the cessation of thinking because you hope it will solve all your problems, or because the books promise a reward, you may succeed in making your mind very still; but it is still a petty mind. So, what we are concerned with is not how to put an end to thought, but with putting an end to pettiness, to shallowness; and for the mind to cease to be petty, it must be free from all authority, from all following, so that it is capable of thinking anew.
Sirs, to put the problem differently, a collective belief is very destructive. Many of you call yourselves Hindus, which means that you are still bound by the collective dogmas, traditions, and influences that have made you what you are. Where there is a collective belief, there is deterioration, a destructive process is going on, and that is exactly what is happening throughout the world at the present time. We are all communists or socialists, Hindus or Christians, this or that, which is the collectivity of belief, so there is no individuality at all; and that is why it is very important to see the evil of collective belief. In the very perception of that evil, the individual emerges. It is only the mind that is neither communist nor capitalist, neither Christian nor Hindu, the mind that has no compulsion, no pressure or motive behind it - it is only such a mind that can be without thought. With the ceasing of thought there comes a quietness like that of living waters, and in that quietness there is a vast movement which cannot be comprehended by the mind that is urged through pressure, through motive. Any practice by a mind which is petty will only make the mind still more petty, because it does not understand itself, it is not aware of its own pettiness; it may learn new tricks, new ways or methods, but it will still be petty. All that a petty mind can do is to be aware that it is petty, and not do a thing about it. When the mind is aware that it is petty, it has done everything that it can do.
Question: You say that the past must totally cease for the unknown to be. I have tried everything to be free from my past, but memories still exist and engulf me. Does this mean that the past has an existence independent of me? If not, please show me how I can be free of it.
Krishnamurti: First of all, is the past different from the `me'? Is the thinker, the observer, the experiencer, different from the past? The past is memory, all one's experiences, one's ambitions, the racial residue, the inherited tradition, the cultural values, the social influences - all that is the past, all that is memory. Whether we are conscious or unconscious of it, it is there. Now, is the totality of all that different from the `me' who says, "I want to be free from the past"?
Please follow this patiently with me. There is this continuance of memory, which is extensive and has great depth, and which is responding all the time to challenge. Now, is this memory different from the `me', or is it the `me'? Do you understand? If there were no name, no association with the family, with the past, with the race, and all the rest of it, then would there be a `me'? Would there be a `me', a thinker, if there were no thinking? Or do you say that above the `me' there is the Atman, an independent entity who is watching all the time? If there is an independent entity, surely the mind which is dependent is incapable of knowing it. Do you follow? The mind which is both dependent on and a result of the past, has said there is the Atman, the watcher from above, who is free, independent; but it is still the dependent mind that has said it; therefore what it calls the Atman is part of the mind, it is within the field of memory, of tradition. That is fairly obvious, is it not? You are educated through tradition, through repetition, through reading, and all the rest of it, to believe that there is something independent of this `me', something beyond this field of memory; but a man educated in Russia will say there is no such thing, it is all nonsense, there is only this `me'. So we are all the result of our education, we are conditioned by our past, by the culture in which we live, by the religious, political and social influences in which we have been brought up; and to assume, to postulate, to suppose, that there is something superior to this `me', though there may be, is a most infantile and immature way of thinking which has led to a great deal of confusion and misery.
So, there is no `me' separate from the past. The `me' is the past, it is the quality, the virtue, the experience, the name, the family association, the various tendencies, both conscious and unconscious, the racial inheritance - all that is the `me', and the mind is not separate from it. The soul, the Atman, is part of the mind, because the mind has invented these words.
The problem is, then, how can the mind, which is a result of the past, free itself from its own shadow? Do you understand? How can the mind, which is the totality of memory, free itself from the past? Is that a right question, sirs? I think it is a wrong question. All that the mind can do is to be aware of the past, how every reaction, every response derives from the past - just be totally aware of it without the desire to alter it, without choosing what is good and rejecting what is bad out of the past. If the mind struggles to end, to forget, or to alter the past, it separates itself from the past and so creates a duality in which there is conflict; and that very conflict is the deterioration of the mind. Whereas, if the mind sees the totality of this memory, and is simply aware of it, then you will find that something strange happens. Without effort, the past has come to an end.
Try it, not because I say so, but because you see it for yourself. A mind which is the result of the past cannot free itself from the past through its own effort. All that it can do is to be aware of its reactions, aware of how it accumulates resentment, and then forgives; of how it acquires, and then renounces; of how it chooses, and then gets confused in choice. A mind that chooses is a confused mind. Be aware of all this, and you will find that the mind becomes astonishingly quiet. Then there is no choice, because the mind sees the falseness of doing something to free itself from the past. Out of that perception there comes, not a freedom from the past, but a sense of freedom which can deal with the past.
Question: The strongest underlying commandment in all religions is: Love your fellowman. Why is this simple truth so difficult to carry out?
Krishnamurti: Why is it that we are incapable of loving? What does it mean to love your fellow man? Is it a commandment? Or is it a simple fact that, if I do not love you, and you do not love me, there can only be hate, violence, and destruction? What prevents us from seeing the very simple fact that this world is ours, that this earth is yours and mine to live upon, undivided by nationalities, by frontiers, to live upon happily, productively, with delight, with affection and compassion? Why is it that we do not see this? I can give you lots of explanations, and you can give me lots more, but mere explanations will never eradicate the fact that we do not love our neighbour. On the contrary, it is because we are forever giving explanations, causes, that we do not face the fact. You give one cause, I give another, and we fight over causes and explanations. We are divided as Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, this or that. We say we do not love because of social conditions, or because it is our karma, or because somebody has a great deal of money while we have very little. We offer innumerable explanations, lots of words, and in the net of words we get caught. The fact is that we do not love our neighbour, and we are afraid to face that fact, so we indulge in explanations, in words, in the description of the causes; we quote the Gita; the Bible, the Koran - anything to avoid facing the simple fact.
Do you understand, ladies and gentlemen? What happens when you face the fact and know for yourself that you do not love your neighbour? Your son is your neighbour, so you do not have to go very far. You do not love your son, and that is a fact. If you loved your son, you would educate him entirely differently; you would educate him, not to fit into this rotten society, but to be self-sufficient, to be intelligent, to be aware of all the influences around him in which he is caught, smothered, and which never allow him to be free. If you loved your son, who is also your neighbour, there would be no wars between Pakistan and India, or between Germany and Russia, because you would want to protect him and not your property, your petty little belief, your bank account, your ugly country, or your narrow ideology. So you do not love, and that is a fact.
The Bible may tell you to love your neighbour, and the Gita or the Koran may tell you the same thing, but the fact is that you do not love. Now, when you face that fact, what happens? Do you understand? What happens when you are aware that you are not loving, and being aware of that fact, do not offer explanations or give causes as to why you do not love? It is very clear. You are left with the naked fact that you do not love, that you feel no compassion, that you have not a single thought of another. The contemptuous way you talk to your servants, the respect you show to your boss, the deep, reverential salute with which you greet your guru, your pursuit of power, your identification with a country, your seeking after the great ones - all this indicates that you do not love. If you start from there, then you can do something. Sirs, if you are blind and really know it, if you do not imagine you can see, what happens? You move slowly, you touch, you feel; a new sensitivity comes into being.
Similarly, when I know that I have no love, and do not pretend to love; when I am aware of the fact that I have no compassion, and do not pursue the ideal, which is all nonsense - then, with the facing of that fact, there comes a different quality; and it is this quality that saves the world, not some organized religion, or an ideology invented by the clever. It is when the heart is empty that the things of the mind fill it; and the things of the mind are the explanations of that emptiness, the words that describe its causes.
So, if you really want to stop wars, if you really want to put an end to this conflict within society, you must face the fact that you do not love. You may go to a temple and offer flowers to some stone image, but that will not give the heart this extraordinary quality of compassion, love, which comes only when the mind is quiet, and not greedy, envious. When you are aware of the fact that you-have no love, and do not run away from it by trying to explain it, or find its cause, then that very awareness begins to do something; it brings gentleness, a sense of compassion. Then there is a possibility of creating a world totally different from this chaotic and brutal existence which we now call life.
Bombay 5th Public Talk 18th March 1956
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