Stockholm, Sweden 2nd Public Talk 15th May 1956
I think it would be worthwhile this evening if we could attempt something which might be rather difficult but perhaps important to go into. I wonder if we can discover what it is that most of us are seeking, and whether what we are seeking has any validity, and real basis. Perhaps we are seeking something which we cannot properly articulate to ourselves. Or we may hope to find something that will be deeply satisfactory, that will give us some measure of happiness or certainty. Until we have discovered what it is that we are seeking, I think our lives must be uncertain, chaotic, and contradictory. It is really very difficult to find out what we are seeking, because we do not know for ourselves the motives, the urges, the drives that are forcing us to seek at all. Obviously, as you have all come here to listen, you are seeking something. But to know what it is we are seeking, we must find out, must we not?, what the drive is behind our search.
Most of us are well settled in life; we have homes, families, responsibilities, some position, a job, and so on. But our lives are generally humdrum, routine; there is boredom, a sense of frustration, and we want something more than mere logical conclusions, religious beliefs and ideologies. So I think it would be worthwhile if we could spend this evening trying to find out what it is we are groping after. What is the urge behind this search? Can we put our finger on it? Can we know what it is, this urge? We are concerned, not only with the more superficial urges, compulsions and fears, but we want to know, do we not?, what it is we are seeking with our whole life, our total existence. And can we intelligently find out? Surely, without understanding this seeking, and the pressure, the compulsion behind it, our search may be utterly vain and have no meaning.
So, how can one find out for oneself what it is one is after? If we are old we want peace, security, comfort, and if we are young we want pleasure, excitement, success. And if we cannot have success, then we want some kind of self-assertion. So each one of us is groping for something; and what is it? Are we moved by the desire to find out what is true, or whether there is any permanency? Or is it worldly satisfaction we are seeking, a better position in our various environments?
I wish we could really go into this matter, because I think that when the urges within one have become very clear to oneself, then life has quite a different meaning. When the mind is free from the compulsion, the drive, the confusion which now exists, there may be no search at all, but something entirely different - the sense of being free. So, can we find out for ourselves what is the drive that is making us seek, that has made us come here to listen? Or are there so many different urges, so many pleasures, that we cannot separate them to find out which is the primary urge? I think it is important to discover the primary urge, otherwise our search has no meaning.
Many people are everlastingly talking about seeking God, seeking truth, seeking immortality, virtue, and all the rest of it; but this search has very little meaning, it becomes just a fad. I think it is significant that so few of us who seek have so far discovered for ourselves anything that has real depth and significance. Is it happiness that we are seeking, a sense of self-fulfilment? If we seek without understanding what is behind this urge, our lives remain shallow, for self-fulfilment becomes very important; and to self-fulfilment there is no end. The moment you fulfil yourself, there is always something more in which to be fulfilled.
Our urges are so strong, and unless we understand the whole significance of this inward compulsion, it seems to me that mere search has no meaning at all. To find out what we are after, and what is the motive behind it, is surely essential. Being uncertain, confused, afraid, perhaps we want to escape into some kind of fancy that we call reality, some kind of hope, some kind of belief. If we could understand for ourselves why the mind is always seeking security, then we might have, not security, but a new kind of confidence. That is why I think it is important to go into all this.
After all, it is a function of society and of government to help to bring about outward security. But the difficulty is that we also want to be secure psychologically, inwardly, and therefore we identify ourselves with the nation, with a religion, an ideology, a belief. We never question whether there is such a thing as inward security at all, but we are always seeking it; and the very search for inward, psychological security actually prevents outward security, does it not? Obviously that is what is happening throughout the world. In our search to be psychologically secure through nationalism, through a leader, through an ideology, physical security is destroyed. So, can the mind which is seeking permanency in everything - in `my country', `my religion', through innumerable dogmas, beliefs, ideas - discover for itself whether there actually is such a thing as permanency, inward security?
We have never questioned whether there can ever be security inwardly; and perhaps there is no such thing. It may be this very desire to seek security, permanency for ourselves, both inwardly and outwardly, which is conditioning the mind and preventing the understanding of what is true. So, can the mind free itself from this urge to be secure? It can do so, surely, only when it is completely uncertain - not uncertain in opposition to security, but when it is in a state of not-knowing and not-seeking. After all, one can never find anything new so long as one's mind is burdened with the old, with all the beliefs, fears and hidden compulsions which bring about this search for security. So long as we are seeking security in any form, inward or outward, there must be chaos and misery. And if we observe ourselves, that is what we are doing all the time. Through property, through money, through virtue, position, fame, we are constantly trying to bring about a sense of permanency for ourselves. And is it not important to find out whether the mind can be free of that whole process? Can we actually experience for ourselves the significance of the compulsion behind the urge to be secure? Can we experience it directly, not later on, at another time, but now, as we are discussing? Can we look at this urge to be secure and find out if it has any validity, and from what source it springs?
And when we do look, what happens? We feel, do we not?, that if we were not inwardly secure, if we did not identify ourselves with innumerable ideals, ideologies, beliefs, nationalisms, we would be nothing, we would be empty, we would be of no account. So our immediate response is to escape from that sense of emptiness by seeking some form of inward richness, some sense of fulfillment; and we set up leaders to follow, we look for teachings and authorities which we can obey. But the misery, the inward poverty continues; there is everlasting struggle; and we never experience directly, actually, that state of inward insufficiency, inward emptiness. But if we could look at it, experience it directly, which means not running away from it by picking up a book, turning on the radio - you know the innumerable things we do in order to escape - , if we could experience completely what it is, then I think we would find that that emptiness has quite a different significance. But all the time we try to escape, do we not? - through the church, through patriotism, through an ideology or a belief. Whereas, if we could understand the futility of running away from this sense of inward poverty, and would look at it, examine it patiently, without any condemnation, then perhaps it would reveal something totally different.
But it is very difficult, is it not?, to be free of the desire to escape from this sense of emptiness, and to be free of fear, ambition, envy. At present we are forever trying to establish our own security through identifying ourselves with something greater, whether it be a person or an idea. But if one is really serious in the endeavour to find truth, reality, or God, one must first of all totally free oneself from all conditioning. This means that one must be able to stand completely alone and look at the truth of what is without seeking any escape. If you will experiment with this you will find that the mind which is willing to go into this whole problem of the search for security, which is willing to look at its own emptiness completely, totally, without any desire to escape - that such a mind becomes very quiet, alone, free, creative. This creativeness is not the outcome of struggle, of effort, of search; it is a state in which the mind, seeing the truth about its own fears and envies, is completely alert and silent. That state may be, and I think it is, the real.
Question: Does suffering ultimately lead one to inward peace and awareness?
Krishnamurti: I am afraid not. We think suffering is a means to something else - to heaven, to the attainment of peace, and so on - and hence we have made suffering into a virtue. But what do we mean by suffering? How does suffering arise? Suffering is a sense of disturbance, is it not? - an inward, psychological disturbance. I am not now talking of physical suffering, which has its own significance; but what we are talking about is the psychological suffering which comes when we are frustrated, when we are lonely, when we do not understand the process of our own being, the complexity of our own thinking.
What happens when we suffer? We try to use it as a means to something else, do we not? - we say it makes us more intelligent, that it leads to peace, to awareness; or we immediately seek to escape from it through ideas, through amusements, through every form of distraction. Suffering comes, does it not?, when there is ignorance, when there is a lack of knowledge of the workings of one's own mind, when the mind is torn by contradictory desires, by loneliness, by comparison, by envy. But when we understand the whole process of ignorance, of envy, when we look at it, face it totally, without any desire to escape or condemn it, then perhaps we shall see that there is no necessity for suffering at all. Peace cannot be found through suffering, or through anything else. It comes only when there is understanding of the workings of one's own mind and when, through that understanding, the thought process comes to an end.
Question: Why do you go about the world giving talks? Is it for self-fulfilment, or is it because you think you can help people in that way?
Krishnamurti: If I went about talking in order to help people, you would all become followers, would you not? Is that not what is happening throughout the world today? We are all seeking leaders, teachers, to help us out of our confusion, and the only result is that we get more confused, more chaotic. I do not believe in such help, I only believe in total understanding. We all want to be helped, we all want guides, leaders, someone to follow; politically, socially and religiously, that is what we want. And that leads to exploitation, does it not? It leads to the totalitarian spirit - the leader and the led. So long as we depend upon another for inward peace, we shall not find it, for dependence only breeds fear. It is not for that reason I am talking. And is it for self-fulfilment, to have the feeling that one is doing something for others, to feel gratified, popular, and so on? I say it is not. Then why is one talking? I do not think there is any answer to that question, any more than there is an answer if one asks of a flower, "Why do you glow in the sunshine?"
If I were trying to help you, or trying to fulfil myself, it would put me in the position of being the one who knows, and you in the position of not knowing; so I would be using you, and you would be using me. Whereas, I think that the moment one is conscious that one knows, one does not know. When a person is aware of his virtue, his humility, or what you will, he is no longer virtuous. What we are trying to do here is to understand ourselves, for self-knowledge alone brings reality. We are not trying to discover who knows, who can help, and who does not know. After all, what is it that we really know? Very little, I think. We may have a lot of technical knowledge, we may know how to build a bridge, how to paint, and so on; but we know very little about ourselves, about the ways of the mind and the urge of ambition, envy. Only the mind that is aware that it does not know, that is totally aware of its own ignorance - only such a mind can be at peace. The mind that has merely gathered experience, accumulated knowledge, or acquired a lot of technical information, is everlastingly in conflict.
When the mind is no longer burdened with the memory of the things it has learned, when it is willing to die to all the knowledge it has accumulated, only then can it know what it is to have peace. I think this is a state which most of us have experienced occasionally, a state when the self is entirely absent. But we are so occupied most of the time with superficialities that the real things of life pass us by.
Question: I have read an American book which certainly seems to prove through hypnosis that reincarnation is a fact. What comment will you make on this?
Krishnamurti: This is rather a complex question, and I think one has to go into it fairly deeply. We all know that there is death. The physical organism will come to an end, because it has been used up and is finished; and we want to know if there is continuity after death. The things that we have known and experienced will all come to an end, and so we ask what will happen to us then. This is a problem all over the world. In the East reincarnation is accepted as a belief, and the questioner says a book has been written which proves, through hypnotism, that a person has lived before; and we want to know whether reincarnation is a fact. I do not know if you have ever felt that thought is independent of the body, independent of the physical organism. We have the organism, the nervous responses, and thought; and so we ask if thought continues after death.
Now, what happens when we ask that question? The fact is that we want to continue, do we not? - or else we say we would like to put an end to everything. In both cases the mind is selecting a theory which suits it. Whether you believe or disbelieve in reincarnation, has little significance; but can we discover the truth of the matter, the truth about death? We all like to think that there is a soul which exists everlastingly, and we accept various beliefs which tell us that the soul is a spiritual entity beyond the physical organism. But belief in an idea, however comforting, however reassuring, does not give us the full understanding of what death is. Surely, death is something totally unknown, it is something completely new, and however anxiously we inquire, we cannot find an answer that will satisfy. All that we know is within the field of time, and all that we are is the accumulation of past memories and experiences. We have established our own identity through memory, as `my house', `my name', `my family', `my knowledge', `my country', and we want this `me' to continue in the future. Or else we say "Death is the end of everything", which is no solution either.
So, can we discover what is the truth about death? We know that we seek the continuity of the `me'. Thought is ever seeking permanency, and hence we say that there must be some form of continuity. Thought is continuous, is it not; and so long as there is the desire to continue, we give strength to the idea of the `me' and `my importance'. Thought may continue, it may take another shape and form, which is called reincarnation; but does that which continues ever know the immeasurable, the timeless? Can it ever be creative? Surely, God, or truth, or what you will, is not to be found in the field of time. It must be entirely new, not something out of the past, not something created out of our own hopes and fears. And yet the mind wants permanency, does it not? And so it says "God is permanent", and "I shall continue hereafter".
So you see, the problem is not whether or not there is reincarnation, but the fact that we are all seeking permanency, security, here and hereafter. So long as the mind is seeking security in any direction, whether it be through name, family, position, virtue, or what you will, suffering must continue. Only the mind which dies from day to day, from moment to moment, to all that it has accumulated, can know what the truth is. And then perhaps we shall discover that there is no division between life and death, but only a totally different state in which time, as we know it, does not exist.
May 15, 1956
Stockholm, Sweden 2nd Public Talk 15th May 1956
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