Stockholm, Sweden 4th Public Talk 22th May 1956
I think it is important to consider the negativeness of experience; because our whole life is a series of accumulated experiences, and a false centre forms around these accumulations. Whether experience is destructive or so-called creative, what is it that nevertheless makes the mind insensitive and brings about deterioration? Does experience liberate the mind from the deteriorating factor? Or must there be freedom from this craving for experience, from the accumulative process of experience? We take experience as a necessary factor for the enrichment of life; and I think it is, at one level. But experience nearly always forms a hardened centre in the mind, as the self, which is a deteriorating factor. Most of us are seeking experience. We may be tired of the worldly experiences of fame, notoriety, wealth, sex, and so on, but we all want greater, wider experience of some kind, especially those of us who are attempting to reach a so-called spiritual state. Being tired of worldly things, we want a more extensive, a wider, deeper experience; and to arrive at such an experience, we suppress, we control, we dominate ourselves, hoping thereby to achieve a full realization of God, or what you will. We think the pursuit of experience is the right way of life in order to attain greater vision, and I question whether that is so. Does this search for experience, which is really a demand for greater, fuller sensation, lead to reality? Or is it a factor which cripples the mind?
In our search for sensation, which we call experience, we do various things, do we not? We practise so-called spiritual disciplines; we control, suppress, put ourselves through various forms of religious exercise - all in order to arrive at a greater experience. Some of us have actually done all this, while others only play with the idea. But through it all, the fundamental desire is for greater sensation - to have the sensation of pleasure extended, made high and permanent, as opposed to the suffering, the dullness, the routine and loneliness of our daily lives. So the mind is ever seeking experience, and that experience hardens into a centre; and from this centre we act. We live and have our being in this centre, in this accumulated, hardened experience of the past. And is it possible to live without forming this centre of experience and sensation? Because it seems to me that life will then have a significance quite different from that which we now give it. At present we are all concerned, are we not?, with the extension of the centre, recruiting greater and wider experience which ever strengthens the self; and I think this invariably limits the mind.
So, is it possible to live in this world without forming this centre? I think it is possible only when there is a full awareness of life - an awareness in which there is no motive or choice, but simple observation. I think you will find, if you will experiment with this and think about it a little deeply, that such awareness does not form a centre around which experience and the reactions to experience can accumulate. Then the mind becomes astonishingly alive, creative - and I do not mean writing poems, or painting pictures, but a creativeness in which the self is totally absent. I think this is what most of us are really seeking - a state in which there is no conflict, a state of peace and serenity of mind. But this is not possible so long as the mind is the instrument of sensation and is ever demanding further sensation.
After all, most of our memory is based on sensation, either pleasurable or painful; from the painful we try to escape, and to the pleasurable we cling; the one we suppress or seek to avoid, and the other we grope after, hold on to, and think about. So the centre of our experience is essentially based on pleasure and pain, which are sensations, and we are always pursuing experiences which we hope will be permanently satisfying. That is what we are after all the time, and hence there is everlasting conflict. Conflict is never creative; on the contrary, conflict is a most destructive factor, both within the mind itself and in our relationship with the world around us, which is society. If we can understand this really deeply - that a mind which seeks experience limits itself and is its own source of misery - then perhaps we can find out what it is to be aware. Being aware does not mean learning and accumulating lessons from life; on the contrary, to be aware is to be without the scars of accumulated experience. After all, when the mind merely gathers experience according to its own wishes, it remains very shallow, superficial. A mind which is deeply observant does not get caught up in self-centred activities; and the mind is not observant if there is any action of condemnation or comparison. Comparison and condemnation do not bring understanding, rather they block understanding. To be aware is to observe - just to observe - without any self-identifying process. Such a mind is free of that hard core which is formed by self-centred activities.
I think it is very important to experience this state of awareness for oneself, and not merely to know about it through any description which another may give. Awareness comes into being naturally, easily, spontaneously, when we understand the centre which is everlastingly seeking experience, sensation. A mind which seeks sensation through experience becomes insensitive, incapable of swift movement, and therefore it is never free. But in understanding its own self-centred activities, the mind comes upon this state of awareness which is choiceless, and such a mind is then capable of complete silence, stillness.
The capacity of the mind to be still, which is so essential, is not of the Occident or the Orient, though in the Orient some people may talk about it more. Without this extraordinary stillness of the mind which is not seeking further experience, all our activities, will merely add to the dead centre of accumulation.
Only when the mind is completely still can it know its own movement - and then its movement is immense, incalculable, immeasurable. Then it is possible to have that feeling of something which is beyond time. Then life has quite a different significance, a significance which is not to be found through capacities, gifts, or intellectual gymnastics.
Creative stillness is not the end result of a calculating, disciplined and widely-informed mind. It comes into being only when we understand the falsity of the whole process of endlessly seeking sensation through experience. Without that inward stillness, all our speculations about reality, all the philosophies, the systems of ethics, the religions, have very little significance. It is only the still mind which can know infinity.
Question: Can you tell us more clearly what it is you mean by consciousness?
Krishnamurti: What is consciousness? Is it not everything that we think and everything that we have thought in the past? Is it not the past which we project through the present into the future? Are not both the conscious and the unconscious mind within the field of time? Consciousness is made up, is it not?, of the responses of the past propelled into the present through memory, as the `I', as the mind, which then seeks further forms of fulfillment in the future. The whole of that is consciousness, is it not? It is the result of inherited ideas, of accumulated experiences, of fears, inspirations, motives, beliefs, hopes, and innumerable other influences. All that is what we are. We may divide ourselves into the `I' and the `not-I', into the `lower self' and the `higher self', but this whole field of consciousness, you will find, is made up of reactions, of the past, of conditioned thinking, and is therefore obviously limited.
After all, it is only because we are forever thinking about something, pursuing something, or running away from something, that we know we are alive. We search for reality, for permanence, and because we want it, we say we know of it. But our search is merely the outcome of desire, is it not? It is conditioned, limited, a product of time. All this is part of consciousness.
So the question is, can the mind, being conditioned, limited, free itself from the past, from its own centre of experience which is based on like and dislike? You cannot answer `yes' or `no'. You can only find out for yourself whether the mind can be free. But to find out, you must first know that you are conditioned; you must first be aware of the compulsions, the fears, the beliefs and traditions which now corrupt the mind. This means, does it not?, that one must watch oneself in relationship - not merely with people, but also in one's relationship with things and with ideas. Then you will understand, if you really observe it, the whole process of conditioning, and can perhaps be free of it forever.
Question: Is it possible for the ordinary person to come to this freedom without special training and knowledge?
Krishnamurti: What does special training imply? It implies, does it not?, continually conditioning the mind to a certain practice, to a certain discipline, to various forms of conformity and compulsion. When you say that special training is necessary to achieve this freedom, what is implied is the practice of a method; and can any method bring about freedom? Or is the practice of a method the very denial of freedom? Surely, when you practise a method you become a slave to that method, to a technique, and therefore there is no freedom. The practice produces a result, but the result is not freedom.
We think that by careful training of the mind, by certain practices, by observing certain rules, we will come to freedom; but the only result is to make ourselves prisoners of the method. Freedom is in the beginning, not at the end. We think that inner freedom is to be achieved only at the end, because from the very beginning we have denied ourselves freedom. We do not see that only from the very beginning can freedom be realized. Anyone with enough intelligence, diligence, and patience, can be free. Freedom comes to all of us if we give our time to it, if we dedicate ourselves to seeking out and understanding our own conditioning. But if one relies on a method, on training, one becomes a follower, one needs a teacher, and therefore one becomes a slave to that teacher. By becoming a follower one has denied the whole experience of freedom.
Question: One finds that one makes the same mistakes repeatedly. Are there those who have been able to break this pattern?
Krishnamurti: I wonder why we ask if there is anybody else who has broken the pattern of habit. Why? Is it because, if others have broken the pattern, it may help and encourage us? Or are we asking a vain question which has no meaning at all? Surely what has importance is not whether X or Y has broken the pattern, but whether we can break it, you and I. And that means, first of all, being aware of the pattern, of the prison in which the mind is held, knowing it for oneself - the racial prejudices, the educational ignorance, the religious limitations, the hopes, the fears, and all the rest of it. Then we will find out for ourselves whether we can break the pattern or not; we will not have to look to anybody else. Then we will know what it is to be free, to live, to be creative.
Question: Would you kindly explain what you mean by negative thinking?
Krishnamurti: Before we inquire into the problem of positive and negative thinking, let us ask ourselves, what is thinking? When I put you a question with which you are familiar, the response is immediate, you do not have to think. For example, if I ask you where you live, you reply without having to think about it. But if a more complicated question is asked, there is hesitation, which indicates that you are looking for an answer; the mind is then seeking an answer in the cupboard of memory. That is what we call thinking. I do not know, but I am trying to find an answer in all the memories, the knowledge that I have accumulated; and finding it, I verbally respond. This response, which is a reaction of memory, is what we call positive thinking, is it not? We are always thinking from our background of knowledge and experience, so our thinking is very limited; and such thinking can never be free. in that process there is no freedom of thought, in the fundamental sense of the word. You may change your opinions, your conclusions; but so long as you draw upon knowledge, which is what we are accustomed to doing, you are not really thinking at all. In that there is no freedom of thought, because memory and knowledge have already conditioned your thinking. Negative thinking may be, and probably is, freedom from knowledge as conclusions. After all, everything we know is of the past. The moment we say "I know", knowledge has already moved away from the present and established itself in memory, in the past.
So, can the mind be in a state of not-knowing? Because only then can the mind inquire, not when it says "I know". Only the mind which is capable of being in a state of not-knowing - not merely as a verbal assertion, but as an actual fact - is free to discover reality. But to be in that state is difficult, for we are ashamed of not knowing. Knowledge gives us strength, importance, a centre around which the ego can be active. The mind which is not calling upon knowledge, which is not living in memory, which is totally emptying itself of the past, dying to every form of accumulation from moment to moment - it is only such a mind that can be in a state of not-knowing, which is the highest form of thinking; and then thinking has a different meaning altogether. It may not be thinking at all, as we know it, but a state of being which is not merely the opposite of not-being.
Question: Would you please give us some practical way of getting free from our conditioned minds? You say that any particular training such as yoga or other spiritual exercises, only makes us slaves; but I still think we have to use some kind of method. You say that to have this freedom we must devote our lives to it, but how are we to do this without a method or a system?
Krishnamurti: This is rather a complex question, and I hope you will listen with attention to what is being said. By attention I do not mean waiting in your mind for the answer you wish to receive - which is, is it not?, the assurance that some kind of help, some kind of discipline or practice is necessary if we would be free. We are used to the idea of getting results through practice, and moving from results to further results. But there is a limit to what can be known by the mind through practice, through discipline; and we are now trying to find out, are we not?, what is truth, what is reality, what is God. To do that, the mind must first be made limitless, capable of receiving the unknown. The mind cannot go to truth, it cannot invite truth into its enclosure. Truth is immeasurable, it is too immense to be captured by any amount of practising on the part of the limited mind.
And is it not true that your motive in asking this question is to gain something, to attain or capture truth? But truth must come to you, the mind cannot go to meet it. You think that if you practise overcoming your passions it is going to lead you to reality, and so for you the method is very important; but such a mind, which is always hoping, inviting, expecting, can never under any circumstances reach that which is beyond the mind. There is no path, no yoga, no discipline which will lead you to it. All that the mind can do is to know itself. It must know its own limitations - the motives, the feelings, the passions, the cruelties, the lack of love, and be aware of all its many activities. One must see all that and remain silent, not asking, not begging, not putting out a hand to receive something. If you stretch out your hand, you will remain empty-handed forever. But to know yourself, the unconscious as well as the conscious, is the beginning of wisdom; and knowing yourself in that sense brings freedom - which is not freedom for you to experience reality. The man who is free is not free for something, or from something; he is just free; and then if that state of reality wishes to come, it will come. But for you to go seeking it is like a blind man seeking light; you will never find it. The man who understands himself seeks nothing; his mind is limitless, undesirous, and for such a mind the immeasurable can come into being.
May 22, 1956
Stockholm, Sweden 4th Public Talk 22th May 1956
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