Stockholm, Sweden 6th Public Talk 25th May 1956
I think we should continue with what we were talking about yesterday. I do not know whether it is a problem for each one of us, this question of experience. Life is a continuous series of experiences, it is an endless process of challenge and response; and there is always a conflict when our response is inadequate to the challenge. Invariably this conflict, this inadequacy of response, is the result of the background, of tradition, of the previous experiences we have had. Following tradition inevitably leads to mediocrity, and most of our minds, it seems to me, fall into habits, into reactions based on tradition. We dwell in our past experiences, and we use the present as a means to the future. Few of us live to break out of this circle of unrealities and ghosts; and our future is merely the result of projections from the past.
I feel that if we can approach this inquiry with a mind that is not conditioned, that is not held, bound by the past, then there is a possibility of understanding, of seeing and feeling something which is not merely the outcome of the conditioned centre. But most of us live and work from that centre, which is the residue of all human experience, both individual and collective, and therefore all new experience is bound to condition our thinking further. The mind never goes beyond its own conditioning, and that is why it is never free.
So the question is, can the mind be free from its own self-centred activity? Is it possible for the mind not to be self-centred? And what is such a state of mind?
After all, we can see that we are the result of our education, of our particular society, of the religion in which we have been brought up, and of the many other influences bearing upon us. Whether we are atheists or believers, we repeat what we have learnt, what we have been taught, what we have accepted. A man who believes does not necessarily know more of the reality of God than a non-believer, because both are conditioned - which is fairly obvious. So the question is: can the mind free itself from all these influences, from all this accumulated experience? That is what we are trying to find out. There are those who maintain that such a thing is impossible, and who think that all we need do is to find a better form of conditioning; so they turn from worshipping the dictates of a church to worshipping the dictates of a state, a party, or a government. But if we would seriously inquire into whether it is possible to free the mind from all conditioning, how are we to set about it? Can we discuss and go further into this problem?
Questioner: I think one must begin by discovering a means.
Krishnamurti: Can we not dispose of all the means which the mind invents in order to free itself? One means is the will - using the action of will to break down our conditioning. Another means is analysis. You go to an analyst, or analyse yourself; you try to interpret your dreams, you carefully investigate each layer of memory, you examine every reaction, and so on. That is not the way, surely. And when we try to break down our conditioning through the action of will, what happens? One desire becomes dominant and resists the various other desires - which means that there is always the whole problem of suppression, resistance, and so-called sublimation. Does any of this free the mind from conditioning?
I wonder if we fully understand the implication of using the will to get rid of something, or to become something. What is will? Surely will is, in itself, a way of conditioning the mind, is it not? In the action of will, one dominant desire is imposing itself upon other desires, one wish is over-riding other motives and urges. This process obviously creates inward opposition, and hence there is ever conflict. So will cannot help us to free the mind.
Probably you have not thought about all this before, and are therefore finding it rather difficult. But let us take a simple example and go into it, and we shall see.
Supposing I am violent, or envious, how is the mind to be free of that - totally free, not just in little bits? Will the exercise of will free the mind from anything? If I am envious and, feeling that envy is wrong, I resist it, push it away, does that get rid of it? It does not, does it? And if the will does not help me, then how is the mind to be totally free from envy, or anything else? It is really a very interesting problem. We are all consumed with something, whether it be envy, fear, ambition, or what you will; and can the mind be totally free of these things, or must we go on chopping at them little by little until we die, and still not be free at the end of it all?
If we see that will does not free the mind from envy, then what is the next thing to try? Will analysing oneself, introspection, get rid of envy? In analysis there is always the possibility of misinterpretation, and the question of whether the analyser himself is free.
We saw yesterday that each one of us is a bundle of experiences, of reactions; and we asked ourselves, how is one to be free from this complex centre? I am now trying to take one thing out of that bundle and look at it. It is an experience which we all have: envy. By what process can this experience be totally rooted out, eradicated? Is this a problem to everyone?
Krishnamurti: Then how would you tackle it? Questioner: One can learn to accept oneself.
Krishnamurti: But one is still envious!
Questioner: Truth will make us free.
Krishnamurti: That is perfectly true. But to see what is true, and not merely repeat phrases, the mind must be very alert, vivid, sensitive - it must be in a state to see the truth.
Questioner: We must be able to conquer envy by some sort of feeling of brotherhood.
Krishnamurti: The problem is much more complicated than that. Conquering does not solve it. It is like putting a bandage over a wound. The wound is still there.
Questioner: If we understand our envy we see how it inhibits us.
Krishnamurti: But do we? Most of us know the experience of envy, and we have created a society in which envy is very dominant, have we not? Our education, our religious ambitions, our whole lives are based on it: "You know, I do not; I must also know". This process breeds a competitive, ruthless society. Envy is an extraordinarily strong feeling, and having it, we function from that centre. If there were no envy at all, what would be the state of the mind? And would it not then be possible to create quite a different society, quite a different kind of education? As individual human beings, is it not important that we should understand this problem and find out for ourselves if it is possible for the mind to be free of envy in its entirety?
Questioner: If we stop wishing, stop desiring...
Krishnamurti: How is one to stop desire? By will? By tearing it to pieces? By discipline? By resisting, suppressing it? If you do any of these things, there is a conflict.
Questioner: By studying it in all its forms.
Krishnamurti: You can intellectually study all the various forms of envy and still suffer from it.
Questioner: We must try to look at envy very calmly when it comes into our minds, and not hope too much to get rid of it.
Krishnamurti: If I am envious, how am I to look at it?
Questioner: Very calmly, I said.
Questioner: Is this not the main difficulty, that we never really meet envy? We are envious, but we do not see our envy, actually.
Questioner: We can help our children to be free of it.
Krishnamurti: To help the children, the educator himself must first be free. That seems fairly clear. But as the other gentleman said, do we really know what envy is? Do we know envy as a living thing, or merely as a word, a verbal statement? Do we know it as an intimate fact?
Questioner: I am afraid most of us know it only as a word and not as a fact.
Krishnamurti: Of what significance is the word unrelated to the feeling?
Questioner: How would it be if one studied one's needs and tried to reduce them? Krishnamurti: I may become a monk, but I am still envious of another hermit who is holier or cleverer than I am.
Questioner: I think we must accept envy and give it its right place in our lives. If we can see, without condemning it, that envy does not lead anywhere, we shall get rid of it.
Questioner: Perhaps envy is based on fear. If we could believe in ourselves as individuals, then we would not have to be envious.
Krishnamurti: To say one must accept envy, or that envy is based on fear, does not help us. The cause of envy we know, but I am talking of the totality of it, the cause and the effect. After all, I know why I am envious; I am not as beautiful or as clever as you are; I compare myself with you, and I am envious. But is it possible to be free from that whole complex process?
Questioner: If I dwell in the self, it is not possible. But by meditating every day I can find out that the self has no value, and be free from envy.
Questioner: If we could live in the now, we should not be attracted by what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow.
Questioner: We must know that we are envious, and live with it, feel it in every cell; and then this envy will absorb itself and something will suddenly happen.
Krishnamurti: Surely we are all merely advising each other what to do, which is rather unfortunate, because we shall never find out that way. If you are telling me how to live, what to do, I shall never discover anything, shall I?
Questioner: Who are we that we should think we can get rid of envy? After all, life has made us envious. We can try to be a little less envious; but even if we do not achieve that aim, life will still go on for many more years.
Krishnamurti: Those for whom envy is not a real problem can chop away at it slowly; but that will never resolve our struggle and sorrow. I am afraid we are not really meeting each other. The problem needs a lot of penetration, and we are just putting out words and ideas. One knows one is envious, and that one's life is based on envy to a very large extent. From childhood we are brought up in envy, encouraged in it, consciously or unconsciously. On the surface I may be able to brush it aside; but deep inside, envy is still biting and burning. How is that fire to be completely quenched? You are just telling me what to do, you are not following the problem in yourselves. Can we not think it out together?
Questioner: When you speak of the mind being free, what do you mean by `mind'?
Krishnamurti: I thought we made this whole problem clear yesterday. We have discussed for more than an hour, and unfortunately we have not really touched the subject at all. We can define our terms and so perhaps make verbal communication better, but this problem is not a matter of mere verbal communication or the further definition of terms. Also we have been talking of what to do and what not to do, and that may not be the question at all. It may be that we have to look at the problem in an entirely different manner. To find out, we must think out the problem together.
Questioner: If I know I am envious and I look at it without any condemnation, would that not be a way to be free of it?
Questioner: We tried to find out yesterday how to be free of experience and of conclusions. Can we leave envy for a moment and go into the question of what it is to be free? If there is a centre, what is it? Is it a spark of God? And is not God free? What does it mean to be free?
Krishnamurti: Has it never happened to you that you have been very angry and wanted to be free from it? Have you never asked yourself whether you can be free from envy, from this everlasting drive after something? When this happens to you, what is your response? You try discipline, suppression, and various other ways to get rid of that feeling, but still it obsesses you wherever you go. So what are you to do? How are you to look at it? What kind of action or non-action must take place? So long as you are fighting it, one part of the mind resisting another part, envy will continue, will it not?
Krishnamurti: It is not a question of agreeing; you have to see it for yourself. So long as there is conflict, one part of the mind dominating another part, there can be no freedom. Do you see that fact?
Krishnamurti: I wonder if you do. You like this, do you not?, because I am doing all the talking and you are just listening.
The problem is this: I am envious, and I see that mere resistance, suppression, bringing the will into action, only creates conflict. So my problem is conflict, not envy. My problem is not envy at all, but the fact that I am always striving in order to arrive somewhere. This striving is the very process of envy. What am I striving after? I am discontented, and I am striving to reach contentment. I think that if I can go to some place, or reach some end, I shall be content. So I strive. I am unhappy, I am envious, always wanting more, more, more. My whole outlook on life is based on accumulation, because in myself I am discontented, unhappy, lonely, empty. Being empty, I want somehow to enrich myself. I try various activities - painting, writing, worshipping, and many other avenues of self-expression - , hoping to cover up this sense of emptiness. Is this not a fact?
Krishnamurti: But can this emptiness ever be filled? Can I enlarge myself inwardly? Please listen. When I try to be like jesus, like Buddha, or like anybody else, it is because in myself I am nothing, and I am envious. So my problem is, can I fill this emptiness? Surely, the moment I try to fill my emptiness, there is again the whole problem of struggle, of how to make myself richer. Then I look around to see who is richer, more beautiful, more talented than I am, and immediately I am caught in the field of comparison and struggle.
What then? I know there is an inner insufficiency; and can I look at it without any sense of wanting to enrich myself, without any desire to run away from it? Because the moment I try to escape from it, I enter into all sorts of false pursuits and stupidities through envy and comparison.
So now we are no longer concerned with the question of envy; we are considering the question of emptiness.
How do I know that I am empty? Is it a mere verbal recognition, or is it an actual experience? Is the mind really aware of its emptiness? When I am not escaping from it, when I am no longer trying to enrich myself, when the mind is no longer caught in the mere verbal statement that it is empty, then there is only emptiness, the sense of insufficiency, of being inwardly poor. To recognize that fact, to be fully aware of it, is what is important, not the question of what to do about it. When I ask what to do about it, I am again in the field of envy. But when one is aware of the simple fact that the totality of one's being is empty, and that one is constantly trying to find various ways of running away, all of which involve envy, then one no longer seeks to escape from this emptiness.
So, can the mind be aware of the fact of its emptiness without trying to alter it? I think that is the real issue. If the mind is only concerned with the fact that it is empty, then it no longer cares who is more beautiful, or more intelligent. But we seem incapable of looking at that fact as it is. We are always translating it, we have opinions about it. We condemn it, we seek to escape from it, we are constantly trying to operate in some way on the fact; and so the fact is prevented from operating of itself. When the fact operates, it is the truth that operates. But we are so afraid of this emptiness that we try to do something about it all the time, and thereby create a hindrance between ourselves and the fact.
If the mind can be completely still in front of the fact of emptiness, loneliness, violence, envy, if it does not translate that fact or wish it were different, then the fact operates. But so long as we operate upon the fact, we cannot be free. The man who is conscious that he is free, is not free, any more than the man who is conscious that he is humble, is humble. But to be silently aware of the fact without condemnation, without wanting a result, reveals the truth, which is freedom.
May 25, 1956
Stockholm, Sweden 6th Public Talk 25th May 1956
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