Poona 3rd Public Talk 14th September 1958
The last time we met we were talking about the whole problem of effort, whether through effort there can be any Radical change; whether it is possible for a mind which is in a state of self-contradiction to put an end to that contradiction through any form of coercive discipline, through any form of suppression, through any endeavour to overcome it. We have said that a mind in contradiction must be in a state of effort and we enquired whether inward dissension, inward conflict could ever produce that change which is necessary if we are to see things clearly and live a peaceful, quiet life. It seems to me that it is important to understand this issue really deeply - that a small, respectable, petty mind must inevitably create contradiction within itself. Life is not petty. We try to reduce life to our own level of pettiness but it is too vast, too enormous, too demanding, too urgent. Life presents us with innumerable pressures, challenges which the petty mind cannot deal with and so, unconsciously or consciously, it creates a state of self-contradiction. Now can such a petty mind, the respectable mind, through any endeavour bring about a state in which there is no contradiction? That is our problem.
Obviously, life's challenge is too demanding, too enormous, too extraordinarily complex to be solved only at any one particular point. It must be tackled totally, as a whole thing. It cannot be tackled merely from the scientific point of view or from the romantic or the so-called religious point of view which, after all, is nothing but a series of dogmas, beliefs and ceremonies. But the petty mind is caught in all these escapes and it has reduced its environment to a social condition into which it can fit itself. Surely you and I can see that life is too extraordinarily beautiful, too deep, too profound to be easily comprehended, and yet with my narrow little mind I am trying to meet it. My little mind which is fearful, anxious, acquisitive, violent, has got so many social and religious sanctions according to which it must live and so there is ever the contradiction between what is and what it thinks should be. And having created this contradiction there is tension, and from that tension endless activity; and I try to reform that activity instead of understanding the petty mind which creates the contradiction. It is like trying to correct my shadow in the sun; I see that the shadow is very sharp and so I furiously scratch at the shadow thinking that thereby I am doing a revolutionary thing. But the really revolutionary thing is to bring about a radical change in the mind itself not in the mere thought which is but a projection of the state of contradiction.
So how is my mind which is obviously very limited and conditioned to transform itself? The mind is conditioned, is it not? All your environment is shaping the mind; the climate, the customs, the tradition, the racial influences, the family, - innumerable conscious and unconscious pressures are shaping the mind. You are a Hindu, a Parsi, a Mussulman, a Christian or whatever you are, because you have been influenced by your environment. So your mind is conditioned and being conditioned you face life, whose challenge is not within time, with your conditioned responses which are always within time. We think the challenge of starvation, the challenge of the appalling inequalities can be dealt with in terms of time because we treat the challenge in terms of our own conditioning. Being a Socialist, a Communist or what you will, I meet with my conditioned mind which has been shaped by many influences, a challenge which is itself out of time. All challenges must be out of time. The challenge of life cannot be held within the period of time for then it becomes the familiar and therefore I think I can deal with it. When the challenge comes to us it is never in terms of the known. I will explain, if I can, what I mean.
I ask you, - what is God? Being a respectable Hindu or Christian or what you will, you will answer according to your conditioning. But God is something unnameable, unknowable, unthinkable by a conditioned mind; it is something which is totally unknown, but your mind answers according to your conditioning. So the challenge is always reduced to time and your responses are always within time. Please think about it with me and do not just deny or accept. There is an art in listening and it is very difficult to listen to something with which you are not familiar. Your mind is always translating, correlating, referring what is said to what you already know - to what Shankara, Buddha or someone else has said - , and in that process there is no attention. You are already away, off in thought, and if you approve or disapprove you have already ceased to listen. But if you can listen with that attention which is not translating what is being heard, which does not compare, which is really giving the whole of its being to what is being said, in that attention there is listening. I do not know if you have ever tried to listen to somebody with your total being. In that there is no effort; effort and strain mean that you are either trying to get something from the speaker or are afraid, avoiding, resisting, and those processes are not listening at all. So if I may, I most respectfully suggest that you listen to see the truth of what is being said. Truth is not something extraordinary, mysterious, romantic, speculative. Truth is, that black is black; that there is a cloud in the sky. To discover what is false and what is true you have to free the mind from its past traditions, hopes and fears, and look. Truth is something to be discovered from moment to moment, not something that is accumulated.
I do not know if you have ever thought about this whole problem of accumulating, gathering, learning. A mind that has learnt is incapable of learning. If I may ask, Sirs, what is your reaction to that statement? Because this is not just a lecture where you listen and agree or disagree and then go home and do what you like, but this is an experiment together where during my exploration you are watching your own mind. If you so watch your own mind then I think these talks will have immense benefit and you will see things happening unconsciously, without your demanding it.
So I say a learned mind cannot learn. A mind that has gathered, that has experienced and that says "I know"; the mind that has studied so much and is so full of other peoples' opinions, ideas, speculations, descriptions, how can such a mind learn? Learning is from moment to moment; but if you learn in order to accumulate and with that accumulation try to direct your life, then you have ceased to live. You have merely gathered and are then projecting what you think life should be. Therefore there is a contradiction between life which is vast and profound and your mind which is caught in its own environmental influences. So we come again to the question of how to free the mind from self-contradiction because that is one of our major problems. I think this, and I do that. Watch yourself and you will see. One is full of arrogance, of pride, both of race and of achievement and at the same time one wants also to have the beauty of humility. So I am in contradiction which always implies conflict and to overcome that conflict I exert myself, saying I must put away pride and try to have humility. So I discipline myself, dedicate myself to God and give all my endeavours to what I think is the highest. First I have developed arrogance, pride, and then I offer it to God because I am suffering. That is what we are really doing, is it not?
Now the fact is that contradiction is the very centre of the self. I mean by the self not the Atman, the Paramatman or any speculative self, which for me has no reality. I am talking of our everyday self, the self which is greedy; the self which suffers; the self which is frustrated in its ambition, which is perpetually worrying, the self which says: "I must achieve, fulfil", yet knows that in the struggle for fulfilment there is only the shadow of frustration and despair. That self is the reality. So there is this contradiction. I am proud and at the same time I want to taste the beauty of humility. Of the two, which is real? Surely it is pride? The humility, the what I should be, in some imagined future may or may not come into being.
So the problem is how to transform pride without bringing in any contradictory idea with which I hope to remove pride. I feel it is really very important to understand this because we all have this problem of effort; the effort in our work, in our thinking, in trying to change ourselves, the effort to bring about a different society, to resist hate, to get rid of fear, to know of love. Our whole being is a constant effort. There is never a moment of that real feeling which comes to a mind that understands a thing for itself and is not trying to make what is into something else. I do not know if you have noticed it but if there is any pressure, any influence behind your thinking, thought can never fly straight to the truth of a thing. If I think I must do something because someone wants me to do it, then the doing is always biased. The influenced thought can never be a straight thought. If I do something because I am afraid or because I want something out of it, that act is a perverted act, it is not a clean, straight act. In the same way if a thought has any pressure behind it, it must go crooked. So the problem is how to free the mind from this contradiction and how to free the mind from pride. The mind can only free itself from pride when the ideal ceases to be. Because the ideal is not the fact; the fact is pride. So I have to remove from my mind the whole idea of what should be, remove the ideal totally. Then I have only the sense of pride and I can look at it completely.
One can see that ideals mean nothing. You are not really idealists, you are verbalists. An ideal is merely an escape from doing something actual. I am proud and I say that tomorrow, later on, I will be without pride. You will never be. So how am I to deal with the fact that I am afraid, that I am proud, that I am arrogant? Because, as I have said, what is important is the individual, not the mass. If the individual changes radically, the mass changes. It is not the other way round. No mass can be creative, produce a picture, write a poem or anything else. So I am asking you, how will you deal with the fact that you are proud?
Now what is wrong with pride? Why should you not be proud, and what does pride mean? What are you proud of? Of your family, your wealth, your beauty, your character? And if one does not feel proud one feels inferior, the opposite, and says "I am a nobody", which is another subtle form of pride. And so one is caught again. So before I begin to enquire why the mind must free itself from pride I must know what is wrong with pride. We will come back to it, but let us take something else first.
Most of us have fear of some kind hidden in the corners of the mind; the fear of death, of what the neighbour will say, of losing one's job or not being able to fulfil. Now why does one want to get rid of fear? Can I think clearly when I am afraid? Obviously not. If I am afraid of what my neighbour is going to say then I am living according to the ideas of my neighbour because I want to be considered respectable in society. I am afraid of not being respectable and therefore I comply, conform. So I am always living at a very, very superficial level and at the same time wanting to be conscious of the profound. So there again I bring contradiction into myself. Then I say I must get rid of fear. Have you ever tried to get rid of fear? Let us take the fear of death. It is not just the old people who are afraid of death, the young people are afraid also; everyone in the world is afraid of death, of ceasing to be, even though they may rationalize it. How do you solve that problem? When somebody dies whom you like and you are confronted with death, what happens? You try to console yourself in some belief, reincarnation or the idea of resurrection or some form of rationalization. But fear still exists and you have just run away from it.
Now if I am to tackle that problem of fear and not escape from it, then I will have to go into the whole question of death, death being an end to what I think has a continuity. I feel I must live on for the next 500 years or even indefinitely, because thereby I shall do something or be something. But the fact is that if I live a thousand years I shall be the same at the end, because I do not change now. So the problem is not death but whether there is such a thing as continuity. Is this not so? Surely, if I can solve the question of continuity then I shall not be afraid of death. But, what we do now is to try to escape from death by various forms of rationalization, and in spite of my rationalization I am still afraid. So I see through all the escapes - the radio, the book, the ceremony, the God, the belief - and I see that all the escapes are on the same level and that none is superior to the other. I see that through escape there is no solution, and so I have to find out if there is such a thing as continuity, if there is in me a permanent entity that continues and if there is anything permanent at all in life.
Do you know anything which is permanent, without change? I would like my relationship with my wife, my husband to be permanent, continuous; I would like to keep my property, I would like to live in a state of perpetual fame, perpetual love or perpetual bliss and peace, but is there such a thing? Even your properties are now being questioned and if you have more than so much land you are heavily taxed. Is there anything permanent? The Communists wanted the permanent worship of the state, but they have already had to modify this. There is continuous modification going on everywhere and it is only the religious mind with its impregnable beliefs that seems impervious to any change. So is there such a thing as continuity or is life a ceaseless change? Surely life is a movement in which there is no permanency. If you look at it carefully you will see that there is no permanency. There is no permanency even in our thinking, our beliefs, our ideals. Everything you do is uncertain, and you might lose your job tomorrow. So being uncertain, we want continuity, permanency, and so we are back again to the state of contradiction.
And it is this contradiction that we must understand because if we could really understand that, we would then be able to approach every problem - pride, fear, death or whatever it is - totally differently.
Our whole life is geared to contradiction, our whole being is in a state of contradiction, not only the conscious mind but the unconscious mind, and yet I see that if I am to think clearly, if there is to be any understanding of what is true, the mind must be free, clear. So how is one to be free of contradiction? Can I look at anything without bringing the opposite into it? After all, do I know love only because I know hate? Can I look at this duality completely, understand it fully, go into it with all my being to understand the truth of it? Are you aware of yourself, of what you are? Surely we know that we are in contradiction, that we say this and do that; you must know of this whirlpool? Then what do you do about it? You try to get rid of it by doing something about it, which means that you are not dealing with the problem itself but trying to cover the problem with another series of ideas. So, without covering the problem with thoughts, can I look at the fact of my pride? Have you tried it, Sirs, since I last suggested it? Can you look at a flower without naming it, and can you look at a quality of which you are aware in yourself without trying to do something about it? Have you ever looked at anger without saying to yourself that you must not be angry? If so, you will know how very difficult it is just to look at the fact because the mind is always interfering with the fact by bringing in the memory of what should be. And I say that if the mind can look at the fact without bringing in past experiences, past memories, just being aware of the fact, then that very awareness of the fact changes it totally. The awareness of the fact brings about a cessation of conflict.
If I know that I am a liar and I do not merely try to change it, saying I must tell the truth, then I can go into the whole question of why I lie. Because I want to know the whole background of my lying, to see the significance of why I lie, I go into it. And I see that I lie because I am afraid. Superficially or very deeply I am afraid of what I have done or said, and that you may discover it; or I am afraid of losing my job, endless different things. Now how is it possible to free the mind from fear? If I do anything about it there is a contradiction and therefore a conflict, an everlasting battle going on. So, let me not say that I must not be afraid, but let me look at the whole process of what has brought about that fear.
Let us take another fact, that we avoid the ugly and cling to the beautiful. Please follow me a little. We think we know beauty because we know the ugly; we know beauty as something manifest, as something expressed. I say this is a beautiful building or an ugly building, but how do I know it is ugly or beautiful? It is because of opinion, because I have been told, is it not? My mind is trained, conditioned according to tradition as to what is beautiful and what is ugly. Has beauty an opposite? Please do not try to answer, but just listen. Has beauty an opposite, the ugly? If beauty has an opposite, is it beauty?
You may say that life is the false as well as the true, and that I know what cold is because I know what heat is, I know pain because I know when there is no pain; there is man and there is woman. The state of duality, which we all know, is inevitable perhaps, but why do we create conflict because of that? The problem we are investigating is not that there is or is not the beautiful and the ugly, but why there is the conflict, the tensions, this enormous amount of worry trying to be this and not to be that? The worry and conflict arise because I want to be this and not that, because this is profitable and the other is not; with the chosen state I want to be identified and the other I want to put away. So the identification with the one and the avoidance of the other is the whole centre of contradiction. And that contradiction cannot be overcome through any form of discipline. Do what you will, follow any system, you will not overcome it. What will free the mind from contradiction is to tackle the mind itself and find out why the mind attaches itself to the one state and avoids the other. That requires self-knowledge, going into yourself, studying yourself patiently, deeply. But we do not want to do that; we want an immediate result.
So the problem we are going into is not whether in reality there is no man or woman, no evil or good, nothing beautiful or ugly, but why does the mind operate in these divisions. And this means really going into the whole question of what is thinking. Because we always think in this way - that there is beauty and there is the ugly and I want the one and not the other. So I say to myself: What is this machinery of thinking which says I must have this and I must not have that, thereby creating contradiction within me? And I ask what is this thing that is thinking? I am not going away from the main subject but I am now going to enquire into the question of what is thinking. Have you ever asked yourself that question, or do you just have thoughts? We have never asked, have we?, what is thinking; so let us look, let us go into it.
Thinking, surely, is a reaction. If there were no reaction there would be no thinking. I know the sannyasis and the so-called saints do various things in order not to have reactions and therefore destroy themselves, but we are not concerned with that. Thinking is essentially a reaction. I ask you where you live and you answer without hesitation, because you know so well where you live. If I ask you a more complex question, you take time to answer. The gap between the question and the answer is caused by the process of thinking, is it not? Please follow this. So the gap between the question and the answer means that you are enquiring, bringing your memories into operation, and your memory then answers. Then if I ask you a question still more complex, the time interval is greater and in that interval the mind is very active, enquiring, searching through your memories, your records of books and accumulated knowledge, and when it has found what it wants it gives an answer. If I ask you a very complex question the interval is much wider and after searching your mind you say you do not know. Do please listen; it is not a laughing matter. You say, "I do not know", but that is merely a hesitation, an interval in which you are still enquiring, waiting for the mind to find an answer, which means again that the mind is still operating, searching, demanding, waiting, which is all reaction, is it not? All our responses are reactions and that, surely, is clear. That is all we know of the ways of our thinking, that it is reaction, more complex or less complex, more subtle or less subtle, more crooked or more refined. But the whole process of thinking is mechanical. Thinking is merely a reaction to something I know or which I do not know; but I can find out. That is what the computers are doing. They can answer anything you want based on the same principle of association and recollection.
So our thinking now is entirely mechanical and with that mechanical habit we approach life, which is not mechanical. Life is not just a printing press throwing out news. So with my mechanical thinking I approach life which is not mechanical, and therefore there is contradiction. I try to overcome this contradiction again through the process of thinking, the same mechanical habit, and therefore the contradiction between me and life persists. Now can I approach life in a totally different way? Let us look at it again. I am enquiring into thinking because it is our thoughts, obviously, which have made this contradiction. There is truth, there is the false, there is the beautiful and there is the ugly, I am sexual and I do not want to be sexual, and so on; these are undeniable facts. Thought identifies itself with the one state and denies the other. So I have to understand the whole process of thinking, not only at the conscious level but at the unconscious level, deep down. That brings out the question of the conscious and the unconscious mind. I ask you, what are you, what does the `you' consist of? It consists of all that you think, all that you want to be, your ambitions, hopes, fears, the totality of all that is yours. You are the product of racial influences, past traditions, what man has passed on for centuries upon centuries; you are also the superficial, sophisticated, educated mind, - the technically trained professor, lawyer, policeman or whatever your training or lack of training has produced. So you are not only the product of the last forty or twenty years, but also the product of the centuries of the past. You are the totality of all that, but do you know it? I have described all this and you may now say you know it, but there is a difference between hearing and knowing. That is, you have heard and understood the words I have said and so you say "I know it". But there is also another state which is, that you experience this totality. The experiencing of that totality of what you are, is the real knowing; the other is the mere acceptance of the description. Most of us only know in the descriptive sense, not in the experiential sense. If you really know yourself in the sense of experiencing the totality of yourself as of the past, then you can break that totality or continue it. At this point you can see, if you will look, how contradiction arises. There is a knowing which is an experiencing of all that you are, which I have just described, and which includes both the conscious as well as the unconscious. But you are not going to experience it because you say that it is too difficult. So one part of your mind says: "I will listen to you and know it all verbally", and the other part says: "I must try and experience that, it must be a marvellous state of experiencing". So you have created a contradiction. You want to experience this totality of your being because you see that the verbal knowing is silly, but you are preventing yourself by not going into it, by being satisfied at the verbal level. I say you cannot free the mind from contradiction until you know the totality of all this. Part of you is the trained or untrained person, but part of you is also the traditional past which tells you to do your duty, to think of God, put on ashes, or whatever you do. All that is there, and you are living at a very, very superficial level. So there is contradiction, and so you have dreams, anxieties, depressions. Until you have gone into your whole background you cannot possibly be free of this contradiction.
Now, how is one to be totally aware of all this? Must I go through layer after layer analysing, looking bit by bit into the whole content of myself, like stripping the peel off the onion? That would take all your life, would it not? Your whole mind is conditioned, the totality of your being is conditioned, and whatever you do to get rid of it you are still within the field of that conditioning. So thought operating upon the conditioned state will not free the conditioned mind, because thought is the result, the reaction to that conditioning. So thought is not the means by which to destroy our conditioning.
To free the mind from all conditioning, you must see the totality of it without thought. This is not a conundrum; experiment with it and you will see. Do you ever see anything without thought? Have you ever listened, looked, without bringing in this whole process of reaction? You will say that it is impossible to see without thought; you will say no mind can be unconditioned. When you say that, you have already blocked yourself by thought, for the fact is you do not know.
So can I look, can the mind be aware of its conditioning? I think it can. Please experiment. Can you be aware that you are a Hindu, a Socialist, a Communist, this or that, just be aware without saying that it is right or wrong? Because it is such a difficult task, just to see, we say it is impossible. I say it is only when you are aware of this totality of your being without any reaction, that the conditioning goes, totally, deeply - which is really the freedom from the self.
Do not immediately translate this into the terms of what you now believe or do not believe, for the whole of that is the self, and thought, which is the reaction of the self, cannot act upon the self without adding to it. Do you not see this? And yet that is what we are doing all the time. Whereas if you see the truth that thought cannot break this conditioning because all thought, analysis, probing, introspection is merely a reaction to your present state, - then you are only aware of the conditioning. In that awareness there is no choice, because choice again brings thought into being. Therefore to be aware of this conditioning implies no choice, no condemnation, no justification, no comparison, but just to be aware. When you are so aware your mind is already free of that conditioning. By simply being aware of the whole process of your conditioning you will see that you are introducing a new factor altogether, a factor in which there is no identification with or rejection of the self; and that factor is the release, the wiping away of all conditioning. That is why I suggest to you that you experiment until we meet again; that you so observe, and be aware.
September 14, 1958
Poona 3rd Public Talk 14th September 1958
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