Poona 6th Public Talk 24th September 1958
As this is the last talk, I am going to cover as much ground as possible. Most of us, I think, from childhood to maturity and even up to the grave are accustomed to being told what to do and what to think. Not only the society about us but all our religious books, our governments, everybody tells us what to do and what to think, and it would be a great mistake if you expect the same thing from the speaker, because what is important is to find out for oneself what one thinks and from that find out what to do. It is essential, surely, to know oneself - not the self which is supposed to be beyond consciousness, which is described in various books and so on, but the self that is within the limitations and the frontiers of consciousness. In the understanding of that everyday consciousness, in the unrolling of that extraordinary map, in venturing on the ocean of the unfolding self and seeing its whole significance, comes right action, which is true vocation. But if one does not know the ways of one's own mind, the ways of one's own thought, if one does not perceive the first reaction to every challenge, the first movement of thought to form a demand, if one leaves that first movement of the mind unexplored, unquestioned, without discovering the cause of the responses, then we shall be utterly lost in the verbal and theoretical activities of the mind.
Most of us are concerned with action, with what to do. There is so much sorrow, misery and starvation, and what can the human being who is conscious of all this do about it? Is he to leave the reformation entirely to the Government or should he, as an individual, join an organization which will bring about a little more order, a more equal distribution of land, a little more happiness and beauty in life? That is one of our problems, is it not? Has true religion any relation to reformation? Has the really religious man any relationship with politics and government? Or must he concern himself entirely with all the implications of that word `religion' - which is not the same thing at all as organized religion, belief, dogma, ritual, the reading of sacred books and doing nothing about it? All that is merely verbal enjoyment. The problem is, is it not?, that one sees the misery in this world, the unemployment, the starvation, the appalling state of things, and what is one to do? Should one join a group to bring about reformation or is that the function of the government? Please, I am not asking you to do anything. We are just examining the whole problem of action because most of us want to do something in this world either in a limited, narrow sense or in a wider sense. To do something about it is a human, instinctual response but there is a great deal of confusion which I am briefly exploring now. Which does not mean that you must follow any of the things I say because to be a leader or a follower destroys human relationship. Neither a leader nor a follower can bring about a mind that is capable of affection, of love.
So one of our problems is action. We see this misery about us, and what should we do? Should one join a group to bring about reforms, or should one see to it that the government makes such laws, restrictions and edicts as will bring about a right reformation? And why do the people who are dedicated to some kind of reform join hands with the politicians? Is it because they think that by joining hands with the government they can accelerate reformation or is it because they are trying to fulfil themselves through reforms and through politics? Helping to bring about a reformation in society gives us an opportunity to expand ourselves, does it not? It gives us a chance to become important. Then we are somebody, in the religious as well as in the political field. But is that the function of the truly religious man? I hope you understand the question, Sirs? It is the function of the government to pass laws against corruption, to see that there is no starvation, no war, no extremes of wealth and poverty, and when the government does not do it, is it your responsibility, as an individual, to see that there are politicians to do all this? Why should you or I take an interest in politics? I am not suggesting that you should dissociate yourselves from voting and all that business, but is it the duty of the religious man to enter the field of politics, which is concerned only with immediate results - to build a dam, to bring hydroelectric current all over the country, and so on? Is it the duty of the religious man, is it his job, his vocation, to enter into that field?
Now we want to do both, don't we? We want to be serious or so-called religious and we also want to dabble in politics. So I am trying to find out what is the real function of a religious man. We know the function of the politician, - not the crooked man but the right kind of politician. It is his job to see that certain things are done, carried out, and that he himself is incorruptible. But what is a religious man, and if he is really religious, will he take part in politics, in the immediate reformation? Let us go into the question of what we mean by religion and the religious man. Obviously we do not mean the man who goes to the temple three times a day, nor the man who repeats a lot of words, nor the man who follows some doctrine like the savage gathering to himself all kinds of beliefs. And surely he is not a religious man who repeats what Shankara has said, or Buddha or Christ; he merely spins words. Such a mind is a diseased mind. The religious man is he who, realizing his conditioning, is breaking through that conditioning. Such a man does not belong to any religion, he has no beliefs, follows no ritual, no dogma because he sees that dogma, ritual, belief are merely conditioning factors, the influences of the society around him. Whether he lives in Russia, Italy, India, America or anywhere else, the environment is conditioning him and influencing him to believe or not to believe. But the religious man is he who, through self-knowledge, begins to discover his conditioning and to break through it; and the breaking through is not a matter of time.
Now what do we mean by time? Sirs, I am describing but it is for you to experience, so do not say to yourself, that you will listen very carefully in order to see whether Shankara, Christ or Buddha says the same thing. We are discussing, you and I, as two individuals trying to find out for ourselves, and if you compare what you hear with what you have read, then you are not listening, then you are not experiencing as we go along. We are trying to discover what it is to be religious and whether the religious man is concerned with time as a means of arriving at virtue or as a means of conquering his disabilities, his afflictions. In examining this process of time, which is the distance between what we are and what we want to be, we say time is necessary. We say time is essential to cultivate virtue, time is necessary to free the mind from its conditioning, time is required to travel the distance from an idea to another idea, to the ideal. The distance from a point to a point, that is what we mean by time, whether it is chronological or psychological, - chronological time means needing a whole lifetime, or many lives, and psychological time means the `I will arrive', `I will be' state of mind. The `will be' is time, is it not?
So, is time necessary in order to understand or is understanding something that is immediate, something unrelated to time? Surely, if you are really listening, then time ceases. I do not know if you have ever experimented with the question of time. If you have, you will realize that all understanding is in the immediate present, and by the present I do not mean in opposition to the past or the future, but a mind that is completely attentive with an attention that has no causation, that does not wish to arrive somewhere. So I am trying to uncover that instantaneous understanding of the conditioning of the mind, and in that understanding break through the conditioning. That is what we are examining. I realize that my mind is conditioned by society and I want to know if time is necessary to break through that conditioning. Is time necessary in order to see, to understand something? Will I understand after two hours, or by the end of the day or after many days, or do I understand something immediately? We generally think that time is necessary in order to understand. We rely on progress, we say, give me time, give me opportunity, let me use discipline, grow, become, and at the end I will understand. That is the traditional, the religious and the so-called human approach. And I ask myself if that is so. Is understanding really a matter of time or is it a matter of the immediate present? If it is a matter of the immediate present it means that the mind must be free of the idea that it will understand in the future. After all, when it says, `I will understand', the `will' is the time period. Now during that time period what actually happens? You go on in your own sweet way, do you not?, carrying on with all your pleasures and pains because you really do not want to understand; but when you do want to understand then the action is immediate. Please, this does not require time in which to think if what is said is true or not, but it requires a certain state of attention. I do not know if you have ever thought what we mean by yesterday, tomorrow and today. In chronological time we know that yesterday was Tuesday, but it means also all the content of yesterday and the memories, the experiences, the pleasures and unhappiness of the many, many yesterdays which conditioned yesterday. And what do we mean by tomorrow? We mean all the past passing through today into the future which is somewhat modified, but which has the same content as yesterday. That is what we mean by yesterday, today and tomorrow; yesterday, with all its struggles efforts and miseries, passing through today and coming to tomorrow, which is the future. And what is today? Is today merely a passage of yesterday to tomorrow?
Please, Sirs, do listen, and you will see it. Is today merely the passage of yesterday through this thing called today and going on to tomorrow, or is today something entirely different? Is there not the timeless today, the feeling that today is dissociated with the past or with the future? But you cannot dissociate from the past if you are not dead to the past. If you carry the burden of yesterday through today and on to tomorrow then there is no ending of yesterday. Then you only know a continuity not an ending. I do not know if you have ever tried dying to something, ending. Have you ever tried dying to a pleasure? I know you have tried dying to sorrow, to a worry, to an unpleasant, irritating problem, but you have never died to a pleasure, have you? It is this pleasure of wanting, wanting to be different tomorrow, which is the reason for our continuity from yesterday through the present to tomorrow; it is as simple as that. So, is it possible to die to yesterday? Can I not die today to my property, my desires, my virtues, my ambitions and all the petty little activities, put them away from me completely? Have you ever tried it? I am afraid you have not, and yet you talk in apprehension about dying in old age, whereas if you die to yesterday there would be no fear of death in the tomorrow, because there would be nothing to carry over to tomorrow of those things to which you are clinging. If you have really listened to this, you will have experienced that state of mind which is dead to yesterday. Unfortunately most of you are being stimulated by me, but if you really do die to the past, even for a second, then that experience is the perceiving of something true, and that will act. As a poison will act of itself in your body, so the truth will act as a poison unless there is action in relation to that perception.
So a religious man, as I was saying, is concerned with freeing the mind from conditioning through self-knowledge, and we say that time is necessary to break the conditioning because the conditioning is not only at the conscious level but also at the unconscious level where there is the residue of the racial, family and general human experience. Now must one go through all that process or is there a way of really breaking through and understanding it immediately? That is the real crux of the problem. I say that there is a way of doing it immediately and that there is no other way. The desire for another day is the allocation of time for the mind to continue merely playing with the idea of being free from conditioning. To realize that the mind is conditioned and is a prisoner in that conditioning requires attention and it is that attention, that immediate perception which frees the mind. Such a man is not concerned with reforms, for all reforms are within the field of time. So I am talking of the man who is not concerned with bureaucracy, administration, and all the immediate reforms and edicts but who is concerned - however much he may make a mistake - with truth, whose primary interest is that. Such a mind has no authority either over somebody else or over itself. It is not out to guide people, it is not out to tell people what to think, whether there is a God or no God. Such a mind is concerned with helping man to free himself from his own conditioning, and I say such a man is a religious man. You may ask, what has such a man to do with society which needs reformation, purgation? I say that the religious man will be the most important factor because he is the revolution. It is not that he will bring about a revolution but that he himself is in a state of revolution. I leave it to you to think out the difference.
Most of us see all these things either clearly or in confusion but we can see that to extricate oneself from conditioning raises the problem of fear. Is it not so? Fear is something which exists not by itself but only in relation to something else. I am afraid of public opinion, I am afraid that someone might discover my foolishness, I am afraid of death, of losing my job, of not being an important person. And it is this feeling of fear which creates confusion in the mind; nothing else. Being confused, we try to solve the problems which the confusion has created. Instead of going to the cause we try to reform the effects, whereas if we examine it very closely we will discover that the cause and the effect are not separate. The cause is not here and the effect over there; cause-effect are always together. So confusion or the lack of clarity of thought is brought about by fear.
Let us look at it again. What is the cause of confusion? Take a very simple thing. I must act, and I want to do good in the world. I know that the government is supposed to do good in the world, but I myself want to be religious and I also want to be powerful, saying I want to help. Actually I want a Rolls-Royce, and all the rest of it, do I not? So ambition, wanting to fulfil, is the cause of confusion not only in the religious but in the political field as well. The search for fulfilment is the cause of fear and confusion. Confusion does not come suddenly out of the sky; it comes because of various causes. So as our minds are confused, what is the cause of it? If one were able to think clearly there would be no sense of confusion. If my mind were very clear, not clear about something but in a state of clarity there would be no confusion. I hope you understand the difference between the mind being clear about something and being clear in itself. So, out of the cause comes confusion; the confusion does not come first and then the cause. We are talking about fear, and I say that fear comes because we want to fulfil. I need not describe what I mean by fulfilment - the sense of my family, self-importance, being the big fish in a little pond, the powerful politician, the great saint, using any avenue through which I can expand myself. And so long as I want to be the chief man in the little town, there is always the fear that you will want to be the same. And so we begin to compete and I am always anxious, and all the rest of it. So fear begins. So long as there is the desire to be something there must be fear and that fear causes confusion. I do not say it is the chief cause but it is one of the causes.
I am going to examine what we mean by fear, but please do not merely listen to the words. You know what you are afraid of, do you not? You are afraid of losing your job, of your wife becoming ill, or you love someone and that person does not love you, or you fear death. If you are at all alert you can see for yourself what you are afraid of. Please watch your own fear as I describe it. Now what do we mean by fear? Let us take death for an example. What does fear of death mean? It means I am afraid of the future, I am afraid of what might be, I am afraid of coming to an end. That fear exists in time. The thought of tomorrow and of me not being something in the tomorrow, the future, brings fear. That is, thought creates fear by thinking of tomorrow. Is that not so? I am a dishonest man and I cover it up because I do not want you to discover it, and I am afraid you might. I am afraid that you might see through me some time - which is again in the future. Fear is of time. Whereas, if I can say: `Yes, I am dishonest and I do not mind your discovering it now', - then I abolish time, and there is no more fear. There is only the fact. When I know the fact there is no fear. But in being confused about the fact, and in trying to change the fact into what I think it should be, according to my fancy, fear begins. If I know I am a liar, a greedy man, there is no fear. It is so. But if I try to cover up a lie and try to be something else, then fear begins. Therefore the desire to change without understanding the actual fact, without looking fully at the fact but merely wishing it to be something else, that is the beginning of fear - in which is involved time and the desire to achieve. So you have fear which causes confusion. Unless you eradicate fear you cannot be free of confusion. Understanding fear implies understanding the process of the mind, the self, and how it creates the thing called time. Which means that thought creates time. I am not talking of chronological time in the sense of the train going at 9.30. I am talking of the process of fear, of the self that creates time in order to be something in the future, and in that process there is frustration and sorrow. And in order to escape from that sorrow you invent all sorts of nonsense, myths, and live in a state of illusion and fear.
So we come to the point, which is: Can the mind look at the fact without the desire to change the fact? I am greedy, I am envious - envy is a part of greed, is it not? Can I look at the fact that I am envious? Please, Sirs, look at it. Do not merely listen to me, but look at the fact, if you can. Then you will see how extraordinarily difficult it is to look at anything, to know that you are violent, to know it in the sense that you see that you are violent. When you do not compare, condemn or justify yourself with regard to it, is there not understanding of the fact and therefore a fundamental change in the fact itself? That is, I am violent. Can I look at it without any sense of avoidance, can I attend to it? I have explained before what I mean by attention. Attention is not of time, it is not saying `I must attend', or `I will cultivate it', which requires time. But the mind that says, `I must see this thing', acts, looks. When you are really interested in something, when your whole life depends on it, you give complete attention.
So the mind that is capable of freeing itself from its conditioning is really freeing itself from the known, is it not? The mind is put together by the known, in which there is suffering, pleasure and the desire for fulfilment. The mind is all that; it is the result of time. The mind works within the field of the known. These are obvious psychological facts. Thought can only function in the field of the known because thought is the result of the known, the reaction of the past, of experiences which have been stored up. The mind is the bank of memory, of associations, and from that there comes the response. The response is thinking.
So thinking is within the field of the known, and within that field and from that field it tries to find out what the Unknown is. That is impossible. I sit here and wish to know what is beyond that hill. Someone sees it and describes it and I sit here and read books about it and say it is Buddha, Shankara, Christ, and begin to speculate. So all knowledge is within the field of the known and from that centre you try to move into the Unknown. You cannot. You cannot invite the Unknown, the Immeasurable, that which is Inconceivable, into the known. That is why the mind must free itself from the known, the known being all the memories, the experiences, the pains, sorrows, desires and the will - all the psychological accumulations. Then you will see that freedom from your conditioning is not a matter of time. Conditioning is to be broken through immediately. Understanding is in the present only, in the immediate. And there is no understanding because you are not giving your full attention. Do not say, `How am I to give full attention?', for then you are barking up the wrong tree. Then you will seek a system which will cripple the mind further. No system is going to free the mind, but what will free the mind from its own knowledge is the understanding of the immediate reaction to a challenge. If I ask you, `Do you believe in God?', your response is immediate. Go into that response. Find out why you answer that way. If you go into that one response you will uncover the whole thing. If you would understand what is, that which is Immeasurable, it is essential that the mind be free from the known - the known of Shankara, Buddha, Christ, the known of every book, every thought, every experience. The mind must be empty, but not vague, blank, mesmerized into vacancy. The mind must be purgated of all the past, not only of its sorrows but also of its pleasures, and that means enormously hard work - much harder than the practice of any discipline in the world. Because it requires attention from moment to moment so that the mind does not accumulate. You see a beautiful sunset and there is a tremendous feeling of loveliness, and the mind holds on to that experience as an accumulation. And if you are not attentive you have given soil for that experience to take root and abide. Therefore it becomes of the known. Unless there is full attention every experience engenders the soil in which it can abide.
This attention you will not get through any practice, through any meditation. It is there, if you are interested, if you have eyes to see, if you say, `I must find out'. Then you will see that such a mind is the Unknown. All this I have been talking about is not a theory, it is not something for you to learn and repeat. It is something for you to go into. It is a field in which you have to work, you cannot learn from me. There is no teacher, no guru for this. You have to see, you have to suffer, you have to travel the unknown sea by yourself, in yourself, and that requires enormous work, it demands attention, and where there is attention there is love.
September 24, 1950
Poona 6th Public Talk 24th September 1958
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.