Ojai 2nd Public Talk 22nd May 1960
I would like, if I may this morning, to talk about authority, knowledge and freedom. It seems to me that the more mechanical the mind becomes, the greater is our desire to feel strongly, to perceive deeply, to have wider perceptions, intuitions and insights. And most of us resort to various forms of stimulation in order to have these intense feelings, these intense experiences, perceptions. I think one must have observed this fact, quite casually even. The more shallow and mechanical the mind becomes, and the more it is bound to a routine, the greater is its demand for wider, deeper, more profound feelings. So you resort to every form of stimulation: to drink, to sex, and to various other forms of outward and inward stimulation. You go to church to enjoy the mass, which is a form of stimulation, or you resort to certain drugs, to mescaline, L. S. D., so that you can perceive more profoundly the beauty of a flower, see more intensely its colour, feel more deeply the beauty of the hills and the quietness of an evening. And I think this dependence on stimulation is inevitable as long as the mind is being conditioned by the process of civilization.
Before I go into all that, I would like to say that it is very important that you and I establish right communication between ourselves; because, after all, the purpose of these talks is to communicate with each other, and not to impose upon you a certain series of ideas. Ideas never change the mind, never bring about a radical transformation in the mind. But if we can individually communicate with each other at the same time and at the same level, then perhaps there will be an understanding which is not merely propaganda. It is not my intention to persuade you to think in any direction, along any particular line; because the more we are persuaded by the influences of propaganda, the less we are capable of feeling, and the less intense we are. So these talks are not meant to dissuade or to persuade you in any way, either actually or subliminally.
To communicate, we must have the opportunity to listen to each other. To listen is an art in itself. Very few of us listen - to the winds, to the silent operations of our own minds. We never really listen to another, or to the hints, the intimations of the unconscious. We are so occupied with the daily activity, the daily routine, with our anxieties, worries, angers, jealousies, that there is no space left in which the mind can be quiet to listen, to find out, to understand.
So I would suggest that you listen, not in any way to deny or accept, but as though you were listening to some facts; because the very listening to a fact is in itself action. If I know how to listen, that very listening is an action in itself. But if I do not know how to listen, and listen only partially, there is then the idea that needs to be put into action. Listening itself is a form of harmonious action, in which there is no interval between the idea and the action. If you think this out, you will see how true it is.
Bearing in mind that in no way do I intend to persuade you to any particular philosophy, to any particular form of meditation or course of action, let us, in communicating with each other, see for ourselves very definitely and distinctly how the mind is becoming more and more mechanical, how modern civilization is making the mind more limited with knowledge, with authority. Our lives being mechanistic, we invariably turn to some form of stimulation, either religious or superficial, and these stimulations inevitably further deaden the mind.
So I would like to explore, to talk over with you the question of authority; because authority does corrupt the mind. Authority limits the depth of the mind. Authority cripples all thought, it lays a frontier to the mind. The solution does not lie in merely breaking away from authority, but in understanding the complex problem of authority. The understanding of authority is freedom from authority.
As we can see in the case of all governments, as well as in education and in science, there is the exercise of authority, the demand that you copy, imitate, follow, obey. All organized religions, with their dogmas, with their beliefs, demand obedience, not only in the monasteries, but also from the layman; they exercise their influence to make you conform to an established pattern. And the mind seeks authority - not only the authority of the specialist, of the doctor, of the technician, but also of the priest, of the teacher, of the guru, of the Master; or it seeks the authority of a book, whether it be the Bible, the Gita, or the latest book on health.
Why does the mind seek authority? I do not know if you have gone into it, if you have thought it out. I think the mind seeks authority because it wants to be secure. We abhor the idea of being uncertain - uncertain in our relationships, uncertain of our ability to arrive, to succeed, to discover; so we put aside the fear that uncertainty creates, the anxiety of a mind that is not sure, by seeking some form of authority.
Please do follow what is being said, not merely verbally or intellectually, but see this fact operating in your own mind - the demand to be secure, to do the right thing, to copy, to imitate in order to succeed, in order to be safe, in order to arrive, to fulfil. So authority is built up.
The understanding of authority is quite complex, because authority takes many forms. There is the authority of the policeman, of the laws of society; there is the authority of a community, of public opinion; there is the authority of nature, and so on. Where is authority right, and where is authority totally wrong? To find out requires a great deal of investigation and understanding. To follow the laws of society, to keep to the right side of the road, is necessary. But where does authority make the mind mechanistic? Surely, it is only when the mind is free, clear, unhindered by authority, by imitation, by the desire to be secure - it is only then that the mind, being free, can feel intensely without stimulation, without drugs.
So there is this complex process of authority - the authority of the church, of the book, of the law, of the specialist; and unless we understand authority, with its imitation, its corrupting influence, there is no freedom. And it is only when the mind is free that there is a state of creation.
I wonder if you have ever experienced what it is to create, or to be in the state of creation? Because I feel that God, or what name you will, is that state of creation; and only a free mind can discover that absolute state. That is why it is necessary to understand the whole problem of authority. Understanding itself brings its own fruit. There is no understanding first, and freedom afterwards. When you understand the complex problem of authority, that very understanding is a process of freeing the mind from authority. Understanding frees the mind from effort. Effort implies conformity, does it not? There is effort to be or to live according to a particular pattern of thought, and such effort implies, essentially, the whole question of authority. The action and the very desire of a mind that is caught in effort, in trying to be something, demands authority and conformity. Though we cannot go into all the details, one can grasp immediately, if one's mind is given to it, what is basically implied in this question of authority.
Then there is the problem of knowledge. I know it is now the fashion, and always has been, probably, to think that the more learned you are, the more books you have read, the more knowledge you have accumulated, the freer you are. And I wonder if knowledge does free the mind? I am not advocating ignorance; I am not saying that you should not read. But I want to question this whole problem of knowledge.
What do we mean by knowledge? Surely, knowledge implies the process of recognition; and the process of recognition is based on experience, is it not? So experience is the beginning of knowledge; and does experience free the mind? Experience may give you a technique in action, and probably it is necessary. If you are an engineer, or a potter, or a violinist, or a writer, or a technician of some kind or other, knowledge is necessary. But when does knowledge darken the mind? Where is the demarcation between knowledge and darkness? When is the mind crippled by knowledge? And when is the mind made free? When does knowledge no longer cripple the mind?
To understand this question, we must go into the problem of experience, must we not? We think that the more experience we have, the freer, more enlightened and more capable we are. The more experience we have, the more capable we are in a certain direction, obviously. The better our technique, the more skilled we are with our hands, the more perfect we are in our mechanistic, technical knowledge, the greater is our capacity in earning a livelihood. That is obvious, we don't have to discuss it. But we do have to find out, surely, if the mind is darkened by knowledge, by experience. That is, does not the mind, through knowledge, make itself secure? Do you understand? The more knowledge I have, the more secure I am. In its accumulation of knowledge, the mind builds itself a shelter, makes itself secure; and a mind that is secure is a dead mind. Haven't you noticed the people who are very religious, who are clothed in righteous behaviour, who are absolutely sure of their dogma, of their belief, how dead they are - though they call themselves religious, mystical, and all the rest of it? It is the desire to be completely secure that breeds darkness through knowledge; and such a mind can never be free.
So, if you go into it very deeply, you will find that knowledge is really a very complex thing, involving the whole of our consciousness - not only the consciousness with which we are familiar, the consciousness which is occupied daily in going to the office, learning a technique, and so on, but also the unconscious, the hidden part of the mind. If you go into this whole process of consciousness, which includes the unconscious, you will find there is no corner of it which knowledge has not penetrated and conditioned. Either as racial inheritance, or through the acceptance of modern education, knowledge has made our consciousness a vehicle of the known; and the mind may function brilliantly, very intellectually, but so long as it does not understand the operation of knowledge, it is still functioning in darkness. If you examine experience, you will see that every experience is a strengthening of recognition.
I wonder if I am conveying anything at all? You see, we are considering the liberation of the mind, so that the mind can be in that state of creation which is not concerned with expression, though expression may come from it. A creative mind is never concerned with expression; it is not concerned with action, with reform. Creation is a timeless movement - a movement which is never concerned with the immediate; and only the immediate is concerned with reform.
I do not know if, while walking alone in the woods, or along a street, you have ever noticed a moment when everything in you is silent, completely still. There is an unexpected, uninvited moment in which the mind, with all its anxieties, with all its worries and pursuits and compulsions, has completely come to an end. In that unexpected, spontaneous moment, time has totally ceased. And if you happen to be gifted as a painter, as a writer, or as a housewife, you may express that moment in action; but the action is not that moment. The action of painting may give you fame, money, position, prestige; and man, seeking these things, goes after the technique and loses the other. That moment must have happened to most of us at sometime or other in our lives; and then we wish to capture, to hold, to continue in that moment. So, the experience of that moment darkens the mind with its knowledge of that moment, and thereby prevents further experiencing. That is why experience as knowledge is destructive to the new.
Please, this is not just my special way of looking at life. These are facts. The more experience you have, the more the mind is made dull; there is no innocency of the mind; there is never a moment when the mind is not caught in knowledge, which is essentially of time. So, if you observe, you will see that knowledge - to know, to practise, to hold - darkens the mind; and the mind, being darkened, seeks greater, wider stimulation, so it turns to religions, to philosophies, theologies, speculations, or to the latest drugs.
The mind which is concerned with freedom must explore the question of authority, as well as that of knowledge; for knowledge and authority go together. Unfortunately, most of you are probably listening to me because you think I have some kind of authority. You probably think I know what I'm talking about. (Laughter). No, no, sirs, please don't laugh it away; do listen. There is this absurdity of reputation, fame and all that; but you are actually listening to find out for yourself the truth of the matter, are you not? And if you examine this whole problem of experiencing, you will see that every form of experience which takes root in the soil of the mind, is detrimental, because it destroys the freedom of the mind; it breeds a sense of security, and therefore there is no innocency, no freshness to the mind. Such a mind cannot renew itself, except in further experience - which is the process of recognizing; it is the result of the past, and therefore a continuation of the past, however modified.
So, a mind that is concerned with the understanding of freedom must not inquire superficially, but delve deeply within itself to discover the anatomy and the structure of authority. A mind that merely follows authority can never know what it is to be creative. A mind that has disciplined itself to a pattern of action, is not a free mind. Through discipline the mind can never be free. The mind can be free only by understanding this whole problem of discipline - not at the end, but at the very beginning of the practice of discipline.
You see, to understand a problem like knowledge requires complete attention, and that attention is its own discipline. I do not need a discipline to understand knowledge. The moment I begin to explore the problem, that very exploration demands that the mind discipline itself. Do you understand? Any material has within it its own discipline. To do anything with a piece of wood, you must work in a certain way. The nature of the material imposes its own discipline. Similarly, in the very understanding of this problem of knowledge and authority, in which are implied discipline, experience and time, there is a discipline which is not imposed. In that discipline there is no conflict or contradiction.
So, the very process of understanding is its own discipline and its own freedom. The mind that has not investigated, that has not discovered for itself the truth of knowledge and authority, can never be free. It may go to all the churches, it may read innumerable books, it may discipline itself from morning till night; but it is not a free mind.
I am talking of the mind as a total thing, not just as the machinery of thought: the mind that succeeds, that fails, that loves, that remembers, that recognizes, that suffers, that knows pity, enjoyment. I am talking of that totality. And that totality of the mind cannot be perceived through any part. You must perceive it as a whole, feel it entirely; and then you can consider the individual things of the mind. The mind is the unconscious as well as the conscious, there is no division between the two; and it is essential to feel the whole nature of the mind, the quality of that totality, if you would understand what it is to be free, and what it is to be in that state of creation which has no beginning and no end.
This is not a silly, frustrating sense of mysticism. It demands a great deal of attention and the application of thought - or rather, not thought, but an insistent inquiry into the very process of thinking, feeling, being. And as one begins to understand, one will discover for oneself - naturally, without any compulsion, without any urge - what it is to be free, and what is that state which is not of time and which is not measurable by the mind.
May 22, 1960
Ojai 2nd Public Talk 22nd May 1960
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.