New Delhi 1961
New Delhi 4th Public Talk 15th January 1961
The last few times that we met here we have been considering what it is to be intelligent, not merely at the functionary level but right through one's whole being. And we were, I think, day before yesterday considering efficiency and competition, whether a competing mind, a mind that is ambitious, is really an intelligent mind. A mind that is comparing and in comparison is said to be progressing, achieving, arriving - is such a mind essentially an intelligent mind? You know, words are as a rider to understanding, words are meant to convey a certain significance, to open the door to further comprehension. But if we merely use words and bc slave to words, it seems to me, it is incredibly difficult to go beyond the limitations of words. And it is very difficult with a group of people, which is constantly changing, to pursue a particular line of thought completely and wholely, because there are newcomers all the time and it is rather difficult to maintain a certain verbal comprehension at a certain level at the same time. And we were discussing, considering, whether the mind could be free of all this idea of comparison. And from that, the question arose as to efficiency in action: whether a mind which has comprehended the fullness, the deep significance of competition, achievement, arriving - whether such a mind can act at all efficiently. I think it might be worth while if we could this morning consider what is action.
I wonder what we consider is action. At what level does action cease and contemplation begin, or is there no such division as contemplation and action? I am not using the word "contemplation" in any ascetic or Christian sense of that word, but in the sense: to contemplate, to think, to fathom out things, to delve into the deep recesses of one's own mind, to meditate. Is there a difference between action and contemplation in that sense? But, for most of us, action means doing, a physical action, doesn't it? For most of us, going to the office, writing, playing, doing something, cooking, bathing talking, and so on, the doing is the action. And so we have a philosophy of action.
Let us think the problem out together, you and I together - not I think it out, and you listen, agree or disagree with what is being said. Because, when we are thinking out together a problem, there can be no agreement or disagreement. We are rowing the same boat down the same river, or up the same river. We must go together. And so, if I am talking, it is not that you are merely a hearer, but rather you are partaking, sharing in the thought; I may be talking now, but you cannot leave it all to me and just listen. So, please, while the speaker is saying certain things, you have not only to listen but also actually to experience the thing that is being said. Otherwise, we cannot possibly go any further.
Sirs, I have been saying we have a philosophy of action, a pattern of action. We have not only a pattern of action but a pattern of thought which has established the pattern of action according to which it is going to act, to do. For us there is a difference between idea, thought and action; and we are everlastingly seeking to bridge over, to bridge thought and action. So we not only have a framework in which thought functions, within which thought lives but also from that framework we create another framework of action which we call philosophy of action. Whether it is the philosophy of action in daily life or philosophy of action in inward life, it is all according to a pattern.
And is there any other kind of action which is not merely the conformity to an idea, to an ideal, to a pattern? And if there is such an action, is not that action merely reaction and therefore not action at all? Obviously, a reaction is not an action. If you push me in a direction and I resist and do something in return, it is a reaction and therefore it is not an action. If I am greedy and I do something out of that greed, it is a response to the original influence. If I am good, because society tells me to be good, or I do something because I am afraid, or I do, act, in order to be something, in order to achieve, in order to become, in order to arrive, such activities are reactions.
And reaction is not obviously total action. I seek God, or truth, or something else, because I am afraid of life and I pursue a pattern of views, denials, in order to achieve a result; such activities are obviously reactions which bring about, breed contradiction. And being in a state of contradiction, any action from that contradiction creates further contradictions and therefore there is general reaction and not action. Sir, if you really go into it, it is very interesting to find out for oneself if the mind can be in a state of action without reaction. Because reaction involves the pattern of authority - whether it is the authority of the Catholic, the authority of the Communist, the authority of the priest, or the authority which the reaction has brought about, an experience which become; the knowledge from which there is action. I do not know if you are following all this. So, the mind has to understand what is action, not according to the Gita, not according to the various divisions which the human mind has broken action into - such as the political action, the religious action, the contemplative action, the individual action, the collective action - which, to me, are all reactions; Communism is the reaction to capitalism and Marxism is the reaction to all the 18th century or the 19th century conditions.
So, can the mind perceive all this, not deny it? Because, the moment you deny it, there is the reaction of denial; and resistance in any form brings a reaction, and from that reaction any action is still a reaction. So, the mind seeing this, comprehending this, - can it discover an action which is not a reaction? Sir, this has, I think, immense significance because most of our lives are contradictory. We are in a state of contradiction, our lives are in a state of contradiction, our society is in a state of contradiction; and any activity born of that contradiction is bound to create more misery, more contradictions, more travail, more agony. And it is not that I am asking a theoretical question, but an actual question to oneself and therefore to society: whether it is possible for the mind to understand this contradiction and therefore perhaps comprehend reaction and come upon, not intellectually, something which is action and which is not the result of reaction.
Sir, let us put it round the other way. Most of us know love through jealousy. Most of us know peace through violence or as the opposite of violence, the so-called non-violence which we are everlastingly talking about in this country. The practising of non-violence is practising reaction. But the mind has to go into the whole problem of violence which is essentially a contradiction.
So, the understanding of the contradictions within oneself - not merely those at the conscious level, at the verbal, intellectual level, but also the deep contradictions within oneself - may perhaps reveal the reaction and its processes; and in understanding them perhaps we shall be able to come upon that action which is not the outcome of influence. I do not know if this interests you at all. A man says, "I am going to lead a religious life, I am going to lead a life of silence, a life of contemplation, I am not a businessman, I am not a shoddy-level politician, I am not interested in socialism; so I don't like any of these things, as they don't appeal to me; I am going to withdraw and lead a contemplative life." Is such a mind an intelligent mind, which divides life as the contemplative, silent life and the business life and the political life and the religious life, and can it live? Whether I do go to the office or I don't go to the office, life is action, living is action. And is it possible to live so totally that there is no division? This means really there is only the active present of action, which is the acting - not the acting according to a pattern, not the doing according to something, but doing living, acting - always in the present. Sirs, can we discuss this?
Sir, as one sees, tyranny is growing more and more in the world. Whether it is the tyranny of the Fascist or the tyranny of the Communist, or the tyranny of the Church or of the politician, tyranny is extending, expanding. And one can only battle it not as a reaction, but by living a life which is not a reaction, which is a thing which is real, which is uninfluenced, which is complete, which is not conditioned. The Fascists and the Communists are the same, because both are tyrannical, as the Church is. One has to see this and not act in reaction to it; and the very seeing of it is action.
To put the question differently, Sirs, the active present of doing - acting not with an end in view, not with a goal to achieve, not to conform to the pattern established either by society or by yourself for yourself through your own reactions has got immense importance. You say that unless one belongs to a group, to a political party, to a particular organization, or to various sects, action effective in society is not possible; that if you want to do something to alter society, you must create an organization or join a group of people who want to do the same thing. Such a group is a reactionary group, and so the reform is a continuous process of bringing about the seed of deterioration.
Now, one who sees this, who comprehends this - not one who is afraid of all this - , obviously cannot belong to any group, and yet his action must be effective; but to judge the effectiveness of his action according to the effect on society seems to me to be naturally wrong.
Question: Is there not such a thing as purposeless action, action without a purpose?
Krishnamurti: We are trying to find out what is meant by an action with a purpose, a purposive action. To be effective, apparently, you must have a purpose in action. If I want to create a school, the purpose is to create a school, I must act towards it. I go for a walk; the purpose is to enjoy the sunset, to get exercise, to look, to observe.
Question: An action without a purpose is merely an event. But it cannot be called action which is movement, movement which may have a good end.
Krishnamurti: So, to you, event is different from action. An action has a purpose towards something and an event is an immediate incident. This is all hair-splitting. Don't do it.
I thought I made it clear at the beginning of the talk, or rather during;the talk, that there is only action and not action with a purpose. We are trying to investigate, to experience, to understand this extraordinarily complex thing called action. This gentleman says that an action is only an action where there is a purpose. And I am asking myself: is that an action at all?
Question: It seems to me that when I look at a flower, I have no purpose; and this is an action. When I hear a bird singing, that bird-song somehow affects me and I have real joy in hearing that; this is an action, but without purpose.
Krishnamurti: Yes sir. But there is poverty in this country, starvation, squalor and all the rest of it. That has to be altered, it has to be wiped out; and you and I being part of the society, we say, "What shall I do about it?". What you said about the flower is one thing, and the other thing is, "What am I to do about this?". And seeing that, I say, "I will join that group, or that party that will help to wipe this out." This is a purposive action also. Isn't it? Now I am just asking myself - I am sure you are doing the same - whether action needs a purpose. I am living rightly and therefore the very act of living is right action. It seems to me that we are substituting purpose for living and that from living there is an action which is not purposive in the ordinary sense of the word.
Sir, let us take another question, which is: has love a purpose? And is not the very fact of loving, in itself, the righteous, the good, the complete action in the world and in the world of thought and ideas and of flowers and everything else? Sir, this is not a matter of intellectual agreement with me. We are trying to understand whether an action with a purpose, or a purposive action is the right way out of all this mess and difficulty. Or, is there a different way, a different approach, a different thing altogether? You follow, Sir? I can live purposively, according to the Gita, or the Koran, or some other book; but that is not living at all; it is conforming, it is a reactionary process. Or, I can establish a righteous purpose, seeing the immediate purpose - which is, Tibetans starving and poverty in India - , and act on that immediacy. But always there is the act of doing. There is an entity as the thinker, the doer who is doing, and hence there is a gap; he is everlastingly trying to bridge over between the idea and the action. Now, can I wipe out all that, the whole thing, and look at action entirely differently? Then the very living is acting, which does not need any purpose, which does not have an end. Living has no end. It is only a dead being who says, "my end is there". So, if I can so live, why do I want a purpose? But the living is the thing, which is not a reaction.
Question: I see a boy drowning and I rescue him. Is that action a purposive action?
Krishnamurti: Sir, don't please take a concrete example and draw conclusions from that example, whether an action such as rescuing a boy or somebody drowning is spontaneous or true. What we are trying to find out is: how to live? And the "how" is not a pattern. This is a question to comprehend a way of living which is not a reaction, which has no end in view - a living that is so complete, so total, that the very living is the action both outward and inner.
The fact is my life is in a state of contradiction. That obviously is a fact and from that fact there are reactions which in fulfilling those reactions create further reactions and further misery. And I say that the pursuit of such fulfilment politically, religiously, economically in the present is most destructive. Now, if those are facts, my concern is with the understanding of self-contradiction within and without - which is, society as well as within - which is a unitary process and not a separative process; and then in understanding this contradictory process, outward and within, the mind inevitably comes to this question of action without seeking a purpose, action which is not stimulated by a purpose.
A contradictory mind is an ineffectual mind. And look at our society, we do not have to go very far! Can there be a mind which is not in itself self-contradictory and therefore is not a slave to influence? I have put to you a question. Now, how do you listen to it? You have heard the words, you understand the verbal meaning, but how do you listen to it? To find an answer to it or do you listen to find out what it means, not verbally but inwardly? I put to myself the question: whether there is a mind which in the very act of living - living being thinking, living being alive - ,in its action, includes all purposes, which is beyond all purpose? When I put this question to myself, the way this particular mind proceeds is: it does not want an answer, it does not want a solution, it tries to find out the actual experience of putting away the words; having understood the meaning of words, it actually experiences the state of the mind that says, "Yes". It is no longer seeking a purpose, it is no longer seeking an answer, therefore, it is no longer seeking - which means, the mind is in a state of complete perception. In the very act of having put that question, it is not waiting for an answer, because the waiting for an answer implies that there is an answer. Such a mind is in a state of complete perception, seeing.
Look, Sir: I want to live a life which is not contradictory. I see that every thing around me - politically, religiously, traditionally, my education, my relationship, everything I do - is contaminated with this contradiction, tarred with this ugliness; and such contradiction is a sin, pain, is a thing that the mind says it must go beyond. First I have become aware of this contradiction within as well as in society; and seeing the brutality of contradiction, the question arises: is it possible to go beyond it, not theoretically and verbally but actually? When the mind puts that question to itself, it must inevitably come upon action, it cannot just theoretically say it is out of contradiction. Contradiction is an action in living. So then the mind asks itself: is it possible to live - which is action itself - such that there is no purpose? Purpose is so silly in living. It is a small mind that is always asking for the goal of life, for the purpose of life.
So, Sir, if you could understand this, if the mind could understand this sense of living which is action, then there is no division between the political, religious, contemplative action and life. There is not a life according to the Gita, or according to the Bible, or the Christ or the Buddha; but there is living.
Question: I want to lead a life without contradiction. Does that become a purpose?
Krishnamurti: If you want to lead a life without contradiction and that becomes a purpose, then you will never lead a life without contradiction. Sir, I am not being personal. Are you aware of a state of contradiction in your life? Are you not ambitious? A mind which is in a state of ambition is in a state of contradiction, obviously. I am just asking: are you actually, apart from the verbal expression, aware that your life is in a state of contradiction? I am violent and non-violent: that is contradiction, isn't it? Am I aware of this? Do I know that I live like that? Or living that way, do I say it is inevitable, rationalize it and cover it up? What do I do, Sir?
Sir, the society and the leaders of society who try to guide the society which they represent, politically or religiously, are in a state of contradiction, isn't it so? Yet, these people talk about peace. How can a mind which is in conflict ever have peace and talk about peace, or try to organize peace?
Question: Why should not a mind which is violent try not to be violent?
Krishnamurti: The mind which is violent tries to be non-violent. What does it mean? Is that possible? You have not tried it, you have been talking about non-violence. Have you tried to become non-violent? What is the thing which is more important - to understand "what is", or to see "what is" and try to make "what is" into "what it is not"?
Question: A person who is trying to be non-violent may succeed ultimately.
Question: Sir, do you advocate spontaneous love?
Krishnamurti: Sir, if you don't mind, I may put it differently. I don't know what love is, what it is to love, what it is to have humility. Can I know what love is by trying to love? Can I have humility, the quality of being humble, by trying to be humble?
Question: Behind all this there is a certain pressure.
Krishnamurti: This is your problem. A mind that is completely empty, cannot be pushed around; it has no pressure behind it, to use that gentleman's word. And most of our minds have pressure which creates contradictions - pressure being desire. Can the pressures be removed, not as a reactionary process? Or can the mind perceive these pressures and be free of them? Put it anyway you like, the very perception of these pressures is the releasing of the mind from the pressures. That is the real issue, isn't it? What we are talking about is that action through pressure is a reaction; whether the pressure be good, noble or ignoble, it is still reaction, and such a reaction must create more confusion, misery. Seeing all this, the mind asks itself whether it is possible for it to exist without these pressures and what the action is that flows when there is no pressure.
Sir, you have heard all this for an hour and a half. What does it mean to you, not verbally as agreement or disagreement, but in fact? If you happen to hear something true, it does something to you. We know unfortunately that our life is miserable, contradictory and very superficial. When we leave this room, are we going to continue in the same way? I am not trying to say you should or you should not. That is up to you.
January 15, 1961
New Delhi 1961
New Delhi 4th Public Talk 15th January 1961
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