Bombay 4th Public Talk 26th February 1961
We shall continue with what we were talking about the day before yesterday. We were talking about a different kind of energy than the energy generated by frustration and the tension of contradiction, and also about what is the actual, factual reason for most of our actions.
Are we aware of our actions, and to what extent and at what depth? Because, obviously everything that we do is a form of action - thinking, sitting, moving, feeling, going to the office, looking at a sunset, a flower, a child, a woman, a man. And we divide action as political, economic, social, religious and scientific; and after categorizing action we try to find our particular groove, our particular way, and thereby we hope through right vocation to find a release of the creative energy of which we were talking about day before yesterday.
I hope we are thinking together of the problem and you are not merely listening to what is being said, or being mesmerized by my words. Somebody wrote to me a couple of days ago that the audience is being mesmerized by me. Probably you are, I am not at all sure; I hope you are not, because that is not my intention at all, it is too immature, and I do not think you can be mesmerized.
But it is important, is it not?, that we should think out these problems together as deeply and as widely as possible: not that you are going to do anything about it. Obviously, most of us are old and we have settled in our grooves and we do not want to be shaken out of it; we have committed ourselves to business, to the bureaucracy, to administration, to religious activity, or to political activity; or we feel we must "do something; and we do not want to be shaken out of our grooves. And if one is at all deeply interested in this question of energy, one must obviously enquire into the contradiction in which most of us live, the tension which that contradiction creates, and the action from that tension. The action from this tension which comes from self-contradiction is our life, it is our way of living - the everlasting conflict. And this conflict, we feel, is necessary and so we have got used to the continuation of an energy which is destructive. We went into that sufficiently last time we gathered here.
But isn't it important to find out for ourselves what is the motive, what is the drive, the compulsion that is making us do things? Take a very simple thing. Why are you here, Sirs? What is the drive, what is the thing that makes you get up early and go through all this inconvenience, sitting in a very uncomfortable position for an hour or so, and being questioned by the speaker, being driven to discuss things which most of us have not even thought about? Why? I think if one can really go into this - not from what I say, but for yourself - I think one begins to discover a great many things, one begins to uncover the coil of confusion. Most of us are confused and don't know what to do. We are doing things, going to the office, going to a church, going to a temple, joining a political party, this or that, writing articles, preaching, walking with somebody and so on and so on - we are doing something. But why we do it we are not clear. Obviously, when you go to office it is fairly clear why you go to office - to earn a livelihood. And all the routine, the boredom, the insults, the immoral issues involved in it, being bossed over by a man who is just ambitious, being driven by his greed and so on - is it not really important, if one is at all earnest, to uncover all this thing? Life is a constant challenge and response; that is what we call living. You are challenged, questioned, asked, demanded, consciously or unconsciously all the time, while sitting here, when you go outside, when you do anything; that is the process of existence. The constant challenge and the constant response, and their interplay we call living and action.
Sirs, may I request you not to take notes? Do listen because you can't take notes and at the same time listen, because you are exploring into yourselves, you are not listening to what is being said; what is being said is only a means, a door through which you are going to go into yourself; and if you are taking notes you are not paying attention to what is being said, or not going into yourself. You are just taking notes so that you could think it over at home; it is not the same thing as listening and exploring this yourself now.
So, life is this constant inter-play of challenge and response. Let us look at it a little bit, explore into it, because it is going to reveal something extraordinary if we can go into it. We respond according to our limitations; and the challenge also is limited, a challenge is never pure. You respond to a political action, to a political idea, and politics is very limited; and if you are inclined politically you respond to that limited challenge and so your response is also limited, and the result is further limitation. You follow? There is the political challenge of a country which has recently acquired independence and which does not know what really democracy is, the real meaning and the significance of that word - the beauty, the feeling of equality, equal opportunity, the feeling of being together, the equality of relationship. We do not know all the implications. There is this challenge and we respond to it because we do not understand. We are confused, we do not know. There is corruption, there is this and there are ten different things; so we respond to a partial challenge, we respond with confusion, the result is further confusion. I do not know if I am making myself clear on that point. So with religion, so with our relationships, so in the challenge of everyday little things - there is always a partial challenge and a partial response. The challenge is as confused as the response, so we try various avenues of action - the political, the religious - which are essentially confused; we see the utter futility of all that and we wait and say, "Let me wait, let me do something in the meantime, it does not matter, write articles, go around, or walk around with somebody through the land, write, do this, do that" - wait, wait, wait, hope, hope and hope, because every challenge that we have responded to has resulted in the burning away, the withering away of ourselves. This is the ordinary everyday course of our life. So having burnt our fingers, now we say we should wait. We do feel in communism, politics, religious activities, we do feel in some other activity - feel, feel, feel, which makes us plunge into something. And then we see that our faith has been defeated, that our faith is being destroyed, and the feeling, the vitality, the intensity is being burnt away through all these confused challenges and responses. Do follow this, Sirs. Do pay a little attention to this, listen.
I am not saying anything extraordinary, I am not saying anything which you have perhaps not thought out; but I am thinking it aloud with you so that we go along together and at the end of it say, "I do not know what to do, I will wait, but in the meantime, I will do something, carry on". We do not wait, but we support something which is pernicious, which is evil, which confuses others. I do not know if I am making myself clear. If I waited, I would do nothing; I will remain quiet, I won't do a thing, I won't write an article; because, if I write, if I speak, if I join, if I do anything I shall be responding partially to the challenge, and therefore the response will be confused and therefore misleading. The more so-called serious, intellectual, volatile and vibrant, capable of arguing we are, the more we are trying to do something to get on, not being able to sit quiet, to look, to delve into; so we are all the time responding to challenges which are confused, and our responses are also confused. Sirs, what is the harm in not doing anything?
Let us explore this. If you don't know, why should you do anything? What is the harm in saying, "I do not know, I will wait", and in waiting, not put your fingers and your mind to doing things? Why do you not wait like the blind man who does not take a step in any direction but says, "I do not know, I will wait, I will stand, let me get used to this feeling of my blindness, and what it implies"? But most of us are afraid to wait because of public opinion. We have been leaders, we have done this and that, we have pushed around people, told them what to do, incited them; and now they look to you, the big man. And you feel you are somebody, you feel you must do something because society is giving you something and you must respond to society; so you are back again in this confused response to confused challenges. Please see the importance of this. Don't push it aside. Please see the vanity of the people who want to do something when they themselves are confused, bedeviled by their own contradiction, tensions and frustrations and lack of zest; they are the real mischief makers. Now, that is what we are caught in.
Now, let us go a little step further. When you see this whole picture - I mean by "seeing" not verbally, not intellectually, but really comprehending - when you see, when you understand deeply, significantly that any action born out of challenges and responses which are confused, which are partial, which are not total, are bound to lead to mischief, bound to bring about further misery, further confusion, not less, then will you ever listen to any challenge? The challenge is always from the outside. The man who has written so much, who has known so much, who has travelled wide, who has done this and that, who has got immense popularity - he says something and you respond. But when you look at that challenge without response, you see how small, petty, nationalistic, trivial it is! The Communist challenge, the Socialist challenge, the religious challenge, all the challenges of the various swamis, yogis, the Gita, the Upanishads - they are all from the outside. You follow? And when you respond to a challenge from the outside which is confused, limited, the response is also partial, incomplete, superficial. So you begin to ask, "Is there a challenge from the outside which can ever be complete?". You understand? Can a challenge from outside - the western challenge; the challenge which the Romans and the Greeks made; which all the past civilizations made and got destroyed; the challenges which you meet everyday - your wife, your husband, your child, everything around you - which are all from outside - can that challenge from the outside be total, complete? Or is it not always partial, because that never takes both the outside and the inside? It is partial. So having put that question and found the truth of that question, you put that question to yourself, you begin to enquire whether within yourself the response is also partial and therefore superficial, limited. Then you begin to ask: is there not a state of mind which is its own challenge and which is its own response? And you go further and ask: is there not a state of mind that has no challenge and no response? A thing that is, is its own challenge, its our response: it is beyond challenge and response.
We have divided life as outward movement and inward movement; there is the division between the outer and the inner. The outer is position, power and other things which we renounce if we are inclined spiritually - whatever that word may mean. The outer is the B.A., M.A., Ph.D., the business man, the man who has a little more, and all the rest of it. The inner is the unconscious, the educated, the uneducated, the family, the racial inheritance. The outer is always asking, demanding, questioning, becoming; and the inner is always responding to the outer. And the outer being always partial, the inter-play between the response and the challenge is also partial and not the total thing. But the movement of the outer and the inner is like the tide that goes out and the tide that comes in; and it would be stupid to say that is the outer and this is the inner; the tide is both the out and the in. And a mind that is aware of this unitary movement is not responding merely to the outer or merely to the inner. The very movement of the outer and the inner as a unitary process is the total challenge and response.
Sir, let me put the thing differently. We have divided all influences as the outward influence and the inner influence. The outward influence, society, pushes you, all traditions push you in one direction; and you react to it either along with it or in the opposite, in the same direction or in the opposite direction. So we are the play-things of influence; and being play-things, to respond to one set of influences and reject the other set of influences, or to react to one set in a certain way and not react in another way produces confusion. So you begin to enquire whether there is a state of mind which is beyond all influence.
Question: There is a response from the individual to the outer challenge. That response is from memory. How can the mind be devoid of memory so as to meet the challenge in the manner about which you are speaking?
Krishnamurti:The question is: All challenges are according to the response of memory; and how can memory which must be conditioned, cease in order to respond totally? That question is not a challenge to me. It is a challenge to you. Isn't it? How do you respond to it?
Do you understand the question, the challenge? He says all response to any challenge is according to memory, which is limited; so response is always limited. Therefore, there can be no total response. And yet the speaker has been saying: is there a total response without the limited reaction of knowledge and memory? How do you respond to it? He has asked: can the mind in order to respond totally be free of memory, memory being always conditioned? Is that the right question? It may be the right question, I do not know; but I want to find out if his question has validity in the context of what we are talking about.
Question: The question is to find a solution.
Krishnamurti: The gentleman says that question is asked in order to find a solution. Look at it, Sirs. Is there a solution to a question? Do remain with that thing for two minutes please. Of course, you ask a question in order to find an answer. Now, is there an answer from another to a question of this kind? That is one thing. The other thing is: why do you ask a question? For explanation, for enquiry? And when you do ask a question, it must be a problem; otherwise you won't ask it. Are you asking to find an answer to the problem, or are you asking to find out why this problem exists at all? The moment you ask, the moment you put forth a problem, you already know the answer, because the problem exists because of the answer. If you had not the answer - conscious or unconscious - the problem will not be there. You are not meeting my point, Sir? Follow this please step by step. That gentleman asked a question: can there be a total response to a total challenge, as long as the mind is a slave to memory? Now, that is his challenge to us. Now, before I respond, I want to know what it is all about. I want to know why he asked that question. What made him ask that question, and if he asked the question, does he not know already the answer? Otherwise, he won't ask that question. If I do not know something about engineering, or science, or mathematics, the problems of mathematics, science or engineering would not arise: because they arise, I know the answer; it may take time to find out, but I already know the answer; otherwise the problem would not exist. You understand, Sir? Therefore knowledge creates the problem and knowledge supplies the answer. You understand?
Question: Is it that one knows the answer, or is it the assembly of information?
Krishnamurti: Surely, it is the same thing. Don't let us use mere words. Let us go back to what we were considering. Before we respond to a question, we must find out first of all if it is a right question; and if it is a right question, why is it that he has asked it? Now, what is a problem? A problem is about something; and if I do not know about that something, there is no problem. Because I know something about it, I begin to assemble various particulars of knowledge in order to answer. So knowledge creates the problem and the assemblage and putting together of knowledge finds the answer. So I know the problem and the answer. You see, Sir, what it does; if you will go into it, it frees the mind from the problems and from the search for solutions for problems.
Now, the question is: can the mind be free to respond totally if there is memory? Obviously not. Therefore the next step is: why bother? That is our step. We always respond according to our conditioning - being a Hindu, being a Christian, and so on. We respond according to our conditioning. That is finished. Or, you put the question differently - which is: as the challenge can never be total. so my response also can never be total. As we have seen, a man who responds for a period politically, then for a period religiously, and for a period socially - he is responding partially all the time to partial demands. Don't go to sleep over this. Do think it out. So, I do not say to myself, "Can the mind be free of memory?; I am but asking myself, "Can the mind be the challenge and the response at the same moment? Must a challenge always be from the outside and a response always from within, both being limited and confused? And can the mind step out of that and be the challenge and the response in itself?" You follow, Sir? If it is capable of doing that, can it live in a state where there is no challenge and no response at all - which is not death?
Question: What is the use of a mind when there is no response and challenge? Such a mind does not lead us anywhere. What will come out of such a mind?
Krishnamurti: What will come out of that? Why is that question being asked? A mind which has responded to challenges partially and therefore created misery for others and for itself, sees that all responses and all challenges are limited; therefore the mind asks itself, "Can I be the challenge as well as the response?". This means an astonishing state of questioning itself and itself responding and knowing its limitations and the limitations of its own challenge. And the next step is: can the mind be in a state in which there is no challenge and no response? Where will that lead to? Why should it lead anywhere? Please follow this, the thing of beauty is in itself, there is no need for it to be something else, to be more. You understand? A thing that in itself is pure - what need is there for it to be more?
Sirs, are you following the inwardness of all this? Don't you know people, don't you know yourself? You have responded to political independence in this country, then joined parties, then became frus- trated, saw the futility, the corruption, the ambition, the cruelty, and then you left all that; and you take up something else, walked with a certain saint, and then you saw the futility; you then joined this movement, that movement, tore yourself; and at the end of it all you say, "I am finished, I am tired, I have burnt myself out". You don't then say to yourself, "I am burnt out, I shall remain with it; but you want to do something, and therefore you are back again entering the field of confusion, miseries, strife, creating for others the net in which you are caught.
So, see all this, Sirs. I don't have to tell you verbally all this. Observe it and you will know. And from that observation see that all challenge is inevitably limited and all response is also inevitably limited - which is a contradiction. And from that contradiction arises a tension, in action; and then you say to yourself, "Can the mind be so vital that it is itself the challenge and also the response?" And you see the limitations of that also. Then you go further, the mind goes still further, and says, "Is there a state where there is no challenge and no response, a state which is not death, stagnation, but something tremendously alive." A live thing, Sir, has no challenge or response. It is alive totally, completely. It is like fire - fire needs no response and no challenge; it is fire. It is like light, like goodness.
So, from that state where there is no challenge and no response, from that alone, is action - every other so-called action is destructive. So when one begins to say "An activity that is partial, is destructive; one must apply it to oneself. You have to put to yourself the question, "What is the motive of my action? Why am I doing a thing? Why do I write an article? Why do I sit on the platform and talk?" I went into all that the other day.
Question: You have described the final stage and the initial stage; the middle is not clear.
Krishnamurti: Responding is always to a conditioned challenge, and the response is also conditioned. Now, the next thing is a mind which challenges itself. The mind is free of the outer beliefs, and challenges itself why it believes in certain dogmas, why it does this and that - why you write, why you speak, what the reason of your thought is, what is behind your greed, envy. Don't you ask all this, Sirs, and don't you respond? This response is again partial, obviously. I am anxious, I am greedy, I am afraid; and therefore I want this - this is an escape. This means that you are still responding to your partial demands. And that does not lead you very far, because you have explanations, you know the causes, you know all the raison d'etre, your own intentions, unless you are deceiving yourself; then you don't have any problem. After going through all that, you are bound to come to the other: is there a state when the mind is light, when the mind is fire which just burns - that is, when there is no challenge? Sir, the mind then is something which is just alive totally; every atom, every sense, everything in it is completely vibrating. There is then no challenge and no response. And from that there is action which will never be destructive. You don't have to accept my word for it, Sirs. You can experiment with it yourself. If you follow this, you can see this in a flash.
Question: Does it mean one does not select between a response and a challenge?
Krishnamurti: Sir, how can a mind which is confused, which is partial, choose a challenge which is partial? Can a confused mind choose? But what it chooses will be confused. Sir, don't you know what is happening in regard to political gangs, political threats and votes? You go and vote for Mr. or Mrs. so and so. Their promise is there, but what have they done? They have made confusion worse confounded, and you have chosen. And you have also tyranny where you have no choice. So when does the choice come in, how does the choice come in? When you see a mind confused, what it chooses is also confused. How can it choose anything?
Question: You said that we should stop and wait. But I do not see the point of this when most of us are having certain responsibilities like families, going to office and so on.
Krishnamurti: Sir, I did not say that. I will repeat it again. Some of us who had gone into the gamut of all this, as students, joined some movement, gave up college in order to serve the' country, fought for freedom, went to prison; then when they came out of prison they got big jobs in the political world; they are now big men, so they are out of our clutches. But we are being prisoners, we have burnt ourselves and we see the people who are big are corrupt with power, position and we say, "How empty all that is!" So we push that aside. Then we join some other movement, and we go around; and then at the end, we say, "Oh, what a mess it has made of me!" Have you not gone through all this? I am not talking about jobs, routine. That is a different thing, Sir. We have got to go to our offices. But inwardly, we want to commit ourselves to something, don't we? We have committed ourselves to this and that, one thing after another, burnt ourselves; we have withered away in these commitments, and at the end of it, we say, "We are burnt out". But we do not wait; we are scribbling, talking, yelling, following, doing something all the time.
Question: It seems most of the people who come to listen to you, come because they are desperate, because they are sceptics, cynics. Is it not difficult to wait, as far as the job is concerned?
Krishnamurti: I said you cannot wait for your job; if you do, you will miss the bus, you will miss your job. That has got to go on. I have to support my family, I have my children, wife, I have got to go on with that. But I am talking with regard to the inward response to the challenge, this constant battle which is going on, the fulfilment, the capacity for a job, the inefficiency which is preventing the fruition of my job. Even if I ask you not to go to your jobs, you would go; that is absolutely clear. You are not to be told; if I ask you to wait, you smile and get up and go away. But I am talking of the people like you, who have been through all these things one after the other and have burnt their fingers, their hearts, their minds; and they are waiting, hoping, for some new challenge to come along to shake them, to wake them up. You are not actually waiting - waiting in the sense: "I will wait till the right moment comes and I will find out whether I respond to a right challenge". If you have gone as far as that, you are bound to ask if your mind is capable of living in itself as the challenge and the response.
So, the mind - I mean by the mind, the senses, the feelings, the desires also - that is being ambitious, that is caught in ambition, and has divided itself into the outer and the inner, is not free. But when the totality of the mind is completely awake, then what need does it have for a challenge and a response?
If you are half asleep, you are to be shaken and out of the sleep you respond. If you have some gifts, you make a mess of everything, and that is why you have to be terribly careful about all talents and gifts; because, you can persuade people so easily - that is what the politicians as well as saints do, through threats, through promises, through rewards, through prayers. So, when you have seen all this, not only in India, but throughout the world, the same pattern repeated over and over and over again, then you are bound to sweep away all this and find out whether there is not action which is born out of fullness. But you cannot find that fullness if you have not gone through all this, or seen all this in a flash. You don't have to go through all this, if the mind sees this clearly - not mesmerized, not hypnotized. When you see all this, you put away with a full sweep all your vanities, your ambitions, your urges, your competitive anxieties. It is really a very simple thing. Anything that is beautiful and true is always very simple.
February 26, 1961
Bombay 4th Public Talk 26th February 1961
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