Bombay 5th Public Talk 1st March 1961
It seems to me that it is rather an important thing to go into the question of challenge and response and see how far we can go into it, because perhaps that will open the door to many things. Now, in discussing, it seems to me, it is essential not merely to think of function at verbal level - that is I say something and you either listen, agree or disagree and brush it aside, which is of very little value - but to be self-critically aware at what level, from what depth we respond to all the challenges of life. Though we may be specialized human beings, mechanics, professors, engineers, politicians, or the so-called religious people, however much we may be specialized, the challenge at whatever level, will be equally sterile, limited or special. If I am a politician, then I respond to the challenge as a politician; or if I am a religious person, I respond according to that. I am in contact, I open my heart or mind to a limited extent according to my conditioning, environmental, circumstantial influences. And as life is a series of continuous, conscious or unconscious challenges and responses all the time, there is no time-limit to it. It is there all the time, when you sit down, look, when you hear, taste, when you go out - everything is a constant challenge and a constant response.
Is it not important for each one of us to find out actually at what depth and from what level we respond? Do I respond according to my belief, to my experience, to my limited knowledge, to my prejudices - as a doctor, as a professor, as a believer or non-believer, as a Communist, Socialist, Nationalist, Parsee, Hindu, Buddhist, Mussulman, Christian and so on? From what depth are we actually reacting? Are we aware of it? Because, it seems to me that it is important to be conscious of this fact. If we are merely responding to a series of challenges according to the categories in which our minds are being caught, then our life is obviously very limited, very superficial; and at the end of our work, of our travail, of our suffering, of our enquiry, we are burnt up entities, there is nothing left but ashes. I do not know if you have not noticed - not only within oneself, but outwardly with people who have been through all these things - that at the end they are left with nothing, because they have responded according to the demands of the immediate circumstances, according to the immediate possibilities - to the immediate urgency only. If we observe, all outward challenges are very limited, whether they are historical or actual or theoretical; challenges of such kinds are superficial, they are on the surface; you may react to them from a greater depth, but all challenges are from the outside like all influences. So if you are merely responding all the time to immediate necessities, to immediate demands, to an immediate urgency, then we are slaves to time. Our response is small, according to the limited sphere of our capacities.
Look, Sirs, what is happening in the world? The world is broken up into nations with nationalistic ideas, into political parties, into groups - Islam, Hindu, Parsee, India - and we are all reacting to that; there is little poverty or great poverty and we are reacting to that as immediate, and some superficial reformations are going on - we say it is marvellous and we are working for it. Or, we are afraid of death, so we go to somebody who explains it away, and we believe in some theory. So we are always reacting on a very superficial level, though the superficiality may have a little depth. That is a fact.
Now, when you see the fact, when you see the truth of the fact, you invariably go beyond - that is, the mind itself becomes the challenger and also the entity that responds. Because, when the mind itself has critically challenged itself, it is much more potent than the superficial challenge. If I ask myself: what am I doing, why do I think and in what manner do I think, what are the limitations of my action, am I a nationalist, do I believe, do I not believe, why do I believe, what is the process of my thinking, do I know what it is to love, do I know what it is to be generous out of a pure heart without a motive, am I a citizen of a small dotted space on the earth called India on the coloured map, and I fighting for that India, feeling extremely, tremendously important for that little spot, or that little colour, or for a party, why do I belong, am I afraid? - if I ask myself, then such a challenge is much more vital, much more intense, much more potent than the superficial challenges; that makes my mind intensely aware, makes my mind sharp, enquiring, ceaselessly acting in the right sense - not in the superficial sense like a monkey that grabs one thing after the other. The mind cannot be a challenge and a response to itself unless we have understood the outward challenge as much as possible; when the outer challenge has lost its impetus, its strength, its vitality - which means, actually when we are not reacting to the immediate challenge - the mind becomes its own challenger, makes its own response; then you will begin to understand the extraordinary vitality of thought and the limitations of thought.
If we respond at the same level as the challenge, the problems will not be solved. The political problems which create certain challenges are being answered on that level, all through the world. No challenge, no problem can be answered on its own level; and yet that is what we are doing. The politicians who fill the pages of the newspapers are doing that, and we are responding to all those printed speeches, all the machinery of politics. When we have really understood these influences - every kind of influence - then we can go still further - which is not a mere continuation of the outer challenge and a superficial response. A mind that is challenging itself all the time, is not a continuation of that process at all; it is something entirely different. Then the mind is so aflame that it is like a pillar of fire, it has no challenge and no response. Then only is there right action, and that is the only action that will not create misery, confusion and mess in the world. But one cannot come to that without understanding all this. You cannot jump to it, or say, "How can I get that?" - it is a childish question.
Sirs and Ladies, don't you know at what depth you are reacting, at what level you are reacting? You are reacting only to the security of the present job, livelihood, wife, child - just at that level. I don't say it is an ugly level or marvellous level or the only level. Are you aware that you are reacting as a Hindu, as a nationalist, as a member of a party - Communist, Socialist, Congress, or some other party? Do you know, Sir, at what level you are acting, responding?
Question: As long as there is duality, challenge and response will remain.
Krishnamurti: Is that what we are discussing? You see, Sirs, this is one of those wild statements unrelated to what is being said. I asked you: at what level are you acting, reacting, functioning, thinking, feeling? And you answer something else, you are not aware of it. Sirs, do you understand the purpose of our discussion? I feel if we can really discuss very seriously and consistently, go into it deeply, we will be transformed human beings - not in a century or in a couple of years, but now. Something happens to you if you can think clearly, purposefully, directly and face things as they are.
Do you know at what level you and I are reacting, responding? If you don't, shouldn't you find out? Because, that is the waking up of the mind, isn't it? And then you can go into the next thing; why should the mind at all feel challenged by the outside? Because, the mind itself then becomes the force that questions, challenges, and such a challenge is much more vital. Then you cannot deceive yourself, you cannot dodge the issue; the mind cannot create illusions and answer something, because it is faced with itself.
In the world at present there is the scientific spirit that is rampant. The scientific spirit thinks precisely, observes clearly under the microscope, it cannot deceive itself. Through the microscope, through every form of research, it looks, observes precisely, without any equivocation, without any prejudice. The scientist may be prejudiced outside his laboratory - he may be a Communist, he may be a Nationalist, he may be merely seeking security for his family, he may want to be famous, he may want to be this and that. But the `scientific spirit' which we are talking about, is not the human being who is the scientist. The scientific spirit is the spirit of precision, efficiency; and essentially, it is the spirit and the continuation of the spirit as knowledge. This is obvious - they could not plan to go to the moon if they had no knowledge behind it. Knowledge can invent but knowledge is never creative. The scientist is never creative, he is the inventor because his very profession is of invention, and his invention is based on knowledge, on what he has learnt. I am not saying anything extravagant, outrageous; it is not a fancy; it is a fact. For me, knowledge is essentially the accumulated knowledge of many many centuries.
Question: I think, Sir, you are doing an injustice to the scientist. For instance, there is the adventure of performing an experiment to challenge the statements of ages ago, which is something new.
Krishnamurti: It is perfectly true, Sir, I did not deny that. But I am trying to put very succinctly the feeling of the scientific spirit. Knowledge, whether it is of centuries or of thousands and thousands of years, is the additive process; and occasionally there is a burst through this knowledge to something new - it is the scientific spirit of adventure of entering a field which has not yet been investigated. The scientific spirit of adventure requires a precision of thought in which there are no personal idiosyncrasies allowed, in which nationalism, provincialism, linguistic feeling such as Gujarati and Maharashtrian, do not exist. I am talking of that sense of research which demands knowledge and occasionally bursts through the cloud of knowledge. You follow what I mean, Sir? After all, every experiment is the result of that. That is why I say there is an occasional breakthrough. That scientific spirit is rampant in the world. Every boy wants to be a scientist, a physician, an engineer, a mathematician, not only because it is profitable but also for the fun of it. That is what is happening.
Then there is the religious spirit. I mean by the religious spirit not the sectarian spirit, not the secular spirit, not the spirit of the Hindu as a religious person. The man who belongs to an organized religion - I do not call him a religious man at all. Hindu, Christian, Mussulman, Parsee - they are all conditioned by their society, by their circumstances, by their education; either they believe or they don't believe because they are being taught. That is not the religious spirit at all, that is merely the acceptance of a tradition which enslaves the mind. That entity which performs rituals, believes in dogmas, repeats certain words, quotes endlessly the Gita or the Upanishads or the latest this and that, is not a religious mind. The man who goes to the temple is not a religious man; he is doing it according to his tradition or he is afraid, or he feels he will lose his job; he does not know what to do, he will not be able to marry off his daughter if he does not go to the church - that is not religion. So one has to find out what is the right religious spirit as well as the right scientific spirit, because the marriage of the two is the challenge.
You have to enquire into what is the religious spirit, what is the religious mind. Sir, you understand through negation; you find out what is true through negative thinking - which is not the reaction to the opposite, to the positive. A mind that goes to the church or to the temple, that is merely functioning automatically like a machine according to tradition, with fear that has superstition because it is conditioned - such a mind is not a religious mind. Why do I say so? Is that my reaction? Is that merely reaction? Is that a response because I want to be free? I say, "How ugly all this is" and therefore I react. I say, "How stupid, crippled people are who are going to the church, though they get a little kick out of it, out of repeating the Gita or quoting something! How silly all that is! They are not religious", and I revolt; but my revolt is still within the field of challenge and response. So, is there a way of thinking which is not merely a response, a reaction? And that can only be found out if I understand what it is to think out negatively.
What do we mean by negative thinking? If negative thinking is merely a reaction to positive thinking - which merely leads to conformity - then such negative thinking also leads to actions which form another series of imitations and conformities. I mean by negative thinking not reaction to the positive. Let us be clear on that point, before we go further. We are enquiring into what is the religious spirit. How do you begin to enquire? If you are enquiring, if enquiry is the process of reaction to a positive system of thought, to a positive tradition as going to church and all the rest of it, then such a response only creates further limitations, further cages for the mind. Is that clear? Sir, I leave Christianity and become a Hindu. I join Hinduism, as Hinduism may be a little more expansive, a little more decorative, philosophical and all the rest of it; but it is a reaction. Or, if I have been brought up in a family which believes in God - I wonder if there is such a thing - I react to it, and from that reaction any action is further limitation. That is fairly simple, Sir, isn't it?
Sir, you are not agreeing with me; this is not a matter of agreement, but it is a matter of perception, seeing, because I want to go into the next question: what is negative thinking? If I leave Hinduism to become a Communist, it is a reaction; and that reaction does produce a certain activity which superficially is more beneficial but essentially limited, essentially conditioned, essentially destructive; if I leave Communism and become a Socialist or a Fascist, it is likewise a reaction; and if I leave all this and go off to the Himalayas or to Manasarovar, it is still a reaction. Now, such a reaction, though it looks negative, is a response to the positive. And what I am talking about as "negative thinking" has nothing to do with either of these two. The mind has to see the falseness of the so-called positive action and of the reaction to the positive - which it calls negative. The entirely negative action comes into being only when you see the falseness in the positive and the falseness in the negative, which is a reaction to the positive.
If I see something false in what has been said, in what has been maintained, then the action is not a reaction. The action of a man who sees that all spiritual organizations are false, that they cannot lead man anywhere except to slavery - such perception and the consequent dissolution of the spiritual organization, is not a reaction. It is a fact. Question: Thinking is associated with word-formation. When you use the words "negative thinking", does it mean that word formation continues?
Krishnamurti: The questioner says: all thinking is the continuation of the word, all thinking is in the field of the symbol and the word. The word, the symbol is memory; and the reaction to the word, to the memory, may be negative, but it is still in the field of word and memory; has negative thinking no verbal limitation, no symbolic conditioning?
All thinking is the verbal continuity of a word. Have you ever thought without a word? All thinking is based on memory; memory is the symbol, the visual response of stored-up experience which is expressed by words like: "I have been hurt", "I have been flattered", "I hate", "I am envious". That is the process of thinking with words and the continuation of the words. The questioner asks: is negative thinking free of the words?
All religious organizations, whether the little ones or the colossal ones or the most efficient ones or the feeble ones, organizations such as the Catholic church, the Hindu, the Theosophical, all religious organizations, the pseudo-religious organizations, or the pseudoscientific organizations - such organizations will not free the mind to discover what is truth; they are false, they are destructive. Now, when I say that, that is merely to communicate what I feel, what I think. Now, how do I see, how do I understand, how do I comprehend the fact that spiritual organizations are destructive? It is very important; please listen to the question. Do I see it as a reaction - because I cannot be the head of the whole organization of all the religions, I react? Because I won't be the head of the biggest organization in the world, I say that that organization is very bad - which will be a reaction. All this is still within the field of memory - wanting to be `something', the feeling of power, position, prestige, having followers, and worshippers and all the rest of it. Therefore all this is still within the field of the word as thought expressing itself through the desire to be something.
Sir, you insult and I react - that is, I feel insulted. I react because I did not like your insult, and that reaction is still the opposite of your action; therefore it is still within the field of thought. Now, when I say, "What is the religious spirit?" and enquire into it, I am enquiring into it not as a reaction, therefore not as the continuation of the word. It would be a continuation of thought which says: this is wrong and that is right. But only a mind that has no reaction perceives. This question of negative thinking is very interesting - perhaps, one should not use these two words together - "negative" and "thinking".
Question: Could not that be real perception, instead of negative thinking?
Krishnamurti: Sir, look! You know what positive thinking is, don't you? If you tell me something, I deny or agree with you. The agreement with what you said is part of a positive process; or you say something and I disagree with you, that is negative but it is still within the field of agreement and disagreement, which is a reaction. You follow, Sir? Now, when I say let us enquire into religion negatively, I mean by that: let us see the fact of the so-called religious spirit - see the fact, not verbally, not in thought - see the fact, which demands a mind that is free from the word.
I see the fact that all spiritual organizations - from the most holy to the most degrading, from the most powerful to the most weak - are destructive to the human spirit. I see that. It is a fact. Now, either that fact is a reaction because I want to be the head of all religious organizations, and I cannot - it is a frustrated perception, and therefore I say: I am out of it-; or, I see the fact - not what the results are, whether they are profitable, beneficial, superficially helpful, but I see the fact. Now you might ask "How do you see the fact?" I see the fact because my mind is in a state of negation - there is no verbal continuity, no desire to be something and no frustration. "This institution is wrong, and so I am out of it ; "this institution is right and so I am joining it" - both these statements are within the positive-negative-field, they are both reactions. But when the mind sees the fact, then its perception is from a negative state which is not the positive-negative reaction. I see that when a man is seeking the truth or a guru or whatever you call it, when a man is belonging to something, it has no meaning. I do not want to convince: I see, and it has no meaning for me. The statement that it has no meaning is not a reaction.
What is the true religious spirit? I want to find out the real thing, the real fact. Obviously the man who goes to the temple, who believes, who goes to churches, believes in dogmas, who belongs - that is not the religious spirit at all; nor is the reaction to that the religious spirit. So out that goes. Then I ask what is the religious spirit? When you deny, when you see the fact, the falseness of belonging and the reaction of not-belonging, then the mind is in a state of negation - which means,the mind is alone, it has no authority, it has no goal, it is not the product of influence of any society, Communist, Socialist, Democratic, or this and that. It is alone, it is not dependent for its security, for its happiness, for its well-being, for its experiences. It is completely alone - not isolated, not lonely. Therefore it is not in a state of fear which is a reaction. So it means what? A religious mind is free of the past, a religious mind is free of time, because time belongs to the positive and negative reactions. So a religious mind is a mind that is capable of thinking precisely, not in terms of negative and positive. Therefore, such a religious mind has within it the scientific mind, but the scientific mind has not the religious mind in it. The religious mind contains the scientific mind; but the scientific mind cannot contain the religious mind, because that is based on time, on knowledge, on achievement, success, utilization.
The religious mind is a mind that is capable of thinking precisely, clearly, sharply, which is the scientific mind; and it is the religious mind that is creative, not the scientific mind. The scientific mind can invent; invention, capacity, gift has nothing to do with creative being; writing a poem, painting a few pictures, composing music is not the creative thing of the religious mind. So the religious mind is the only mind that can respond totally to the present challenge and to all challenges at all times.
Now when you go home, fight with this and find out if you have got the religious spirit - not the phoney religious spirit and the reaction to it, but the real religious spirit - the mind that is alone, not as the opposite of the community or the society, because it has finished with the opposites, the positive and the negative. It is alone - in the sense a flame is alone - and it is only that mind that can answer these challenges, these compelling problems of the present-day. And if you have the intention, as you go out of this room, fight it out with yourselves, Sirs, whether you have got that religious mind. You must have a religious mind as you are human beings with all these crushing, destructive, sorrowful problems. To answer these problems totally, completely, with all your being, you must have such a mind.
Why have you not got such a mind? Not "how to get such a mind" - because the "how" is a reaction of the positive. You may say, "I do not know; but if you tell me, I will do it", that is still a reaction of the positive-negative reaction. But if you challenge yourself ceaselessly - why you do puja, why you go to a guru, follow rituals, do these terrible things that are destructive, why you are a Nationalist, why you belong to anything at all, Parsee, Hindu, Mussulman, and all the rest of it - it will tell you the whole story why you belong; but if you react you won't find it. To find out, you cannot react to it but look at it.
Then, is such a mind possible at all? Can the mind be so uninfluenced that it is not the product of time, the product of space, the product of distance as the past and the future? Can the mind be so solitary, solid in its aloneness, like fire? Until your mind is that, whatever your answer may be, it is going to be a destructive answer.
March 1, 1961
Bombay 5th Public Talk 1st March 1961
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