London 1st Public Talk 2nd May 1961
I think we should be fairly clear from the beginning as to what is the intention of this gathering. It should not, I feel, degenerate in any way into a mere intellectual exchange of words and ideas or an exposition of one's own point of view. We are not dealing with ideas, because ideas are merely the expression of one's own conditioning, one's own limitations. To argue over ideas, who is right and who is wrong, is surely utterly futile. Rather let us explore our problems together. Instead of being lookers-on, as at a game being played, let us take part, each one of us, in these discussions and see if we can penetrate very deeply into our problems - not only the problems of the individual but of the collective. I feel it should be possible for us to go beyond the mutterings, the chattering of the mind, beyond all worldly demands and influences, and to discover for ourselves what is true. And in discovering what is true we shall lie able to confront, to be with, the many problems which each one of us has.
So perhaps we can discuss intelligently, leisurely, hesitantly, so as to capture the whole significance of life, of our existence; what it is all about. And I feel that is possible only if we can be very honest with ourselves, which is rather difficult. In the process of discussing we should be exposing ourselves, not somebody else, so that by our own intelligence, our own precise thinking, we can penetrate into something really worthwhile.
I think most of us know, not only from the newspapers but from our own direct experience, that there is a tremendous change going on in the world. I am not thinking of the change of going from one thing to another, but of the rapidity of change itself, not only in one's own life but in the collective, the national, among all the various peoples of the world.
For one thing, machines are doing astonishing things. In many spheres the electronic brains, the computers are doing things much more accurately and quickly than we human beings can. And they are investigating how to make machines which will operate further machines without the interference of man at all. So man is gradually being eliminated. These machines function on the same principle as the human mind, the human brain. Perhaps in time they will compose, write poems, paint - as the monkey has been taught to paint pictures, and so on. There is an extraordinary wave of change, and the world will never again be as it has been for us. I think we are all aware of that. But I am not at all sure that we are aware of our own individual relationship to this whole process, because we consider knowledge an immensely important thing; we worship knowledge - but the machines are capable of much vaster knowledge. That is one side of the problem.
Then there is the existence of every type of Communism, Fascism and all the rest of it. One observes the enormous, the crushing, the degrading poverty of Asia, and human beings seeking a system to solve that problem. But the problem remains unsolved because of our limited, nationalistic points of view, because each country, each system wants to dominate.
So it seems to me that to meet all these problems from a totally different point of view, a fundamental revolution is necessary - not the Communist, Socialist, American or Chinese revolution, but an inward revolution, a completely new mind. I think that is the issue - not the atom bomb, or going to the moon, or who has travelled round the earth half a dozen times in a rocket; the monkey has done it, and more and more people will do it. Surely, to meet life as a whole, with all its incidents and accidents, one must have a totally different mind; not the so-called religious mind which is the product of organized belief, whether of the East or of the West - such a mind only perpetuates division and creates more and more superstition and fear. All the absurd divisions and limitations - belonging to one group or another, joining one society or another, following a particular form of belief or pattern of action - these things are not going to solve our immense problems.
I feel it is only possible to meet these issues if we can enter into something which is not merely the outcome of experience, because experience is always limited, always coloured, always within the bondage of time. We have to find out for ourselves, have we not?, if it is possible to go beyond the frontiers of the mind, beyond the barrier of time and uncover the immense significance of death - which means, really, to unravel what it is to live. For that, surely, a new mind is absolutely essential - not an English, Indian, Russian or American mind, but a mind that can capture the significance of the whole, that can break down nationalism, the conditionings, the values, and go beyond the words to which it is a slave.
That, for me, is the real issue, the real challenge. I would like to discuss with you intelligently, precisely, without sentiment, without parables, to find out if there is a way or no way to come by a new mind. Is there a path, a method, a system of discipline which will lead us to it; or have all methods, disciplines, systems and ideas to go completely overboard, be wiped away, if the mind is to be made fresh, young, innocent?
You know, in India, that ancient land with so many traditions, where there are, unfortunately, so many people, they have had several so-called teachers who laid down what is right and what is wrong, what method one should follow, how to meditate, what to think, and what not to think; and so they are bound by, they are held in, their various patterns of thinking. And here, too, in the West, the same process is going on. We do not want to change. We are more or less constantly seeking security in everything we do: security in the family, in relationships, in ideas. We want to be sure, and this desire to be sure inevitably breeds fear, and fear brings about guilt and anxiety. If we look into ourselves we will see how intensely afraid we are of almost everything, and how there is always the shadow of guilt. You know, in India to put on a clean loin cloth makes one feel guilty; to have one square meal makes one feel guilty; because there is so much poverty, dirt, squalor and misery everywhere. Here it is not so bad because you have the Welfare State, jobs, and a large measure of security; but you have other forms of guilt and anxiety. We know all this, but unfortunately we do not know how to shake ourselves free from all the ugly, limiting factors; we do not know how to throw them off completely, so that our mind is again fresh, innocent and young. Surely, it is only the mind that is made new which can perceive, observe, discover if there is a reality, if there is God, if there is something beyond all these words, phrases and conditionings.
So, considering all this, what is one to do? And if there is something to be done, what is it, and in what direction does it lie? I do not know if what I am saying means anything to you at all. For me it is very serious - not in the way of a long face, a mood - but in the sense of being intense, urgent, immediate. And if you also feel the necessity of a new mind let us discuss where one is to begin, what one is to do.
Question: The mind seems to go round and round, but never seems to go beyond its own limitations.
Krishnamurti: Shall we discuss this a little, because we do not just want a question and answer meeting? First of all, before we say that the mind goes round and round we must discover, must we not?, what is the whole content of the mind, what we actually mean by the mind. Now, how do we answer a question of that kind? What is the process that is set going when that question is asked? Please observe your own minds and do not wait for me to answer. I have put a question: what is the mind? How do you respond, and what is responding? How do you observe anything? How do you observe a tree? Do you glance at the surface of it; or do you observe the trunk, the branches, the leaves, the flowers, the fruit - the whole of the tree? How do you observe a thing, totally? I hope I am not making it too abstract, but I think one has to go into all this. When we ask the question: what is the mind?, how do you respond to that challenge? From what centre, from what background do you observe? And to observe something entirely, newly, totally, what do you do?
Question: One has to look with comprehension, not with the mind.
Krishnamurti: And what does one mean by comprehension? Please, sir, I am not just quibbling, but I suggest that we do not introduce other words as a substitution. Let us go along together for a bit. What do we mean by observing, seeing, perceiving? When I say that I see something very clearly, what does that mean? It means that we have not merely seen the thing physically, with the eyes, but also that we have gone beyond the words, does it not? I see that nationalism is a stupid form of emotionalism, without any rationality, without any sense. I see it, please, not you. First, there is immediate perception of the falseness of it, then I give the explanations: how it separates people, the poisonous nature of it, how destructive it is to call oneself an Indian, Englishman, German or whatever it is. I do not have to be told about it, I do not have to reason about it, to come to a conclusion through deduction or induction. I just see it all at one glance, there is immediate perception - just as I see that belonging to any organized religion is the most corruptive, destructive existence.
Now what is this capacity to see? And do I see the totality of the mind? Not the segments of the mind, the intellectual part, the emotional part, the part which retains and uses knowledge, the part which is ambitious and which is contradicting itself by wanting not to be ambitious, and so on and so on. Do I see the totality of the whole thing, or am I waiting for someone to tell me about it?
I think it would be very interesting and profitable - if I may use that commercial word - if we could, each one of us, find out what we mean by `seeing'. You know, I do not have to be told when I am hungry. I know that I am hungry. No amount of description would give me the experience of hunger. Now, can you and I have direct experience of the mind as a total thing? And when you do have an experience of something as a whole, as a total thing, is there then a centre from which it is being experienced?
You want to experience `the totality of the mind', do you not? You want to experience the sense of the total feeling of life, the total feeling of not holding on to something. But how will you know what the totality of the mind is? Experience is always in terms of the known, is it not?, and if you have never experienced the totality of the mind how will you know it? Do you see the problem? Please do not just agree, because this involves a great deal.
You know, when you fly from place to place in an aeroplane, there is the earth 30,000 to 40,000 feet below you; and as you go across Pakistan, Iran, the Middle East, Crete, Italy, France, England, America and so on, you know they are all divided, with the artificial divisions created by man, but there is the feeling of the totality of the earth, of this whole earth, which is so extraordinarily beautiful.
Now to feel the quality of that totality - can you experience it in terms of what you have already known? Or is it something that is not experienceable in terms of recognition?
Perhaps I am going too fast into the question, so let us ask ourselves again: what is the mind? Let us go into it, unravel it.
The mind is the capacity to recognize, to hoard knowledge as memory; it is the result of centuries of human endeavour, experience and conflict, and of the present individual experiences in relation to the past and the future; it is the capacity to design, to communicate, to feel, to think rationally or irrationally. There is the mind that feels gentle, quiet, serene, and also brutal, ruthless, superior, arrogant, vain; that is in a state of self-contradiction, pulled in different directions. It is the mind that says, `I am English', or `American', or `Indian'. There is the unconscious mind, the deep down collective, the inherited; and there is the superficial mind that has been educated according to a certain technique, a code of behaviour, action and knowledge. It is the mind that is seeking, searching, wanting permanency, security; the mind that lives on hope, but knows only frustration, failure and despair; the mind that can remember, recollect; the mind that is very sharp, precise; the mind that knows what it is to love, and to want to be loved.
Surely, all that is the totality, is it not? That is the mind which you and I have - and the animals too, only much less of it. And then there is the mind which says it must go beyond all this, must reach out somewhere, must experience a totality, a timeless, immeasurable thing.
So, all that is the mind. We know of it in segments, when we are jealous, angry, hateful; or we are aware of it in self-contradiction; or there are dreams, hints, intimations from the past. All that is the mind. It is the mind that says, `I am the soul, I am the Atman, the higher self, the lower self, this, that and the other'. It is the mind that is caught within the limits of time, because all that is of time. And it is the mind that is a slave to words, like the English are slaves to the words `the Queen', `the Christ', and the Indian is a slave to his set of words; and the Chinese, the Communists to theirs, and so on.
Now realizing all this, then how do you proceed? What, actually, is the mind?
Let us approach it differently. You see, sirs, there must be a change; and a calculated change is no change at all. The change to achieve a certain result, through practice, discipline, control, ruthless domination - all that is merely the continuity of the same thing in a different guise. And the progressive, evolutionary change - that has gone too, we have finished with it. The only change is the radical, immediate change. How is the mind to come to that change, so that it has wiped away its conditioning, its brutalities, its stupidities, its fears, its guilt, its anxieties, and is new? I say it is possible, not through the analytical process, not through investigation, examination and all that. I say it is possible to wipe the slate clean. at one stroke, on the instant. Do nor translate this as the grace of God; do not say, `It is not possible for me but it may be for someone else' - then we are not facing the issue, we are avoiding it. That is why I said at the beginning that we need very clear, precise thinking, a ruthless enquiry.
Question: This instantaneous wiping away - surely, there can be no thought of any kind in it.
Krishnamurti: But how is it to be done, what is the action? You understand, sir, what I mean? You know very well what is happening in the world - probably better than I do, because I do not read newspapers, I do not study them; because I travel and I see people, the big ones and the insignificant ones, and I listen. You know that there must be a tremendous revolution within one to meet the challenge of this chaotic, messy world. I say it is possible: and I would like, if I may, without stopping you from discussing, to continue to enquire along those lines. To bring about a radical change - is not that your problem, whether you are young or whether you are old? So, how do we tackle this thing?
Question: That seems to be something we are trying to grasp but cannot.
Krishnamurti: When we try to grasp, when we try to capture something, surely we are already translating this into terms of the old. Sir, must you not be very clear whether this is your problem? If I am imposing the problem upon you, then there will be a state of contradiction between you and me. I am not imposing, I am only stating the problem. If you do not see it, let us discuss it. But if you do see it, then it is your problem, not mine. Then you and I have a relationship; then we are in contact with each other to find out an answer to it. And if it is not your problem, then I say, `Why isn't it?' Please look at what is happening in the world: there is more and more externalization; the outward things are becoming more and more important - going to the moon, who gets there first; you know all the infantile things that are becoming tremendously important. So, if this is a problem for all of us, then how do we answer it, how do we set about it?
Question: We can only say we do not know.
Krishnamurti: When we say, `I do not know', what do we mean?
Question: I mean just that.
Krishnamurti: No, excuse me, you do not mean that. Let me unravel it a little bit, because there are different states of `knowing' and `not-knowing'. If you were asked a familiar question you would answer immediately, would you not? Because you are familiar with it, your response is instantaneous. If you were asked a more complicated question, you would take time to reply; and the lag between the question and the response is the process of thinking, is it not? That thinking is a looking into memory to find the answer. This is obvious; it is not a complicated thing I am talking about, it is very simple. Then if another question were asked, still more complicated, and to which for the moment you do not know the answer, you say, `I do not know', but you are waiting - waiting to find out the answer either from the reservoir of your own memory, or for somebody else to tell you. So when you say, `I do not know' it means that you are waiting, expecting to find out. Now, just a minute. Can you honestly say, `I do not know' - which means there is no expectation, and no looking into memory? So there are the two, states, when there is the question of how is there to be a new mind: you can either say, `I do not know', meaning you are waiting for me to tell you; or, you actually do not know, and therefore there is no expectation, no wanting to, experience something - and that may be the essential.
Let us go back a little because I feel it is important to understand what is meant by perceiving, seeing, observing. How do we really see something?
Question: It seems to me that we can only see through words.
Krishnamurti: Do you understand through words? Of course we use words to communicate, so that you can talk to me and I can talk to you; but that is not slavishness to the words. Are we aware how slavish we are to words? The words `English', `Russian', `God', `love' - are we not slaves to these words? And being slaves to words, how can you comprehend something that is total, not held within a word? Being a slave to the word `love' - that word which is so misused, corrupted, divided as sexual and divine - , can I understand the total nature of what it is, which must be an astonishing thing? The whole universe is contained in the meaning, the significance of that word.
Most unfortunately, you see, we are slaves to words and we are trying to reach something which is beyond words. To uproot, to shatter the words and be free of words gives an extraordinary perception, vitality, vigour. And does it take time, to free yourself from words? Do you say, `I must think about it first', or `I must practise awareness', or `I will read Bertrand Russell'? Or do you actually see that a mind which is a slave to words is incapable of looking, observing, feeling, seeing? - therefore that very clarity, that very truth destroys slavishness.
Question: One might see for an instant, and then the mind comes in again.
Krishnamurti: Do you see for an instant that nationalism is poisonous, and then go back to it?
Do we realize that we are slaves to the word? The Communist is a slave to the words `Marx', `Stalin', and so on. The so-called Christian is a slave to the symbol, the cross and the whole word-play on it. Go to Rome, go anywhere, and all there is, is the word.
And perhaps we are also slaves to the word `mind'. We worship the mind, and all our education is the cultivation of the mind. And surely, what we are trying to find out is the totality of something - which is not the word - the feeling that one embraces the whole thing without the barrier of the word.
May 2, 1961
London 1st Public Talk 2nd May 1961
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