London 2nd Public Talk 4th May 1961
We were saying the last time we met that a great revolution must take place not only because of the appalling world situation but because it is imperative for the human mind to be free to discover what is true. It seems to me that it is essential to bring about a new mind; a mind that is not limited by nationality, by organized religions, by belief, by any particular dogma or by the limitations of experience. It is urgent, surely, to bring about a creative state - a state which is not merely the capacity to invent, to paint, to write and so on, but creative in a much deeper and wider sense. We were wondering how it is possible to bring about such a revolution, and what action is necessary. And I hope we can continue along this line of investigation.
One has tried, has one not?, by joining various groups, attending various schools of thought and meditation, to find out what to do. We feel the need to find out what to do, not only in daily life; but we also want to know if there is a way of action - in a much larger sense of that word - of a total nature, not only at a given moment. I think it is fairly obvious that most of us are eager to find out what to do; and perhaps that is why you are here and why you belong to so many groups, religious bodies and societies - to find out what to think and what to do.
For me, that is not the problem at all. The `what to do' demand, the demand for a mode of conduct, a particular way of life, is really very detrimental to action. It implies, does it not?, a system which you can follow from day to day in order to reach a particular goal, a particular state of being. Living, as we do, in this mad, chaotic, ruthless world we try to find, through all the mess, a way of living, a way of action which will not create more problems. And I feel that to understand this whole matter really deeply, one has to understand effort, conflict, and contradiction.
Most of us live in a state of self-contradiction, not only collectively but individually. I hope I am not making absolute statements; but I think it is more or less accurate that we very rarely know moments when there is no conflict, no contradiction within ourselves; we do not know of a state when the mind is completely quiet and when that very quietness is an action in itself. Most of us live in contradiction, and from this contradiction there is conflict. And we are concerned with how to be free of this conflict, not only outwardly but inwardly. If we can discuss and go on from there, perhaps we shall be able to find an action which is not merely a reaction.
For most of us action is a reaction. And is it possible to act without reaction and therefore create no contradiction within ourselves? I hope I am making myself clear. I should like us to discuss this together and go into it very thoroughly. Because for me, conflict in any form is, to put it mildly, detrimental to comprehension, to penetration, to understanding. We are bred, educated on conflict and competition; our whole acquisitive society is based on it. So is it possible for the mind to free itself from conflict and thereby uncover this whole process of self-contradiction? Perhaps we could intelligently discuss this and thereby come by that mind which is in a state of revolution, and so understand what it is to act without the conditioning effects of experience and knowledge.
Question: Would that not be acting without thought?
Krishnamurti: Surely, that would be rather chaotic, would it not? Perhaps we should first discuss the process of thinking, the mechanism of thinking. So let me ask you the question: what is thinking?
Question: I should say that thinking is a nervous reaction to that which has been experienced. We cannot react to something we do not know.
Krishnamurti: You know, there are machines that think - the electronic brains, the computers. Is our thinking much along the same lines? Is it the response of memory, memory being stored-up experiences, individual and collective, in which is included the nervous response? I ask you, what is thinking? Do please experiment a little bit. Before you answer should you not be aware of the process, aware of the mechanism of replying? In the interval between the question and your response the process of thinking is going on, is it not? The challenge of the question sets the mechanism of thought in motion and then there is the response. Is that not so? If I ask you what your religion is or what your nationality is, you reply, do you not?, according to your education, your upbringing, according to your belief or non-belief. Now what is this background from which you respond?
Krishnamurti: That is so, is it not? If I am born in a certain place, educated there, moulded by the society, the tradition in which I live, then I have a certain storehouse of experiences, memories, and I respond to any challenge from that background. That is the mechanism, and that is what we call thinking. And according to that inherited and acquired experience I live, I act. So my thinking is always very limited; and so there is no freedom in thinking.
Question: Is it not possible to have creative thinking - for example, to make new discoveries in science or mathematics? Is thinking entirely the result of conditioning? Krishnamurti: When do we really discover anything? When do we perceive something new, either inwardly or objectively?
Question: I would say: when the known ways have been exhausted.
Krishnamurti: Let us go into it a little bit. I have a problem in mathematics and I work at it, tackle it in many different ways until I am exhausted; and then I let it alone, and the next morning or sometime later the answer pops up. So when my mind has gone into the problem thoroughly without finding an answer, and gives it up, then there is a certain quietness with regard to that problem and later on the answer comes.
Question: Do you say that this process is not thinking?
Krishnamurti: We are trying to find out, are we not? There is a lot involved in this. Thinking is not just at one level of the mind; the whole unconscious has to be considered also. We are trying to find out what thinking is. And we see that most of our thinking is from the background of memory, experience, knowledge and all the rest of it. And there are moments when we see something in a flash, apparently unrelated to the past, and what we see may be false or may be true, depending on how we translate it, on what our background is. When the superficial mind is quiet there may be discovery in the sense of a new invention or a new idea; but is all new discovery of the same nature? Because, we have to consider the total mind, have we not? - not only the superficial mind, but the unconscious mind also.
We function at a very superficial level most of the time, do we not? The activities we engage in are very superficial: they do not demand the total response of our whole being. It is fairly obvious that all our education and background is geared to the superficial response; we are living on the surface of the mind. But there is also the deep, unexplored unconscious mind which is always giving hints, intimations, dreams and so on; and again these are translated by the conscious mind according to its conditioning. And is not the entire consciousness conditioned? The unconscious is, surely, the reservoir of the racial memories - the recollections, reflections, traditions and memories, the accumulated knowledge of man. Whereas the conscious, superficial mind is educated to the techniques of this modern world. So obviously there is a contradiction between the unconscious and the conscious. The conscious mind may be educated to have no belief in God, to be an atheist, a Communist, or what you will, but the unconscious has been trained for centuries in belief; and when the crisis comes the unconscious responds much more than the conscious mind. You know all this, do you not? So the totality of consciousness, not only the superficial but also the unconscious is conditioned; and any response from the unconscious is not a liberating factor. Do please think about this and discuss with me - not just agree or disagree. If a mathematician has a problem and after exploring it, going into it, solves it without thought, then is that solution something totally new, not generated, not springing from the unconscious?
Question: If it comes from the unconscious it is actually old stuff. It is not really new, is it?
Krishnamurti: If I may say so, one must be very careful here not to be merely speculative. Either one speaks from direct comprehension after exploring the whole business, or else one may be merely repeating what somebody has said or what one has read. If we could for the moment, or even forever, discard what other people have said - the yogis, the swamis, the analysts, the psycho- logists, the whole lot of them - then we shall be able to find out for ourselves, directly, whether it is possible for the total consciousness to be free of conditioning. If it is not possible, then all one can do is to continue the old process of making the total consciousness better - more worthwhile, more good, noble and all the rest of it. That is like living in a prison and decorating the prison. Whether the brain has been washed by the Communists, the Catholics, the Protestants, the Anglicans or by any other sect, it is the same. And it is really a very important and vital matter to consider whether it is at all possible to go beyond the limited, conditioned consciousness; whether the mind can ever be free in the deepest sense of that word. There are those who say that the mind, being the result of time and environment, must always remain a slave to those influences; but we are asking if it is possible to go beyond the mind, beyond time.
Question: How could such a thing be possible!
Krishnamurti: We are going into the whole issue, are we not? Either the mind is capable of freeing itself from all influences and therefore from all environments, whether of the past, the present or the future, or it is not possible. The Communists do not believe it is possible, nor do the Catholics or any of the religious people. They talk about freedom; but they don't believe in it because the moment you leave them you have become a heretic - they excommunicate you, burn you, liquidate you and all the rest of it. So, is it possible for an action to take place, which does not spring from the field of consciousness, of limitation, of conditioning? Do you see the question, sirs?
Question: The experience of most of us is that it is not possible; and yet we have intimations that it may be possible, but we do not know how to achieve it.
Question: I feel it is not possible.
Krishnamurti: Are you just waiting for me to say something? You see, I do not know how far you have gone into all this for yourselves.
Question: I am sure that the conscious mind can be free, but it seems to me that a tremendous difficulty is the unconscious mind.
Krishnamurti: Is it possible, by analyzing, to go into the unconscious step, by step and unravel it, and thereby go beyond it? Is that possible?
You see, the unconscious is a positive process, is it not? And can you approach a positive process with a positive demand? Both the conscious and the unconscious are under the same limitation, are they not? The conscious mind has its own motives for wishing to investigate the unconscious. The motive is there; it wants to be free. The motive is positive; and the unconscious is not something vague, it is also positive. But although the unconscious is positive - with all its hints, intimations, dreams and so on, you do not know for yourself its content; you do not know what it actually is. So can the conscious mind investigate something which it does not know? Please do not brush this aside; it is very important. Will analysis, whether by another or by yourself, uncover the whole content of this thing called the unconscious, of which you are totally unaware?
Question: I think the unconscious is too vast.
Krishnamurti: No, no, do not just say it is too vast; then you are not meeting the actual question, you are going off at a tangent. You see, I do not think you have ever gone into the whole process of thinking. Is there a thinking which is without the word, the image, the idea, the symbol? - because the symbol is in the unconscious as well as in the conscious, is it not? And I think the process of investigating the unconscious by means of analysis is a faulty process. I want to suggest that there is a way which is immediate perception.
Let us be clear, first, that all thinking is mechanical. Thinking is the response of memory, the response of knowledge, of experience; and all thinking from this background is conditioned. Therefore thinking can never be free; it is always mechanical.
Question: Yes, I see that.
Krishnamurti: What do you mean when you say, `I see'? Please, this is very important.
Question: Something inside me makes me realize it.
Krishnamurti: Then something inside you makes you realize that you must be a nationalist, does it not? It makes you believe that there is God, that you must have a religion. If you depend on something which tells you from inside, then you are also apt to have illusions, are you not? So what do we mean by `I see'? If I say nationalism is a poison, do you see the truth of that?
Question: It is obvious.
Krishnamurti: And when I say that to have any belief, to belong to any society, to any organized religion is detrimental to discovery, do you see that too?
Question: Not so clearly, because I belong to a group that is working for the United Nations, and I think that is a good thing.
Question: The disunited nations, he means.
Krishnamurti: Obviously they are disunited, but we are wandering off. You said very clearly that you saw nationalism as a poison. You all agreed. But unconsciously you are all nationalistic, are you not? You feel you are English, French, or whatever it is. It is there, deep-rooted, is it not? And you say that you do not see with the same clarity that belief is destructive to discovery. But look at it this way: I want to find out if there is God. I really want to find out for myself if there is or there is not. So I must first brush aside every concept of God, must I not?, not only in the conscious but in the unconscious. To really find out, I must first tear out all the roots of the culture in which I have been brought up, educated; there must be no shelter, no refuge in which I feel I am doing good work. Since my intention is to find out, I must ruthlessly get rid of everything that I have accepted, so that I have no shelter, physical, verbal, intellectual or emotional: then I do not belong to anything.
We started off this discussion with the question of what to do in this mad world. A new way of looking at life, a new mind altogether, is necessary; and such a new way must be born out of a complete revolution, a total cutting away from the past. And the past is the unconscious as well as the conscious. So to belong to any particular organized group of thought is poisonous.
And any effort we make to be new also belongs to the past, does it not? Because the whole present structure of society is based on acquisitiveness, which is effort. The whole process of `I must be this' or `I must not be that' involves effort, conflict; I see that. And when I say, `I see it', I mean I see it factually, not emotionally, sentimentally, intellectually or verbally. I see it as I see that microphone. And the very perception of that fact has wiped away that conditioning completely. I wonder if I am conveying anything to you? Please do not just agree with me. This is not a social game. Because if you see it the same way, then you also are out of it all, completely, instantly.
Question: We feel we are bound to our conditioning by our duties to society, to the family.
Krishnamurti: The gentleman says, quite rightly, that we are bound by our duties to our family, to society, to our work, to the country, to the religion we have been brought up in, and all the rest of it. So, when faced with the necessity of a completely new mind we put the family, society, in opposition to the fact. And therefore there is a conflict between the fact and what you conceive to be your duty. Is that not so? So to escape from this conflict one enters a monastery, becomes a monk or inwardly isolates oneself; one builds a habit round oneself and lives in it. You see, sirs, when you use the words `duty' or `responsibility', you have put yourself in opposition to freedom. But if you have perceived the fact of what we have been talking about, then you would have a totally different action towards your family and society.
You see I am trying to get back to action, and perhaps I am forcing the issue. After all, we all want to `do something' about life. I know people all the world over, who have disciplined themselves ruthlessly because they want to find out what is right to do. They have isolated themselves, renounced, obeyed religious edicts and made tremendous efforts; and at the end of it they are dead, withered human beings. It is the constant effort to be something, to become something that has destroyed them. And when you put society and the family in opposition to freedom all you have done is to introduce the factor of conflict. And I say, do not introduce the element of conflict into it at all. See the truth of it, and that seeing will itself take care of the relationships. You see, as I was saying, for most of us action is merely reaction. I flatter you, and you respond; I insult you, and you respond. Our action is always reaction. I am talking of something else, of action which is not a reaction but which is total action. This is not some queer, odd, fantastic idea of my own. But if you have gone into the whole thing for yourself, if you have observed the world, watched people, studied them, really looked at them - the great ones, the insignificant ones, the so-called saints and the so-called sinners - you would see that they have all built their lives on conflict, strife, suppression and fear, and you would see the horror of it. To be free of all that you must first see it.
Question: There is so much conditioning that is unconscious.
Krishnamurti: Please look at this. We all live in the superficial conscious mind; and how am I to unravel every layer, every detail of the unconscious, without missing a point? Is it possible for the conscious mind to enter into something which is unconscious, hidden? Surely all I can do is to watch, to be wide awake, alert all day - as I work, as I rest, as I walk, as I talk - so that I have a dreamless night.
We began by talking about a revolution which is not the result of calculation and thought; because thought is mechanical and thought is a reaction. Communism is a reaction to Capitalism; if I give up Catholicism and become something else, it is still a reaction. But if I see the truth that to belong to anything, to believe in anything is holding on to a form of security and therefore preventing the actual perception of what is true, then there is no conflict, no effort.
So, I see that action which is a reaction is no action at all. I want to find out what freedom is. I see the imperative urgency, the necessity of a new mind, and I do not know what to do. So I am concerned with the `what do do', and therefore I have laid the emphasis on `what to do' and not on a new mind. And the `what shall I do?' becomes all important, and I say, `Please tell me' - which creates the authority; and authority is the most pernicious thing in the world.
So can we realize inwardly, see the actual fact that all our action is reaction, all our action is born from the motive to achieve, to arrive, to become something, to get somewhere? Can I just realize that fact, without introducing the `what shall I do', `what about the family, my job' and all that? Because, if the mind does see the fact, without translating it in terms of the old, then there is immediate perception; then one will understand that action which is not a reaction; and that understanding is an essential quality of the new mind.
May 4, 1961
London 2nd Public Talk 4th May 1961
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.