London 3rd Public Talk 7th May 1961
We have been talking previously about the necessity of having a new, fresh mind. Everywhere one goes there is an awful mess and a great deal of suffering, not only physically but also inwardly; and there is endless confusion. And it seems to me that instead of tackling the suffering and confusion we are trying to escape from it all, either to the moon or in entertainments or in various forms of delusion. But whatever we do there is the continuity of suffering and confusion, and to break through it all I feel one needs a fresh, new mind.
So I would like to continue where we left off, and to consider if it is at all possible to live in this world without conflict. Because, it seems to me that a mind occupied with conflict is a dull mind, a mediocre mind. We are all in conflict of one kind or another, at various levels, in different forms. And we either put up with it or too readily escape from it in entertainments, social reforms and in all that the churches and religions offer with their rituals, strange words, their beliefs and dogmas which are romantic forms of consolation. And as we grow older and the escapes become more and more habitual, constant, the mind gets ever more dull, heavy, stupid. I think that is a fact with most of us. There may be a few moments when, in spite of all this misery of conflict, there is a break in the clouds and one sees something very clearly, and a sense of quietness, of depth comes into being; but that is very rarely.
I think we should enquire deeply into this matter, and that is an arduous task. It is not a matter of just discussing a few ideas; but rather it means to penetrate very far into ourselves, to see whether it is possible to eradicate conflict in every form. It requires a keen, sharp mind, a mind that does not allow itself to be caught in a net of words. We are apt, I am afraid, to listen merely to hear certain words, phrases and ideas, which is just to skate on the surface. And probably that is why we come to all these talks, year after year, and why it all becomes rather stupid in the end because we merely bandy with ideas and never go deeply into the matter for ourselves and actually eradicate conflict.
So I think we should confine ourselves this morning to seeing if it is actually possible - not theoretically or verbally - to really understand the nature of conflict and perhaps come out of it renewed, fresh, young and innocent. An innocent mind is never in conflict; it is in a state of action. A mind in action, moving, renewing all the time, can never be in conflict. It is only the mind which has contradictions within itself that is perpetually struggling. Please, as I am talking, do not merely listen to the words because words by themselves have only a very ordinary meaning. And I am sure if you will look into yourselves you will find many contradictions. So please actually follow it through, actually experience as we go along, and then perhaps at the end of this discussion you will have a sense of clarity, a sense of freedom from this appalling weight of conflict.
We have accepted conflict from childhood. In our education, all the schools throughout the world are breeding grounds of conflict, and there is the constant struggle to compete with others who are much cleverer than we are. And as we grow older we follow the example, the leader, the authority, the ideal; and then there arises this cleavage between what should be and what actually is, and hence there is contradiction. There is not only the outward, worldly conflict, the competition, the ideals, the ambition to achieve, the perpetual drive of modern society to become clever, more beautiful; not only the copying of the neighbours but also the copying of Jesus, of God; not only the copying of fashion but the copying of virtue. All this results in outward war between peoples, races, nations and statesmen. And if one rejects all that as too stupid, then one turns inward and here again is the problem of achieving peace, quietude, happiness, God, love, heaven. The inward search is a reaction to the outer search, and therefore it is still the same movement. It is like the tide which goes out and comes in. These are obvious psychological facts; and if one is aware of it all then there is no arguing about it; it is so. You may dispute whether it is possible to go beyond it all; but the actual fact is that there is conflict both inwardly and outwardly, and it does breed an astonishing sense of brutality, an efficiency that leads to ruthlessness. The outward movement may bring about a certain progress, prosperity, but one can see what is happening in the world: where there is great prosperity there is less and less of freedom. One can observe it in America very clearly, how there is this great prosperity and how the sense of pioneering, of freedom, is gradually disappearing. Inwardly too, the greater the intensity of conflict the greater the urge to activity; and so you get the do-goodery, the people who go around reforming, the so-called saintly people and the intellectuals who are forever writing books, and so on. The greater the tension in conflict the more it expresses itself through capacity.
We all know about this, we all feel the pull in different directions. We know the drive of ambition. And where there is ambition there is no love in any form, there is no quietness, no sympathy, pity or affection. And the escape from conflict, whether it is the conflict between two people or between the nations, and whether the avenue of the escape is God, drink, nationalism, or one's bank account, it leads more and more deeply into an illusory sense of security. Our minds live in myths, in speculative ideas.
So conflict increases, and from that state there is action, and that action breeds further contradiction. And so we are caught in this wheel of struggle. I am only putting into words what is actually happening. This is the lot of everyone. We can see for ourselves that the mind is always trying to escape through suppression, through discipline - which the saints throughout the world advocate and which is really just putting the lid on everything. And if it is not discipline we escape to, it is some form of activity: social reform, political reform, the taking of courses, the furthering of brotherhood - you know about all this activity, agitation, the urge to do something about something.
So all we know is that our action breeds further misery, further distortion, further illusion and suffering, inwardly and outwardly. Every relationship, which begins so freshly, so newly, deteriorates into something ugly, dull or venomous. We must all be aware of this dual process of love and hate. And our everlasting prayer is that we may cover it up - and the gods reply, unfortunately, because the escapes are there for the taking. That is the picture: the picture of an idea, an ideal, and the resulting action towards that idea. The mind creates the idea and then tries to act in approximation to that idea. So there is a cleavage, and we are always trying to build a bridge over that gap. And we never succeed, because the idea is stable, we have created it firmly, fixed it; but action must be varied, changing, in constant movement because of the demands of life. And so there is ever conflict.
And while being aware of all these tremendous tensions, these wrenching demands, we have never asked ourselves whether it is possible to live in this world without conflict. Is it possible? I feel that it is only the mind that does not have a single movement of conflict, that is creative. I do not mean the creativity of the poets, the painters, the architects and so on. They may have certain gifts, a certain capacity; they may occasionally see a flash of something and put it in marble, write a poem, or design a building; but they are not truly creative because they are still at war within themselves and with the world; they are driven by their ambitions, jealousies, their angers and hatreds like the rest of us. Whereas to find God - or whatever name you like to give it - to find, to really discover if there is such a thing, the mind must be totally free from conflict. All this requires tremendous work; and perhaps some of us older ones are already finished, done for. We may be, or we may not be.
I do not know if you have seen the pictures in the caves in Dordogne, seventeen thousand years old. The colours are very bright because the wind and the rain have never come there. They depict man struggling with animals, horses, bulls with lovely horns; and they are full of extraordinary movement. But the struggle is the same.
So the question is: what shall we do about it all? And you have to answer this question because it is you who suffer, who are in conflict. You cannot just sit back and wait for somebody else to answer. And this has nothing really to do with age, you know; it is not a matter of whether you are old or young.
To put the problem differently, to live is to act. You cannot live without action. Every gesture, every idea, every wave of thought is action; and every action gives rise to a reaction, and from that reaction there is further action. So all our action is reaction; and we are caught in it. Now is it possible to live with an extraordinary abundance of action which has no roots whatever in conflict? That is the question, and I hope I am making myself clear.
Question: I think it happens to us occasionally; it comes and goes in spite of ourselves, like the wind in the trees, or the blowing along of dead leaves.
Krishnamurti: That is, it happens occasionally, and the memory of it remains and the desire for the repetition of it arises, and so there is conflict again. Do you see this? I have an experience of delight: looking at a lovely cloud, a beautiful face, a sweet smile, and it has left an imprint of pleasure, joy, an ecstasy. And I want it repeated again, and the conflict begins. Please follow this right through and you will see something for yourself
Question: The conflict starts from wanting.
Krishnamurti: Does it? What is wrong with wanting something beautiful?
Question: Wanting it back again, I mean.
Krishnamurti: Wait a minute, sir. All wanting is wanting again. There would be no wanting at all if there had been no previous tasting of it, no previous recollection. All wanting is a further recognition of what has been.
Question: What about our want of God?
Krishnamurti: It is the same thing, is it not? To want a woman, a baby, to see a beautiful sunset or to want God, and to want the repetition of the experience; it is all the same, surely? I think you are missing the point.
Question: It is the resistance to the wanting that creates the contradiction.
Krishnamurti: Wanting breeds conflict, and any form of resistance breeds conflict; but is that the issue? After all, the everlasting cry of the artist is that he has known this occasional flutter of beauty and he wants to capture it; so he struggles with it, takes to women, to drink and so on. And we do the same; we live in the past, the `happy days that have gone', the remembered faces and memories, all the things we want to recapture. There is the desire, and there is the resistance to that desire; but is that the issue? All the saints have said, `Wipe away desire', they tell you to turn your back on it, smother it, control it, not be passionate. But is that the issue we are following?
Question: I do not think I understand desire.
Krishnamurti: Is that the problem? Look, sirs, when you have had an experience and you want to have more of it, to continue it, have you not created a problem? Whether you resist, or whether you held, have you not created a problem? We have created the problem of how to maintain a certain state, have we not? Right? Now what is a problem? A problem, surely, is something I have not understood. When I have understood something, the problem ceases. To a mechanic, something wrong with a motor car is no real problem, he knows what to do. Here we do not know what to do, and the not-knowing is a problem. We cannot destroy desire, that would be too appalling, too stupid; it would be the vulgarity of the saint - sorry if I shock you. And resistance is a form of suppression. Right?
And what is there to understand about desire? Not very much. You know what desires are and how they come into being; and you know also the resistance and how it comes - through our education, our traditions, our background, the `this is right and that is wrong' attitude, the feeling that I must be respectable at any price and my respectability must be recognized by society. You know it all.
Now can we go a little bit further? What is a problem, what creates a problem?
Question: The memory of the experience.
Krishnamurti: You cannot cut out experience, can you? That would be to die, to shut your eyes to life, to become insensitive. Living is experience. Listening to all this, looking out of the window - it is all experience. But with us, each experience leaves its residue as memory, the scar of memory. Are you following all this? So memory is the problem, not desire or resistance. So can the mind live in a state of experiencing without leaving a residue as memory?
You may understand this verbally, but it is really an extraordinary thing to go into; it requires a tremendous vitality and energy. The mind cannot escape from experience, but we all try to escape from a vital experience. We accept things as they are; we thicken the walls of belief; we refuse to see that the world is one, that the earth is yours and mine; we have divided it up as the British, the European, the Indian, the Russian; and we stay, paralysed, within those walls. So we really refuse experience because we do not want any change; we cultivate memory, adding to it instead of taking away.
So the issue is: can the mind receive everything without its leaving an imprint? You cannot say it is possible or it is not possible. Do please think about it. Because it is only a mind that is experiencing, seeing, looking, vibrating, that is alive. A mind is not alive when it is burdened with centuries of memory, which is what we call knowledge, tradition. But yet we cannot wipe out knowledge; it must be there, otherwise you would not know how to get home. But can we live without the interference of the past?
Question: The problem is that to prevent memory leaving its imprint on the mind we must be possessed of a tremendous interest in every one of our experiences.
Krishnamurti: Please, sir, look at what you have said - `we must'. The `must' has already sown the seed of conflict, has it not?
Question: I suppose I should have said, `How can this interest be brought about?'
Krishnamurti: To find a right answer you must ask a right question. Is your question a right question?
Question: Is it rather: why am I not interested?
Krishnamurti: You know, it is like playing the right tone on a violin. You can only get the right tone when the string is at the right tension. Are you putting your question with the right tension? I don't mean a state of conflict, but right tension. If you will look at it you will answer it for yourself perhaps the very question you are putting is preventing you from discovering for yourself? Do you see this? I will put it differently.
I see actually, visually, the conflict in the world and in myself. There is contradiction inside and outside. And the effort to do something about it - to be peaceful, to avoid all suffering - involves conflict. My whole being is torn in different directions and so there is self-contradiction. This is, inescapably, the fact. You are following? And the wanting to do something about the fact is the reaction of trying to escape from it, to repudiate it, to resist it, to go beyond it. Right? So the desire, the urge, the impulse to do something about it is the problem. But if the fact is there, and you see you cannot do a thing about it, then the fact gives the answer. Then, is there a problem?
May 7, 1961
London 3rd Public Talk 7th May 1961
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