Saanen 6th Public Talk 6th August 1961
We have been talking a great deal about facing the fact, observing the fact without condemnation or justification, approaching it without any opinion. Especially where psychological facts are concerned, we are apt to bring in our prejudices, our desires, our urges which distort `what is' and give rise to a certain sense of guilt, of contradiction, a denial of what is. We have been talking also of the importance of the complete destruction of all the things which we have built up as a refuge, as a defence. Life seems much too vast, too fast for us, and our sluggish minds, our slow way of thinking, our accustomed habits invariably create a contradiction within us, and we try to dictate terms to life. And gradually, as this contradiction and conflict continue and increase, our minds become more and more dull. So I would like this morning, if I may, to talk about the simple austerity of the mind, and suffering.
It is very difficult to think directly, to see things clearly and to pursue what we see to the very end, logically, reasonably, sanely. It is very difficult to be clear and therefore simple. I do not mean the simplicity of the outward garments, of having few possessions; but I mean an inward simplicity. I think simplicity of approach to a very complex problem, as to suffering, is essential. So before we approach sorrow we have to be very clear as to what we mean by the word `simple'.
The mind, as we know it now, is so complex, so infinitely cunning, so subtle; it has had so many experiences; and it has within it all the influences of the past, the race, the residue of all time. To reduce all this vast complexity to simplicity is very difficult; but I think it has to be done, otherwise we shall not be able to go beyond conflict and sorrow.
So the question is: given all this complexity of knowledge, of experiences, of memory, is it at all possible to look at sorrow and to be free of sorrow?
First of all, I think that in finding out for oneself how to think simply and directly, definitions and explanations are really detrimental. Definition in words does not make the mind simple, and explanations do not bring about clarity of perception. So it seems to me that one must be greatly aware of the slavery to words, though one has also to be aware that it is necessary to use words for communication. But what is communicated is not merely the word; the communication is beyond the word; it is a feeling, a seeing, which cannot be put into words. A really simple mind does not mean an ignorant mind. A simple mind is a mind which is free to follow all the subtleties, the nuances, the movements of a given fact. And to do that the mind must, surely, be free from the slavery of words. Such freedom brings about an austerity of simplicity. When there is that simplicity of approach, then I think we can look directly and try to understand what sorrow is.
I think simplicity of mind and sorrow are related. To live in sorrow throughout our days is surely, to put it mildly, a most foolish thing to do. To live in conflict,to live in frustration ,always entangled in fear, in ambition, caught in the urge to fulfil, to be a success - to live through a whole life in that state seems to me so utterly futile and unnecessary. And to be free of sorrow, I think one must approach this complex problem very simply. There are various kinds of sorrow, physical and psychological. There is the physical pain of disease, toothache, losing a limb, having poor eyesight and so on; and the inward sorrow that comes when you lose somebody whom you love, when you have no capacity and see people who have it, when you have no talent and see people with talent, with money, position, prestige, power. There is always the urge to fulfil; and in the shadow of fulfilment there is always frustration, and with it comes sorrow.
So there are these two types of sorrow, the physical and the psychological. One may lose one's arm, and then the whole problem of sorrow comes in. The mind goes back into the past, remembers what it has done, that it is no longer able to play tennis, no longer able to do many things; it compares, and in that process sorrow is engendered. We are familiar with that type of thing. The fact is that I have lost my arm, and no amount of theorizing, of explanations, of comparison, no amount of self-pity will bring that arm back. But the mind indulges in self-pity, in going back to the past. So the fact of the present is in contradiction with what has been. This comparison invariably brings conflict, and out of that conflict there is sorrow. That is one kind of sorrow.
Then there is the psychological suffering. My brother, my son is dead, he has gone. No amount of theorizing, explaining, believing, hoping will ever bring him back. The ruthless, uncompromising reality is the fact that he has gone. And the other fact is that I am lonely because he has gone. We were friends, we talked together, laughed together, enjoyed together, and the companionship is over and I am left alone. The loneliness is a fact and the death is a fact. I am forced to accept the fact of his death, but I do not accept the fact of being lonely in this world. So I begin to invent theories, hopes, explanations as an escape from the fact, and it is the escapes that bring about sorrow, not the fact that I am lonely, not the fact that my brother is dead. The fact can never bring sorrow and I think that is very important to understand if the mind is to be really, totally, completely free from sorrow. I think it is possible to be free from sorrow only when the mind no longer seeks explanations and escapes, but faces the fact. I do not know whether you have ever tried this.
We know what death is and the extraordinary fear which it evokes. It is a fact that we will die, each one of us, whether we like it or not. So either we rationalize death or escape into beliefs - karma, reincarnation, resurrection and so on - and therefore we sustain fear, and escape from the fact. And the question is whether the mind is really concerned to go to the very end and discover if it is possible to be totally and completely free of sorrow, not in time but in the present, now.
Now, can each one of us intelligently, sanely, face the fact? Can I face the fact that my son, my brother, my sister, my husband or wife, whoever it is, is dead, and I am lonely, without escaping from that loneliness into explanations, cunning beliefs, theories and so on? Can I look at the fact, whatever it is: the fact that I have no talent, that I ama dull stupid sort of person, that I am lonely, that my beliefs, my religious structures, my spiritual values are just so many defences? Can I look at these facts and not seek ways and means of escape? Is it possible?
I think it is possible only when one is not concerned with time, with tomorrow.. Our minds are lazy, and so we are always asking for time - time to get over it, time to improve. Time does not wipe away sorrow. We may forget a particular suffering, but sorrow is always there, deep down. And I think it is possible to wipe away sorrow in its entirety, not tomorrow, not in the course of time, but to see the reality in the present, and go beyond. After all, why should we suffer? Suffering is a disease. We go to a doctor and get rid of disease. Why should we bear sorrow of any kind? Please, I am not talking rhetorically - which would be too stupid. Why should we, each one of us, have any sorrow, and is it possible to get rid of it completely?
You see, that question implies: why should we be in conflict? Sorrow is conflict. We say that conflict is necessary, it is part of existence, in nature and in everything around us there is conflict, and to be without conflict is impossible. So we accept conflict as inevitable, within ourselves and outside in the world.
For me, conflict of any kind is not necessary. You may say, `That is a peculiar idea of your own and it has no validity. You are alone, unmarried, and it is easy for you; but we must be in conflict with our neighbours, over our jobs; everything we touch breeds conflict'.
You know, I think right education comes into this, and our education has not been right; we have been taught to think in terms of competition, in terms of comparison. I wonder if one understands, if one really sees directly, by comparing? Or does one see clearly, simply, only when comparison has ceased? Surely, one can only see clearly when the mind is no longer ambitious, trying to be or to become something - which does not mean that one must be satisfied with what one is. I think one can live without comparison, without comparing oneself with another, comparing what one is with what one should be. Facing `what is' all the time totally wipes away all comparative evaluations, and thereby, I think, one can eliminate sorrow. I think it is very important for the mind to be free from sorrow, because then life has a totally different meaning.
You see, another unfortunate thing that we do is to seek comfort: not merely physical comfort but psychological comfort. We want to take shelter in an idea, and when that idea fails we are in despair, which again breeds sorrow. So the question is, can the mind live, function, be without any shelter, without any refuge? Can one live from day to day, facing every fact as it arises and never seeking an escape; facing what is all the time, every minute of the day? Because then I think we will find that not only is there the ending of sorrow but also the mind becomes astonishingly simple and clear; it is able to perceive directly, without words, without the symbol.
I do not know if you have ever thought without words. Is there any thinking without verbalizing? Or is all thinking merely words, symbols, pictures, imagination? You see, all these things - words, symbols, ideas - are detrimental to clear seeing. I think that if one would go to the very end of sorrow to find out if it is possible to be free - not eventually, but living every day free from sorrow - , one has to go very deeply into oneself and be rid of all these explanations, words, ideas and beliefs, so that the mind is really cleared and made capable of seeing what is.
Question: When there is sorrow surely it is inevitable to want to do something about it?
Krishnamurti: Sir, as we were saying the other day, we want to live with pleasure, don't live? We do not seek to change pleasure; we want it to continue all day and all night, everlastingly. We don't want to alter it, we don't want even to touch it, to breathe upon it, lest it should go; we want to hold on to it, don't we? We cling to the thing that delights us, that gives us joy, pleasure, a sensation - things like going to church, going to `mass' and so on. These things give us a great deal of excitement, sensation, and we do not want to alter that feeling; it makes one feel near to the source of things, and we want that sensation, don't we? Why can we not live equally, with the same intensity, with sorrow, not wanting to do a thing about it? Have you ever tried it? Have you ever tried to live with a physical pain? Have you ever tried to live with noise?
Let us make it simple. When a dog is barking of a night and you want to go to sleep, and it keeps on barking, barking, what do you do? You resist it, do you not? You throw things at it, curse it, do whatever you can against it. But if instead you went with the noise, listened to the barking without any resistance, would there be annoyance? I don't know if you have ever tried this. You should try it sometime: not to resist. As you do not push away pleasure, can you not in the same way live with sorrow without resistance, without choice, never seeking to escape, never indulging in hope and thereby inviting despair - just live with it?
You know, to live with something means to love it. When you love someone, you want to live with that person, to be with him, don't you? In the same way one can live with sorrow, not sadistically, but seeing the whole picture of it, never trying to avoid it, but feeling the force, the intensity of it and the utter superficiality of it also - which means that you cannot do anything about it. After all, you do not want to do anything about that which gives you intense pleasure; you do not want to alter it, you want to let it flow. In the same way, to live with sorrow means, really, to love sorrow, and that requires a great deal of energy, a great deal of understanding; it means watching all the time to see if the mind is escaping from the fact. It is terribly easy to escape; one can take a drug, take a drink, turn on the radio, pick up a book, chatter and so on. But to live with something entirely, totally, whether it is pleasure or pain, requires a mind that is intensely alert. And when the mind is so alert, it creates its own action - or rather, the action comes from the fact, and the mind does not have to do anything about the fact.
Question: In the case of physical pain should we not go to a doctor?
Krishnamurti: Surely, if I have a have some kind of physical ailment, not being rather superficial when we ask such a question? We are talking not only of physical pain but also of psychological suffering, of all the mental tortures one goes through because of some idea, some belief, some person; and we are asking ourselves whether it is possible to be totally free from inward sorrow. Sir, the physical organism is a machine and it does go out of order, and you have to do the best you can about it and get on with it; but one can see to it that the mechanical organism does not interfere with the mind, does not pervert, twist it, and that it remains healthy in spite of physical disease.. And our question is, whether the mind, which is the source of all enlightenment as well as of all conflict, misery and sorrow, can be free from sorrow, uncontaminated by our physical diseases and all the rest of it.
After all, we are all growing older every day, but surely it is possible to keep the mind young, fresh, innocent, not weighed down by the tremendous burden of experience, knowledge and misery. I feel that a young mind, an innocent mind is absolutely necessary if one would discover what is true, if there is God, or whatever name you like to give it. An old mind, a mind that is tortured, full of suffering, can never find it. And to make sorrow into something necessary, something that will eventually lead you to heaven, is absurd. In Christianity suffering is extolled as the way to enlightenment. One must be free from suffering, from the darkness; then only the light can be. Question: Is it possible for me to be free from sorrow when I see so much sorrow around me?
Krishnamurti: What do you think about it? Go to the East, to India, to Asia and you will see a great deal of sorrow, physical sorrow, starvation, degradation, poverty. That is one type of sorrow. Come to the modern world, and everybody is busy decorating the outward prison, enormously rich, prosperous, but they also are very poor inwardly, very empty; there also is sorrow. What can you do about it? What can you do about my sorrow? Can you help me? Do think it out, sirs.
I have talked this morning, for about half an hour, about sorrow and how to be free of it. Do I help you, actually help you in the sense that you are rid of it, do not carry it with you for another day, being totally free from sorrow? Do I help you? I do not think so. Surely you have to do all the work yourself. I am only pointing out. The signpost is of no value, in the sense that it is no use sitting there reading the signpost everlastingly. You have to face loneliness and go to the very end of it, of all that is implied in it. Can I help the sorrow of the world? We not only know our own anguish and despair, but we also see it in the faces of others. You can point out the door through which to go to be free, but most people want to be carried through the door. They worship the one who, they think, will carry them, make him a saviour, a Master - which is all sheer nonsense.
Question: Of what use is a free person to another if he cannot help him?
Krishnamurti: How terribly utilitarian we are, are we not? We want to use everything for our own benefit or to benefit somebody else. Of what use is a flower on the roadside? Of what use is a cloud beyond the mountains? What is the use of love? Can you use love? Has charity any use? Has humility any user. To be without ambition in a world which is full of ambition - has that any use? To be kind, to be gentle, to be generous - these things are of no use to a man who is not generous. A free person is utterly useless to a man who is ridden with ambition. And as most of us are caught in ambition, in the desire for success, he is of very little significance. He may talk about freedom, but what we are concerned about is success. All that he can tell you is to come over to the other bank of the river and see the beauty of the sky, the loveliness of being simple; to love, to be kind, to be generous, to be without ambition. Very few people want to come to the other shore; therefore the man who is there is of very little use. Probably you will put him in a church and worship him. That is about all.
Question: To live with sorrow implies the prolongation of sorrow, and we shrink from the prolongation of sorrow.
Krishnamurti: I did not mean that, surely. To live with something, whether ugliness or beauty, one has to be very intense. To live with these mountains day after day - if you are not alive to them, if you don't love them, if you do not see the beauty of them all the time, their changing colours and shadows - would be to become like the peasants who have become dull to it all. Beauty corrupts in the same way as ugliness does, if you are not alive to it. To live with sorrow is to live with the mountains, because sorrow makes the mind dull, stupid. To live with sorrow implies watching endlessly, and that does not prolong sorrow The moment you see the whole thing, it is gone. When something is seen totally, it is finished. When we see the whole construction of sorrow, the anatomy, the inwardness of it, not theorize about it, but actually see the fact, the totality of it, then it drops away. The rapidity, the swiftness of perception depends on the and. But if the mind is not simple, direct, if it is cluttered up with beliefs, hopes, fears, despairs wanting to change the fact, the `what is', then you are prolonging sorrow.
Question: Our preconceptions are in the way and we have to tackle them, and that may take time.
Krishnamurti: Sir, to see that one is lonely and also to be aware that one wants to escape from it, are both instantaneous, are they not? The fact that I am lonely, and the fact that I want to escape, I can perceive immediately, can't I? I can also see instantly that any form of escape is an avoidance of the fact of loneliness, which I must understand. I cannot push it aside.
You see our difficulty is, I think, that we are so attached to the things to which we escape, they are so important to us, they have become so extraordinarily respectable. We feel that if we ceased to be respectable, God knows what would happen. Therefore our attachment to respectability becomes all-important, and not the fact that we want to understand loneliness, or any other thing, totally.
Question: If we don't have the intensity, what can we do about it?
Krishnamurti: I wonder if we want that intensity? To be intense implies destruction, does it not? It means shattering everything that we have considered so important in life. So perhaps fear prevents us from being intense.
You know, we all want to be terribly respectable, do we not?, the young as well as the old. Respectability means recognition by society; and society only recognizes that which is successful, important, the famous, and ignores the rest. So we worship success and respectability. And when you do not care whether society thinks you respectable or not, when you do not seek success, do not want to become somebody, then there is intensity - which means there is no fear, which means there is no conflict, no contradiction within; and therefore you have abundant energy to pursue the fact to the very end.
August 6, 1961
Saanen 6th Public Talk 6th August 1961
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