Varanasi 6th Public Talk 12th January 1962
As there are only two more talks, today and Sunday evening, and as there are so many things to talk about, perhaps we should enquire into the problem of leisure. Leisure does breed with most of us discontent, and so we occupy ourselves with so many things to keep our minds busy. We try various activities, and if they are successful, profitable, gratifying, then we settle in those. The rest of our lives is spent in furthering that particular cause or that particular thing to which we are committed; and so our days and our thoughts and our feelings are taken up with that. So there is very little leisure. I think leisure is very important - that period when you have nothing to do, that time when there is no thought, no occupation, when your mind is not asleep, but very alert.
Most of us have very little time for leisure because our days are taken up with gaining and losing, going to the office, attending meetings or going to the club or some form of amusement; or you read a great deal and if you are so-called-religiously inclined, you turn to sacred books - I do not know why those books should be more sacred than any other books, why they are called sacred books. So we spend our days and our whole life being thus occupied; no part of our mind is at leisure, is quiet; no part of our being comprehensively understands the work, the activity, the things that one has to do. And yet there is within the totality of it a certain repose, a certain quietness, a quality which is untouched, a quality which is constantly keeping itself clean like the river because its very activity, its very movement keeps it clean, untouched, uncorrupted.
Please, if I may point out, this is not an intellectual, verbal, ideational talk. We are here, as I take it, really to investigate into ourselves and thus to open the door and look through into ourselves and discover what is true and what is false. And perhaps in merely listening to the words, you might be able for yourself to see clearly, without distortion the actual process of the mind, the ways of one's own thinking and the habits of one's own feelings.
Most of us are discontented. For most of us, discontent is a tortuous thing. We try this and that, and we always want to commit ourselves to a course of action. And the action, invariably, if one is at all intellectually sensitive, is turned in the direction either of social work - to improve society - or, of so-called religion, apart from life. One finds something in this process of wandering in action, some activity that is completely satisfactory, and there one remains solidified in that activity. But life will not leave us alone. There is always somebody saying something that is not quite right. So, you again begin to be discontented and keep going till you find; you are always avoiding leisure, the time when there is no occupation at all. When the mind is really very quiet, not harassed, not all the time occupied with problems, then perhaps out of that quietness some other quality can come into being.
I would like, if I may, this evening to enquire into that quality of mind which has leisure and has not committed itself to anything, which can see, act and yet be uncontaminated. I would like, if I may, to go into that - but not how to acquire it. Let us be very clear from the beginning that such a mind is not come to by any method, by any system, by any work, by any sacrifice, through any virtue. That is the beauty of such a mind. But to understand such a mind really, for such a mind to come into being, we must enquire into the process of thought, what is thinking; not that it begets sorrow, not that it is complex, not that it creates problems - which it does.
I think it is necessary to understand the whole mechanism of thought. Unless we understand it, there is inevitably unreasoning, unbalanced thinking which is not healthy thinking at all. And one needs to have clear reason, logic, precision in thought. One needs to have a great deal of understanding of the whole process of the mechanism of thought. Because, a mind, a brain, which is not capable of really, dispassionately, objectively looking, observing, feeling, sensing, with great balance, with sanity - such a brain obviously cannot go very far. So, we must find out what is thinking, and also, in the process of that enquiry, find out the contradiction that exists between the thinker and the thought. As long as there is that contradiction, there must be effort, and therefore conflict.
So, we have to understand the whole process of thinking. You know we have an extraordinary history, a story which is the past, an immense richness collected not only by the individual mind but also by the collective. I question if there is an individual mind. Probably there is no individual mind; till the mind is freed, it is only a collective mind. But the mind is the result of time; the brain with all its extraordinary capacities is the result of time, of many thousand yesterdays. Biologically, I believe the rear part of the brain is the result of all the animal instincts which are still retained, and the forepart of the brain is still to be developed. But, for us, the past is the background from which we think, the past is the experience, the knowledge, the innumerable incidents and influences which have been stored up. The culture, the civilization in which we have been brought up - all that is the past. And from that past, we think; that is the background; and that gives us the tone, the quality of thought. Every question, very challenge is answered and responded to from the past.
Thought is really, if one goes into it, if one observes it, the response of memory; and without memory there is no thought, no thinking. Whatever we are asked, whatever the challenge, whatever the response to that challenge - all that is still the recording, the response of the past, of the memory, of all the experiences that one has gathered. And that past has always a centre from which we think; and that centre is more emphasized in our life, has more importance; that centre becomes profitable, that centre assures security. From that centre we think, we act. That centre is more or less static; though its challenge takes a different form, a different shape, though things are added to it and taken away from it, it is still there. That centre has become important for each one of us. That centre might be the family; that centre gives me comfort, gives me pleasure; that is the thing round which I have gathered so many things in order to protect myself. So, there is this centre which is created by thought, thought being the mechanism of the past. Until we understand thought and the thinker, there must be duality, there must be conflict; and all conflict wastes energy, deteriorates the quality of the mind.
So, a man who would really understand this whole process of gathering energy, must obviously comprehend totally this division between the thinker and the thought, and the conflict that exists between these two. We have a centre; and that centre is created by thought, that centre is the background. That background is very extensive and historical, and has also plenty of mythology and moral values of society. However extensive that background is, there is always a centre in it, the `me', which is more important than history. That `me', that self, is created by thought, because if there is no thinking there will be no `me'. The `me' is not created by some supernatural entity, the `me' is created by everyday incident, by every accident, by every experience, by the innumerable assertions and denials and pursuits.
If I may suggest, listen to what is being said, do not take notes; taking notes is not important at all. It is like looking at the sunset and at the same time talking - you are paying attention neither to the sunset nor to what you are saying. If I may request you, do apply your mind to what is being said, and discover for yourself, directly experience what is being said, rather than vicariously, verbally, accept or deny.
Is it possible to remove this conflict between the censor and the thing that is censored? That is really a very important question if you ask yourself, because that removes all conflict, all contradiction. A mind in contradiction, in conflict, is a wasting mind, is a deteriorating mind; every problem which is given time, deteriorates the mind unless the problem is solved immediately, instantly. And the problem which we are talking about is very important, because that is the centre from which all problems arise.
Is it possible to have no centre at all. Do not translate this into your own language, into what you have read in the Gita or some other book; forget all that, and look at the issue. Do not interpret it in your own peculiar language - then you lose the vitality of perception.
Is it possible to think, to feel, to act, to do everything that we do, without the centre? The things that we do, and the misery, the chaos, the confusion, the sorrow, the extraordinary despair that we have - will they exist if there is no centre, if there is no entity that is committing itself and acting from a thing that has become merely a bundle of memory and which has assumed such importance? Surely, there is only thinking, and not a centre which thinks. But thought has created the centre for several reasons. One reason is that thought is insecure, thought is uncertain, thought can be changed, thought has no security, thought has no resting place, thought can be changed from day to day; but man is always seeking a place of security where he will not be disturbed under any circumstances; and so gradually the centre becomes psychologically very important, and in that centre there is security.
Is there such a thing as security in anything - in one's family, in one's job, in what one thinks, in what one feels? Is there security, is there any kind of permanency? And yet thought seeks permanency in everything, and the search for permanency is the breeding ground of the centre. Just listen to it, you cannot do anything. Do not say, `How am I to get rid of the centre?' It is too immature a question, there is no meaning; but if you observe, just see it, see the effects, then perhaps a new way opens out.
So thought is the response of memory, experience, the past; that is our mind, that is our consciousness; and in that consciousness, there is pain, joy, suffering, the thing; that one wants to do, to improve, to change - all starting from there. And not being satisfied with anything, unless one is utterly immature one finds some stupid satisfaction, gratification, and there settles down for the rest of one's life; or being discontented, being dissatisfied, one wants to commit oneself to a particular course of action. As one begins to act in that field, one sees that it is not good; so, he goes to one thing after another, always pursuing.
For us, idea becomes extremely important, not action, and action is merely an approximation to the idea. Is it possible to act without idea and therefore no approximation at all at any time? This means really that one has to go into the question why idea has taken the place of action. People talk about action: what is the right thing to do? The right thing to do is not an idea divorced from action, because then action becomes an approximation to the idea and still the idea is important but not action. So, how are you to act so completely, so totally, that there is no approximation, that you are living all the time completely? Such a person has no need of an idea, of concepts, of formulas, of methods. Then there is no time but only action; time arises only when there is approximation between action and idea.
This may sound extravagant and absurd. But, if you have gone into the question of thought, into the question of idea, and as you cannot live without action, you ask, `Is it possible to live without idea, without word, but only with action?' It is only when the mechanism of thought is understood, that there is action which is not an approximation. Surely, if you think about this yourself, you will see what an extraordinary thing it is.
We have separated action, knowledge, love, and kept them all apart; each has its own drive, its own intensity, its own pull, and each is in contradiction with the other; that is our daily existence, our lives. To see the significance of these separated activities which are really ideational and not factual, and to discover for oneself - not to be told; not that one reads it in a book, but actually discovers for oneself - the state of action without idea, to do something totally - that can only happen when you have love, affection. Thought creates all the divisions that exist in life - godly love, human love and all the rest of it. Is not the quality of the mind that has complete leisure, that has come into being through understanding, through observing, quietness, a sense of silence? For me, this whole process of investigation into oneself is meditation. Meditation is not the repetition of words and formulas, mesmerizing oneself into all kinds of fanciful states. If you take opium, a tranquillizer, it will give you marvellous visions, but that is not meditation.
Meditation is actually this process of investigation into oneself. If you go into it deeply yourself, you are bound to come across all this, when it is possible to think without the centre, to see without the centre, to act so completely without idea and approximation, to love without the centre and therefore without thought and feeling. And, when you have gone through all that, you find out for yourself a mind that is completely free and has no borders, no frontiers - a mind that is free, which has no fear and which does not come about through discipline. And if one has gone that far, one begins to see - or rather, the mind itself begins to observe the thing itself which unfolds thought - that the quality of time, the quality that is yesterday, today and tomorrow, has completely changed, and therefore action is not in terms of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Such action has no motive - all motive has its root in the past, and any action born out of that motive is still an approximation.
So, meditation is the total awareness of every movement of thought and never denying thought - which means letting every thought flower in freedom; and it is only in freedom that every thought can flower and come to an end. So out of this labour - if it can be called labour; which is really out of this observation - the mind has understood all this. Such a mind is a quiet mind, such a mind knows what it is really to be quiet, to be really still. And in that stillness, there are various other forms of movement which can only be verbal to people who have not even thought about this.
Question: After a day's hard work, one's mind gets tired. What is one to do?
Krishnamurti: The question is: after a day's work with so many occupations, one finds the little time that one has is occupied; the mind is weary; what is one to do?
You know, our whole social structure is all wrong; our education is absurd; our so-called education is merely repetition, memorizing, mugging up. How can a mind which has been struggling all day as a scientist, as a specialist, as this or that, which is so occupied for thirteen hours in some thing or other - how can it have a leisure which is fruitful? It cannot. How can you, after spending forty or fifty years as a scientist or a bureaucrat or a doctor or what you are - not that they are not necessary - have ten years when your mind is not conditioned, not incapable? So, the question is really: is it possible to go to the office, to be an engineer, to be an expert in fertilizers, to be a good educator, and yet, all day, every minute, keep the mind astonishingly sharp, sensitive, alive? That is really the issue, not how to have quietness at the end of the day. You are committed to engineering, to some specialization; you cannot help it; society demands it, and you have to go to work. Is it possible as you are working never to get caught in the wheels of the monstrous thing called society? I cannot answer for you. I say it is possible, not theoretically but actually. It is possible only when there is no centre; that is why I was talking about it. Think of a doctor who is a nose and throat specialist, who has practised for fifty years. What is his heaven? His heaven is nose and throat obviously. But is it possible to be a good first class doctor, and yet live, function, watch, be aware of the whole thing, of the whole process of thought? Surely, it is possible; but that requires extraordinary energy. And that energy is wasted in conflict, in effort; that energy is wasted when you are vain, ambitious, envious.
We think of energy in terms of doing something, in terms of the so-called religious idea that you must have tremendous energy to reach God, and therefore you must be a bachelor, you must do this and do that - you know all the tricks that the religious people play upon themselves, and so end up half starved, empty, dull. God does not want dull people - the people who are insensitive. You can only go to God with complete aliveness, every part of you alive, vibrant; but you see, the difficulty is to live without falling into a groove, falling into habits of thought, of ideas, of action. If you apply your mind, you will find you can live in this ugly world - I am using the word `ugly' in the dictionary sense, without any emotional content behind that word - work and act, and at the same time keep the brain alert, like the river that purifies itself all the time.
Question: What is the kind of conflict you are referring to, that degenerates the mind?
Krishnamurti: The gentleman wants to know what kind of conflict degenerates the mind.
Does not every conflict dull the mind - not one series of conflicts, not one specific conflict. Does not every conflict, of any kind at any depth, weaken the mind, deteriorate the mind, make the mind insensitive? If I and my wife. quarrel all day, will that not dull, weaken, the mind?
Question: Does not conflict give us energy?
Krishnamurti: The gentleman says that it is through conflict that we derive energy.
Any machine which functions in friction soon loses its speed, it wears itself out - does it not? Mechanically, it may not be possible to find a machine without friction. Anything that is being constantly used, in friction, must wear itself out; and you say that, from that usage, it derives energy; is that so? Do you derive energy through friction? You know how to resist. And resistance does give some sort of energy, but it is a very limited, narrow, petty energy. It is a very difficult thing to see, or to understand, that every conflict - the wear and tear - between nations, between people, between two ideas, does make the mind dull? There is the theory of thesis and antithesis: there is a thesis, and the opposite of it, the antithesis, breeds friction; and out of that friction you have synthesis. First the idea, then the resistance to that idea, which will produce new ideas; and so this process of something, and the opposite of it. We all know this. I am angry, and the opposite is `not to be angry; and the synthesis of these two will be a state which will be neither anger nor non-anger but something quite different. Do you create anything, do you do anything, out of friction? We do, that is our daily existence. Everything we do is out of resistance or out of friction. I am saying: every form of friction, every form of conflict, dulls the mind. For you that is a new idea, and you say that you do not see in that way. Your first response is to resist it, because you are used to the old system, or to the new system - thesis, antithesis and synthesis - and so you resist. What happens out of that resistance?
Krishnamurti: When you resist, is there a movement? You are moving behind your own wall, and I am moving behind my wall, if I have one. We are trying to understand, to find out how to live in this world without conflict. When the politician talks about peace, what does he mean? And what do we mean when we talk about peace? It is the cessation of conflict, obviously.
Question: Is the quietness of the mind the same as inertia?
Krishnamurti: The word `inertia' implies as far as I understand it - I am not talking in terms of the scientist - , the idea of inertia, which is laziness, a sense of non-movability, a thing that is completely inert.
Question: The scientist says that the law of inertia is that a thing at rest continues to be at rest and a thing in motion continues to move in a straight line, unless acted upon by an external force.
Krishnamurti: That is precisely the thing which moves straight, if there is no impediment, if there is no conflict; which purifies itself; which keeps on moving always in a straight direction; and which therefore understands every impact, understands every influence, every experience which distorts this movement - that is the quality of the mind which I am talking about.
Question: Is it possible to move the centre of our action?
Krishnamurti: The gentleman asks is it possible, by intensifying the centre and expanding the centre, to be free of conflict? The centre implies, does it not? just a periphery. That periphery may be very wide or very small; but a centre implies always a border, always a limitation, however extensive the periphery is. When I am ambitious, when you are ambitious, when one is envious, it is the centre trying to expand, is it not? And that expansion creates conflict. Is it possible to live without envy?
Question: When I am aware of a thought, that thought ceases. Yet, there is the consciousness of the centre.
Krishnamurti: The gentleman says: when one is aware of one's own thought, At that moment of awareness, thought stops; but yet there is a consciousness of the centre. A certain thought arises - of fear, of ambition, or of envy. When you are aware, when you become conscious of that thought, for the moment it stops; and later on again it comes back, because of the very simple reason that that particular thought born out of ambition has not been completely investigated, gone into thoroughly, understood. And you cannot go into it thoroughly because you condemn it or you justify it, because you say, `I cannot live in this world without ambition, therefore I must be ambitious'. You can only understand a thought completely when there is no condemnation or justification - which means that the thought must flower in freedom completely, and then end. But if the thought does not end, it is because you have condemned it or you have justified it - which is from the centre, from the background. The gentleman says that thought can be encouraged, justified or condemned only when it is moving, living, when it is acting; but, when you observe it, it stops, and therefore it cannot be examined. You can examine thought only when it is alive, moving; but by condemning, encouraging, justifying, we stop thought, and so that thought recurs. So, we have to find out why we condemn, we have to investigate thought - the whole process of resistance and so on.
The gentleman says that when you observe, there is the observer and the observed, the seer and the thing seen; and in that there is duality and therefore conflict and all the rest of it. Is it possible to see something without this? Is it possible to see something without the word, the word being thought? Is it possible to look at anything - the flower, my neighbour, my wife, my child, my boss, - without thought, without the word? Have you tried it? Try it sometime, and you will find out for yourself that you can look without the word - which does not mean that you have forgotten there is the past, which does not mean that you have obliterated all memory. It is like looking at a flower botanically and non-botanically. Question: Does not the conflict help to clarify our minds?
Krishnamurti: The gentleman asks: are we not clarifying our minds in this sort of conflict?
Is there conflict in investigation? There is conflict only when you resist or accept or approximate. I am not a propagandist. I say, `Just watch your mind; do not try to change, to add or subtract, but just watch it'. If you were to accept what I am saying, or if you were to resist when you have your own ideas, that would be a conflict. I say, `Do not accept what I say, do not reject what I say, but listen to what I have to say'. You are a Hindu, a Brahmin, a Christian, whatever you are, specialized in something; and you have your background. I say that your background - not my background, not what I say, but your background - is preventing you from seeing things as they are.
Take a very complex thing. There is starvation in this world about which you all know. There are the scientific means to prevent that. Science is capable of preventing starvation, feeding people, clothing them, housing them, and making the world an extraordinary place to live in. It is possible; but it is not made possible by the politicians, by the divisions, by the nationalities, by sovereign Governments, by this and by that. Those are the reasons. But nobody will remove their frontiers. You want to remain a Hindu and I want to remain a Mussulman; and therefore we prevent feeding the people. Now you hear that. And you, being a Hindu, say, `How can I give up my religion? I will tolerate the Mussulman, but I cannot give up my religion'. And the Mussulman says, `I will tolerate you, but I cannot give up my religion'. But can't you and I give up our nationalities in order to feed the people? I say, `Look at your own background, do not open your mind to me. Look at yourself, look at the way your mind is working; look at your own envies, your own ambition'. And I am just pointing out how to look at it.
The gentleman says, `When I listen to you, I am receiving; and in that reception, there is a conflict going on. At that time I observe my own mind in relation to what you are saying, and thereby increase the conflict which will alter, which will bring about a heightened sensitivity'. That is what I am trying to answer. You are obviously listening and therefore receiving; but is that reception something foreign to you, or is it that, in what the speaker is saying, you really look at yourself, at your own mind, and discover what is happening to that mind? Do not accept, in that reception, what he is saying, but look at your own mind; in that, is there a conflict? There is conflict only when the reception insists that you look this way. But the speaker does not say this, he says to you to look at your own mind, to watch your mind; in this, where is the conflict?
The gentleman says it is only a verbal deadlock; but I am not at all sure it is. I do not think we have understood each other. You said: my philosophy is conditioned, and your philosophy is conditioned; and when the two meet together, there must be a friction; and through that friction I put aside my conditioning, and that helps you to liberate your conditioning; and that liberation is a process of conflict. First of all, mine is not a philosophy, it is not a system, not a method; and you can wipe that out completely. I really mean it. I do not object to your calling it anything but only as long as it is not a system to get somewhere. The gentleman says, `I hear you, you have something to say; and if you have something to say, I receive it, and in that very process of receiving I am changing; in the process of listening to you, whatever things I held previously are loosening up; and this process of loosening up is conflict, and it comes about through the conflict between the two'.
Why is there a friction, whatever you may mean by that word? Why should there be a conflict when you see something different? Why should my seeing, if I see something new, bring about a resistance or a friction between what is being seen and what is seeing? Why should there be a conflict? I will tell you why conflict arises. Because, I am conditioned one way; and when something new is put to me, I reject it, I resist it; or I try to see how it can approximate to my conditioning, how my conditioning prevents me from seeing totally what he is trying to say; or, when I listen to him, I do not listen with all my being but with my conditioned being to assimilate what is being said. How can I assimilate what is being said, if I am incapable of digesting? I cannot digest it; I can digest it when I have no conditioning, when I can absorb it completely. I say that, in the process of absorption, the digestion becomes indigestion when there is a conditioning. I am a Communist, a Catholic, or what you will. You say something new to me. I listen to you; I either resist you, or I say that there is something new and that I must assimilate it. I take it in completely, because I have understood it completely. Or I cannot take it in completely because of my background, my habits, my fears which prevent me from assimilating. The conflict arises when I try to assimilate the new and yet not break down my conditioning. The speaker says, `Do not bother to accept the new, there is nothing new; but break down your conditioning; and in the breaking down of your conditioning, you will find yourself anew'.
All conflict, whether it is between ideas and ideals, between husband and wife, between society and the individual - all conflict at all level dulls, stupefies, makes the mind insensitive. And I say, `Do not accept what I say, do not create a conflict between what I say and yourself; and if you do, then you will lose, you will become more dull, you will create problems. Watch yourself, be aware of yourself; and to be aware of yourself, do not let the word become important and all the rest of it'. The speaker is not introducing something new, he is not saying, ` This is the way to look; on the contrary, he negates everything and says that in the process of negation there is no resistance and therefore you can look. But if you say, `No, I cannot break down my background, the knowledge which I have, the things which I have experienced', then there arises friction. You are conditioned and I am conditioned - let us assume we are. I try to impose on you and you resist; that inevitably creates a conflict. I try to push into you and I say, `You must break down and accept my ideas, look at the way I look; and that creates conflict. Or I say to you, `I have nothing to say at all, I have no ideas, I do not deal with ideas, because for me an idea is non-existent, it is a contradiction. So look, watch yourself, watch your own mind, watch the way you think, why you think as a Hindu, why you think as a Mussulman, why you feel this way and that way' - which is all a negative form of asking you to look, not a positive way of saying to you to look this way.
So, through negation you uncondition yourself, not through resistance and therefore not through conflict. The gentleman says positively, `If I love you, there can be no conflict'. But he has added the word `if', which is conditional thinking; and conditional thinking is an idea. You say that if you love, there is no conflict. Then, sir, love. But is that your state? Is that actually your state, not an ideational state? An ideational state is conditional state - which means you do not love. When you say that when you really love there is no conflict, are you saying this from the fact, or are you saying it from an idea? Is it not a proposition? The man who is hungry says, 'Give me food', he does not want ideas about food, he has no concept of food, he wants the actual material which will satisfy his hunger. That man is entirely different from the man who thinks he is hungry, I will do this and this and this.'
January 12, 1962
Varanasi 6th Public Talk 12th January 1962
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.