Saanen 10th Public Talk 2nd August 1964
This morning I would like to talk over - not merely to explain verbally, but also to understand deeply significance of religion. But before we can penetrate deeply into this question, we shall have to be very clear as to what is the religious mind, and what is the state of a mind that really inquires into the whole question of religion.
It seems to me very important to understand the difference between isolation and aloneness. Most of our daily activity is centred round ourselves; it is based on our particular point of view, on our particular experiences and idiosyncrasies. We think in terms of our family, of our job, of what we wish to achieve, and also in terms of our fears, hopes and despairs. All this is obviously self-centred and it brings about a state of self-isolation, as we can see in our daily life. We have our own secret desires, our hidden pursuits and ambitions, and we are never deeply related to anyone, either to our wives, our husbands, or our children. This self-isolation is likewise the result of our running away from our daily boredom from the frustrations and trivialities of our daily life. It is caused also by our escaping in various ways from the extraordinary sense of loneliness that comes over us when we suddenly feel unrelated to anything, when everything is in the distance and there is no communion, no relationship with anyone. I think most of us - if we are at all aware of the process of our own being - have felt this loneliness very deeply.
Because of this loneliness, out of this sense of isolation, we try to identify ourselves with something greater than the mind - it may be the State, or an ideal, or a concept of what God is. This identification with something great or immortal, something outside the field of our own thought, is generally called religion, and it leads to belief, dogma ritual, the separative pursuits of competing groups, each believing in different aspects of the same thing; so what we call religion brings about still further isolation.
Then one sees how the earth is divided into competing nations, each with its sovereign government and economic barriers. Though we are all human beings, we have built walls between ourselves and our neighbours through nationalism, through race, caste and class - which again breeds isolation, loneliness.
Now a mind that is caught in loneliness, in this state of isolation, can never possibly understand what religion is. It can believe, it can have certain theories, concepts, formulas, it can try to identify itself with that which it calls God; but religion, it seems to me, has nothing whatsoever to do with any belief, with any priest, with any church or so-called sacred book. The state of the religious mind can be understood only when we begin to understand what beauty is; and the understanding of beauty must be approached through total aloneness. Only when the mind is completely alone can it know what is beauty, and not in any other state.
Aloneness is obviously not isolation, and it is not uniqueness. To be unique is merely to be exceptional in some way, whereas to be completely alone demands extraordinary sensitivity, intelligence, understanding. To be completely alone implies that the mind is free of every kind of influence, and is therefore uncontaminated by society; and it must be alone to understand what is religion - which is to find out for oneself whether there is something immortal, beyond time.
As it is now, the mind is the result of many thousands of years of influence: biological, sociological, environmental, climatic, alimentary, and so on. Again, this is fairly obvious. You are influenced by the food you eat, by the newspapers you read, by your wife or husband, by your neighbour, by the politician, by the radio, the television, and a thousand other things. You are constantly being influenced by what is poured into the conscious as well as into the unconscious mind from many different directions. And is it not Possible to be so aware of these many influences, that one is not caught in any of them and remains totally uncontaminated by them? Otherwise the mind merely becomes an instrument of its environment. It may create an image of what it thinks is God, or the eternal truth, and believe in that, but it is still shaped by environmental demands, tensions, superstitions, pressures; and its belief is not the state of a religious mind at all.
As a Christian you were brought up in a church built by man over a period of two thousand years, with its priests, dogmas, rituals. In childhood you were baptized, and as you grew up you were told what to believe-you went through that whole process of conditioning, brainwashing. The pressure of this propagandist religion is obviously very strong, particularly because it is well organized and able to exert psychological influence through education, through the worship of images, through fear, arid to condition the mind in a thousand other ways. Throughout the East people are also heavily conditioned by their beliefs, their dogmas, their superstitions, and by a tradition which goes back ten thousand years or more.
Now, unless the mind has freedom, it cannot find out what is true - and to have freedom is to be free from influence. You have to be free from the influence of your nationality, and from the influence of your church, with its beliefs and dogmas; and you also have to be free of greed, envy, fear, sorrow, ambition, competition, anxiety. If the mind is not free from all these things, the various pressures from outside and within itself will create a contradictory, neurotic state, and such a mind cannot possibly discover what is true, or if there is something beyond time.
So one sees how necessary it is for the mind to be free from all influence. And is such a thing possible? If it is not possible, then there can be no discovery of what is the eternal, the unnameable, the supreme. To find out for oneself whether it is possible or not, one has to be aware of these many influences, not only here in this tent, but also in one's daily life. One has to observe how they are contaminating shaping, conditioning the mind. One obviously cannot be aware all the time of the many different influences that are pouring in on the mind; but one can see the importance - and I think this is the crux of the matter - of being free of all influence; and when once one understands the necessity of that, then the unconscious is aware of influence even though the conscious mind may often not be.
Am I making myself clear?
What I am trying to point out is this. There are extraordinarily subtle influences that are shaping your mind, and a mind that is shaped by influences, which are always within the field of time, cannot possibly discover the eternal, or if there is such a thing as the eternal. So the question then is: if the conscious mind cannot possibly be aware of all the many influences, what is it to do? If you put this question to yourself very seriously and earnestly so that it demands your complete attention, you will find that the unconscious part of you, which is not totally occupied when the upper layers of the mind are functioning, takes charge and watches all the influences that are coming in.
I think this is very important to understand; because if you merely resist or defend yourself against being influenced, that resistance, which is a reaction, creates a further conditioning of the mind. The understanding of the total process of influence must be effortless, it must have the quality of immediate perception. It is like this: if you really see for yourself the tremendous importance of not being influenced, then a certain part of your mind takes charge of the matter whenever you are consciously occupied with other things, and that part of the mind is very alert, active, watchful. So what is important is to see immediately the enormous significance of not being influenced by any circumstances or by any person whatsoever. That is the real point - not how to resist influence, or what to do in case you are influenced. Once you have grasped this central fact, then you will find there is a part of the mind that is always alert and watching, always ready to cleanse itself of every influence, however subtle. Out of this freedom from all influence comes aloneness, which is entirely different from isolation. And there must be aloneness, because beauty is outside the field of time, and only the mind that is completely alone can know what beauty is.
For most of us, beauty is a matter of proportion, shape, size, contour, colour. We see a building, a tree, a mountain, a river, and we say it is beautiful; but there is still the outsider, the experiencer who is looking at these things, and therefore what we call beauty is still within the field of time. But I feel that beauty is beyond time and that to know beauty there must be the ending of the experiencer. The experiencer is merely an accumulation of experience from which to judge, to evaluate, to think. When the mind looks at a picture, or listens to music, or sees the swift flowing of a river, it generally does so from that background of accumulated experience; it is looking from the past, from the field of time - and to me that is not to know beauty at all. To know beauty, which is to find out what is the eternal, is possible only when the mind is completely alone - and that has nothing whatsoever to do with what the priests say, with what the organized religions say. The mind must be totally uninfluenced, uncontaminated by society, by the psychological structure of greed, envy, anxiety, fear. It must be completely free of all that. Out of this freedom comes aloneness, and it is only in the state of aloneness that the mind can know that which is beyond the field of time.
Beauty and that which is eternal cannot be separated. You may paint you may write, you may observe nature, but if there is the activity of the self in any form - any self-centred movement of thought - then what you perceive ceases to be beauty, because it is still within the field of time; and if you don't understand beauty, you cannot possibly find out what is the eternal, because the two go together. To find out what is the eternal, the immortal, your mind must be free of time - time being tradition, the accumulated knowledge and experience of the past. It is not a question of what you believe or disbelieve - that is immature, utterly juvenile, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the matter. But the mind that is in earnest, that really wants to find out, will relinquish totally the self-centred activity of isolation, and will thereby come upon a state in which it is completely alone; and it is only in that state of complete aloneness that there can be the comprehension of beauty, of that which is eternal.
You know, words are dangerous things, because they are symbols, and symbols are not the real. They convey a significance, a concept, but the word is not the thing. So when I am talking about the eternal, you have to find out if you are merely being influenced by my words, or caught up in a belief - which would be too infantile.
Now, to find out if there is such a thing as the eternal, one has to understand what is time. Time is a most extraordinary thing - and I am not talking about chronological time, time by the watch, which is both obvious and necessary. I am talking about time as psychological continuity. And is it possible to live without that continuity? What gives continuity, surely, is thought. If one thinks about something constantly, it has a continuity. If one looks at a picture of one's wife every day, one gives it a continuity. And is it possible to live in this world without giving continuity to action, so that one comes to every action afresh? That is, can I die to each action throughout the day,so that the mind never accumulates and is therefore never contaminated by the past, but is always new, fresh, innocent? I say that such a thing is possible, that one can live in this way - but that does not mean it is real for you. You have to find out for yourself.
So one begins to see that the mind must be completely alone, but not isolated. In this state of complete aloneness there comes a sense of extraordinary beauty, of something not created by the mind. It has nothing to do with putting a few notes together, or using a few paints to create a picture; but because it is alone the mind is in beauty, and therefore it is completely sensitive; and being completely sensitive, it is intelligent. Its intelligence is not the intelligence of cunning or knowledge, nor is it the capacity to do something. The mind is intelligent in the sense that it is not being dominated, influenced, and is unafraid. But to be in that state, the mind must be able to renew itself every day, which is to die every day to the past, to everything it has known.
Now, as I said, the word, the symbol, is not the real. The word `tree' is not the tree, and so one has to be very alert not to be caught in words. When the mind is free of the word, the symbol, it becomes astonishingly sensitive, and then it is in a state of finding out.
After all, man has been seeking this thing for so long - from very ancient times until now. He wants to find something which is not man-made. Though organized religion has no meaning for any intelligent man, nevertheless the organized religions have always said that there is something beyond; and man has always sought that something, because he is everlastingly in sorrow, in misery, in confusion, in despair. Being always in a state of transiency, he wants to find something permanent, something that will last, endure, that will have a continuity, and therefore his seeking has always been within the field of time. But as one can observe, there is nothing permanent. Our relationships, our jobs - everything is impermanent. Because of our tremendous fear of this impermanence we are always seeking something permanent, which we call the immortal, the eternal, or what you will. But this search for the permanent, the immortal, the eternal is merely a reaction, and therefore it is not valid. It is only when the mind is free of this desire to be certain that it can begin to find out if there is such a thing as the eternal, something beyond space, beyond time, beyond the thinker and the thing which he is thinking about or seeking. To observe and understand all this requires total attention, and the pliable quality of discipline which comes out of that attention. In such attention there is no distraction, there is no strain, there is no movement in any particular direction; because every such movement, every motive, is the result of influence, either of the past or of the present. In that state of effortless attention there comes an extraordinary sense of freedom, and only then - being totally empty, quiet, still - is the mind capable of discovering that which is eternal.
Perhaps you wish to ask questions about what has been said this morning.
Questioner: How is one to be free from the desire to be certain?
Krishnamurti: The word `how' implies a method, does it not? If you are a builder and I ask you how to build a house, you can tell me what to do, because there is a method, a system, a way to set about it. But the following of a method or a system has already conditioned the mind; so just see the difficulty in the use of that word `how'.
Then we also have to understand desire. What is desire? I went into this the other day, and I hope those of you who were here on that day really caught the significance of what was said, and will not be bored by what is being said now. Because, you know, one can really listen to all these talks a thousand times, and each time see something new.
What is desire? As I said the other day, there is seeing or perception, then contact or touching, then sensation, and finally the arising of that which we call desire. Surely this is what takes place. Please follow it closely. There is the seeing, let us say, of a beautiful car. From that very act of seeing, even without touching the car, there is sensation, which creates the desire to drive it, to own it. We are not concerned with how to resist or be free of desire, because the man who has resisted and thinks he is free of desire is really paralysed, dead. What is important is to understand the whole process of desire-which is to know both its importance and its total unimportance. One has to find out, not how to end desire, but what it is that gives continuity to desire.
Now, what gives continuity to desire? It is thought, is it not? First there is the seeing of the car, then the sensation, which is followed by the desire; and if thought does not interfere and give continuity to the desire by saying, "I must have that car; how shall I get it?", then the desire comes to an end. Do you follow? I am not insisting that there should be freedom from desire - on the contrary. But you must understand the whole structure of desire; and then you will find there is no longer a continuity of desire, but something else altogether.
So what is important is not desire, ut the fact that we give it continuity. For instance, we give sexuality a continuity through thought, through images, through pictures, through sensation, through remembrance; we keep the memory going by thinking about it, and all this gives continuity to sexuality, to the importance of the senses. Not that the senses are not important: they are. But we give the pleasure of the senses a continuity which becomes overwhelmingly important in our life. So what matters is not freedom from desire, but to understand the structure of desire and how thought gives it continuity - and that is all. Then the mind is free, and you do not have to seek freedom from desire. The moment you seek freedom from desire, you are caught in conflict. Each time you see a car, a woman, a house, or whatever it may be that attracts you, thought steps in and gives desire a continuity, and then it all becomes an endless problem.
What is important is to live a life without effort, without a single problem; and you can live without a problem if you understand the nature of effort and see very clearly the whole structure of desire. Most of us have a thousand problems; and to be free of problems we must be able to end each problem immediately, as it arises. I think we have discussed that enough, and I will not go into it now. But it is absolutely necessary for the mind to have no problems at all, and so live a life without effort. Surely, such a mind is the only religious mind, because it has understood sorrow and the ending of sorrow; it is without fear, and is therefore a light unto itself.
August 2, 1964
Saanen 10th Public Talk 2nd August 1964
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.