Madras 1st Public Talk 16th December 1964
After all, in a gathering of this kind, the act of imparting, the act of listening and the act of understanding are of great importance. Because this movement of imparting, listening and understanding is both a part of life - everyday life - and a movement, constant, continuous and neverending. And, especially when we are going into problems that require a great deal of understanding, not merely verbally, there has also to be that communion which comes when one goes beyond the words - not sentimentally, not emotionally - and understands the whole significance of the words, their nature and their meaning. Then, perhaps, a gathering of this kind will have some special meaning and significance.
What we are undertaking to do together is to share, share actively: that is, there is the act on the part of the speaker, not only to impart but also to share what is being said - not as mere information but rather as an experimental process in which both the speaker and the listener share actively in what is being said. Most of us, unfortunately, do not share actively. We listen, agreeing or disagreeing verbally, or merely rejecting ideas; and, therefore, there is hardly any sharing. Sharing comes only when both the speaker and the listener are actively participating in that which is being said. Otherwise it will be another of those innumerable talks and discourses that one, unfortunately, goes to; and it will be a waste of time on your part and on the part of the speaker if there is not an active sharing in what is being said.
Sharing implies, does it not?, that you listen and do not jump to any conclusion. First, there must be the act of listening. And that act of listening depends on the listener, on the "you" who are listening, hearing. If you accept because it coincides with what you believe, or reject it because it does not fit in with what you believe, then sharing ceases. And what is, it seems to me, important, not only during this hour but throughout life, is that one must have this capacity, this art of listening and therefore sharing - sharing, listening, with everything, to everything.
Life is a constant movement in relationship. And if one is at all alert, awake to all the events that are going on in the world, this movement which is life must be understood, not at any particular level - scientific, biological or traditional; or at the level of acquiring knowledge - but at the total level. Otherwise, one cannot share.
You know that word "sharing" has an extraordinary significance. We may share money, clothes. If we have a little food, we may give it, share it with another; but beyond that we hardly share anything with another. Sharing implies not only a verbal communication - which is the understanding of the significance of words and their nature - but also communion. And to commune is one of the most difficult things in life. Perhaps we are fairly good at communicating something which we have or which we want or which we hope to have; but to commune with one another is a most difficult thing.
Because to commune implies, does it not?, that both the person who is speaking and the one who is listening, must have an intensity, a fury, and that there must be at the same level, at the same time, a state of mind that is neither accepting nor rejecting but actively listening. Then only is there a possibility of communion, of being in communion with something. To be in communion with nature is comparatively easy. And you can be in communion with something when there is no barrier - verbal, intellectual - between you, the observer, and the thing that is observed. But there is a state, perhaps, of affection, a state of intensity, so that both meet at the same level, at the same time, with the same intensity. Otherwise communication is not possible - especially communion which is actually the sharing. And this act of communion is really quite remarkable, because it is that communion, that state of intensity, that really transforms one's whole state of mind.
After all, love - if I may use that word without giving to it any particular significance now - is only possible when there is the act of sharing. And that is only possible, again, when there is this peculiar quality of intensity, non-verbal communication, at the same level and at the same time. Otherwise it is not love; otherwise it becomes mere emotionalism and sentimentalism, which is absolutely worthless.
Our everyday life - not the supreme moment of a second, but everyday life - is this act of imparting, listening and understanding. And for most of us, listening is one of the most difficult things to do; it is a great art, far greater than any other art. We hardly ever listen, because most of us are so occupied with our own problems, with our own ideas, opinions - the everlasting chattering of one's own inadequacies, fancies, myths and ambitions. One hardly ever listens, not only to what another says but to the birds, to the sunset, to the reflection on the water. One hardly ever sees or listens. And if one knows how to listen - which demands an astonishing energy - then in that act of listening there is complete communion; the words, the significance of words and the construction of words have very little meaning. So, you and the speaker have completely to share in the truth or in the falseness of what is being said. For most of us, it is a very difficult act to listen; but it is only in listening that one learns.
Learning is not accumulating knowledge. The accumulation of knowledge any electronic brain can do. So knowledge is not of very great importance; it has a certain use, but not the astonishing importance that human beings give to it. But the act of learning needs a very swift mind. The act of listening demands no interpretation. You listen to that bird and you say immediately, "It is a crow, or "I wish it would be quiet, I cannot pay attention to what is being said!" So the act of listening has gone. Whereas you can listen to that bird and also listen to the speaker, when there is no interpretation, when there is no translation of what is being said. Therefore, you are listening - not accepting, which is a terrible thing.
And you cannot listen, if what you hear is translated in terms of your own knowledge. You know certain things by your own experience. You have gathered your own knowledge from books, from tradition, from the various impacts of life; and that remains part of your consciousness, part of your being. And when you hear something, or when you listen, then you translate what is being said through what you already know. Therefore you are not listening and therefore there is no act of learning.
So, a mind that interprets, translates, has a tradition, or has that which it has accumulated as knowledge - such a mind is incapable of learning; it functions in a groove. A mind that functions in a groove is not a mind that is acting, that is capable of learning, that has energy, vitality. And as we are going to talk about many things during these seven talks here, what is of primary importance is this act of learning. Because it is only the mind that is learning that is fresh; and a fresh mind can see things anew, clearly, reject that which is false, and pursue that which is true.
The truth and the false do not depend on your opinion, or on what you already know, or on your experience. Because your experience is merely the continuation of the past conditioning, modified by the present through various forms of training. Therefore, your experience is not the factor that says this is true or this is false. Nor your knowledge, because the true and the false are constantly changing, moving, active, dynamic, never static. And if you come to it with your opinions, your judgments, your experience, your tradition, then you will not be able to find out for yourself what is true, especially if you come to it with a mind that is ridden with authority, with a mind that obeys. Then such a mind is not only a juvenile mind, but it is incapable of exploring, of discovering. And truth has to be discovered every minute, and that is the beauty of it. The beauty of it is the energy of it. Therefore, one must have an extraordinarily energetic mind - not the mind that is argumentative, that believes, that has opinions, that functions in a narrow, limited groove; such a mind has no energy. It is only the fresh mind that can enquire, that can explore, ask, demand, search out.
And we are going to search out, explore together, this question of how to bring about, in the human mind, a complete revolution. Because such a revolution is necessary for various obvious reasons. First, man has lived for two million years. He is still caught in sorrow, in fear, in despair. He is still fearful, anxious, burdened with great agony. He is still carrying on, modified, but as he was two million years ago. The great part of the brain is still animalistic, which expresses itself in greed, ambition, envy, jealousy, violence and all the rest of it. One has lived as a human being in this mess, in this contradiction, and the human mind has not been able to transform itself to bring about a complete mutation within itself. And we know it can change through pressure, through circumstances, through a great many challenges, through impacts, through culture, through various tensions; it can change, modify itself - which is going on all the time, whether we like it or not. The food, the clothes, the climate, the newspapers, the magazines, the family, everything is urging, compelling, forcing us to conform to a certain pattern. And whether we like it or not, we conform, because it is much safer to conform. And in that conformity, there is a certain change. That change is merely what has been modified.
We are not talking about change. We are talking about something entirely different. We are talking about a complete mutation, a total revolution, because that is absolutely necessary if one is at all serious.
I mean by a "serious person" not one who is committed to a particular pattern of belief and functions according to that belief - he is generally thought to be marvellous and serious; I do not call him serious at all! Nor a person who is committed to a particular course of action and who does not deviate from it - one calls him a very serious person; but I do not call him serious. Nor a man who lives according to a particular principle, which is an idea, a belief, and follows it rigidly - you consider him to be a serious man, but I do not.
So, we mean something entirely different by that word "serious". Again, unless we have the same meaning for the same word, communication becomes very difficult. I mean by "serious mind" a mind that perceives what is true - not according to any particular pattern or belief or authority - and pursues that truth endlessly. The conditions of the world, this glorification of tribalism which is called nationalism, the various forms of divisions in religion - Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and all the rest of it - the political parties - communists, socialists, capitalists and so on - and the economic, scientific, technological divisions and the various fragmentations of life - all these demand that we approach these problems entirely differently. And to approach these problems entirely differently, one needs to have a mind that has undergone complete mutation; otherwise we will perpetuate our problems. I think this must be seen clearly - not verbally, not theoretically, not tolerantly - but understood with fire, with enthusiasm, with vitality, with energy, with fury. Because, intellectually - that is, verbally - we can say, "We need such a change, we need such a mutation, which is fairly obvious", and remain at that level. One can intellectually accept that a mutation is necessary and let it go, and remain as static as one is! Or, one waits for circumstances, time, to bring about this mutation! And that is what most people do! By some miracle, by some chance, by some incident, accident, some kind of tremendous revolution takes place in one's being! Again, such waiting does not bring about a revolution.
The word "revolution" is used by different people in different ways. The communists use that word in one way - economic, social, dictatorial; a revolution according to an idea, according to a plan. Or, rather one is afraid of that word revolution! If you are well-established, if you have a bank account, if you have a good job, a house, a position, you want things to go on as they are, you are afraid of that word. Or, you abhor that word, because you believe in evolution, which is gradualness. But we are using that word entirely differently. We are using that word, not in the sense of revolution meaning time, according to a pattern, according to some concept, but in the sense that observing the state of the world and of oneself in the world as part of the world, and seeing totally - not at different, fragmentary levels, but totally - how imperative it is that a human mind undergo a tremendous revolution, so that, out of that revolution, there is clarity - not confusion, not chaos: chaos being ordered, put together, according to our conditioning.
So, we are going to ask ourselves during these seven meetings, whether it is at all possible for the human mind which is so bound, which is the result of two million years of time and space and distance, which is the result of so many pressures - whether it is possible for such a mind to bring about a mutation out of time and therefore on the instant. And to enquire into this question one must demand freedom, because you cannot enquire if you are tethered. You must have a free mind, a mind that is not afraid, a mind that has no belief, a mind that does not project its own conditioning, its own hopes, its own longings.
So, it is only through enquiry that one is going to find out, and to enquire one must have freedom. Most of us have lost - probably we never had - this energy to enquire. We would rather accept, we would rather go along the old path; but we do not know how to enquire. The scientist, in his laboratory enquiries. He is searching, looking, asking, questioning, doubting; but, outside the laboratory, he is just like anybody else, he has stopped enquiring! And to enquire into oneself requires not only freedom but an astonishing sense of perception, of seeing.
You know, it is comparatively easy to go to the moon and beyond - they have proved. But it is astonishingly difficult to go within. And to go within endlessly, the first thing is freedom - freedom not from something, but the act of freedom which is independent of motive and revolt. When freedom becomes a revolt it is merely a reaction to the condition it exists in; it is revolting from something and therefore it is not free. I can revolt against the present society. The present society may be stupid, corrupt, inept, ineffective; I can revolt; but that revolt is merely a reaction - as communism is a reaction against capitalism. So this revolt merely puts me in a position modified along the same pattern. So we are not talking of revolt which is a reaction: but we are talking of freedom which is not from something.
I do not know if you have ever felt this nature of freedom - not calculated, not induced - when you suddenly feel that you have no burden, no problem, and your mind is tremendously alive and your whole body - your heart and your nerves, everything - is intense, vibrating, strong. Such freedom is necessary. It is only the free mind which can really enquire, obviously: not a mind which says, "I believe and I will enquire" - it has no meaning-; not a mind that is frightened of what will happen to it through enquiry, and therefore stops enquiring.
Enquiry means a mind that is sane, healthy, that is not persuaded by opinions of its own or of another, so that it is able to see very clearly every minute everything as it moves, as it flows. Life is a movement in relationship which is action. And unless there is freedom, mere revolt has no meaning at all. A really religious man is never in revolt. He is a free man - free, not from nationalism, greed, envy and all the rest of it; he is just free.
And to enquire, there must be the understanding of the nature and the meaning of fear, because a mind that is afraid at any level of its being, cannot obviously be capable of the swift movement of enquiry. You know, because of tradition, because of the weight of authority, especially in this country, people are everlastingly boasting of seven thousand years of culture and are very proud of it! And these people who talk everlastingly about this culture, probably have nothing to say, and that is why they are talking about it. Such a mind that is caught in the weight of tradition and authority is not a free mind. One must go beyond civilization and culture. And it is only such a mind that is capable of enquiry and the discovery of what is truth - and no other mind; it can talk about what is truth and have theories about it endlessly. To find out requires a mind that is free from all authority and therefore from all fear.
The understanding of fear is an enormous problem, most intricate. I do not know if you have ever given your mind to it - not only your mind but your heart. Probably you have given your mind, but, surely, never your heart. To understand something you must give your mind and your heart. When you give your mind to something, especially to fear, you resist it, you build a wall against it, you enclose yourself and isolate yourself, or you run away from it. That is what most of us do, that is what most religions are for. But when you give your heart to understanding something, then quite a different process takes place. When you give your heart to understanding your child, when you care, then you look to every incident, to every detail; then there is nothing too small or too great, there is no boredom. But we never give our heart to anything - even to our wife or our husband or our children; and, least of all, to life. And when one does give one's heart, then there is instant communion.
When one gives one's heart, it is a total action. And when you give your mind, it is a fragmentary action. And most of us give our minds to so many things. That is why we live a fragmentary life - thinking one thing and doing another; and we are torn, contradictory. To understand something, one must give not only one's mind but one's heart to it.
And to understand this very complex problem of fear - which we shall discuss next time, I hope, that we meet here - requires not a mere intellectual effort but an approach which is total. You know, when you love something - I am using that word in its total sense, not the love of God and the love of man, or profane love and love divine; those divisions are not love at all - you give your mind and your heart to it. This is not to commit yourself to something - which is entirely different. I can give my mind and heart and commit myself to some course of action - sociological or philosophical or communist or religious. That is not giving oneself, that is only an intellectual conviction, a sense of following something which you have to do to improve yourself or the society, and all the rest of it. But we are talking of something entirely different.
When you give your heart to something, then you are aware of everything in the sphere of that understanding. Do try some time - or hope you are doing it now as it is being said. The man who says, "I will try" - he is lost, because there is no time; there is only the moment now. And if you are doing it now, you will see that, if you give your heart, it is a total action - not a fragmentary, compulsive action, not the action according to some pattern or formula. When you give your heart, you will see that you understand that something immediately, instantly - which has nothing to do with sentiment or emotionalism or devotion; that is all too puerile. To give your heart to something you need tremendous understanding, you need great energy and clarity, so that in the light of clarity you see everything clearly. And you cannot see clearly if you are not free from your tradition, from your authority, from your culture, from your civilization, from all the patterns of society; it is not by escaping from society, going out into a mountain, or becoming a hermit that you understand life. On the contrary to understand this extraordinary movement of life - which is relationship, which is action - and to follow it right through endlessly, you must have freedom which comes alone when you give your mind, your heart, your whole being. Therefore in that state you understand. And when there is understanding, there is no effort; it is an instant act.
And it is only such a mind which is free, clear - it is only such a mind that can see what is true and discard what is false.
December 16, 1964
Madras 1st Public Talk 16th December 1964
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.