Paris 1st Public Talk 16th May 1965
Perhaps after I have talked a little, you will be good enough to ask questions talked about. I understand French quite well, so you can ask in french; but unfortunately my French isn't good enough to reply in French, so I will answer in English - and perhaps you might like to ask questions after I have talked.
It seems to me that we go through life having made problems and never resolving them; and, finding these problems so extraordinarily difficult, intricate, and sometimes very subtle, we avoid them and seek escape in all forms, through religion, through drink, through sex, and in innumerable other ways which man has invented - a network of escapes. And, it seems to me, unless we solve all our problems psychologically, our minds will always be confused, always be in a state of misery, constantly eaten up with uncertainty and a demand for certainty, stability, security. So it is necessary that we do solve our human problems
We have problems: economic, social, emotional, intellectual and religious. We live in different departments, divided, and each division, each segment, each fragment has its own problem or problems; and these problems, born of different fragmentations of the mind, naturally are in contradiction with each other. One wants to fulfil intellectually, become famous as a good writer, as an artist - to fulfil in one way or another in life. And this urge to fulfil contradicts other forms of existence. We are uncertain and we seek certainty, we seek a Permanency; we want to understand immortality, and old age creeps up, and we wither away emotionally and psychologically, as well as physically.
So, all our life - however well off we are financially, and even though we may be in somewhat good relationships with one another - we have problems. And unless we resolve them totally - and it is possible to resolve them totally - however clever we are, however intellectually argumentatively brilliant, however capable we are, these problems eat our minds and hearts away. And how is it possible for a human being living in this world and not escaping from it, not escaping to some monastery, into some fanciful, mythological seclusion, not escaping into some belief, dogma, ritual, into some fanciful, nonsensical visions - how is it possible for such a human being to clear the mind of all problems, so that it is fresh, young and innocent?
Now, to understand what we are talking about, one has to listen, and that is one of the most difficult things to do: to listen. It is an art. Because we don't ever listen. You are not actually listening to what is being said. Actually, you have your opinions, judgments, evaluations, conclusions; you have certain ideas about the reputation of the speaker. You wait, you are expecting something to happen, and that prevents you from actually listening, obviously. Of course that acts as a screen, and so that prevents you from actually listening with all your intensity. And it is only when you listen in the sense of listening without any strain or effort, neither agreeing nor disagreeing, but just observing and seeing the fact, and not bringing in your opinion about the fact, your conclusions, your intellectual concepts, formulas about the fact - it is only then, it seems to me, that you can really listen quietly, easily, and penetrate what is being said, find out for yourself whether it is true or false. And it seems to me that is one of the most important things to do if we are to communicate with each other. Because, after all, we are here, you and I, to communicate, to commune with each other. You have not come here to listen to my talk, and go away either agreeing or disagreeing, offering your opinions, contradicting, and so on and so on. You and I are here to commune with each other about the extraordinary problem of life; and to communicate with each other we will not only have to use words, but also understand the meaning of words, knowing that the word is not the thing, and the word is never the thing; and also, as you listen, knowing or being aware of your own prejudices, your questionings, your bargainings, your deceits, your whole Psychological structure through which you listen.
So it is quite an art, and probably one of the most difficult arts, not only to observe, to listen, but also to learn. Learning is something entirely different from knowledge. It is very easy to accumulate knowledge, to gather information, store it up through experience, through reading, through reactions, and so on - store them up and from that knowledge act, which is what most of us do. But to learn is something entirely different; because the moment you have learnt, which is the past, it has already become knowledge. Learning is a constant process, a movement in which there is no accumulation at all. Most of us look at any problem through what we already know, through our accumulations, through our knowledge, through our remembrances, through our experience, through our conditionings, and so we prevent ourselves from learning about the problem.
Learning is an act - an act of the active present. It is the verb to learn, it is a movement. But that which has been learnt has already become a static thing. So in the same way, if we could listen, not only to what the speaker is saying, but also to everything in life - to all the intimations of one's own demands, urges, the hints of one's own desires, secret longings, to listen to another, whether it is your husband, or a child, or a wife, or a neighbour, so that the mind becomes sharp, clear, dealing only with facts and not with emotional opinions and prejudices - then perhaps we can come to understand the very complex problems that life hides.
We live in fragments. There is the fragment of the so-called spiritual life, the fragment of the intellect, the fragment of the emotions, the fragment of the physical senses. So the mind is broken up into various fragments, each in a watertight compartment having very little relationship with the others, and so there is a constant conflict between them; and we are always avoiding that conflict by escaping. But to understand anything, one must look at the fact, one must come immediately and directly into contact with the fact. But we do not come into contact with the fact, because we either try to analyse it, or to avoid it, or to find the cause of it; or, if we do none of these things, we escape from it completely and live very, very superficial life, being satisfied with the little things, with the bourgeois life that most of us do lead.
So the question is: is it possible to come into contact directly with a problem? You know, when you come into direct contact with something - direct contact - then perhaps you will see the full significance of that fact. And we never do come into direct contact with anything, except perhaps physically, sensuously. I have touched that microphone, and that is a direct contact. There is nothing, no verbal conclusion which prevents me from coming directly into contact with it. But to come into, contact or to commune with myself so directly, with all the problems that a human being has, is probably very difficult - and so the problems not only multiply and increase, but they take root in the mind; and the mind acts as a soil in which all the problems, from childhood till now, exist.
Please, you are not listening merely to a lot of words, for that would be absolutely useless. You are surely listening to words which have significance as a direct contact with your own problems; that is, you are using the words as a mirror in which you are aware of yourself, of your problems. If there is such awareness, a direct contact with your own problem or problems, then this talk will have some meaning. Otherwise, if you treat it merely intellectually or verbally, then one goes away with an empty hand and a lot of ashes which have no meaning at all. So I hope that you are listening, not merely to gather some information, but actually to come directly into contact with your own problems as a human being.
To come into contact with a problem, as you come into contact when you touch a physical thing - whether that problem be intellectual, emotional, psychological, physical, or so-called spiritual - one must first understand, surely, the meaning and the significance of words; because words prevent us from coming into contact with the problem. If one is anxious - full of that sense of guilt, fear, despair, which is anxiety - to come into contact with anxiety, one must see the significance of the word `anxiety; because the word creates the feeling. I don't know if you have ever noticed how words in themselves instigate a particular feeling. So one has to be quite cognizant of the word itself. When you are so aware of the word and see that the word is not the thing, that the word `anxiety' is not the fact at all, then you are more or less in contact with that feeling. I hope I am making myself clear. It doesn't matter, we will talk about it.
So, one has not only to understand the word, and how the word creates, or dominates, or gives colour to the feeling, but one also must be aware that the word is not the thing, the word is not the feeling. For most of us, the word is the feeling; there is an instantaneous response between the feeling and the word. So, if one wishes to come into contact with the fact, one has to see the significance, the importance, the nature and the meaning of the word.
Then one has to be aware of the various escapes, because a problem becomes intense, acute, only when it is something immediate that demands all our attention. And most of us do not want to live with such intensity - so problems increase, multiply, and take root. So one must not only be aware of the word, but also of how the mind escapes; because we are very good at escaping from life. We have the church, literature, our own experiences, our knowledge, our particular ways of looking at life, our various forms of psychological escape, and so we never come into contact with the fact.
You know, we think that if we can understand the cause of a problem, we have solved the problem; or if I analyse the problem, I think I have understood it. But is that so? I know the cause of fear or anxiety; and knowing the cause, that should prevent my being anxious, fearful. I can also analyse the nature of fear, of anxiety, of guilt, and so on; and yet my mind is not free of it. So mere examination, analysis, seeing the cause of a thing, does not free the mind from the fact; and the search for the cause, the analysis, becomes an escape from the fact. So, if one would really resolve all the problems of life, then one must come directly into contact with the problem; and to be directly in contact with it is to understand the word, and also to understand the nature of escapes. Then one comes into contact with the problem directly.
We are talking about problems because it seems to me that a mind that has a problem, of whatever nature it be, becomes a dull mind, a mind that is afraid of death, of old age, of - oh, so many things! A mind that is afraid, or acquiesces in the various forms of life without any struggle, soon becomes very confused, dull, insensitive. Have you not noticed how extraordinarily inefficient, unclear, dull the mind is when it is afraid? And most of us are afraid of so many things: of living, of death, of the neighbour, of losing a job, of never having a full moment in life. The innumerable frustrations all bring fear, and fear then becomes an intense problem, of which you may be conscious or unconscious. Consciously you may be able to resolve fear, escape from it, smother it, put it away; but it is still there, and to come into contact with that fear so that you can put your teeth into it, requires, as we pointed out, the understanding of the word and the nature of the escape.
Our problems are increasing. Though we may have security - physical security, social welfare, and so on - psychologically a great part of us is still the animal; and unless we understand this whole psychological structure of society - as well as of oneself, which is part of society - the mind can never be free, it will always be tortured by fear. That is why, it seems to me, a mature human being who would go very far - not to the moon, but very far into himself to discover what is true - must have a very clear, uncontaminated, unspotted mind. And a mind is unspotted and clear only when it is free - free from fear, for example. It is only then that one can find out - without any dogma, without any belief, without any effort - what is true.
So, if we are at all serious, our first concern, it seems to me, is to persevere with this question: the question of whether the mind can ever be free from problems. Living in this world, going to the office every day, being married and having children, or not being married - you know, the whole business of life, without my going into too many details - can one be in this world, in the twentieth century with all its fantastic technological developments, and live a life in which there is no problem at all? That, it seems to me, is the most essential thing, because a mind that has a problem is in conflict. All problems mean conflict. And can the mind be active, energetic, efficient, clear, vital, without effort - which means being without a problem? Because, if you are making constant effort in any direction, at any level, such effort, obviously, makes the mind dull, incapable of dealing with life; and life is always throwing up problems. I mean by a problem something that we don't understand, a challenge to which we respond inadequately, insufficiently, without complete attention, and so there is a contradiction between the challenge and the response; and it is only when the response is adequate that there is no problem. But to live so that one adequately meets every form of challenge, requires a mind that is not constantly in battle.
We must be aware that we have not only conscious challenges, demands, questions, but there are also challenges, experiences, to which we respond unconsciously. I really don't like the word `unconscious', because that is one of the most empty words one can use. It seems to me that the unconscious is such a trivial affair and one has given such significance to it. But the unconscious is what we are. The unconscious is the past, the traditions, the various accumulations of knowledge, of experience the racial inheritance, what we have been told - the whole of consciousness is that, but we are aware of only certain parts of it, while of other parts we are not aware. We are aware of the conscious, because that is the only part we use in our daily activities, in our life at the office, and so on and so on. The other part is dormant,and we have carefully put it aside. But to be aware of the total thing is not to give continuity to the past, to the unconscious. Most of us live in a state of dreaming. We are not aware of the total content of our dreams; we live at a certain level, in a certain part; and that part, that fragment, reacting to a particular challenge, can only create contradiction. It is only when there is a total response to a challenge that there is no contradiction, and hence no problem.
So our question is this: is it possible for each one of us as a human being who has lived two million years and perhaps more, who has an extraordinary past, a great history of the past, whether as a Frenchman, an Englishman, an Indian, or whatever one is, with all its accumulated knowledge and experience - can one be free of all that, which is the past, and meet the challenge which is always in the present? Otherwise life becomes a frightful conflict, a misery, a confusion. You can pray to all the gods that have been invented by man, run to all the organized religions, beliefs, rituals, but the problem will never be solved that way. That is an escape, and a futile escape. You might just as well take a drink. What matters is to understand this whole structure, not as an intellectual process, but to be totally aware of all this - the past, the present - and not escape from it, but come actually into contact with it. Then perhaps we shall know what it is to live. We shall find out for ourselves as a human being - not as an individual, but as a human being; because the human being is far more important than the individual; the human being is the total entity of two million years, with all that he has gathered; he is not an isolated individual in a little corner. Then perhaps we shall know for ourselves how to live a life without conflict - and in that there is great beauty. It is only a mind that has freed itself from every kind of problem, and therefore from every kind of effort - only such a mind can discover something that is not projected by itself, something which is not mere word, mere sentiment, emotion.
Perhaps now you would like to ask questions.
Questioner: What can we do to be aware, to be attentive?
Krishnamurti: I don't think you can do anything. All that you can do is to be attentive to inattention. Do you understand? If you are trying to be attentive, trying to be aware, then it becomes a conflict, a battle, a process which involves time. I won't go into the question of time now - I will do that another day. What most of us want is a continuity; we think, "If I could only be attentive all the time, then I should solve my problems". But we are not attentive all the time, it is impossible; our nerves won't stand it - our physical brain itself is incapable of maintaining a continuous alertness. But if one were attentive to inattention - you know what I mean, if one were totally attentive to inattention - then one would find out for oneself, naturally, how attention comes about without trying. Please listen; don't say, "I will try", but do it. That is, Pay attention to your own inattention, which breeds conflict. It is only inattention that creates problems, isn't it? If I am attentive even if only for a minute, in that minute of attention there is no problem - the problem simply doesn't exist. I mean by attention not only being attentive with the nerves, with the body, with the eyes, with the ears, but attentive also with your mind, with your feeling; and in that moment of complete attention, there is nothing that has been experienced, and therefore no experiencer. But most of us are not attentive to inattention, which breeds conflicts. When we are inattentive, we say things we don't mean, we do things half-heartedly, we react according to our conditioning; so it is this inattention that creates problems. But when one is attentive to inattention, then inattention will not breed any problems.
I do not know if you follow this.
Questioner: Even though the mind is broken up into fragments, isn't there a relationship, a great deal of interplay, a great deal of influence between the different fragments?
Krishnamurti: Surely. There is a great deal of influence, a great deal of relationship between the fragments. That is an obvious fact, isn't it?
Questioner: Yes. But when you spoke about the difficulties which arise, whether they are material, emotional, social, and so on, you spoke as if the solution were a compartmental thing.
Krishnamurti: No, sorry. If I said that, I don't mean it. I mean something entirely different.
Questioner: Then what do you mean?
Krishnamurti: I am going to explain it. First of all, I am no authority. If you take me as an authority, then we will not understand each other. But if you and I are trying to understand each other, then our relationship is entirely different. Don't take just one part of a statement and throw it at me.
We are human beings, all broken into interrelated fragments, each fragment influencing the others. If we are very intellectual, we translate the whole of life in terms of the intellect, and that intellect is related to other factors. If we are very emotional, again we go through that fragmentary process, knowing that the fragments are all interrelated. We give predominance to one fragment, which then dominates our life; and all that I am saying is that as long as we live in these departments, compartments, or broken fragments, even though they are subtly interrelated, inter-communicating with each other, our life becomes a contradiction, a hypocritical life, and hence a battle, a conflict. I am pointing out that when there is no conflict of any kind, it is only then that we are total human beings; and then we shall have a mind that is capable of going very far, without projecting illusions.
May I ask a question? You have been listening to me for forty-five minutes. Perhaps most of you, or some of you understand English; and in those forty-five minutes you have been listening, what has happened to you? It seems to me much more important to inquire into that, than for you to ask me questions. Actually - not theoretically, not problematically, not hypothetically - what has taken place? That is the only significant thing, nothing else. I ask this question, and I hope you will not think it to be impudent. That is not at all my intention. I ask this question because I think it is important for each one of us to find out for ourselves whether a talk of this kind - call it a conversational talk, or a lecture, it doesn't matter; it is really an informal affair - whether such a talk has any significance, any vitality, so that one's mind is shaken up and sees something new. Otherwise these talks become so utterly futile, because one can pile up words - write, read, listen - indefinitely. If one listens in the sense we have been talking about, listens without effort, with clarity, then I think that very listening is the vehicle of action. You do not have to do anything about it - the very act of listening is action.
It is like seeing something, it is like looking at a flower. We never actually look at a flower, because we look with our minds, with our thoughts, with our ideas, opinions, with our botanical knowledge of that flower. So it is thought that looks - not so much the eye, as thought. Our thoughts, ideas, opinions, judgments, botanical knowledge - these interfere with our looking. It is only when you can look at something completely that you are in direct contact with that thing; and to look completely demands a great deal of energy - not words, words, words, they don't create energy. What brings energy is this observing, listening, learning, in which there is not the observer; there is only the fact, and not the experiencer looking at the fact.
Questioner: Does that mean that when you are in contact with things, facts, problems, there is nothing to do but just accept them as they are?
Krishnamurti: Sir, if you look at something out of silence - I don't know if you have ever done it; if you look at your wife, at your husband, at a flower, or whatever it is, without the interference of the past as knowledge, as ideas, as a conclusion, as an experience, then surely you are directly in contact with the fact; you are not concerned with whether it's pleasant or unpleasant. If you look so attentively, you will find J that there is no experiencer and the thing experienced; there is no centre from which you are looking. You must have felt this very simple phenomenon. When you see something very beautiful, that very thing which you call beautiful has pushed away all your thoughts for a second, and you are just absorbed by that beauty, by that sense of immensity; the mountain, the lake, or whatever it is, absorbs you. For a second or two you are not there - only I that thing is there. But what happens? The thing has absorbed you, has pushed you aside, has knocked you out, if I can use that word. But to observe without being absorbed by that which is observed, is quite a different matter. If you can look at and be completely attentive to every problem that arises, you will find that there is no observer and the thing observed; there is only attention without a centre.
Questioner: It seems that then there is no effort.
Krishnamurti: There is no effort - but that requires a great deal of going into. Perhaps we will be going into it the next time we meet here - into the whole question of effort.
Questioner: How do you define the word `fact'?
Krishnamurti: How do I define the word fact? I will put it into words, but we are not seeking definitions. The dictionary meaning of a fact is that which is observable, knowable, capable of being experienced by all. It is a fact that that microphone is there. Then what is the fact when I am angry? It is not a matter of who has made me angry, or of my response to that anger as a conditioned human being. The fact is what is, which is anger, and the word 'anger' is used to recognize that fact. I use the word to define, to classify a certain feeling which I call anger. So there are physical facts, there are psychological facts, and perhaps there are intellectual ideas which we call facts.
Questioner: When one observes one of those facts, there is a response to it, one doesn't just sit still and look.
Krishnamurti: That's right, that's right. When one observes a fact, there are reactions to that fact. You say something to me which hurts me, or gives me pleasure. If I don't react, I am a dead human being, I am paralysed, obviously. If you call me an idiot, I must react - that is, I must find out, I must observe the actual fact, and not just call back to you, "You also are one". Through my reaction I observe what actually is the fact. I may be an idiot, and probably I am, so I look to discover the fact, and not to give sustenance to my reaction.
May 16, 1965
Paris 1st Public Talk 16th May 1965
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.