Saanen 1st Public Talk 11th July 1965
As there are going to be several talks here, I think it would be good to begin with the understanding of what is communication. I feel it is very important to see the nature and the structure of verbal communication. We have to use words, but unfortunately each word is interpreted by you as well as by the speaker according to a certain reference, or a memory, or an incident, or an experience; we are always using words and translating them according to our pleasures, our likes and dislikes, and so communication becomes extremely difficult. If we don't commune or communicate with each other, then there is no point in meeting at all, or getting together for a talk like this. So it seems to me that it is vitally important to understand each other.
Communication is not one-sided. It is not that you are merely listening to the speaker and trying to understand what he is talking about, but rather communication is a two-way process: you have to communicate with the speaker, and the speaker has to communicate with you. Communication can exist only when both of us intend to communicate and are so much with our intention that we are capable of real intensity at the same time and at the same level. Otherwise communication is not possible. Unless we are both looking in the same direction, you and I cannot see the same thing. So we must be quite sure that we are looking together in the same direction, and then what we talk about is communicable. Otherwise it becomes extremely difficult to communicate what one wants to convey. So, from the very beginning, we must be very clear in what direction we are looking, and whether both of us are looking in the same direction. You may be looking south, and I may be looking north, and then communication is not possible.
To communicate with each other, we must find out what it is that we are seeking, what it is that we are both looking for - if we are looking, if we are seeking. Life has so many problems, both individual and collective, conscious and unconscious, so many tortures, such despair, anxiety - the conflict in the family, the uncertainty of a job, the ceaseless effort to adjust oneself to a particular relationship - and you may be seeking a way out of it. Or, being tortured, being in despair, uncertain, one seeks a certainty, a hope, a something that will give comfort. Perhaps that is what most of us are doing - perhaps that is what you are doing - and the speaker may not be doing anything of that kind at all. You may be seeking something, and the speaker may be saying, "Don't seek at all". If you are seeking, and the speaker is saying, "Don't seek", obviously there is no communication. So you have to understand what the speaker is saying, and the speaker has to understand what you are trying to do - and that is what we are both going to do this morning.
How are you going to find out what the speaker wants to convey when he says, "Don't seek at all"? The speaker is saying, "Don't inquire, don't look around, don't look to any teacher, to any group, to any organization, to any particular system of thought; don't go to any analyst, don't seek any help from outside" - and you will have to understand what he means by that, why he says it. Is it irrational, unreasonable, stupid? Has it no meaning? You will find out when you and the speaker have established a relationship, that is, when both of us are looking in the same direction, for then communication becomes extraordinarily simple, easy and vital.
Another difficulty in communication is that we don't listen. It is possible to listen to that airplane that is coming back, without any resistance, without any annoyance or irritation; you can just listen to it. But it is very difficult to listen in that way, and particularly to somebody who is saying something entirely the opposite of what you think, or what you want to hear. To listen without judging, without evaluating, without accepting or denying, but just to listen - that is one of the most difficult things to do; because how can one listen when one is tortured, when one is caught in the net of uncertainties, when one is angry, furious with oneself, with society, with the environment in which one lives? So it is extremely difficult to listen quietly; and it seems to me that one can learn really deeply and profoundly only when one does listen quietly, without any demand, without asking a question and waiting for an answer; just to listen.
So we have several things to do together. Although it's hot in the tent, we have to work hard together this morning, not casually, but seriously and with full intent. But very few people are serious. One is serious about one's own personal, limited problems, but that seriousness is a very trivial affair. There is a deep seriousness which is not personal, particular, but which arises when you have a certain anxious problem. It is this quality of deep seriousness that is required to find out, to communicate - not the superficial seriousness of a mind that says, "I must tackle my problem and resolve it", or, "I must find the truth, I must do this and that", which seems to me such a trivial affair when there is a tremendous issue involved.
So this morning, and every morning that we meet here, we are going to work together. It is not only the speaker who is going to work, but you also; because, as I said, communication is a two-way process. The speaker is not conveying something to you, nor are you trying to understand the speaker, but we are trying to understand together the extraordinary problem of living as a total human being, caught as we are in a particular society, in a particular environment, entrapped in religious organizations, caught up in family life with all its problems, its jealousies, its fears, its acceptances, its dominations - a life which seems to indicate that there is no meaning at all to existence, a life which has become a routine, a habit. Caught in all that, we try to solve our problems within the limitations of our own thoughts, our own conditioning. But this whole problem must be approached as a movement of life, and in understanding the total problem perhaps we shall then be able to resolve our own particular little problems. That is, one has to understand the total rather than the particular. The understanding of the particular will not lead to the understanding of the total. After all, our life is broken up into various fragments. There is the fragment of the nationalists, the fragment of a mind that is seeking peace outside of society, outside of the family, the fragment that goes to church, that follows a particular doctrine or philosophy, the fragment that believes, that has tremendous hope in some fantastic mystical affair, and so on; and we approach the total through the fragment. We look at the whole from the periphery; and the speaker is saying that it is not possible ever to understand this totality of living, which includes all the fragments, from a fragmentary or peripheral outlook.
So, caught in the fragment of a particular problem, of a particular issue, of a particular torture, despair, as most of us are, how is one to look at the total, at the whole of life? It is only by looking at the whole that you can really understand and be free of the particular. But merely to understand the particular, and then try to grasp the whole through the particular, has no meaning at all, and it can never be done. When you look with clarity at those marvellous mountains, at the trees, at the river, at the extraordinary light of an evening, at the moon over the snow, as one could do last night, you see it all as a whole; and if you don't see it as a whole, you don't really see it at all. If you are merely concentrating on a particular pine tree, then you miss the beauty of the whole scene - the extraordinary vitality of the mountains, of the moon, of the forest, of the river.
So, for a mind which is caught in the network of a particular problem, of a particular individual, it becomes extremely difficult to see the whole. And how is it possible - I am using the word `how', not to offer a method, but merely as a question - how is it possible for a fragment, that is, for a mind caught in a particular issue, to see the whole, and therefore to act, not from the particular, but as a whole?
I hope I am making the issue clear. My point is this: you have to see the whole map of life - the whole of it. The absurdities, the chicanery, the brutality, the appalling wars, the so,called peace, the uncertainty, the fear of death, the beliefs, the gods, the saviours - you have to see all that, not from the particular point of view of a Christian, of a Hindu, of a Zen Buddhist, or God knows what else, but you have to see the whole of it; and if you see the whole, then I think you will be able to answer the particular. You have to see the whole picture, but not just intellectually, verbally, not as an idea, not as a concept. You can't have a concept of those mountains: you either look and see, or you don't see. You can't have a concept of the beauty of the moonlight on the snow. If you have a concept of it, you don't see it, you are not directly in communion with that light, with that beauty. Similarly, you must see the whole picture of life, and in seeing the whole picture you will then be able to answer the particular, the personal issues, problems, tortures, miseries, and all the rest of it.
That is what I am going to talk about this morning.
A mind that is very personal, that is concerned about itself, caught up in its problems, its tortures, its beliefs, its vanities, its despairs, its experiences, its pettiness - such a mind cannot possibly see the whole. And unless you see the whole, you cannot answer your particular problems. You may think you can, but you will only create more misery, more confusion, more torture. I think this is fairly obvious: that unless you see the totality of existence, do what you will, there is no way out of your confusion.
Take a nationalist, for example. He is a stupid entity because he is trying to solve his problems in a narrow little field called nationalism. He is like the man who is caught in a particular system of philosophy or religion, and who is , trying to find truth through that system - which is impossible. He may become very clever, cunning, or philosophical within the limited space of his own intellect; but to be free of confusion and misery, he must understand the whole of life, non-verbally, non-conceptually, non-ideationally.
So, is it possible to see the whole of life, not through analysis, not through intellectual concepts, not through intellectually breaking up the whole into various parts and then joining them together, but can one see the whole of life at once? Is such a thing possible? Now, to understand the possibility of it, one has to go beyond the various states in which the mind says, "I understand, I see". That is, you can only see the totality of something non-intellectually, non-consciously. When you make an effort to listen, for example, you miss half of what is being said; but if you listen unconsciously, as it were, then you are taking in much more than you do through conscious or calculated listening. Am I conveying anything at all?
If I consciously make an effort to listen to what you are saying, most of my energy has gone into that conscious, concentrated effort; but if I am listening to you very casually, that is, attentively but easily, then what you are saying goes much more into the unconscious, and it takes root. I don't know if you have experimented with this - you must have.
We are trying to find out whether it is possible to see the totality of life, and not be caught in the particular; because it is only when we understand the totality, the whole picture of life, that the particular issues and problems can be resolved. If that is true, factual, as I think it is, then the question is: how is the mind to see the totality of existence?
The conscious mind can never see the totality. The conscious mind is the individual mind, whereas the unconscious mind is never individual. The unconscious mind is the race, it is the collective experience of man. Outwardly the various races may have different colours, and you may live in America, in Russia, or in India, but in essence the unconscious is everywhere the same; therefore in the unconscious there is no individuality. It is shaped and limited by the racial or collective tendency, the vast hidden inheritance of man, and therefore it is not an individual, a separate entity.
Please, this requires a great deal of thinking, of going into, so don't accept or deny it, but rather inquire into it.
If we look at the whole of life through the conscious mind, what happens? Listen, for example, to that airplane - do listen to it. If you listen to it consciously, then you are limited, and you are irritated by it. But if you listen to it with all your being, then you will find that something quite different takes place.
Now, the conscious mind is the educated, the modern, the technically trained mind.
Please do listen to this; don't agree or disagree, but just listen. For goodness' sake, somebody is already shaking his head! If you immediately say that it cannot be, or that it is or is not so, then you are obviously not listening. What is being said may be totally wrong, but to find out you have to listen without saying, "Sorry, I don't agree" - which is so stupid. To find out the truth of the matter you have to listen, and to listen you can't have an opinion, you can't have a concept - and that is where our trouble is going to be from now on. If you have a concept of the conscious mind as being this or that, and of the unconscious as being something else, then that concept is guiding you, shaPing your thought, and therefore you are not listening. Hence you say, "Well, I agree with what you are talking about", or, "I disagree; but it is not a matter of agreement or disagreement We are trying to find out what is the fact; and when something is found to be a fact, there is no question of agreement. What is being said is so, or it is not so; but to start right off by saying, "I disagree" - well, that is too juvenile.
You see, we are trying to look at the totality of life; and life is immense, it is not just the superficial layers of our daily existence. Life is something immense, extraordinarily subtle, fluid, moving, it has no static position; and it is not possible to understand the totality of this extraordinary movement of life through the conscious mind, with all its beliefs, concepts, idiosyncrasies, with its fragmentary outlook, because such an outlook does not give you a total perception. That is all I am saying.
Now, if you understand that when the conscious mind makes an effort to look at the whole picture of life, it has no value at all, then you stop looking in that way. This means that you no longer have concepts, beliefs; you are just looking. You do not look through a concept, through a philosophy, through a system of thought, through a particular hope; but that, of course, is up to you. And if one doesn't look through the conscious mind, then how is one looking? Then one has the unconscious; but the unconscious is still the reservoir of the past, isn't it? It may no longer be `my' reservoir, `my' storehouse, but it is still the storehouse of man. That collective experience of man through millions of years I may now interpret differently, and that interpretation may give me pleasure or pain; but as long as I am burdened with this collective content of the unconscious, obviously I cannot see the whole.
Am I making something clear: that you cannot see the totality of life, the whole picture of life, either consciously or unconsciously? Do you understand what I am saying? That is, to look at the totality of life, at the whole immense, marvellous picture of life, there must be no platform from which you look - no background of belief, experience or knowledge, either conscious or unconscious.
You know, most of us are not aware of how we look at somebody. How do you generally look at a person sitting next to you? Either you don't like him - he is hot, bothersome, fat, ugly, smelly - or you like him or her. You look with dislike or with pleasure - and your dislike or your pleasure prevents you from looking. Or you are totally unaware that you are sitting next to a person because you are so consumed with your ideas. Surely, you can look at a person sitting next to you, or opposite you, only when there is no pleasure or dislike. The pleasure or dislike may be conscious or unconscious; it may be positive, or it may be negative, a feeling of which you are not aware; but really to look at somebody, there must obviously be freedom from all this. Only then are you capable of looking. So looking is neither conscious nor unconscious. If you make an effort to look at a person, it becomes conscious, and then you say, "I don't like him, but I must treat him as my brother". What nonsense that is! You are making a positive effort based on a conclusion, a concept, and therefore you have no relationship with that person except as an idea. And if you unconsciously draw away from him because you are intellectually superior, emotionally more refined, and God knows what else, then again you have no relationship with that person. So to look, to listen, is an act which is beyond the conscious as well as the unconscious; and when the mind is capable of looking in that way, then the barrier to total perception ceases; and from there you can act about your particular problem.
I hope we are both communicating with each other - which means that you are actually doing this, and are not just listening, hearing, understanding verbally, and then trying to put it into action. There is only action, which is the act of listening.
So one's personal problems as a human being cannot be resolved totally unless one understands the immensity, the complete picture of life; and one can see the totality, the immensity of life only when one perceives the futility of every belief, every dogma, every experience, every philosophy.
Questioner: In completely listening to the speaker, one becomes the speaker.
Krishnamurti: The speaker is not important. What is important is that one understands this immensity of life. If you have listened rightly to all that the speaker has said this morning, really listened to it, you have seen the totality, and from there you will act. That is why I have pointed out how important it is to communicate. I believe they are making a great study of communication, because to communicate needs sanity. If we don't know how to communicate with each other - if I don't know how to communicate with you, and you don't know how to communicate with me, or with your husband, your wife, or your child - then we live in a world of mounting confusion, which leads to more misery. So communication becomes extraordinarily important, even about the tiniest little thing, like where the salt is. If you don't give me exact directions where the salt is, I shall wander around looking for it, whereas if you tell me exactly and clearly where it is, the matter is finished.
So it is very important to be able to communicate with each other clearly, because that is the basis of sanity. It may take time. We may have to use different words; we may have to deny one thing and assert another, and then deny what is asserted. We have to keep moving together, because communication is not a static thing, it is a movement, and both of us must be capable of moving with it. Therefore there is not at any time either agreement or disagreement - and that is the beauty of listening.
Questioner: To see the totality of life, must there not be attention?
Krishnamurti: When you see something, what actually takes place? There is the observer and the thing observed, isn't there? You see the speaker sitting here, which means there is a `you' who is looking, seeing; so you are the observer, and the speaker is the thing observed. In what we call seeing there is this division between the seer and the thing seen. Now, is that seeing? When I look at a tree, there is the tree and the `me' who is looking at it - we are two separate facts. In looking at that tree, I am the observer - with all my memories, my misfortunes, the whole human business - and that tree is the thing observed. Surely, that is not really seeing the tree, though it is a visual fact. To actually see the tree in the sense I am talking about, the observer must come to an end.
What is communion? When you and your husband, or your wife, or a friend, are communing together, are there two separate entities? When you love somebody, if you do, is there you and that person? If there is, it ceases to be love. As long as I am conscious that I am As long as I am conscious that I am looking at that tree, I am not looking at it, though I may identify myself with it and think I am that tree - which is too silly.
So it requires tremendous attention, a tremendous understanding of oneself, of the totality of life, to look at something - at a tree, or a mountain, or a person. Then communication is possible.
If I may suggest something - and please don't do it just because I am suggesting it - look at a tree this afternoon, be quiet with a tree. Don't take a novel, or a radio, and then sit under tree, but go to it alone; be quiet with it, just sit and watch without thought, without anxiety, without fear, without loneliness. And if you watch, you will see how disturbed you are, how restless, how `city-sophisticated' your mind is. But if you can put all that aside and sit quietly - not dreamily, not in a state of ecstasy about some nonsense, but just look - then you will see for yourself that there is neither the observer nor the thing observed; and it is only then that there is beauty. Beauty is neither subjective nor objective, it is not a thing that is made by man or by nature. Beauty exists only when the mind is completely quiet, neither personal nor impersonal; and out of that silence an immensity comes.
July 11, 1965
Saanen 1st Public Talk 11th July 1965
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