Saanen 9th Public Talk 29th July 1965
We have had eight talks here in the tent this year, and we have touched upon many points concerning human thought, feeling and action; and we have seen the necessity for a total mutation of the human mind. Most of us, I think, do not realize how extraordinarily important it is to feel our way hesitantly, persistently and seriously into this question of a total mutation, rather than to make a determined effort to pursue a certain type of activity. The mind has been heavily conditioned for millennia; and is it at all possible to break through this conditioning and come upon a way of living which is totally different, a way of living in which there is no sorrow, no conflict, and in which all the travail that human beings are heir to has completely ceased? Surely, one must find out whether it is possible to have a fresh mind, a new mind, a mind that is good, strong, healthy, reasonable, a mind that can function in the various aspects of our daily living - having a family, holding a job, going to the office - as an integrated whole, and not as a series of fragmentary problems.
We have gone into all this, more or less, taking each time different points, and this morning I would like to consider with you, if I may, the question of deterioration. We can see that everything in the world - artistically, politically, morally - is going down hill. I know that as we get older we tend to compare the present conditions with those we knew when we were younger, and we deplore the present because of something that we enjoyed in the past; but that is not what I mean. If one observes, one sees that throughout the world there is a great deal of deterioration, not in any particular sphere, but in all the areas of human activity, both individual and collective. After all, each human being is totally related to all other human beings. The individual may consciously separate himself from others, but unconsciously, deeply, he is totally related. Your sorrow, your misery, your anxiety, are essentially the same as those of a man living far away. And being, as we are, so totally related, being so subject to influence through propaganda, through suggestion, through literature, through every form of persuasion and dissuasion, is it at all possible for us as human beings to see in ourselves the fact of deterioration and put an end to it?
There is inevitably physical deterioration, the natural process of getting old; the organism, even when it is rightly used, gradually wears itself out; but need the mind and the heart of man deteriorate? And since with most of us they obviously do deteriorate, is it possible to understand and put an end to that deterioration? Merely to revolt against society is a form of deterioration; and to accept the norm of society, conforming, adjusting to the pattern of the left, of the right, or of the centre, is also a form of deterioration. If one is at all aware of human events, of what is happening in literature, in aesthetics, in morality, one knows that in all the various expressions of man, except perhaps scientifically, there is a great deterioration taking place. And as each one of us is a part of the whole structure, we must find out for ourselves whether it is possible to end this deterioration, and thereby be free of sorrow. That is what I would like to talk about this morning.
Now, there are two ways of listening to what is being said. Either you hear only words and, translating what you hear according to your particular conditioning, you act if it happens to please you; or you listen totally, neither accepting nor rejecting what you hear. When you listen to something totally, you listen to it as you would listen to that river flowing by. The murmuring of the river is a fact, and in listening to it there is neither acceptance nor denial. To listen in that way to what is being said, you must close your eyes, figuratively speaking, and listen only through your ears. When you listen with your eyes closed - please don't actually do it, but just listen quietly to what I am saying - then you listen much more intently. In listening to that river flowing by, or to the voices of the boys behind the tent, if you listen with your ears and do not turn to look with your eyes, then you listen much more intently, because your whole nervous organism is relaxed, not under a strain. You just listen.
So I would suggest this morning, as I have suggested almost every morning that the act of listening in itself should be a total action. What is required is not fragmentary action, not action shaped to a formula and carried out by will, but action which is total; because it is total action that puts an end to all deterioration.
Now, why do we deteriorate? Why do we decline, grow dull, insensitive, unaware, unperceptive? Why do we become ridden by formulas, ideas, creeds, dogmas, by patterns of long-established thought? When we are very young the mind has a certain brightness, a clarity, a frankness; we see things differently. Where is a sense of revolt, a sense of not accepting things as they are. But as we grow older the mind becomes dull, the heart becomes weary. Not only physically, but emotionally and mentally we lose that quality of innocence, clarity, freshness, vitality. Why? I do not know if we have asked ourselves this question. If we have asked it, probably we have done so only superficially, and we have not the time, or the inclination, or the energy, to tackle the problem and go into it fully. But this morning we are going to go into it honestly and rather deeply; and to go deeply into anything one needs energy, a passionate intensity. We can't sit down and merely accept or argue about something - which is blatantly obvious. We have to grapple with the thing, not just verbally or intellectually, but actually, as a vital problem which each one of us has to solve.
When you are hungry and without a job, or when there is any other immediate, intense crisis, you can't escape from it, you have to grapple with it. To grapple with any vital problem, you need energy, you need passion; and for most of us it seems to be one of the most difficult things to awaken passion or energy. You don't get passion, energy, by merely analysing the issue. You get energy by acting, by doing. It is not that you have energy first, and then act. But you do have passion, you do have the clarity of energy when you are acting - not when you are merely speculating about the cause of deterioration. When the mind is out to discover for itself the cause of deterioration, then you have energy.
Now, what is the cause of deterioration, not only in every human being, but also in the group, in the family, in society? How does one discover the cause of something without too much investigation and analysis - which again is a waste of time and energy?
I hope I am making myself clear. I want to find out why there is deterioration in oneself. Is it possible to see the whole structure of deterioration at one glance, or must I go through a long series of analyses and examinations, asking, probing, studying, investigating? Surely, merely to investigate, to probe, to study, to analyse, is a waste of energy. I think it is possible to see for oneself the nature of deterioration - to see it totally, not just partially or intellectually; but if you proceed to create an idea as to why you decline, then the idea becomes dominant, and trying to battle with that idea in action again destroys energy. I do not know if you are following all this.
What I am asking is this: is it possible to see the total cause of human deterioration, not just physically or fragmentarily, but completely - see it without analysis, without taking time over it? Because, as I have said on other occasions, time breeds disorder. I think that is clear, and I won't go into it now. If you are here for the first time, I am sorry, but I can't help that. Anything that involves psychological time breeds disorder, whether it is moral disorder, physical disorder, or conceptual disorder; and disorder is one of the factors of deterioration. All concepts are disorderly; so, I must not cling to any concept, but see the total structure of deterioration. And I must see it immediately; otherwise, if I take time to perceive, then time depletes energy.
Now, what is it that brings about in us deterioration, which is also disorder ? What is it that breeds in you and me disorder and therefore deterioration? Having put that question, I must see the total answer immediately. I have no tomorrow; because to see the answer tomorrow, or an hour later, breeds still further disorder and other forms of wasting energy. So I must discover the answer as instantly as I put the question. Do you follow? The moment I have put that question to myself, I must see the total answer immediately. The immediacy, the urgency of the answer, is passion and therefore energy.
So, I am putting that question to you, and it is a fundamental issue. It is not something that you can escape from; you have got to answer it for yourself. The total structure of deterioration is the self-centred activity of the human being. He may expand his activity through knowledge, through social service, through trying to create a good society; but if consciously or unconsciously he is seeking fame, prestige, status, or if his activity is in any other way self-centred, then that activity breeds disorder and therefore deterioration.
Please, as I explained, you are listening with your ears, not with your eyes. You are listening, not to agree or disagree but to find out if what the speaker is saying is true or false in itself. In listening to the murmur of that river flowing by, you are not listening with your eyes, you are not listening partially or indifferently. You are listening totally with your ears, with your whole being; and you should be listening in the same way to what is being said. The speaker is saying that deterioration takes place, disorder comes into being, when there is either self-improvement or self-expansion, which is a self-centred activity that may be carried on through good works, through the acquisition of knowledge, through identification with something greater than oneself, whether it be a nation, a community, a family, or an organized belief which is called religion.
Every form of identification with something which one considers greater than oneself, is still the pursuit of pleasure, and therefore it breeds disorder, deterioration. I see that to be a fact. Then I ask myself, "How is this disorder to come to an end?" Do you understand? My demand is that the mind shall be young, fresh, alive, innocent, active, without creating disorder. And how is disorder to come to an end? It cannot come to an end as long as the self-centre, which is based on pleasure, says, "I must end disorder because in that way I shall have greater pleasure". Do you see what I mean? I identify myself with order, which is greater pleasure, and therefore I want to put an end to disorder; but in that pursuit of order there is effort, struggle, pain, determination, and all the rest of it, which only creates greater disorder.
So I must find a way - a `way' does not mean a method, because a method implies continuity, and therefore disorder. But there must be, not a ' way', but a catalyst that will put an end instantly to this self-centred activity which breeds disorder and deterioration. All self-centred activity is based on pleasure; and pleasure, as I said the other day, does breed sorrow, pain. Enjoyment is one thing, and pleasure is another. Yesterday was a lovely day. There were clear, intensely blue skies, and every tree, every blade of grass, every buttercup in the field was full of light and delight. One sees all that with a pulsating feeling of enjoyment. But when that enjoyment is translated as pleasure and I say, "I wish today was another day like yesterday so that I could have more enjoyment, greater pleasure", then the pain begins.
So there is an enjoyment which is natural, spontaneous, healthy, immediate; but when that enjoyment is translated by memory into pleasure and there is the demand for its continuity, which breeds the avoidance of pain, then there is sorrow. Now, I see this whole process, and I also see that it must end - but not because I want something more, not because I want greater pleasure. It must end because it is natural to have a very good mind, a mind that is young, healthy, reasonable, sane, strong. When I see the truth of this, then what takes place?
Thought is of time. Thought, as we use it to get rid of something we don't like, is based on an idea - the idea being the continuity of pleasure; and so thought says, "I must end deterioration". But when thought intervenes to bring about the ending of deterioration, it only adds more confusion.
This requires a great deal of clarity, and I do not know if I am making it really clear.
You see, we have thought as the only means of giving a continuity to, or ending, something. And thought is the response of the past, of experience as memory. So when thought intervenes in the ending of deterioration, it only intensifies deterioration.
Please do listen very carefully to this. It is not a question of your agreeing with the speaker.
We are used to thought, because thought is the only instrument we have. And I see that when I use thought - with its cunning, its ideas, its pursuits, its determination, avoidance, resistance, escapes - as a means of ending deterioration, it only creates more disorder, more deterioration. Therefore there must be a way of stopping thought.
Are you following all this? Please, I am talking very objectively. This is not some oriental or mystical nonsense. It is not a fancy of the speaker which he wants to impose on you. He is talking about two facts: the fact of deterioration, and the fact that it is necessary to put an end to deterioration. And he is also pointing out that we use thought as a means to put an end to deterioration, because thought is all we have. We exercise thought in so many cunning ways, hoping to put an end to it: by escaping, by saying, "I am the soul, I am the Atman, the higher self", and all that stuff. Or we escape through using thought to identify ourselves with a belief, an idea which we call God, or with a country, a party ideology, and so on. In these and other ways live have used thought to put an end to deterioration. And now I see clearly, not argumentatively, but as a fact, that when thought interferes in any way, it only adds to the deterioration. To me this is as factual as that river running by, murmuring with delight. When thought is challenged, it must obviously function clearly, reasonably, logically, sanely, non-neurotically. But there is the essential fact of human deterioration, with which thought cannot interfere; and when it does, it increases the deterioration. So the mind must discover how to end thought - which does not mean becoming vague, blank, or plunging into some mystical, nonsensical fancy. Thought is the response of the past, it is based on an image which is essentially pleasure and the avoidance of pain; and if that pleasure principle tries to put an end to deterioration, it only adds more deterioration. So the mind must discover for itself the total ending of thought with regard to deterioration. But the mind must nevertheless be full of energy as thought when it functions at the office, and all the rest of it. So I am not saying that you must end thought in everyday living. I am saying that thought must end totally when you are faced with a fundamental problem.
So the mind must find out what it is to be silent. It is only when thought comes to an end that there is silence. You know, when you are listening without resistance to the flowing of that stream, or to those boys playing football, and there is not the principle of pleasure as thought, you are then listening out of silence, aren't you? Please do it as I am talking. Listen to that river completely. Do not resist it in order to hear what the speaker is saying - that is irrelevant for the moment. You are listening completely to that river, therefore you are attentive with your whole being; there is no forcing of the mind to concentrate. And if you are totally attentive, not resisting, not forcing, are you not listening out of total silence? To be silent, there must be freedom; and to have freedom, you must have inward space.
So there is this fact of deterioration, and there is also the fact that for untold centuries man has been using thought as a means to put an end to deterioration - thought being will, resistance, avoidance, escape. But now one has discovered that thought does not put an end to deterioration, and so one is asking oneself: is it possible for the mind to be completely quiet, totally silent? Because total silence means a total renewal. The mind is completely quiet, totally still, but not through determination, not through wish, not through the desire for pleasure, not through the avoidance of pain. It is a total stillness in which thought is absent. Thought is of time, and therefore this stillness is not of time. And when the mind is totally still, completely free of thought, it has within itself immense space, without a centre that is making space.
Now, all this demands a clarity of perception, of hearing, a spontaneous discipline. When you are listening to that stream attentively, completely, without resistance; when you are not resisting the shouting of those boys playing football; when you are listening completely to every noise and are not resisting anything at all, then that listening in itself is a discipline in which there is no conformity, no adjustment to a pattern, because your mind is then completely alert, your whole being is intensely alive and therefore silent. But the discipline that we generally have is based on conformity, and hence it is total disorder. To come upon this silence, the mind must be extraordinarily sensitive, alive, active; and when there is this silence, there is no deterioration at all.
But one has to understand that when once there has been this silence, the mind craves for more of it. You know, the mind is used to pleasure, and it always wants more pleasure, and therefore it subjugates itself, controls itself, hoping thereby to have the continuity of pleasure. To me, subjugation of the mind, controlled concentration, is another factor of deterioration - which doesn't mean you can do whatever you like, lie down on the floor smoking, or kick off your shoes in a drawing room. One has to understand the whole nature of control, and why the mind constantly demands to control itself, or to be controlled; why it wants to be engaged in an activity which will absorb it, or be occupied with something so completely that it can forget itself. One has to understand all that if one is to understand the nature of control and concentration. When once you have felt a moment of this silence, you want it to continue, and you will discipline yourself to death to get it back. We want every experience of pleasure to continue and be intensified, and in the hope of getting it back we will do almost anything, from taking a drug to imposing on ourselves some austere discipline of harshness. But this silence has no continuity, and that which has continuity is the self-centred activity of pleasure dictated by thought.
So this silence is not to be cultivated; it cannot be come by through any system of meditation, through any method or formula. You may sit cross-legged, breathe in different ways, stand on your big toe, or do anything you like, but you will never have it; because this silence demands a great understanding of life, not your escaping from life. It demands a tremendous sensitivity of your whole being, of your heart, your mind, your body. Therefore the way you live matters immensely - what you eat, everything becomes intensely important. As long as one is a slave to society, as long as one is greedy, envious, ambitious, pursuing pleasure, prestige, seeking status through function - as long as one is not free of all that, there can be no renewal, no freshness, no rejuvenation, no silence, no freedom, and therefore no space in which creation can take place.
Questioner: While I am here listening to you, I seem to understand, but when I am away from here, I don't understand, even though I try to apply what you have been saying.
Krishnamurti: I hope you will not think I am rude, but you are not listening to me. That is where the mistake is. What is the speaker saying? He is just pointing out certain things. The speaker is yourself speaking aloud. For God's sake, do please understand that simple fact! You are listening to yourself, and not to the speaker. If you are listening to the speaker, he becomes your leader, your way to understanding - which is a horror, an abomination, because you have then established the hierarchy of authority. So what you are doing here is listening to yourself. You are looking at the picture the speaker is painting, which is your own picture, not the speaker's. If that much is clear, that you are looking at yourself, then you can say, "Well, I see myself as I am, and I don't want to do anything about it" - and that is the end of it. But if you say, "I see myself as I am, and there must be a change", then you begin to work out of your own understanding - which is entirely different from applying what the speaker is saying. If you want to work hard, you go at it; if you don't, that is your affair. But you have to create a new world, a new society, a new group of people, and you cannot do that by saying, "I have listened to the speaker, and I want to know how to apply what he is talking about". You are listening, not to the speaker, but to yourself; and you can listen to yourself either casually, indifferently, curiously - or attentively. If you are really attentive, then you have the energy, the passion to go on listening to yourself; and that is all you have to do. To listen to yourself means having no resistance to what you are listening to. There is no comparison, no saying "This is good and that is bad", or, "I must be this and not that" - all such stupid, petty nonsense is gone. Out of that passion and energy there is action - the total thing is action. You don't say, "Having listened to the speaker, I want to apply it". You cannot apply what you are listening to - if you do, it becomes tawdry, juvenile. But if, as the speaker is speaking, you are listening to yourself, then out of that listening there is clarity, there is sensitivity; out of that listening the mind becomes healthy, strong. Neither obeying nor resisting, it becomes alive, intense - and it is only such a human being who can create a new generation, a new world.
Questioner: If we can understand what you are saying, will there not be freedom?
Krishnamurti: Madam, it is not a matter of understanding anything I say, but of understanding yourself. You know, your `self' is a living, moving thing. It is never the same, it is active, pushing, driving, changing, never constant. To look at that self, to go into it, to understand it, your mind also must be fluid; and it cannot be fluid if there is a pattern according to which it is functioning. You see, jealousy, envy, greed, ambition, the desire to become great, to fulfil, to avoid despair - these things are all interrelated, and this interrelation is brought about by the centre, the self. The centre is memory, with its conformities, its images; and that centre, consciously or unconsciously, is always seeking pleasure and therefore breeding pain. This is what you are actually doing, it is what is taking place in each one of us; so you are not understanding me. The speaker is only a sounding board, he is not important at all. He is pointing out how to listen to yourself; and if you know how to listen to yourself, you can go on a journey that has no end, a journey that penetrates further and deeper than Mars. Out of the understanding of yourself there comes order, virtue, the cessation of conflict, and in that state there is great beauty.
July 29, 1965,
Saanen 9th Public Talk 29th July 1965
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