Saanen 6th Public Talk 17th July 1980
As I said the last time that we met here, we would talk about death - sorry on such a nice morning - the ending of sorrow and what perhaps one can come upon, which is love and compassion. That is what we said we would talk over today. And on Sunday what is meditation - right?
We have talked a good deal about the various aspects of life, of our daily existence, how important it is to understand ourselves and to understand the structure and the nature of the brain and the mind. Perhaps some of you have listened and have gone into it fairly deeply, and some of you perhaps cursorily, superficially, and the others may say, "We all know this, we have read about it, we have been to Asia, India and other countries gathering a lot of information. And also we come here to find out what you have got to say". (Noise of aeroplane) - It is a clear day, therefore you are going to have a lot of noise!
We talked about the art of seeing, the art of listening, and the art of learning. (Noise of aeroplane) Shall I go on in spite of that? It is a lovely peaceful world! And if one may, I would like to talk about first the art of listening.
The word 'art' means to put everything in its proper place. That is the root meaning of that word. That means to have order, not only physical order, where one lives, in the room one lives, but also order within oneself. This order we talked about the other day too. But there is an order in listening. We not only hear with the hearing of the ear, but also we hear much more deeply, beyond the ear. That is, we understand the words if one is speaking English or French or German or Italian, and the words are communicated to the brain and the meaning of those words are ascertained and either accepted or rejected, according to our conditioning. That is generally what we do. That is what we call hearing - hearing with your ears, transmitting what is said through the nerves and so on to the brain, and the interpretation of the usage of words and accepting or denying. But there is another art of listening, that is, not only to hear with the ears but also, if one may use the word, unconsciously, deeply. I do not know if you have ever tried that. That is, to listen to the words and to find out the truth of any statement that is made by the speaker, not only intellectually, not only with considerable doubt but also to listen without any resistance, which does not mean accepting. But to listen so profoundly, with great attention, that the very act of listening brings about a total breaking down of the pattern of the brain. I do not know if I am making myself clear on this point. Because our brain functions in patterns, whether it is a modern pattern or an ancient pattern, traditional, or non-traditional, in a particular groove, religious, political, economic, social, but they never come together. That is, to listen with complete attention, which in itself breaks down the pattern of the brain - you are following this?
Suppose one listens to a statement as: the past - please listen to this for a minute - the past is giving meaning to the present, and therefore the present has no meaning. The past is giving meaning to the present and therefore the present has no meaning at all. One hears that statement not only with your ears but also one listens to find out the truth of it, or the falseness of it, the significance of it, the depth of it. And this is not possible if you are merely intellectually comprehending - right? If you are merely allowing the intellect to dominate so that it reasons logically or not logically and comes to a conclusion. But whereas if you are willing to listen to that statement which has just been made, you listen so completely so that either it rings a real bell inside you, as it were, the truth of that statement, or the intellect begins to interpret what has been said. Have I made it somewhat clear? That is the art of listening, which may be in itself the total response of the whole structure of the mind and the brain, the response totally, harmoniously, without any direction or interpretation, just the act of listening. Can we proceed from there?
First of all let us talk over together the question whether suffering can ever end? This has been a problem for man and not only the so-called personal suffering but the universal suffering of mankind. The suffering either of the so-called individual, or of mankind, is the same. Suffering is the same whether it is yours, mine or another's. We may interpret that suffering in a different way, we may have a cause for that suffering in another direction, but essentially suffering is common to all man. So it is not your suffering but human suffering. I wonder if we can tolerate that statement, because most of us are individualistic. That is training, our education, our culture, that we are individuals separate from another, not only biologically, physically, but also inwardly. Our worries are different from another's, our anxieties, our fears, our sorrows, our despairs are personal, ours, and nothing to do with another. And this individuality has been emphasized by the religions, individual souls being redeemed and so on, and in the Asiatic world the individual must strive apart from others to reach Nirvana, Heaven, Moksha or whatever you like to call it. So there has been this conditioning through centuries that we are separate human beings.
Now is that so? And because we are separate individual human beings we think we are free to do what we want, to follow this path or that path, that guru, or another guru, follow certain ideals and so on and so on. So first we must question, doubt - as we pointed out the other day - whether you are really an individual. Or it is an illusion which has been sustained constantly by the idea, the education that you are essentially different from another. We are going to question, doubt that belief that we are individuals.
The word 'individual' means undivided, indivisible. But we are not indivisible, we are divisible, we are broken up, fragmented, constantly in conflict. And when you examine the psychological structure of every human being, it is a constant factor whether in the East, West, or whatever country one lives in, the common factor is that all human beings go through a terrible time, misery, confusion, anxiety, despair, depression - you know, all the rest of it - whether they live in India, America or in this country. That is the psychological common factor. Therefore your psychological structure is common to all humanity. Therefore you are not a separate psychological entity. This is very difficult for most people to see, or even to listen to it because they are so conditioned, their whole culture is based on this - individual salvation, being redeemed by a saviour, individual striving to become something in opposition to the rest, and so on and so on.
So if you see by listening to this either the truth of it, or either reject it - as probably most of you will do - or find out for yourself through observation, not through analysis, but through observation your own conditioning and so thereby discover how psychologically it is one. So if you are exercising your capacity to observe without prejudice, without your conditioning, then we can go together, talk over together the suffering of mankind. Mankind is you. The world is you and you are the world. You may be physically differing, tall, short, dark haired, blonde and dark skin, black skin, white skin, you know, purple skin, yellow skin and all the rest of it.
So we are talking about sorrow, man's sorrow, the universal sorrow, the sorrow of every human being on this earth, no one seems to escape from it. Either that sorrow is brought through death of another, or the failure to achieve a result, to climb the ladder of success, whether in the religious spiritual world, so-called spiritual world, or in the physical world. Or losing a job, or fearing the danger of complete loneliness. All these factors contribute to sorrow - death, disease, old age, crippled - you know, all the rest of it - crippled both physically and psychologically, the neurotic and the saint. And generally the saints are neurotic. I know it is difficult for the Christian and the Asiatic world to accept such a statement, but if you examine it closely, without any prejudice, this constant pursuit to become something, either in the physical world or in the psychological world. To become something. The something is projected by the mind as an idea, a concept and striving to achieve that. But what is projected, what is the ideal is constructed, put together by thought, and thought in itself is everlastingly limited. And a man who is striving within the field of limitation is either idiotic, non-observant or some kind of unbalanced person. (Noise of train) That is the first train, we are going to have three more!
So we are talking over together, if you will, this question of the sorrow of mankind, of which you are. And man has lived with this sorrow. There have been five thousand wars within the historical period, and you can imagine what tears, wounds, pain, anxiety, brutality, cruelty, during all these five thousand wars - and we are still going on. We are still going on with our tribal wars. And we also, during all these many millenia, have never been able to solve that problem, end it so completely that there is a new energy, totally different from the energy of thought, pain, suffering. So we are together, if you will, going to go into it.
What is suffering? And why has man put up with it? Can it be ended by will? Or is there a cause for it? If there is a cause it can be ended: what has a cause has an ending. We went into that in the previous talks. That is the law: if there is a cause it must end, there is an ending to it. So we are first asking, as human beings, not as individuals, asking: why mankind, you, you and another, live with this, as with fear, as with conflict, outwardly and inwardly, we live with it, we are never free of it? And if one is aware - aware in the sense to observe the actual sorrow that one has. Not invented sorrow, but the actual despair, the actual terrible loneliness, the sense of deprivation, the hopelessness of a life that has no meaning. You may invent the meanings but actually if you observe the life as it is lived has no meaning: going to the office, factory for the rest of one's life, an occasional holiday with bad weather, and this is the way of our existence.
What is sorrow? The word 'sorrow' comes also with the word 'passion'. They are together, these two words - passion, not lust, not sexual demands but passion and suffering go together. When you suffer a great deal, in the sense that you have lost somebody whom you have loved - quotes 'loved' - and suddenly find yourself utterly lonely, unrelated, isolated because you have depended, attached to that person or to something else, and that sense of attachment to a person has cone suddenly to an end. You have lived together, talked together, laughed together, walked the fields and the mountains, followed the rivers, and suddenly you are left. I am sure you all know this. Then the mind, incapable of understanding this suddenness, this deprivation, seeks comfort - you are following all this? - psychological comfort, goes to church, gurus, read books, attend football, you know, they are all similar, whether it is a religious ceremony or a football ceremony. I know you will all disagree, but they are all emotional excitement, and we escape from this central issue of our losing something which we have held dear.
And from that isolation one begins to withdraw - you are following all this? You are thinking together? Are we? Withdraw, become either bitter, lose one's mind if it is really a tremendous shock, or fall back on reincarnation, you know, all the rest of it. And the priests and the gurus are too willing to offer help. And you are caught in that and for ever lost. But you have not grappled or understood the root of sorrow. Right? Are we meeting each other? Are we? Right?
Is sorrow the concentration of all one's isolating activities in life? You understand what I am saying? You are following? All one's life, through various actions, desires and so on one has narrowed this enormous complex energy of life into a certain narrow groove. Which is, this narrow groove is the me - my struggle, my happiness, my sorrow. And this tremendous energy of life has been narrowed down to a small little entity - you follow? Mr.Smith, and so on. And one is never aware of all that, the isolating process of daily life. Which is, through ambition, through aggression, acting for oneself, one's own pursuit of desires, that has brought this narrowness of this tremendous energy to this little point. And sorrow, is it an indication - please listen - that emphasizes this extraordinary sense of separation? You are following this? Is it too difficult? We are not talking an abstraction, in theories, either theological or theoretical. We are talking over together the practical way of ending this business, this enormous burden that man has carried. And sorrow may be the indication that dependence, attachment is corruption. And death is also a form of corruption. I wonder if you follow all this? No? No. Move sirs. Sorry!
We are uncovering slowly, bit by bit the cause of sorrow. First of all when another dies there is physical shock - right? And when that shock is over there is the mental, emotional, psychological sense of utter desperate loneliness. I am not inventing all this, this is one's life. And if we do not escape, avoid, and are totally with the fact of this sense of isolation, be with it, instead of running away from it, crying, despair - you follow? - all the things that happen, and be completely attentively with the fact that one has totally, through various activities brought about this isolation. (Noise of train) That is the second train.
So the ending of sorrow is not at the moment of losing somebody - you understand? - or not being able to fulfil in something, or not trying to become something, climbing the ladder of success, either spiritual or mundane, it is not at the moment of death of someone you have liked or loved or been a companion, sorrow is not at that moment, it has begun long ago. You understand? You have understood what I am saying? It has begun long ago - long ago in the sense that all your acts have brought about this isolation, of which you are unconscious, which we take for granted. And sorrow may be the indication of what you have done - you follow sirs?
So can this isolating process comes to an end, not at the moment of death and understanding death and all the rest of it, the cause of this isolating movement? Is the cause of this isolating movement the idea that I am an individual, I am not the rest of mankind, I am separate, my salvation is through my own endeavour, through my own isolating enquiry, isolating activity, there is the beginning? Can that cause, which is the beginning, end there? I wonder if you understand all this? Are we going together? Not verbally, please, any person can see this verbally very clearly, but to go into the depth of it, put your heart and mind into it.
Can there be an action which is not isolating? You understand? Any action. That action can only take place when one understands the nature of love - you are following this? Not the love of a guru, or a god, or books, or your wife - love. Which is, in which there is no sense of jealousy - right? How can a man who is aggressive, or a woman, know what love is? Right? How can a man who is ambitious, concerned about himself, his progress, his unhappiness, his fears - concerned about himself, how can he love? And there is this Asiatic idea, and also it exists perhaps here and it does, which is surrender yourself to god - you understand? Or surrender yourself to the guru, the vanity of the guru - you understand? You are following all this? Which means, truth is not so important as your surrendering yourself to an image that the mind has created. Your guru, whatever he calls himself, is a concept in your mind, an image which you have created of what a guru should be. Right? And he naturally plays up to that image. Oh, you are all so childish.
So is there an action which is not born out of desire? I went into that the other day, into the whole movement of desire, which means is love desire? No, don't say "No" - it is easy to say no. But to discover it, understand the nature of desire, with all its images and the ending of the images, that is to see that desire in not love. And pleasure, whether that pleasure be the pursuit of god, social service, or helping another and so on, basically, deeply, the pursuit of pleasure, that pleasure is not love. Right? Are you willing to follow so far? Or your sexual pleasure, the pleasure of being somebody in the world, the pleasure of being able to achieve something inwardly, holding on to some experience through drugs, through alcohol, through some kind of hypnotic presence of your guru, and having an experience and holding on to that experience, which gives you pleasure - all that, is that love? Will we go together into this? This is your problem. You sit there, listen, agree, see the logic of it, see the sanity of it, the reasonableness of it, the intellectual comprehension of it, but when you leave here, this tent, you are back again in the old game. So you are willing as a human being to carry on this burden of sorrow. Right? And a mind that lives in sorrow can never be free. You understand? And it is only a mind that is totally free from sorrow that can know what compassion is.
The act of compassion is the act of intelligence. We mean by that word not the intellectual capacity of discernment, to distinguish, to reason, to judge, to weigh - all that is the capacity of the intellect. So intellect has its own intelligence. You are following this? But we are talking of a totally different kind of intelligence. The ordinary intellectual intelligence we all have, more or less, because we are supposed to be educated, read books, clever at argument, opposing one opinion against another, and so on. But where there is compassion the intellect has very little part. Where there is compassion, which comes into being without your inviting it, it comes into being when there is the ending of sorrow. The ending of sorrow is the beginning of wisdom and therefore intelligence. You understand all this? You don't do it! You are probably - I hope not - persuaded by the speaker, dominated by his presence, which is nonsense. But if you really go into this very deeply you will find your energy, which is being dissipated now in idealistic actions, in individual narrowing down of action, all that wastage of energy is making the mind shallow, not allowing the capacity which the brain has, immense capacity, psychologically, making that psychological structure become more and more narrow, shallow.
So compassion goes with intelligence and wisdom, which is the very nature of intelligence. When there is that intelligence you can argue, logically, sanely, but with a quality of compassion - you understand? No, you don't.
So love, compassion and the ending is death. Do you get this? No. You see your minds are not quick enough. You always want explanations. We don't see immediately the beauty of that statement. We are going now to enquire into what is death? I don't know - one doesn't know if you are interested in this enquiry. Some people say "I hate death. I hate poverty" - the gurus say this. And we can now, when there is little noise in the air, we can now consider what is death, because all of us have to face it, whether you are old or young or crippled or living in great luxury, money and all the rest of it, the saints and the common man, and the pope and the little priest in the parish village, all have got to face this. Even Marx had to face it. The Communists have to face it. The psychologists have to face it. So being ordinary human beings, not professionals, because then those people who are professionals are already committed, professional gurus, professional priests, professional psychologists, professional - they are already committed, and therefore when you are committed, tied, you are already corrupt.
So we are going to enquire: what is death? That means, what is death, of which mankind from the beginning of time has been frightened? What is an ending? You understand my question? An ending. The ending of smoking, the ending of drug taking, the ending of drinking alcoholic stuff, the ending of something or other, the ending. You understand my question? Do we ever end anything? Or continue the pattern in different colours? I give up this pattern and take on another pattern. I give up this conditioning, take on another conditioning. I go from one psychologist to another psychologist. The latest psychologist with a new set of words. So is there ever an ending to anything in our life? Please enquire with me, don't just sit there and just listen, find out. Or there is a constant continuity of the same thing in different directions? Do you end anything without any motive? You understand what I am asking? Without the action of will, saying "I will end". Enquire. Have you naturally given up, ended something which gives you delight? You understand my question? You will end something which is painful very easily, but will you end something which gives you great pleasure without any motive, without any action of will, without a projection and accepting that projection - you follow? The ending. And death is the ending.
Say for example you are attached to something, attached to your wife, to your girl-friend, to a boyfriend and so on and so on, to a belief, to a dogma, to a ritual, to a theory, to an experience - attached, holding on, clinging - will there be a natural, easy ending to that attachment? - without conflict, without asking "Why should I?", not rationalizing it, but just giving it up, letting it go. Will you do it? No. Of course not. If you told your wife, or your girl friend, "I am sorry I am no longer attached to you", she will tell you "To whom are you attached? Have you another girl?" - you follow?
So find out while living, so-called living with all the travail of life, whether you can end something happily, easily, without any conflict. If you don't naturally - and this is not a threat because that is absurd - naturally you will be afraid of death. And what is death? You follow my question? What is this death of which human beings are so frightened? Everybody is frightened about this thing - even Brezhnev, I am quite sure. Everybody wants to continue. The continuity is what has been - right - modified. But it is the same movement of constant continuity of that which has been modified. Right? That is our life - the jobs, the conflicts, the wars, the misery, the confusion, that is our living. And we cling to that. Which is, to cling to our consciousness - you are following this? - this consciousness which each one of us thinks is totally different - right? You are following this? This consciousness is made up of its content - right? You are following all this. The content is your belief, your dogmas, your rituals, your culture, your knowledge, your despairs, depression, your uncertainty - which is common to all mankind. Right? You see your consciousness is the consciousness of mankind, psychologically. And the mind, or the brain, clings to that because in that there is security. It is afraid to let go because you don't know what is going to happen.
So you see one of the factors of the content of our consciousness, the human consciousness, is attachment. I am sorry to repeat that. Because that is our basic conflict. The Communist is attached to his Marxist ideals, the Catholic to his and all the rest of it. The idealists, the believers, the people who have experiences, holding on to that. That is the content of our consciousness, whether you are a scientist, psychologist, or a guru, or the latest pope.
And if you take one of the factors, one of the things, in this consciousness, which is attachment - or take anything which is acute and personal - then find out if it can be ended. Not struggle - you follow? - "I must end it in order to get something else", and all that stuff. End it. You can't argue with death, which is, the ending. There is a marvellous story in the Upanishads of India - I won't go into it because it is a very good story, we have only a little time. You want to go into it, that story? Of course, of course. Anything to divert us, move away from ourselves!
A Brahmana - you know what a Brahmana is? - in India, in the ancient days, he was giving away everything he had. It used to be an old tradition that when you have gathered some things for five years, through work, and all that, after five years you must give everything away - you understand? Do it! Which means, never gather anything - right? - so that you have nothing to give away. He had given away his cattle, his house, various things, and he has a son. The son comes to him and says, "Father you are giving away everything, and to whom are you going to give me?" And the father says, "Please go away, don't be childish, don't ask this question". But the boy comes back several times and ultimately he says, "Father tell me, to whom are you going to give me?" The father by now is very angry and says, "I am going to send you to death". And being a Brahmana he must keep his word. So he sends the boy away. So the boy goes from one teacher to another on the way to death. One guru, one teacher says, "You will live after death. Through many lives you will ultimately come to the highest principle". And he goes to another teacher and says, "I am going to the house of death what is there after?" "There is nothing after. This annihilation". So he goes on and ultimately arrives at the house of death. And when he arrives death is absent. You understand this? See the beauty of it sirs. You understand? Death is absent, so he waits for three days. So on the third day death comes and says, "As you are a Brahmana I apologize for keeping you waiting. And since you have come this long distance I give you, I offer anything you like. Women, palaces, wealth, anything you want". And the boy says, "I may have all those, but at the end of it I will meet you". Right? "You will always be there, whatever gifts you give, you will always be there". And death says, "You are a marvellous person, to avoid all this and seeking truth". So he goes into the question - I have not read the story myself, people have told it to me - he goes into the question of time, self, and the ending of the self. You understand? That is the story. Sorry it peters out!
So we are asking: can we give away anything that we hold dear? And is there a continuity - please go with me a little while, you aren't too tired? - is there a continuity of me, the ego? You understand? The me. I die through disease, old age, accident, doctors, yoga teachers. At the end of it I die. And the Hindus have thought, the ancient people of India, say there is you who will continue, life after life, life after life, going through various stages of suffering, etc. Ultimately you will reach the highest principle - right? That is what is called reincarnation, to incarnate over and over again. But we are asking: what is this thing that will continue? You understand my question? What is this thing, you, what is the you? Is it an actuality? Or something put together - your name, your form, your culture, your character, your dependence, your sorrow, put together. That which has been put together can be undone. You understand? I wonder if you understand this? That which has been put together by thought - right? I am K. I have this. I am that. I am popular, etc.etc. Follow? All that is put together by thought. Right? The thought which has created the image of me. The me is the image, opposed to another image. Please follow logically, this is so.
So this thing that has been put together by thought, and when thought ends the thing that has been put together naturally dissolves. So before I die, can I living dissolve this thing? You understand? You have understood? Not at the end, that is very cheap. That is common to all of us, death. Therefore that is very, very common, vulgus, common. But whereas this thing that has been put together by thought as culture, by thought as a name, by thought as a character, the image that thought has built for 80, 90, 50, 30, or 100 years, that image is the consciousness - right? You are following this? That consciousness with its content can be ended while I am living. Which means while I am living I am dying. I wonder if you see this? You understand sirs? One doesn't wait for death to come at the end of time, but to live with death, which is the ending. With the ending of that there is tremendous energy.
You see at the ending of that, the cause of sorrow, is this. And with the ending of it there is compassion, and with it comes intelligence. And if you want to go much further, not you, penetrate much further, which is the beginning of meditation, which we will go into on Sunday - right? May I get up and go?
Saanen 6th Public Talk 17th July 1980
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