Brockwood Park 1980
Brockwood Park 2nd Question & Answer Meeting 4th September 1980
This is the last day of questions and answers. On Saturday and Sunday there will be a talk.
As we said the other day, the question implies that we are seeking an answer. The answer is in the question, not away from the question. And in asking these questions and finding their answer we are together investigating the question. It is not that the speaker talks or answers but together we are trying to find the right answer. It is not the answer according to me or according to you, but what is the right, true answer to these questions.
I have been handed over nearly one hundred and fifty questions probably and we cannot possibly answer all those and I hope you won't mind if some of them are not answered. It isn't that we have chosen something that suits us, that can be answered by us, but rather we have tried to find out what are the most significant and worthwhile questions to be answered.
1st QUESTION: What is the relationship between thought and consciousness? Why do we seem unable to go beyond thought?
Do we want to be serious about all this? All right, let's be serious.
First of all what is thinking, what is thought? And what is consciousness? Are the two different? When you say, what is the relationship between thought and consciousness, it implies, does it not, that there are two different entities, or two different movements. We are trying to find out, the questioner is trying to find out: what is the relationship between thought and consciousness. So first of all we have to consider together what is thought, what is this whole question of thinking upon which all our conduct, our activities, political, religious, economic, social and all other factors of life, are based on thought. Thought is part of emotions, sentiment, reactions, the recognition of those reactions and so on. And what is consciousness? When you use the word 'conscious', to be conscious of something, to be aware of, to be able to recognize, to understand, to have a whole field in which the mind is operating. That is more or less what we mean by consciousness. And the questioner says: what is the relationship between the two?
So first we have to find out what is thought upon which all our activities are based, with all its images, all the past remembrance and future projections, this enormous activity. Technologically, psychologically, physically, almost in every direction, thought is operating. And our relationship with each other is based on thought, the thought which has created the image about you and the other, and the other about you. Now what is that thought? That thought surely is, is it not, based on knowledge: experience, knowledge, memory. And the reaction of that memory is thinking. So it is experience, knowledge, memory and the movement of thought, which is a material process. So thought is always limited because knowledge is always limited. There is no complete knowledge about anything except the ending of knowledge, that is quite a different matter. So where there is the operation of knowledge and the movement of memory, thought is limited, finite, definite.
And what part does thought play in consciousness? I hope we are together in this, thinking together. What is consciousness? Our consciousness - all the knowledge which we have accumulated, all the experiences, not only personal but collective, memories, genetic responses, the accumulated experience of generations after generations, all the travail, the trouble, the anxiety, the fears, the pleasures, the dogmas, the beliefs, the attachments, the pain of sorrow and all that is our consciousness. I think there is no question about that, no one would doubt that or argue about it. You can add or take away from it but it is still the movement of thought as consciousness. One can say that there is super consciousness but it would still be part of thought. This consciousness is in constant movement and breaking up the you and the me, my nationality with all its technological development which is becoming a tremendous danger in the world, nationalism, plus technology. My religious beliefs, my dogmas, my rituals, my wounds, my beliefs, my ideals, my constant struggle to become something, all that is part of our consciousness, not only the consciousness of a particular person but it is the consciousness of mankind, because mankind wherever he lives, goes through sorrow, agony, doubt, despair, depression, great uncertainty, insecurity and so clinging to some image, belief, all that is part of our being, our consciousness. So our consciousness is its content. I hope we are meeting each other. Our consciousness is made up of its content. Without the content what is our consciousness? You understand my question? Is there a consciousness totally different from that which is made up of the various activities of thought which we call consciousness?
To come to that point one has to find out if thought can end, not temporarily, not between two thoughts, where there is a gap and a period of silence or unconscious movement. Can thought ever end? This has been the problem of most serious people who have gone into this very deeply through meditation to end thought. I hope we are following each other in all this and I am not talking to myself.
Can thought, which is so enormously powerful, which has got such a volume of energy behind it, that energy created through millenia, both in the scientific field, economic, religious, social, personal, all that activity can that come to an end? Which means can those things that thought has built into our consciousness, of which we are, can that consciousness with its content end? Why do we want to end it? What is the motive behind this desire to end thought? Is it that we have discovered for ourselves how thought creates enormous trouble, a great deal of travail, great anxiety of the future, of the past, of the present, the thought that brings about a sense of utter isolation and loneliness. Can all that come to an end?
When one asks that question: can it come to an end? - are we seeking a method to end it? A system of meditation? A system of which you practise day after day so as end thought? If you practise day after day to end thought, that very practice intensifies thought, naturally. So what is one to do? I hope we are meeting each other. One realizes the nature of thought, its superficiality, its intellectual game. One knows all this, how thought divides, divides into nationalities, into religious beliefs and so and so on. And conflict, that is all we know, perpetual conflict from the moment we are born until we die. Is that the reason why you want to end thought? So one has to be very clear, if one may point out, of the motive. One must be very clear why one wants to end thought, if that is possible. Because the motive will dictate, will direct. One can live in the illusion that thought has come to an end. Many people do but that illusion is merely another projection of thought which desires to end itself.
So realizing the whole complex problem of this, thought and the things that thought has built as consciousness with its content, can all that come to an end? If the speaker says it can, what value has it? None whatever. But if one realizes the nature of our consciousness and the movement of thought as a material process and to observe it, can you do this? To observe the movement of thought, not as an observer different from thought - are you following, can we go a little bit into this? Can one observe the movement of thought, not as an observer looking at thought, but thought itself becoming aware of its own movement - do you follow what I am saying? The awakening of thought and thought itself observing its movement. Can you do this?
Take a very simple example, either greed or nationalism, which are both the same: to observe it as it arises in one and then to discover for oneself, is the observer, is the thinker different from thought? I hope you are following all this. Am I making myself somewhat clear? I observe thinking, that is fairly easy. I separate myself as an observer and watch my thinking, which most of us do. But this division is illusory, is fallacious, because the thinker is thought - right? So can the observer be absent in his observation? Am I meeting you? The observer, the thinker is the past, the remembrance, the images, the knowledge, the experiences, all the things that he has accumulated during that time, the past, is the observer. The observer names a reaction as greed and when he names it he is already caught in the past. I don't know if you are following all this? Whereas to observe this reaction without naming it. This reaction which we call greed, by the very naming of it you have established it in the past. It becomes the past. Whereas if there is no naming but pure observation in which there is no division as the observer and the observed, the thinker and the thought, the experiencer and the experience, then what takes place? You are following all this? Are we coming along together somewhat?
You see our conditioning is this division between the observer and the observed. That is why we make such enormous trouble to control the thing that is observed - right? I am greedy, that is the reaction. I am different from greed and therefore I can control it, I can operate on it, I can suppress it, I can enjoy it, I can do something about it. But the fact is the thinker is the thought. There is no thinker without thought.
So to observe without the past memories, reactions, all that projecting itself immediately in observation - right? So to observe purely without any direction, without any motive, then one will find if one has gone into it pretty deeply, that thought does come to an end, thought being time - right? Thought is a movement and so time is a movement, so time is thought - right sirs? This is real meditation, not all this stuff that goes on in the name of meditation, this is real meditation, which is: to see the movement of thought, for thought to see its own movement, how it arises, the creating of the image and the pursuit of that image, and to observe it so that there is no recognition of what is being observed. You understand what I am saying? That is, to make it very simple: to observe a tree without naming it, without wondering what use it can be put to, just to observe it. Then the division between the tree and you comes to an end, but you don't become the tree - I hope not! You understand? The division which the word creates, the division, the physical, nervous, neurological responses to that tree creates the division. That is, can I observe my wife, if I have one, or my girl if I have one, or another, without the word and so without the image, without all the remembrances in that relationship, which is to observe purely? Then in that observation, which is complete attention, has not thought come to an end? This requires a great deal of attention, step by step watching, like a good scientist who watches very, very carefully. When one does that thought does come to an end, therefore time has a stop - right? Has this question been sufficiently answered?
2nd QUESTION: Does compassion spring from observation, or thought? Is not compassion an emotional feeling?
I don't know how to answer this. What is compassion? Is it an emotion? Is it something romantic? Does it expend itself in some kind of social work? So one has to go into this. To find out what is compassion, one has to enquire what is love? Then that means is love desire? Is love pleasure? Please sirs, question yourselves. And can there be love where there is ambition? Can there be love when one is trying to become something, not only the outward world but also psychologically, this constant struggle to be or to become something? Can there be love? Can there be love when there is jealousy, violence, when there is division between you and me? And can there be love when you are nationalistic? Please sirs, think about it. You hear on the television every evening, British, British, British. The same thing in Italy, the same thing in France, in Russia, in India, we and they. When there is such nationalistic, religious, division of beliefs, images, can there be love? Go on sirs. Of course there can be no love when there is such division. But all of us are so heavily conditioned. And we accept that condition as normal.
A friend the other day said, "I read about what you are talking about, conditioning. Wouldn't it be very dangerous if I unconditioned myself and drove on the right side in England?" So don't uncondition ourselves too much!
And what relationship is love to sorrow? I have lost my son and I suffer enormously because I loved him. Can suffering and love go together? Please sirs, ask these questions. Not only personal suffering but the enormous suffering of mankind, the suffering that wars have brought about and are still bringing about, the suffering of people living in totalitarian states. So can there be love when there is suffering? Or only with the ending of suffering there is this passionate compassion.
After stating all this, where are we? Is love just an ideal? Something which we don't know and therefore we want to have that thing, we want to have that extraordinary sense of great compassion? But we won't pay the price for it. We would like to have the marvellous jewel but we are unwilling to either make a gesture, or do something that will bring it about. If you want peace you must live peacefully, not divided into nations and wars and all the hideousness that is going on. So what price do we pay for this? Not coins, not with coins and paper but inwardly how deeply is this reality to come? How deeply, profoundly do we see nationalism, that all division must end in myself as a human being? Because we human beings, you and I, are like the rest of the world, psychologically. You may have a different colour, short, tall, darker, black, white and so on, but inwardly psychologically we are like the rest of mankind. We all suffer, we all go through agonies, we all go through great fears, uncertainties, confusion, we all are caught in this absurd religious nonsense. We are that. And can we see the totality of this, not as an idea, not as something longed for, but as a fact, as a burning, actual, daily fact? Then out of that perception the responsibility of compassion comes. Compassion goes with great intelligence. That intelligence is not the operation of knowledge. Knowledge can solve many problems, intellectual, technical and so on, but intelligence is something entirely different. Please don't accept what I am saying, just look at it. You may have read a great deal and be capable of great arguments, the mind can solve problems. The problem-solving mind is not an intelligent mind. Intelligence comes with compassion, with love. And when that intelligence is an action of compassion it is global not a particular action. I hope we can go on to the next question.
3rd QUESTION: Why is it that in the balance of nature there is always death and suffering?
Why is it man has killed fifty million whales? Do you understand what I am saying? Fifty million - you understand? And still Russia and Japan are killing whales. We are killing every kind of species, man. The tigers are coming to an end, the cheetahs, the leopards and elephants, for their tusks, for their flesh - you know all that. Is not man a much more dangerous animal than the rest of the animals? And you want to know why in nature there is death and suffering. You see a tiger killing a cow, or a deer. That is their natural way of life but the moment we interfere with it it becomes real cruelty. You have seen, I am quite sure, baby seals being knocked on the head, and when there is a great protest against it, the Unions say that we have to live that way. You know all this.
So where shall we start to understand the world about us and the world within us? The world within us is so enormously complex but we want to understand the world of nature first. All that becomes our mania. Perhaps if we could start with ourselves, not to hurt, not to be violent, not to be nationalistic, but to feel for the whole of mankind, then perhaps we shall have a proper relationship between ourselves and nature. Now we are destroying the earth, the air, the sea, the things of the sea because we are the greatest danger to the world, with our atomic bombs - you know all that kind of thing.
4th QUESTION: Why do you say attachment is corruption? Are we not attached to those we love?
Does this need explanation? When you are attached to an idea, to a concept, to an ideal as the Communists are, or the Catholics, or the Protestants or the Nationalists, isn't there the beginning of corruption? Corruption being to corrupt, to break up, the meaning of that word is to break up. When I am a devout Marxist and to me that is the only solution to all our problems and then I am unwilling to examine any other questions, any other avenues, I am committed, I am tied. When I am tied to a belief, to a god, to an image, to a person, is there not the beginning of corruption? Please sirs, it is not what I am saying, just look at it for yourselves. Is attachment love? When I am attached to you as an audience - god forbid! - when I am attached to you as an audience I am exploiting you, I am deriving great comfort, I am fulfilling myself. Is that not corruption? When I am attached to my wife, or to my friend, or whatever it is, to a piece of furniture, especially antique furniture - somebody has put an antique furniture in the room I happen to live! When I am attached to that piece of furniture I become that furniture - right? And then corruption begins, I have to guard it, I have to protect it - you follow? - fear. Fear begins with attachment. I may derive pleasure in that attachment, comfort, encouragement but in that there is always the shadow of fear in it, anxiety, jealousy, possessiveness, and people like to be possessed and to possess, is that not corruption because in that there is an enormous sense of fear, anxiety that I might lose it?
So can one live in this world without a single sense of attachment to anything? - to your beliefs, dogmas, to god, to various symbols, ideologies and images, wife, furniture, house, experience - all that, which doesn't mean that one becomes detached. When there is an attempt to be detached then detachment is part of attachment - right? Because the opposite has its roots in its own opposite. Is that clear? So to understand the nature of attachment, the consequences of it, to see the whole movement of attachment, not just one particular attachment to a person, to an idea, to a piece of furniture, but to have the comprehension, the insight into this whole movement of attachment, when you have an insight into it, which I have gone into, we explained it the other day, then attachment drops away immediately without any conflict. Then perhaps one has love because love and fear and jealousy cannot go together.
5th QUESTION: You say we are the world but the majority of the world seem to be heading for mass destruction. Can a minority of integrated people outweigh the majority?
Are you the minority? (Laughter) No, I am not joking. It is not a callous question. Are we the minority? Or is there one amongst us who is totally free of all this? Or partially we are contributing to the hatred of each other? Psychologically. You may not be able to stop Russia attacking Afghanistan or some other country - or America, or England, or Japan, or whatever country it is, but psychologically are we free of our common inheritance, which is our tribal glorified nationalism? Are we free from violence? Violence exists where there is a wall around ourselves. Please understand all this. And we have built ourselves walls, ten feet high or fifteen feet thick. All of us have walls around us. And from that arises violence, this sense of immense loneliness. So the minority and the majority is you. If a group of us fundamentally have psychologically transformed ourselves you will never ask this question, because we are then something entirely different.
6th QUESTION: Christian mystics describe certain forms of mental prayer in which they speak to god, or what they call god. They say that in such prayer something tremendous happens which they call union with god. They are convinced this is not an illusion. Are they deceiving themselves? And what is faith? It appears to give people the power to do extraordinary things.
When you are tremendously national it gives you extraordinary power to kill others - right? Look what they are doing! So can an illusion really give you enormous vitality, enormous strength to do extraordinary things? Apparently it does. The Christian missionaries, what they have done in the world because they believe in something. That belief may be totally unreal, the image that the mind has created, they believe in that and they are attached to that, and they want to convert all the others of the world to that. And they put up with extraordinary discomforts, with diseases, and every kind of trouble. And those mystics who talk to god through prayer - I don't know what god is, nobody knows but to have an image that there is a supreme entity and through prayer, through faith, through dedication, through devotion, you can achieve mountains. Because sirs, if you look, what America and Russia and England and France are doing. They have tremendous faith in their country, in their nationalism, and they are building an enormous technological world to destroy the others who are also doing exactly the same thing. To go to the moon, what enormous energy it needed, what technological capacity, faith, the American first on the moon with their flag. Or the British with their flag - equally the same.
And in the Christian world they place faith first and not doubt. Faith has taken the place of doubt. Doubt is very cleansing, it purifies the mind. If you doubt your experiences, your opinions, all the rest of it, doubt it - you are free, you can observe clearly then. If you doubt your gods, your saviours, everything that comes along. In the Eastern world, like Buddhism and Hinduism, doubt is one of the major factors, it is demanded that you must doubt, you must question, you must not accept - be a light to yourself and that light cannot be given to you by anyone. Of course now in India and Asia it has all gone to pieces, they are just like anybody else, they are becoming merchants. But to have great strength, it doesn't come through prayer, it doesn't come through illusions, or faith, it comes through clarity, when the mind can see clearly, and that clarity doesn't come and go. When you see something clearly like nationalism is the most destructive thing in the world, then you are finished with it. And the ending of that burden gives you vitality, energy, strength.
Similarly if one is totally free of all attachments it gives you the strength of love, and that can do much more than all the other experiences and prayers. But you see it is an easy way to escape through an illusion, through a symbol, through an idea. It is much more arduous, it demands a great deal of energy, perception, and action to see exactly what we are and go beyond it. That means we have to become astonishingly aware of all our activities and feelings and all that. But we are unwilling to do all that. We think that through some easy prayer you can talk to god. God is, after all, put together by thought - the Christian god, the Hindu gods, the Buddhists have no gods but they have their own images.
7th QUESTION: If there is a supreme truth and order why does it allow mankind to behave on earth in such a shocking way?
If there is such a supreme entity they must be a very odd person because if he created us then we are part of him - right? And if he is order, sane, rational, compassionate, we wouldn't be like this. Either you accept the evolutionary process of man, or that man has suddenly come into being created by god. And god, that supreme entity, is order, goodness, compassion and all the rest of it, all the attributes that we give to it. So you have these two choices, that there is a supreme entity and made man according to his image, or there is the evolutionary process of man, which life has brought about from the beginning of small molecules and so on, right up to now.
If you accept the idea of god, the supreme person in whom total order exists and you are part of that entity, then that person must be extraordinarily cruel - right? Extraordinarily intolerant to make us behave as we are doing, destroying each other.
Or, there is the other, which is man has made the world as it is, the human beings have made this world, the social world, the world of relationship, the technological world, the world of society, our relationship with each other, we have made it, not god or some supreme entity. We are responsible for this horror that we have perpetuated. And to rely on a certain external agency to transform all this - this game has been played for millenia and you are still the same. I don't know if you know all this. Perhaps a little changed, a little more kind, a little more tolerant - tolerance is something ugly.
So to have order in ourselves, then you are supreme gods because the universe is order - right? Sun sets, the sun rises, the stars, the heavens the nature, this whole universe is order - not according to us, it is order, explosion, destruction, whatever is going on out there but it is order. With us there is no order. We live in confusion, we live in conflict, we live in every kind of disorder. Can there be in us total complete order? That order is not created by thought, that order has no relationship whatsoever to any system, method, which are all put together by thought. Order comes only when there is the complete ending of thought, because then thought has no place as a divisive movement - right?
8th QUESTION: I have been a member of a Gurdjeiff group (from order to disorder!) I find it has given me a background to better understanding to what you are saying. Should I continue with such a group to possibly help others, as I was helped? Or does a group make for fragmentation?
It is an extraordinary idea of helping others, as though you have got extraordinary comprehension, beauty, love and truth and the whole world of order, and that great immense sense of wholeness. If you have that you don't talk about helping others - right?
First of all why do we want to belong to something? Belong to some Sect, some group, some religious body - why? Is it because it gives us strength? It gives one great strength if you are British living in this country, to feel that you are in Britain - or in Russia, in China or in India. Is it that we cannot stand alone? The word 'alone' means all one. Is it that we need encouragement, we need somebody to tell this is the right way? And the questioner asks: as I belong to certain groups, they have helped me to understand you - understand what? Me? Do please look at it. Understood what we are talking about? Do we need interpreters to understand what we are talking about? To be kind, to love, to have no sense of nationality. Does it need anybody to tell you?
Why do we depend on others, whether the others be an image in a church, or in a temple or a mosque or the preacher, or the psychologist, or anybody - why do we depend on others? If we do depend on others psychologically we become second hand people, which we are. The whole history of mankind, is in us, the whole story of mankind is not in books - there is in outward things but the whole history is here. And we don't know how to read that; if we could read it, and to read it you are not the reader. You understand what I am saying? You are the book. But when you read the book as a reader it has no meaning. But if you are the book and the book is showing you, telling you the story, and you are not telling the story but the book is telling, then you will not depend on a single person, you will be a light to oneself. But we are all waiting for the match of another, the fire of another. And perhaps that is why you are all here. And that is where the tragedy lies because we cannot see clearly for ourselves. And before we help others we have to see clearly, for god's sake. It is like the blind leading the blind.
Questioner: Excuse me but I wanted to say you flower and we see the flower and you also help year after year those who come again and again.
K: Sir, I am glad you come here year after year. I would too. Like going to see the mountain day after day. There is great beauty in the mountain. I am not saying I am the mountain. There is great beauty in the mountain - the skyline, the snow, the valleys, the absolute quietness, and the river flowing, rippling along, chattering. There is great beauty in that and the lake that is so still. I would go and see it everyday. The more I see it the more beauty there is in it. Not one casual look of a weekend but the constant looking, asking, observing the truth and the beauty of it. Naturally one must go, move.
9th QUESTION: What is freedom? (This is the last question, thank god!)
You know many philosophers have written, talked, about freedom. We talk about freedom - freedom to do what we like. Freedom to have any job we like, freedom to choose a woman or a man, freedom to read any literature, or freedom not to read at all. We are free and so what do we do with that freedom? We use that freedom to express ourselves, to do what we like - right? Whatever we like. More and more it is becoming permissive - you can have sex in the open garden - right?
You have every kind of freedom and what have we done with that freedom? We think where there is choice we have freedom. I can go to Italy, to France, a choice - one has to have a passport and a visa. And does choice give freedom? Please follow me. Why do we have to choose? If you are very clear, clear, purely perceive, clear, there is no choice. Out of that comes right action. It is only when there is doubt, uncertainty that we begin to choose. So choice, if you will forgive my saying so, choice prevents freedom.
And the totalitarian states have no freedom at all. Because they have the idea that freedom brings about the degeneration of man, therefore control, suppress - you are following what is happening and all the rest of it.
So what is freedom? Is it based on choice? Is it to do exactly what we like? Some of the psychologists are saying, that if you feel something do it immediately, don't suppress it, don't restrain it, don't control it - express. And we are doing that very well, too well. And it is called also freedom. Throwing bombs is also freedom - right? Just look what we have reduced our freedom to.
So what is freedom? Does freedom lie out there, or here? I am just asking, I am not saying. Where do you begin to search for freedom? In the outward world, which is to express and do, act whatever you like, so-called individual freedom. Or does freedom begin inwardly, which then expresses itself intelligently outwardly? You understand my question? That is, freedom exists only when there is no confusion - right? Confusion inside me, when I am seeking perhaps psychologically and religiously, not to be caught in any trap - you understand? There are innumerable traps - gurus, saviours, preachers, the excellent books, psychologists, and psychiatrists, they are all there. And if I am confused and there is disorder, mustn't I first be free of that disorder before I talk of freedom? If I have no relationship with my wife, or with my husband, with another person, because we haven't got relationship with another; our relationship is based on images. You have an image about me and I have an image about you. And so the conflict which is inevitable where there is a division - right sirs? So shouldn't I begin here, inside me, in my skin, in my mind, in my heart to be totally free of all the fears and anxieties, despairs, hurts and wounds that one has received through some psychic disorder - you follow? All that, to watch it for oneself and be free of it.
But apparently we haven't got the energy. We go to another to give us energy. The psychiatrists, by talking to him you feel much more relieved, confession and all the rest of it. Always depending on somebody else. And so that dependence inevitably brings great conflict, disorder. So one has to begin to understand the depth and the greatness of freedom, we must begin quite near. And the nearest is you. As long as there is you and me there is no freedom. As long as you have your prejudices, and I have my prejudice, your experience, my experience, etc. etc. and so on, there is no freedom. We can express, we can criticize each other, we can do all that, that is called freedom. The right to think what you like. But freedom, the greatness of freedom, and the enormity, the dignity, the beauty of it is in oneself when there is completely order. And that order comes only when we are a light to ourselves. Finished. May I go please?
Brockwood Park 1980
Brockwood Park 2nd Question & Answer Meeting 4th September 1980
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