Ojai 1st Public Question & Answer Meeting 5th May 1981
I am afraid all the questions that have been given cannot all be answered because there are too many of them, and I hope you don't mind if your particular question is now answered. Out of the collection we have chosen some of these and we will go into them.
What is one's approach to a question? If all these questions were given to you, how would you answer them? What would be your approach, how would you listen to the question and what is the response to that question? Is it the answer, or the question itself? How would you deal with a question?
1st QUESTION: You talk about the ill effects of conditioning. Yet many psychologists, philosophers and so on say that only through proper conditioning can man think and act clearly. What's your answer?
Now how would you answer that question if it was put to you? You must have thought about it, how would you respond to that? What would be your approach to it? How do you listen to a question of this kind? Do you, after having read many, or perhaps some philosophers and psychologists and books on all that kind of thing, you are ready to respond from your collected memory and answer that question? Or putting aside what others have said, how would you answer it?
First, isn't it obvious, I think it is, that all human beings throughout the world, after so many millions of years, are conditioned. That's a fact. They are conditioned by their religions, by establishments of governments, by economic conditionings, climate, food, clothes, by their family, by their education, and so on. All human beings right through the world are conditioned. That's an obvious, acceptable, reasonable fact. And there are those philosophers and psychologists who say that you must accept this conditioning. You have heard about that too. And they assert, some of them, that the conditioning can never be changed. The human conditioning can never be transformed. There can never be a mutation from this conditioning, and so make the best of it. And if you are a clever writer and have the gift of the tongue, you enlarge that, and you become famous. And we poor laymen accept the people who are clever, erudite and go on with their assertions. But if one can put all that aside and look at ourselves, how do we deal with this fact, which is that we are all conditioned? If you live in India, you are conditioned in a particular way, religions, superstition, ignorance, poverty, climate, the food, the lack of space, over population; and as you come along West the same phenomena is going on: the Christians are conditioned after two thousand years by their society, their culture and so on.
Philosophers and psychologists apparently do not investigate themselves. They have theories, they have experimented on pigeons, animals and from that they come to certain conclusions. But they never say, look, I am conditioned, my conditioning is my religion, my society, my family, my name, the tradition, and see if I cannot possibly undo all that and discover if it is at all possible to free the mind from this conditioning. Right? Now can we do that together now? Do you understand my question? Am I making myself clear?
We are conditioned to live in America, you are conditioned by an affluent society, by this enormous drive for pleasure, entertainment; and the fanciful religions and the romantic East and their gurus and all that. We are unfortunately conditioned. Now can we discover, become aware of this conditioning? I am conditioned - suppose - born in India with all the nonsense that goes on around religion, and they were very, very orthodox at the time the speaker was born, tremendously so-called religious, a Brahmanic class with their tradition and so on. Now if one is aware of that, can one actually free oneself from all that heavy, from two, three, five thousand years of so-called civilization?
That's the problem the questioner asks: can I, the questioner says, can I be free from all this? Who is speaking the truth, the philosophers, the psychologists, the people who assert that you cannot possibly change the conditioning of man; human nature can be modified but it can never radically be transformed. If you accept that, which is very convenient and happy, you can trot along for the rest of your life, living in a small circle of conditioning and say that is inevitable. But if one goes into it much more deeply, if one wants to find out what the conditioning is and whether it is possible to really, very deeply, at the very root of it, this conditioning, be free of all that. That's the question.
Now how does one set about it? I see I am conditioned. What do we mean by that word conditioned? The brain being very, very pliable, subtle, has an extraordinary capacity to absorb, hold, confine itself to a certain limitation, feeling that it is safe in that limitation, which is really the conditioning - I hope you are following, am I going too fast? - and it feels safe in that conditioning, secure, protected, and it is unwilling to let go and look. Unwilling because of the long habit, the many thousands of years of being confined, limited to a particular experience, knowledge and all the rest of it, so it feels completely secure in that conditioning. And it accepts what the psychologists, the philosophers, other people say: live with it, be happy in it, make the best of it, better bathrooms, better relationship, always a little better, a little more convenient. And all the psychologists help us to be a little more happy, a little more adjustable, a little more accepting what this conditioning involves.
Now if one says, I really want to find out, not what the psychologists and others are saying, but I really want to find out if this conditioning can ever be resolved. First what are the results of this conditioning? What happens to a mind, or to a brain that is conditioned before we can say, I will be free of conditioning? Please, are we meeting each other or shall we go on with this? You are doing it yourself, I am not doing it for myself. This is not group analysis, or group therapy, all that kind of nonsense. But we are trying to find out whether it is possible to free the brain from its heavy conditioning. When one is conditioned, when the brain is conditioned, that conditioning brings various forms of conflict. Right? I am conditioned as a Hindu, suppose, or a Catholic, or a Protestant, or whatever it is. Naturally the brain being so conditioned becomes atrophied. Right? Are we following each other? Have you noticed if you keep on repeating that you are a Christian, that you must behave this way, that you must be like that, that there is only one saviour and so on and so on, this very repetition, this constant acceptance of something unreal, which has no factual actuality, then the brain must inevitably become more and more atrophied. Right? That's so obvious, you can see them all. When you are constantly repeating, 'I am British', or 'I am Catholic', I am this or that, then naturally the brain will inevitably become mechanical, will inevitably become narrow, and gradually wither, become atrophied. That's what is going on. Right?
That is one of the results of conditioning. There are many other factors of this conditioning, which are, separation, division, where there is division there must be conflict. Right? Please we are examining ourselves, looking at our conditioning and investigating that conditioning. The speaker is not investigating but you are doing the investigation, only I am verbalizing it. Right? Let's be clear on that point. You are not listening to the speaker and so accepting what he is saying but you are actually looking at your own conditioning - if you are aware of it, if you want to go into it, if not it's all right. But if you are enquiring into it you can observe the results and the consequences of this conditioning.
Then the next question is: is it possible to be free of all this? Why, why should one be free of it? Because the very examination and the reason, sanity, points out one cannot live constantly in a narrow little groove. Right? Which emphasizes naturally the egotistic, egocentric activity. Right? So what is one to do? I am conditioned, if I am, and I realize the consequences of it. Then is it possible to be free of all that conditioning? Is it possible bit by bit? You understand? Little by little. That may take me for the rest of my life. I may be free of it just as I am dying. That's not very amusing. It has no meaning. So I ask, is it possible to be aware without any prejudice, without any choice, just be aware of my conditioning? And then is it possible, not allowing time as a factor to dissolve this conditioning - not allowing time, you understand, am I making myself clear? Time being, I will do it gradually. So is it possible to look at this conditioning without the time element at all?
This is not something cranky, some new fad, something you have to accept but reason points this out. Reason says, you are conditioned, and reason points out that if you take time over it, many years, you have other forms of conditioning going on. So there is only one act that must absolutely dissolve the totality of the conditioning. Right? I am putting this question to you. Look at it first, don't say, is it possible, it is not possible, and brush it aside.
I am born as a Protestant, or a Catholic, or I have a particular conditioning with regard to nationalism, or I am conditioned to the pursuit of only pleasure at any price - which is what is happening in this country, entertainment. Now can I, not allowing time, which is asking a tremendous question, you understand, because our brain which has evolved through time, through millions and millions of years, we have come to this point, which is a great tragedy, because look at ourselves, and the brain has evolved in time, and we are asking something, we are demanding the brain to act totally differently. Are we following each other a bit? Which is reasonable, you understand. The question may be unreasonable, the question being not to allow time, that may be unreasonable, but we see if we allow time there are other forms of factors entering which also condition, so the mind can never be free from conditioning if the mind allows time to interfere with the dissolution of conditioning. Is this clear? So I must be absolutely - the brain must understand this, that it has evolved through time, and it is being challenged, a crisis is being brought to it, saying you must be free of time. And that says, that is impossible. That is a natural reaction, isn't it?
Can we go on from there? I can go on, but you understand. See what takes place when the future is now. I wonder if you see that. The future is time, isn't it? Tomorrow is time. And if there is no tomorrow, I have to act so completely now, or invite the future now. So that the brain has to face this fact that though it has been trained, educated, conditioned, shaped in the process of time, and now it is facing a challenge which says, think or act totally differently which is not of time. I wonder if you see this. Are we asking this too much? What do you say?
So that is the real question. The philosophers and psychologists and others have said, accept human conditioning, modify it, give time so that it becomes more and more cultured through knowledge, and knowledge becomes all important, knowledge is time, because knowledge means accumulation which means time. I don't know if you follow all this. And we accept all this because it is very convenient, very natural, apparently very natural. And also it is very convenient, comforting that I have many or some years and so on and so on. When the brain is challenged that it is not through time that the condition can be dissolved, then it says, it is impossible and it is stuck there. That's what is happening to you now. I don't know if you observe, if you are aware of the fact. Right? Can we go on from there a little bit? The speaker can go on verbally, explain, but that is of no value unless you yourself actually perceive it, see the truth of this fact that if you allow time, and time is not a factor that can dissolve or uncondition the mind, when the mind is conditioned the consequences are what we live with: our struggle, conflict, misery and all the rest of it. That is part of our conditioning.
So can the brain be free, able to look at this problem, this challenge, without any fear, without any choice, face it? Then the brain becomes extraordinarily active, doesn't it. I wonder if you see. You have broken the tradition. And then one asks, what is freedom then? You understand? The freedom that we have taken for granted, to do what we like to do, that is what we call freedom, especially in this country, we are all free to do what we like, and immediately if possible. The consequences of that, you know what it is. That's not freedom, obviously. So freedom then means the brain being free of the conditioning and is incapable of thinking in terms of time. Just a minute, go into it slowly.
I need time to learn how to drive a car. I need time to learn a language, a month, six weeks, or three months. I need time to learn any skill. There I need time. But I discover that time psychologically is not necessary. The time has conditioned us. Right? And the question of time, both the physical as well as psychological time; the physical time is necessary to go from here to where one lives; but time as the future, of me getting better and better and better, me trying to become somebody, psychologically, is it a fact? Or is it an illusion which thought has created: I am not happy, but I will be happy; heaven is in that hole and ultimately I will go there. All the evangelistic promises, you know all that is going on in this country.
So can the brain be free of conditioning as time? You understand my question? And the philosophers and the psychologists say that is impossible. And there have been specialists having written books, published, sell it, they become famous and we, laymen, accept it, we accept the specialists. Right? That is one of our conditionings.
So when you look at all this, sensitively aware of what the others are saying, sensitively aware of one's own conditioning, and seeing that time is a factor that really shapes the brain to a particular conditioning - it has taken two thousand years for Christians to accept all that tremendous propaganda which is going on now; and the Hindus with their propaganda three, four thousand years. It has taken time. The constant repetition: Jesus is the saviour; and they have their own pattern in India, in Japan, in China, repeat, repeat, repeat. Obviously the brain becomes atrophied and probably that is what is happening to humankind. Right?
Sorry one has taken so long about one question.
2nd QUESTION: You speak sometimes of the brain and also of the mind. Is there a difference between them? And if so what is their relationship?
How would you answer this question? You see you are all learning apparently from me, please don't. Don't please learn from another, specially in psychological, spiritual, so-called spiritual matters. You have to be a light to yourself, and that light cannot be lit by any other. So I am not teaching - the speaker is not teaching you. We are observing our own minds, and our own hearts, and our own existence, our daily life as we live it.
So the questioner says, what is the difference between the mind and the brain. What is the relationship between the two? Is there something separate as the mind apart from the brain? Or there is only the brain which has created the mind, and then tries to establish a relation between the two. Which is a game it can play everlastingly. Do you follow? Right? That is, the brain realizes its limitation because it is conditioned, everlastingly in conflict and all the rest of it. So thought is the instrument of the brain, so it invents a mind, a super mind. Right? Super consciousness, and then tries to establish a relationship between the two. I don't know if you are following the game it plays.
So we are asking, is there a mind which is not brought about by thought as a comforting idea apart from the brain? You are following all this? Most of us I am afraid are so emotional and react to quickly that we don't use reason. Somehow reason seems to be wrong. So we are understanding the limitation of reason first and seeing if we can't go beyond it. Right? Does one see the limitation of reason? However reasonable it is, it is limited, obviously. First we must exercise reason, sanity, not just be emotional about any matter.
So there is the brain which is conditioned, whose instrument is thought. Thought is brought about through various sensations, experiences, knowledge, memory, thought, action. That is the chain the brain lives with, or lives in that chain, within that area. And knowledge can never be complete, knowledge must always go with ignorance, always. There is no complete knowledge about anything. So man realizes this and projects an idea of god - god is omnipotent, you know. I wonder if you are following all this?
So is there a mind apart from the brain? And is the brain infinite? The brain is infinite if it is free from all conditioning. Am I merely spinning a lot of words, or are we following each other? Are you doing it for yourself? As long as the brain is conditioned in any shape, or at any level, at any depth, it must be limited. And when that limitation, restriction, confinement, condition is totally eliminated, disappears completely the brain is infinite. This is reasonable, isn't it? I wonder if you are following all this?
K: Sir, the capacity to perceive wholly, holistic perception, is not possible if the brain is limited. Right? If the brain is prejudiced. Let's put it much more simply: if you are prejudiced your thinking is always limited. Right? And this prejudice is the result of one's conditioning. And that conditioning limits the capacity of the brain. If I am a surgeon for the rest of my life, I have spent ten years in the world of medicine, surgery and I have specialized in that, my brain is limited, it cannot have an holistic perception. Even the scientists who talk about holistic perception, if they are conditioned, which is fear, nationality, jealousy and all the rest of it, as most of them are, their brain is limited. Right? And therefore they are incapable of holistic perception though they write about it. You understand? So the holistic perception is possible only when there is the total elimination of conditioning. And man says that is not possible. You follow? Somebody comes along and says, it is possible if you go very carefully step by step, understand it very deeply.
The brain as it is now is limited by its own conditioning, by its own desire to be completely safe, secure, in relationship, in job, you know, secure. Because it feels it can function only when there is complete security. Right? That is, if I am a first-class surgeon and I am secure in that the brain functions happily. Do you understand what I am talking about? Of course this is reason. So the brain is limited in its action.
And is it possible to perceive something holistically apart from the brain? This becomes more complex. Have you ever perceived anything wholly? Please investigate it a little bit. To perceive something wholly is to not let the word, the image, the symbol interfere with perception. Right? Let's begin with that. Can we look at a tree, that, without calling it a tree? Right? We can. Because the word tree is not that. We have used the word tree to symbolize, or we have used the word tree to communicate a certain object. And so our brain is conditioned by words. Right? And can one be free of the word to look? That's fairly easy, to look at that without the word, that is fairly easy. But to look at ourselves without the word is much more complex because we live by words. I am an American, I am a Catholic, the word. And the content of that word. The word by itself means nothing, but thought has given the content to that word. I wonder if you see.
So to perceive something holistically, that is to perceive without time, is to have a mind that is global. To see humanity as a whole, not, I am identified with humanity, which is silly. But to see humanity with all its struggle, pain, anxiety, misery, joy, pleasure, travail that human beings go through, as a human whole. I think that is part of the mind, the holistic perception is the mind. I won't go much more deeply, that is enough for the moment.
The relationship between the mind the brain can only take place when the brain is equally infinite, which is when it is free from its conditioning.
3rd QUESTION: I have been deeply hurt in childhood. In spite of trying to understand what happened that hurt remains, what am I to do?
Are you asking me what to do? Or rather let's find out what to do together. Most people from their childhood until now when they grow up and mature, old age, they get hurt. You all must be hurt. Aren't you all hurt? Some are aware of their hurt, others are not. What is it that is hurt? What are the consequences of that hurt? And whether it is possible not to be hurt at all, at any time? Or, when one is hurt, is it possible to be so free of that hurt and discover never to be hurt at all? You understand? Are we all working together, or am I working and you are just listening? I hope not because there is no fun in that.
So together let's examine these three things: what is it that is hurt; and what are the consequences of that hurt; and if one is aware of that hurt, what is one to do; and do we see the consequences of the hurt? Right? First what is it that is hurt? When I say to myself, I am hurt. It happens in childhood, a harsh word, a gesture, a cruel look, and in this modern world as you must know, thousands and thousands of children are leaving their homes, running away, becoming prostitutes because at home they are beaten, ill-treated, scolded, the misery of all that. They are all so deeply hurt. And in school they are hurt because they have been compared with somebody who is more clever, better marks, better position, first-class examination, you don't pass as well as the other, you are hurt.
So this process of hurt goes on right through life, not just in childhood. When you get married you wife says something to hurt you, or you say something to hurt her. So life becomes a process of deep hurt. See the tragedy of all this that we are doing to ourselves. God!
And the consequence of that hurt is that we build a wall around ourselves never to be hurt more, so get frightened, withdraw, isolated, and from that isolation act which becomes more and more neurotic. And there are all the people trying to help you not to be neurotic. So what is one to do? From childhood you are hurt, the parents are busy, irritated, tired, bad relationship between them, they want to fulfil in sex, or this, or something rotten goes on in their relationship, and they take it out on the children. You have seen all this. The foreman scolds the workman and so on.
Now, what is it that is hurt? Please let's reason together. The speaker is not the Delphic Oracle! There is no Delphic Oracle, even though the church talks about it. So let us reason together. What is it that is hurt? There is the physical hurt - disease, accident, maimed, and so on. That is one thing. That can be met if the brain is intact, naturally, then for thought not to identify with that particular pain and keep on with that pain. You can deal with that fairly easily. But psychologically, inwardly we are hurt. And we are asking what is it that is hurt. You are all hurt. And is it an image that you have built about yourself that is hurt? Because each one of us has an image about oneself, that is a fact: that you are clever, not clever, that you are beautiful, not beautiful, that you must be this and you must not be that. You have gradually through time, through childhood have built this up, that you are American, that you must behave this way, or you are free. You have a certain myth about yourself. And when that image is questioned, is trodden upon, has a pin put in it, that image gets hurt.
I mean we are reasoning, you are not accepting what the speaker is saying. And so as long as you have that image you are going to be hurt. Now from childhood - please this is real education, if you are interested - from childhood not to create that image. That is real education. Now the question is: I see I am hurt, I know the origin of that hurt, somebody said something, I was beaten, or I was insulted, all kinds of things, so the image gets hurt. The image is me, me who has built it up: I am beautiful, I am right, I am wrong, I must become something, I must become successful, I must fulfil - you follow? That's the image I have about myself. And as long as I have that image, you, somebody, is going to put a pin into it, then I get hurt.
Q: What if someone leaves you that you love? What if it is not just your ego getting hurt, what if it is your heart? Isn't there more to it than that?
K: As long as I have an image about myself there is no holistic perception, or love. Obviously. This is not the moment to go into it. We are dealing with hurt. And can one be aware of that hurt, sensitively, not say, I must not be hurt, be aware of it. And see and find out for oneself if it is possible not to have an image about oneself at all. If I have an image about myself I will be dependent on you, comparing myself with people who have tremendous audience - you follow? Somebody calling me a fool because you think you are a great man, or this or that. So there is always the feeling that I am going to be hurt. And as long as I have that image I am going to be hurt. Now can I live in daily life - please listen - in daily life without a single image? Again the brain has been used to this fact of having an image: myself, how I look, how I don't look, you follow, the image. Society, education, the priests, the psychologists, the philosophers, have built in me as my image, my knowledge which is my image. So is it possible to live without a single image?
Ojai 1st Public Question & Answer Meeting 5th May 1981
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