Saanen 2nd Public Question & Answer Meeting 26th July 1982
It is not possible to have a discussion with a large group like this. So it's a dialogue, a conversation with two people. And we will, if you do not mind, treat it as such. Two friends are talking over together about their problems. They are real friends, not convenient friends, but friends who have known each other for some time, and they are walking, perhaps, in a wood, sitting on a bench, and talking over their intimate problems, as friends do. So this is not only a conversation between two people, you and the speaker, and it's a dialogue, a friendly conversation, each one trying to penetrate into the problem as deeply as possible, and trying to find an answer to all their innumerable struggles, pain, anxieties and so on.
So that's what we are going to do this morning, two people talking over together and not asserting anything, neither one nor the other, two people who are concerned, deeply, with life, with all its complexities, with all its subtleties, its varieties, the craziness that goes on, in themselves and outwardly. So we are together, like two people who have known each other for some time, friendly, going to have conversation together.
1st QUESTION: My son died three years ago and so did my husband. I find it extremely hard to let go of the memory of their utter desperation. There must be a way, perhaps you may know it. I have come a long distance and found help listening to your talks - could you speak about death and detachment, please.
First of all, let us talk over together, what does it mean to be attached and what is the difference between attachment and dependence. What is attachment? Why is one attached to a country, to a person, to some experience they've had, to some ideology, to some definite conclusion? Why do people do this throughout the world, depending upon their circumstances, upon their environment, social, moral and so on? This is the pattern man has repeated over and over again. I've had an experience, something that stirs me deeply, brings a colour to my life, gives a meaning, and that experience, which has gone, dead, and I hold on to the memory of it. Why do we do this, my friend asks me, and I'm talking over with my friend - why human beings, wherever they live, cling to this in some form or another, to their land, their property, their wealth, their wives, their husbands and so on. Why? Please, we're talking over together, my friend and I - you are the audience who's listening. Why do we cling, be attached? The word attachment comes from attaccare, Italian, which means to put your grips into something and hold.
Is it because in ourselves we are insufficient, inwardly? Is it because there is loneliness, there is a sense of to possess something, whether it's a piece of furniture or a house or a person, to possess something, to say, "It's mine" gives a great deal of pleasure. Is it that we human beings, you and I, have nothing deeper, more vital, and therefore we hold onto something very, very superficial, something that may pass away? We know it unconsciously, something is passing away - but we hold on. We may hold onto an illusion. The word 'illusion' means to play - the root meaning of that word is to play. And we play with illusions, which is very, very satisfactory.
Or we invent a subtle form of ourselves at a different level. So we create all these things and hold on. Why? Is it that one is afraid to be nothing, to have nothing to hold onto? Is it because in possessing, holding, clinging to something, it gives us a great sense of security, a sense of well-being, because life is very uncertain, dangerous, incredibly brutal? You see the world is becoming more and more like a concentration camp.
So why are we attached, each one of us, to something? And when we look at the different forms of attachment, see the consequences of it, that is, fear, anxiety, pain, to see it, and not allow time to end it. That is, I'm attached to my wife; and I see both intellectually and deeply, that this attachment has many consequences, painful, desperate. And I see it all logically, I see it intellectually, rationally, and I can't let it go because I am afraid to be alone, lonely. And I see all this, because my friend and I are fairly intelligent, we are both looking at it. And we say, time will allow me to be free of this attachment, gradually I'll understand, gradually I'll let it go. That attitude of graduality is stupidity, because either I see the whole thing and end it immediately, or I'm foolish, because I like to cling to something, to a memory that is dead, gone. Right?
So intelligence is to see the whole movement of attachment, the whole process of it, both the inward and outward, and the very perception of it is to end it. That is intelligence, not to postpone, not to allow time to dull the mind, the brain, because if one postpones, neglects, accepts, you are living in a pattern that is already over, that is in the memory of the past - memory - it is dead. And so the brain is living with something that is finished, with something that is past. And living in the past always dulls the quality, the vitality of the brain. Right?
So we have examined, you and I, sitting on that bench in the forest, and now let's examine what is detachment. Is detachment the opposite of attachment? If one pursues detachment, and makes that another form of attachment, you are exactly the same thing as before. I hope this is clear. That is, if detachment from my attachment is its opposite, then there is conflict. Right? There is conflict between attachment and "I should be detached". And then my whole attention or my energy is trying to be detached, and yet I know I'm attached. So there is conflict going on. So we have to find out what is the relationship, if there is any, between attachment and detachment. Or there is no relationship whatsoever. When there is an ending of attachment, there is no need to use the word 'detachment'. There is the ending of it. But for most of us, our brain is conditioned to this process of the opposite.
And one has to question if there is an opposite at all. At the physical level there are the opposites, tall, short, wide, broad, ugly, beautiful and so on. But psychologically, inwardly, is there an opposite at all, or only what is? And we invent the opposite in order to lever or get rid of, get rid of what is. Right? I hope you and I sitting on that bench, are talking about this, and we understand each other. There is no authority between two friends. There is no assertion between two friends who have gone into this matter. So it is a mutual, cooperative understanding. It is not, one is telling the other, they are both are travelling together, along the same path with the same intensity, with the same depth.
So if that is clear between us two, that there is no relationship between attachment and detachment, there is only the ending of attachment and nothing else. Now is love attachment? I love my friend, I am attached to every evening to sit on the bench with him, talk over my problems. And I miss, when we don't meet with him, every day on the bench, and sit down. So we are asking each other, is love attachment, to possess somebody, to hold onto someone, whether it is the idea of god, whether it is the idea of liberation, freedom, whether it is the idea, concept, that in possession love grows? So we are questioning, what is the relationship between attachment and love? My friend who is married and has had several marriages, and he's rather wounded by all that. He's rather unhappy. And he thinks that he still loves his present wife. And he says to me, in our conversation, "I can't lose her, I must hold on, because my life is empty without her." You know all this, don't you? "I can't let her go. She wants to do something totally different from me, and it may lead her away from me. So I plead to her, I suppress my desire, my wanting something else, but I'll accept her and follow her. But inwardly there is conflict all the time, between her and me." Right? You know all this, don't you? It's not a new story is it?
So I have reduced the whole immensity of love, which is extraordinary, which I don't understand, to something so trivial. That is, I'm attached, possessive, I don't want to lose. If I lose I'm unhappy. And this I call love. So is it love. Please, don't agree. Don't say it's not. If it is not, that is the end. But most of us, my friend, is afraid to look at it, look at the complexity of it. My friend wants to move away from the subject, because if he really sees that attachment is not love, then can he go to his wife and say, "I love you, but I'm not attached to you." What would happen? She might throw a brick at me. Walk away, because her whole life is to be attached, to the furniture, to ideas, to children, to the husband - you follow?
So then what is my relationship, who have seen that love is not attachment, is not jealousy, not ambition, competition. Then to me that's a reality, not just a verbal structure. And what is my relationship to her who is quite different? Go on, sir, it's your problem, not mine.
She will not accept what to me is truth. And see, sir, see what is involved in this. How painful it all is. It's nothing superficial. It touches the very core of one's being. And what shall I do? Have patience? Patience, to be patient, doesn't require time. Patience is not time. Whereas impatience has the quality of time in it. Think it over. Right? When I realize my wife is different from me, everything which I think is totally wrong, and I have to live in the same house and so on, do I have patience, knowing, for myself that patience is not a process of time? Do I realize that, that process, patience, which is putting up, allowing, time to resolve? I can't do anything but perhaps some other day, another week, another year, we'll settle everything. So I tolerate the situation. And this tolerance loves. Go on, sir, think it out. To put up with something knowing it is wrong, wrong in quotes, and say, "Well, time will gradually eliminate it", which is, I'm really impatient to find a result. Right? So I put up with it. So what shall I do? Go on, sir, - divorce? Run away? Leave her my house, my goods etc. and say goodbye, and disappear altogether?
Or I'm asking, can my love, intense, can that bring about a change in her? Please, you're asking these questions. Can I, who have understood this whole phenomena with all its depth, will that quality of love, compassion, intelligence, bring about a change in her? That is, if she's at all sensitive, if she's at all observant, listening to what I'm saying, wants to understand each other, then there is a possibility of her changing. If she puts a ball, as most people do, then what am I to do? Go on, sir. Don't look at me, look at your selves. You see, one of our peculiarities is that we want a definite answer, we want something settled, because then I'm free, then I can do what I want. So as there is no definite answer to this question, it depends on the quality of your attention, your intelligence, your love.
And the question my friend asks: my son and husband are dead. I'm attached to their memory. I'm getting more and more desperate, more and more depressed. I'm living in the past, and the present is always coloured by the past, so what am I to do?
And the question my friend asks, let's talk over the problem of death. You and the speaker sitting on that bench, with birds singing all round them, with a thousand shadows and the river running down, swiftly, making sweet sound, and he raises this question. He says, I'm quite young, any moment an accident can happen, and there may be death, not only of my son and my wife, but also my own death. He says, "Let's talk about it."
We've spent half an hour with half a question. You don't mind? Let's talk about death. From the ancient of times, historically, culturally, from all the paintings and statuary, man has always asked, "What happens after death?" One has gathered a lot of experience, struggled to be moral, aesthetic, collected a lot of knowledge, gone into the depths of oneself. If death is the end, then what's the point of all this, what's the point of all this struggle, pain, experience, knowledge, wealth? And death is always waiting at the end of it. I may belong to one sect, accept certain costume because I belong to that sect, which is again an isolating process. And death is the common factor for all of us: for the guru, for the Pope, or the innumerable popes in the world. So that's a fact, we all want to understand the significance, the depth of that extraordinary event, which is extraordinary. And what is the relationship between death and living? Please, I hope you're following all this - I'm asking my friend, I hope you're following what I am saying. He says, go ahead, I follow verbally, I understand this.
Various civilizations throughout the world have tried to overcome death. They've said, life after is more important than now. So they prepared for death. And at present now, there are people who say, we must help our patients, our friends, to die happily. We never ask, what is important, before death, or the many years before death or after death, which is important, which is essential? I'm asking my friend. Naturally he says, "Before dying, the long years one has lived, maybe ten, fifteen, thirty, fifty, ninety - those long years before the ending. That is the period of living. That is far more significant than the ending of it." Why is it we are always asking, he and I, why don't we ask this question, not what is after, or help me to die happily. But what is my life that I have lived for eighty years? It has been one constant battle, with occasional lapse where there has been no pain, no struggle, something occasionally rarely happens. But the rest of my life has been struggle, struggle. And I've called that 'living'. Right? That's what we are all doing, not only my friend and I, but all human beings are that, struggling to have work, being unemployed, wanting more wealth, being oppressed, the tyranny of totalitarian states, and so on. It has been a vast jungle. That's been my life. And I cling to that, to the struggle, to the pain, to the anxiety, to the loneliness - that's all I have. Right? That has become all important.
So I'm asking, we're asking each other, what is it that dies? Now this becomes a rather complex question. My friend and I have time, it's Sunday morning and no work, so we can sit down and go into it. Is it the individual that dies? Please, enquire as a friend, who is it that dies? Apart from the biological ending of an organism, which has been ill-treated, it has had several diseases, illnesses, that inevitably comes to an end. You may find a new drug that may help man to live 150 years, but always at the end of 150 years, that extraordinary thing is there, waiting. Is my consciousness the whole of it, with all its content, is it mine? That is, my consciousness is its content, the content is my belief, my dogmas, my superstitions, my attachment to my country, patriotism, fear, pain, pleasure, sorrow and so on, is the content of my consciousness, and yours. So both of us, sitting on that bench, recognise this fact, that the content makes up consciousness, without the content consciousness as we know it doesn't exist. Right? So my friend and we see the logic of it, the rationality of it, and so on. We agree to that.
Then, is this consciousness which I have clung to as mine, and my friend also clings to it, calling ourselves individuals, is that consciousness unlike other consciousness? Right? Please be clear on this point. That is, if you're lucky to travel, observe, talk over with other people, you'll find that they are similar to yours. They suffer, they are lonely, they have a thousand gods and you may have one god, they believe, they don't believe, and so on. All most similar to yours, though on the periphery, there may be varieties, on the outskirts of our consciousness. You may be tall, you may be short, you may be very clever, may be scholarly, you've read a great deal, you're capable, you've a certain technique, efficiency, it's all on the periphery, on the outside. But inwardly, we are similar. Right? This is a fact. Therefore our conditioning which says we are individual, separate souls, is not a fact. This is where my friend begins to squirm, because he doesn't like the idea that he is not an individual. He can't face the fact, because all his conditioning has been that. So I say to my friend, look at it, old chap, don't run away from it, don't resist it, look at it. Use your brains, not your sentiment, not your desire - just look at it, is that a fact or not? And he accepts it, vaguely.
So if our consciousness is similar to all mankind, then I am mankind. You understand? Please understand this, the depth and the beauty of this. If I am the mankind, the entire mankind, then what is it that dies? You understand? Either I can contribute, or I move away from that entire consciousness, which is me, I cleanse the whole of my being from that - right? - that I am not individual, that I am the whole of humanity.
Then is there emptying of the consciousness, which is my belief, my anxiety, my pain, my blah, blah - all that? Is there ending to all that? If I end it, what importance is it? You follow? What importance is it or what value to humanity is it? I am the humanity, I am asking this question. What value, what significance has this when, after a great deal of intelligence, love, I observe this and in that observation there is the total ending of those contents? Has it any value? Value in the sense of moving humanity from it's present condition. Right? You understand? Surely it has, has it not? One drop of clarity in a bucket of dirt, confusion, mess, that one drop begins to act.
And the questioner, my friend says, I'm beginning to understand the nature of death. I see that the things I'm attached to, if I hold onto them, death has a grip on me. If I let them go, each day as they arise, I am living with death. You understand? Death is the ending, so I'm ending while living everything that I will lose when I die. Right? So, the question my friend asks, can I let go every day my accumulation, end it, so that I am living with death and therefore a freshness, not living in the past, in memories? Right?
So from this arises a very complex question, what is immortality? One question, we're still going on, sorry! What is immortality? That is, beyond mortality, beyond death. As we said the other day, where there is a cause, there is an end. There is an end to the effect and the cause remains and creates another effect. It's a constant change. Right? And we are asking: is there a life without any causation? Please, you understand? I'm asking my friend, do you understand what I'm saying? We live with causes - you know, I don't have to go into that. All our life is based on many, many causes. I love you because you give me something. I love you because you comfort me. I love you because I'm sexually fulfilling, and so on. That is a cause, and the effect is the word I use is 'love' which it is not, and any motive I have is a causation. So I'm asking my friend, is it possible to live without any cause, not belong to any cause in the sense, organized cause or in myself, to have no cause? Knowing if there is a causation there is an ending, which is time.
Now we're going to find out together, if there is a life, daily living, in our daily relations, in our daily activity, not some theoretical activity, actual - can one live without a cause? Look into it, my friend, don't look to me but look at it, look at the question first. Knowing when I say, I love you because in return you give me something, in that relationship of causation there is always ending of that relationship. So we're asking each other, is there a life without cause? See the beauty of it, sir, first, see the depth, see the vitality of that question, not the mere words. We said, love has no cause - obviously. If I love your because you give me something, it's a merchandise, a thing of the market. So can I love you, can there be love, without wanting, nothing physically, nothing psychologically, inwardly, nothing in any form? So that is love, which has no cause, therefore it is infinite. You understand? Like intelligence, it has no cause, it is endless, timeless, so is compassion.
Now if there is that quality in our life, the whole activity changes completely. That's enough of that question. I hope my friend who put this question has understood.
2nd QUESTION: How do you pose a fundamental question? Is holding, observing a question, a thought, is it a thought process?
I'll read that question. How do you pose a fundamental question? That's what the questioner asks. And looking at it, observing it, holding it as a jewel in your hand, will that lead to a fundamental understanding of this problem, of this question? Or is the understanding, the looking, a thought process? Right? Is the question clear?
Sir, I have a problem, the problem is my death. What is the fundamental question I can put about death? Fundamental, deep question that is reality, not just superficial reaction. "My wife is dead, I'm unhappy, please answer how to get over my unhappiness" - that's a very superficial question. "Tell me how to be detached". That's very simple. But to put a fundamental question, which we rarely do. And does the fundamental question come out, happen, when there is an observation, listening to the question without any bias, without any direction? Or can thought find, discover the fundamental question? You understand? My friend, I said, follow what I'm saying. He says, "Go on."
Have we ever observed without the word? Look at it, sirs, go into it. Because the word has become all important to us, the capitalists, the dictatorship, the German, the French, the word. And do we observe, do he and I observe that our brain is caught in a network of words? Right? Are we aware of this? The word being time, thought, memory. Right? The word is the symbol, the word is the effect of a cause, and we live with words, which is, the movement of thought, expressing itself in symbols, words, but it is movement of a thought which lives with words. Right? Look.
So the question is, can thought with its words and time, can it put a fundamental question? You understand? Thought being limited, broken up, and can such thought ask a fundamental question? Or, the questioner wants to know, my friend wants to know: fundamental question is not related to thought. Then my friend asks, how does this fundamental question arise? You're following? Please look, exercise your brain, your energy, to find this out, not go off to sleep or all that.
Does the fundamental question arise through pure observation? That is, to observe, to observe means not only with the optical eye, but observing is also listening, not only with the sensory ear but the inward ear, to listen, and to look, not translate what you look at into your own terminology, into your own words. If you translate it to suit you or look at it for your convenience, your observation then is limited. Therefore can you observe your wife, the tree, that extraordinary movement of water, those mountains - observe without the word, and listen without the word, and observe without any direction, that is, without any motive? Can you do that? That is, are you listening, I'm asking my friend, are you listening to what I'm saying? Or you can't sustain a state of attention for some time?
So can you listen without the accompaniment of thought? Which is, verbalizing, making an abstraction of what you hear, what you see into an idea and pursue the idea. You understand? Can you observe so totally, completely? And if you so observe, what is the need for a fundamental question? What is the need of a question at all? Look, sir it's like understanding envy. Let's take envy. Look at envy, which most of us are, envious. I'm sure you'd all like to sit on the platform. And you know, the quality of envy, wanting more and more and more power, position, reputation, well-known. Now envy: to look at the reaction called envy, without the word. When you say, 'I'm envious' you are merely associating the present reaction to past memories of envy. Right? Past memory. Therefore you are not looking, observing that movement of envy in the present. Can you observe envy without any movement of the past, which is thought? And when you do so observe, it's a totally new reaction and therefore it is something new which we have to observe. And when you observe the fundamental question may be, is there an end to it? Of course. Yes? Where there is a cause for your observation, there is an end to your observation. When you observe without a cause - you understand?
Shall we do one more?
3rd QUESTION: I have lived in a forest, close to nature. There is no violence there, but the outer world is the real jungle. How am I to live in it without becoming part of its competition, brutality, violence and cruelty?
First, how easy it is to live by yourself in a world. I tell my friend, I have done it, without any boast or anything, it is natural. I've done it, it's very easy, because you're not related to anybody, you look at the trees, the rivers, the plant, they invite you to look at them. The more you look at a tree, the more beautiful it becomes. The shadow, the leaves fluttering in the wind. It doesn't demand anything of you. You are enjoying yourself, listening to the birds, to the sound of water, to the lovely clear morning. And one is tempted to live like that for ever. But you can't. Even there, if you live in a forest, you're related to somebody or something. You're related to the man who brings you milk. So there is always, even though one is a hermit, always living in certain kind of relationship with another. And if you are a neurotic saint, then it becomes very easy. Most saints are neurotic. And then, they bring you food, clothes and all the rest of it.
So when one enters the world, the trouble begins. The world which human beings have created, not only the past generation upon generation, which has created this society, but also all of us have contributed to it. When you buy a stamp, when you post a letter, you are contributing to war. When you take the train, you are contributing to war. So you might say, I won't take a train, I won't post a letter, I won't telephone, I won't pay taxes, and so on. Taxes are rather different, the Government will be after you, if you have money. So what will you do? Withdraw completely, not write a letter, not travel? You understand, Sir, the question has been put to the speaker, often. You say you are against war, peace and so on, but you're contributing to it by travelling all over the world.
So where shall I stop? You understand? Not write a letter, not travel, not do all the things that are contributory, that give, help war? Or do you ask a much more fundamental question, which is, why does war exist at all? Why has man, who is so-called civilized, so-called educated, why does he support killing another, another human being. So what is the fundamental question there? Is it nationality, is it this whole idea of isolation, national isolation, individual isolation, communal isolation. When I put on a monk's robe or a different kind of robe, I am isolating myself. So is isolation the cause of war? Obviously. When I say I'm British, you're French, you're this, you're that, I'm isolating myself; I've a long tradition as a British or in India. If I am an Indian, I have a much more ancient tradition, which is isolating. So any form of isolation must contribute to war, which is war being not only killing each other but the conflict with each other. Right?
Now seeing all that, which requires intelligence, not just a vague Utopian idea, seeing that, the very perception of this fact that where there is isolation of any kind, belonging to one group against another group, one sect against another, one uniform of purple, yellow, isolating. These actually contribute to isolation and therefore inevitable conflict. To perceive that, to see the truth of it, requires intelligence, not say I agree with it. And do nothing about it. But when I see the truth of it, that very perception is the action of intelligence. Right? So with that intelligence, I enter the world. Which is, that intelligence which has no cause, that love that has no cause, compassion obviously cannot have a cause, with that beauty, with that clarity, with that energy, I meet, I meet the world which is brutal. I act from that love. Or rather, that love that has no cause, acts. I may be a beggar, or very good technician, but the quality of that can never enter the world of ambition, brutality, violence.
Now, my friend says, "I understand. I understand very clearly what you say, I have grasped intellectually what you have said, superficially." Now, how am I to capture it, how am I to hold it, as I hold breath, as I breathe, hold something, so enormous? What is the method, what is the system that will help me? Of course, obviously, when you follow a system, you are gone, finished. Because you want to achieve that state of real love, and you want to achieve because you're unhappy, therefore you have a motive, therefore it's not intelligence, therefore it's not love.
So when you have this perfume, then you can go through the world that perfume never losing its beauty.
Saanen 2nd Public Question & Answer Meeting 26th July 1982
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