Bombay Question & Answer Meeting 9th February 1984
There are several questions, a whole packet of them. How do you approach a question? Is the question more important than the answer? Or does the answer lie in the question itself? So we are asking before we go into these questions, how you receive a question, how you look at a question, how you respond to a question. Or are you merely seeking an answer to the question? If you are seeking an answer, the answer is more important than the question. So we are saying it is very important how you approach a question. And the manner, how you investigate the question, for the answer lies in the question itself, not away from it. I hope this is clear, that we are both seeking to find a solution to a question, but we are saying that it is far more important to understand the nature and the content of the question. So we are both of us, you and the speaker, are going to investigate the question itself, and then in understanding the question the answer is in the investigation of that question. I hope this is clear.
There are several questions here and you and the speaker together are going to explore the nature of the question, and then perhaps we will be able to find the answer in the question itself. Is this fairly clear? So we are going to read these questions first.
1st Question: What is beauty? Why do we like things that are beautiful?
That's the question. So we are together going to investigate, explore, to find out the question itself, the content of the question. Is this clear? The questioner asks, what is beauty. Now when you look around this hall, is it beautiful? When you look at the sky of an evening, with one star in the heavens, is that beautiful? Or when you see a marvellous sunset, full of colour, great depth, great sense of expansion, the whole universe is filled with light and colour, is that beautiful? Or only the things that man has made are beautiful? Man has made the cathedrals, the temples, the churches, and the various types of mosques all over the world. So man-made things like a painting, poem, a sculpture, a building, which are all mad-made, and therefore are they beautiful? That is, is man the measure of beauty? Or man is the measure of all things? Do we understand each other?
We are asking to find out what is beautiful. It is a very complex question and requires a great sensitivity to find out for ourselves what is beauty. You see a marvellous sunset, the early morning rising of the sun over the trees, or you see a great mountain against a clear blue sky, tender, quiet, silent, great sense of tremendous dignity, a sense of wonder. When that takes place, that is, when you see a great marvellous thing, what happens when you look at it? When you look at a sunset over the sea, and a great light, brilliant ball of sunset, what takes place in you? Please we are investigating together, you are not just waiting for the speaker to answer your question. We are together exploring the question, whatever the question, political, economic, social and so on.
The questioner here is asking what is beauty. We are saying that beauty exists only when the self, the 'me' is not. Man-made things like a painting, like a marvellous photograph of a tree, or of a person, of a great river flowing down full of light and volume, when you look at all this, the wonder of the earth, the beauty of the earth, what takes place in you when you look at something extraordinarily beautiful? For the moment you cease to exist. You with all your problems, with your worries, with your daily travail and misery, confusion, all that is dissipated or driven away by something that you see with great, tremendous beauty. You, for the moment, are absent. Would you agree to that? Are you listening to all this? If you are listening and you see or perceive when there is beauty, great beauty, not merely physical beauty of a woman or a man, when you perceive that, for a second your self is not there. I would consider that is great beauty.
And also - it is a very noisy place, isn't it - and also the questioner asks, why do we like something that is beautiful. And also that question implies, why do we tolerate something that is ugly, dirty, like the filthy streets of Bombay, why do we tolerate it, why do we allow it? You might say, it is not our responsibility, it is the responsibility of the government, and the government is corrupt and so everything goes to pieces. But are we aware, sensitively, to the environment in which we live, the room in which we live, whether it is orderly, clean, well proportioned or not, are we aware of all this? Or, we just put up with everything? And so most of us become when you see constantly day after day the squalor, the dirt, the inhumanity of man against man, you get used to it, your sensitivity becomes dull, corroded, and so you never see actually that which is beautiful.
2nd Question: Is the perception of the actual possible without the intervention of thought?
Do you understand the question? Is it possible to perceive a tree, your wife, or your husband, or your boss, or your helper, your servant, or the nature around you, to perceive that without the intervention of thought? If the question is clear, that is, can you see a tree, or the new moon, or the setting of the sun, or your wife, or your husband, or your children, without thought interfering with your perception? That's the question. Let us explore the question.
What do we mean perceiving, to perceive, to observe? When you perceive your wife, or your husband, or your girl friend, or your son, do you actually see them as they are, or you have a picture of them, an image of them, and through that image, through those coloured glasses of memories, conclusions, you look through? Please examine kindly what the speaker is saying. Examine your own wife, or your husband, or your neighbour, or your boss and so on, whether you can look at them without a single movement of thought or image or the word. Suppose I am married - which I am not - suppose I am married, I live with my wife for twenty, or thirty, or fifteen days, and during that interval of time I have built through various incidents, accidents, an image about her. She has built an image about me. These images, these memories, prevent me from looking at her actually, what she is.
And then the question arises: is it possible to look at a human being, whether it be my wife, or a neighbour, or a stranger, to look at them without a single movement of thought. That is what the questioner is asking. You are sitting there, and the speaker is siting up here, you apparently are here with an image, with a conclusion, with memories of the speaker. Right? Right sirs? Are you responding to my question? Can you observe the speaker without all the reputation that you have build about him, all the things that have been said about him, and all the things that you perhaps may have read about him, what he has said, to put away all that and look at him, observe him. Will you do that? Can you do it? That is, to look at something, or a person, or anything, without a previous memory, conclusion, remembrance, just to look afresh, is that possible? That means thought not interfering with your observation. If you have ever tried, or if you ever will do it, you will find the most extraordinary things happen. You begin to discover something which you have never thought of. You begin to discover something totally new. If you look at your wife, or your husband without all the memory that you have accumulated about her, and she about you, then you are looking at her, or him, for the first time afresh. So a relationship is constantly renewed, fresh, not the old memories of relating and interfering. Have you ever tried all this? Or are you just listening, 'Yes, it sounds very grand, but I can't do it', and carry on. So if you actually do it once or twice, to put away all the accumulated memories that you have about her or him, then you are looking at the person for the first time afresh. And when you look at that person afresh something totally new takes place, a new kind of relationship comes into being.
3rd Question: How can one live with a husband who does not care?
I don't know! Let's look into the question. What is a husband, and what is a wife? In America, and other parts of the world, man, a boy and a girl are living together without going through marriage ceremony, or going through the Registrar to register their marriage. That's one thing: a boy and a girl live together without going through marriage, or recording officially. Then there is the other side: you go through a ceremony between man and woman, and that ceremony, that going to church, or the Registrar, that officially makes you man and wife, husband and wife. What is the difference between these two? You understand my question? What is the difference between a man and a woman living together without going through the ceremony of marriage, and what is the difference between them and a man and woman who go through an expensive marriage, what is the difference between the two? One has a paper, legalized, saying, you are husband and wife, society says you are married, you have certain responsibilities to look after your wife, your children and all the rest of it. And also the others who do not go to church and all the rest of it, or go through a marriage ceremony, either they are very irresponsible, or they are very responsible. Both are responsible. Right? If they take living together seriously both are responsible.
So we are asking, what is a husband, and what is a wife? You answer that question, most of you, I presume who are here, are married, or you have a girl friend - perhaps not in India so much but in Europe and America it is quite common. So what is a husband? A husband is supposed to work, go to the office, or go to some kind of work from nine till five o'clock, spends most of the day in an office, either pleasant or unpleasant, a factory and so on. And then comes home. The wife, the woman, cooks the meal, looks after, if she has children, the children, and so on. This is our daily routine. Right? Do you agree to that? For god's sake. Yes? This is what is happening the world over: the woman stays at home, or she goes to the office also to earn more money, and the wife generally looks after the children if she has any, and stays at home. What is the relationship between these two people? The husband who works from nine till five, and also the woman goes off to work from nine till five, what is their relationship? Have you ever thought about it? Life is becoming more and more complex, more and more expensive, so both the woman and the man have to work. And if they have children, which perhaps unfortunately they have, what happens to the children? The woman comes home and the husband comes home, tired, and will they care for each other, except sexually? Will they really care? You ask this question to the speaker, and he is supposed to answer that question. You should put this question to yourself and not to the speaker.
The question is: how does one live with a husband who doesn't care? Either you say, goodbye, old man, or, old boy, or you put up with him. This is generally what happens, you put up with him, getting more and more indifferent to each other, more and more isolated, more and more depressed, and all the misery of living with a man or a woman who doesn't really care at all. It's your problem, not mine. So what will you do? Go after another woman, go after another man? And it happens. It will also happen there, after a little while he will not care. So you are probably always caught in this problem. Which means, is there love at all? When two people live together, is it a sexual, biological activity of coming together, or is there love in their lives, caring for each other? Perhaps you know this answer better than the speaker.
4th Question: Is it necessary to marry in love? What is the physical relationship between man and woman?
I don't know, you ought to know. What a strange question this is, isn't it? Is it necessary to marry in love? What do you say? If the speaker puts this question to you, what will you answer: is it necessary sirs, and ladies, that I should marry? What would be your answer? Your answer probably would be, do what you want to do, why bother me with it. It's up to you.
But you see the question is really much more complex than that. We all want companionship, we all want sexual relationships, a biological necessity. And also we want somebody on whom we can rely, in whom we can find security, in whom there is a sense of comfort, support. Because most of us cannot stand alone, on our own feet, therefore we say, I must marry, or I will have a friend, or whatever it is, I must have somebody with whom I can be at home. We are never at home with anybody because we are living in our own thoughts, in our own problems, in our own ambitions and so on. And we are frightened to stand alone. Because life is very lonely, life is very, very complex, troublesome and one needs somebody with whom you can talk things over. And also when you marry you have sexual relationship, children and so on. So in this relationship between man and woman it is always, if there is no love, that you use her and she uses you, you exploit her and she exploits you. That's a fact.
So the questioner says, asks, should one marry. And what is the physical relationship between man and woman. Don't you know? It's up to you, sirs. But to really enter into this whole complex problem of living together, not only with two people, living together with humanity, with your neighbour, with your boss, with your servant, if you have a servant, with your father, and mother, and children, to live together, it's a very complex thing. Living together as a family gives you a certain security, certain safety, and so you extend that family to a group, to a community, to a state, to a nation, and from a nation which is opposed to another nation, and so there is always division and conflict, and wars. So one has to find out how to live with another without any conflict, without any sense of struggle, adaptation, adjustment. That requires a great deal of intelligence, integrity. But we just marry on because of sexual, biological demands and so on.
Did you make up these questions?
K: They say, no.
5th Question: What is the difference between the brain and the mind?
This is a very complex question. We know what the brain is. The scientists are saying now, there is the left side of the brain and the right side of the brain. The left side of the brain is used daily. I won't go into all the details of it, you can read it, if you want to, I haven't read it, but some friends who are scientists have told me about it. The left side of the brain is in operation, activity, functioning with all the daily activity. And the right side of the brain is not operating fully, not functioning fully because the right side of the brain is much more intelligent, much more acute, much more aware. And also the brain is the centre of all action and reaction, of all the sensory responses. This is what the speaker is saying. So the brain contains, or has, the whole content of consciousness. Consciousness is your belief, your faith, your name, your faculty, capacity, all the memories, all the hurts, pleasure, pain, agony, sorrow, all that, affection and so on, all that is the content of your consciousness. The content of your consciousness is you, is the self, is the 'me'. That content of consciousness may invent a super-super-consciousness, or invent various kinds of unimagined, or imagined states, but it is still within the content of your consciousness. Do we see this? You, you are your name, your body, your anger, your greed, your competition, your ambition, your pleasure, your pain, and so on, affection, all that, you are that. And that means the content of your consciousness. The content of your consciousness is the past. Right? Past memories, past incidents, past - all kinds of activities, experiences, you are the past. You are knowledge, which is the past. So that is the brain.
We are saying, and the speaker may be wrong, and he has discussed this matter with some of the so-called scientists, and even then the speaker may be wrong, don't please accept what he says; doubt what he says, question, enquire. He says, the brain is the whole limited consciousness, with all its content, pleasant, unpleasant, ugly, beautiful, struggle, all that is your content. And the mind is something totally separate from the brain. The mind is outside the brain - the speaker is saying, the scientists are not saying that. The speaker says the brain is one thing, and mind is something entirely different. The brain with all its content, with its struggles, with its pain, anxieties, can never know, understand the beauty of love. Love is limitless. It is not, I love one person only. It is too vast, too tremendous. And the brain with all its contents, miseries, confusion, cannot comprehend, or hold, or be alive to love; only the mind, which is limitless.
So there is a difference between the brain and the mind. Then what the questioner doesn't ask, there is still a further question involved in this: what is the relationship then between the mind and the brain? The brain is limited, limited because it is made up of all kinds of separate parts, fragmented, broken up, and therefore it is in constant state of struggle, conflict. Whereas the mind is totally out of that category. There is a relationship only when the brain is completely free, if that is possible, from all the content of its memories. This requires a great deal of enquiry, sensitivity. Intelligence is not of the brain. The intelligence of thought cannot contain the intelligence of the mind. Do you understand all this? Does somebody understand what I am talking about? No. All right.
Look, sirs, be very simple, because if one can be very, very simple you can go very, very far. But if you begin with lots of complex theories and conclusions, you are stuck. So let's be very simple. Your daily life, going to the office, working and working and working, trained in certain disciplines, as doctor, surgeon, businessman, or a cook, or whatever it is, your brain is being narrowed down, limited. If I am a physicist I spend years and years learning about physics, studying, investigating, research into it, so my brain is being narrowed down. There are two scientists here, they agree! And our brain has become mechanical, routine, small, because we are so concerned with ourselves, always living in a very, very small area of like, dislike, pain, sorrow, and all the rest of it. But the mind is something entirely different. You cannot understand or comprehend the nature of that mind if your brain is limited. You cannot understand the limitless when your life is limited. Right? So that is the relationship, the relationship between the brain and the mind can only take place when the brain is free from its content. This is a complex question, and requires much more going into but we haven't the time for it.
6th Question: What is faith?
Faith in god, faith. I have faith in my wife, she won't betray me. I have faith in my husband. I have faith in my business. Faith. The whole of Christendom, all the religious structure, nature, of Christianity is based on faith. And there they do not question, they do not have doubt, scepticism. If you have faith in god then you cannot possibly allow any form of scepticism, doubt to enter; or in the Islamic world. But in the Hindu world, and in the Buddhist world, doubt is one of the necessary qualities to cleanse the mind, brain. You have faith, haven't you, all of you, belief? Have you ever questioned your belief, your faith and your illusions? Or you just accept them? When you have faith you have put aside altogether any question of investigation. Suppose I believe in god, believe, have faith in god, then every question, every doubt must be set aside because my belief in god is based on fear. I don't know what the world is, somebody has created it, and I like to think god has created it - that's one kind of belief. The scientists say there is no such thing as god, it is a natural growth of evolution from the cell into very, very, very, complex cells of the human brain.
So why do we have faith? Isn't that very restricting, narrowing down, limiting? And doesn't faith divide people - the Christian faith, and the Islamic faith, and the Hindus who probably have no faith about anything at all. And so there is constant conflict between them all.
You see there is also another complex question involved in this: why do we have ideals? The whole communist world is based on the theoretical supposition of Marx, Stalin and so on, Lenin - they are their gods. And they believe in what they have said as the Christians believe in what the Bible says, or the Koran, or you, with your Gita, Upanishads, or something else, you are all absorbing what the books say, but you never, for yourself, question the whole thing, because the moment you question, doubt, you have to rely on yourself, and therefore you are frightened; therefore much better to have faith in something illusory, something that doesn't really actually exist. But if you know for yourself, I have to understand my own life, I have to see if it is possible to bring about a great revolution in my life, then you start from there. But if you have faith in something, you are living in an extraordinarily illusory world.
We have got a lot of questions.
7th Question: If human consciousness is one, how is it that one person is happy and the other is unhappy? Also you say, thought is me - please show me how.
Are you happy? And why is another unhappy? You are born rich and your grandfathers and grandparents have left you a factory, or a business, and you are quite happy with it. And another is born in a little village, uneducated, toiling day after day on a piece of earth which is the size of this room, or half the size of this hall, working on it, living on a pittance, and he is unhappy, he doesn't know what happiness or unhappiness is, he is working, working, working. Does happiness depend on circumstances, on work, on what you are doing, or on your satisfaction in doing something? What do you call happiness, and what do you call unhappiness? Happiness can be said to be when you are satisfied, satisfied in doing something, and feel very happy about it. And I am not satisfied in doing something and I am very unhappy about it. Is satisfaction synonymous with happiness?
And am I seeking continuously satisfaction? Which means I am seeking all the time gratification and I will be happy. Or is happiness something that comes and goes, that is a by-product, it is not very important?
And also, the questioner asks, thought is me, show me how. What do you mean 'show you how'? On a screen on a television? Or make a diagram? Or show you verbally? Which is, you accept intellectually if the speaker explains, thought is me - would you understand it? The speaker will explain, that is, he will describe, he will explain, step by step. And will you see the truth of it, or say, no, that is not the self, the self is something far superior, it is divine, it is atman, it is something else. So how will you receive an explanation, knowing the explanation, the description, the word, is not the thing? Right? The window, the word 'window', is not the actual window. Right? I can paint a mountain, but the painting is not the actual mountain. Right? So we can go into this together, I can't show it to you. I can't put it on a screen, television, and show it to you, there it is. But if we can together investigate, if you are willing - if you are bored with it, all right, be bored with it.
So let us together find out. What are you? If you are really frank, serious, when that question is put to you, what are you? Aren't you your name? Aren't you your face, your eyes, your nose, your hair and so on physically? Aren't you the anger? Aren't you the greed, or the greed is separate from you? Aren't you, when there is anxiety, aren't you that anxiety? When you are suffering, suffering when one loses one's wife, husband, children, or grandmother, you know all that, are you not suffering, and is that suffering something separate from you? Aren't you all that? Or do you think - think - that you are separate from all that? Right, sir? Are you separate from all that? Are you separate from your anger, jealousy, from your bank account? You are your bank account, aren't you? Or if I take away your bank account you say, that's not me? Would you say that? 'You can take my bank account because it is not me'. How you would howl if I took away your bank account! So you are your bank account. You are your furniture; you are your house, your insurance, your mortgage, your money. But if you say, 'I am not all that, there is something in me that is watching all this' - is that a fact? Or you have invented it. Many people say there is super-super-consciousness, above all this consciousness. That is, is that not invented by thought? Right? Is not your bank account, not the coin, not the note, all that is not the result of thought? Is not your recognition of your wife, your husband, isn't that thought? So aren't you all the memory of the past, all the tradition of the past, as a Hindu, as this, you know, a Brahmin, non-Brahmin, and all that business, aren't you all that? Of course you are. So you are the knowledge which is the past. You are nothing but memories. Would you accept that? Of course not. Aren't you? If all your memories were taken away, what are you? You would be a vegetable. So your memories, which is always the past, is what you are. Your tradition as a Hindu, as a Parsi, as a Muslim and so on, that's the result of years of propaganda, years of tradition, which is the activity of thought.
So you are thought. If you don't think at all, what are you? So you are the whole content of the past. That past is modifying itself in the present, and continues as the future. So you are the past, the present and the future. In you all time is contained. Oh, you don't understand all this.
And the self, the 'me', my name, my quality, my achievement, my ambition, my pain, my sorrow, is all the past. And so the self is the essence of the past, which is memory, knowledge. And therefore the self is very, very limited. And that's why the self is causing so much mischief in the world. Each self is out for itself. You are out for your own self, aren't you? If you were honest, see this clearly, aren't you out for yourself? - your ambition, your achievements, your fulfilment, your satisfaction.
So thought is you. Thought is limited, because all knowledge is limited, therefore your self is the most limited thing. And therefore you are causing enormous sorrow, enormous conflict, because the self is separative, divisive.
So, sirs, the speaker has explained. The explanation is not the fact. The fact is for you to see this for yourself. If you see this for yourself and say, 'I like the way I am going on', perfectly all right. But you know for yourself that you are creating havoc in the world. And you prefer to live that way, good luck to you. But there might be some who say, that is not the way to live. One must live with a global brain, without any division, without any nationality, without any self. Don't make that into some kind of heightened illumination - only a few can reach it. Anybody who sets his brain and heart to understand the nature of the self, and be free of that self, anybody can do it if they put their mind to it.
Right sir. May I answer one more question? After that we will stop. It's ten o'clock, probably you have to go to your own jobs and all the rest of it. It's ten past ten, sorry. One more question, and that's the end of it.
8th Question: If the great religions of the world are not true religions, what is true religion?
Right, that is the question. Why do you say, if the great religions are not true, why do you say, if? Are they religions? You answer that question. You all go to temples probably, you have all had marriage ceremonies and puja, and all the rest of it, are they religions? Great religions, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, are they religions? Which is, their rituals, their hierarchy, their faith, belief, their going to temples and offering enormous sums of money to some things made by hand or by the mind, which you call god, is all that religion? You accept is as religion. But if you question, doubt, then you begin to ask, obviously, these things are all put together by thought. Right? The Bible, the Koran and your own so-called religious books, they are all put down by thought, they are not divine revelations, they are not straight from god's mouth. I know you love to think that. But thought has operated and put down on a piece of paper, and then you accept it as something extraordinarily sacred.
So if you brush aside all that, and that requires scepticism, a sense of freedom to observe, freedom from fear, totally free of fear, then you can find out for yourself what is religion. That is, is there something sacred, not invented by thought, not measured by words, is there something that is immeasurable, timeless? This has been a question from the ancient of times. The ancient Egyptians, the Greeks, all the great past civilizations have asked this question: is there something beyond all this, which thought has not invented, which thought has not touched, because thought can be measured? Thought is a material process, and whatever it invents is not sacred. So to find that out the brain must be entirely free from its content, from fear, from anxiety, from the sense of terrible loneliness, from death. Then only you will find out what is truth, what is the highest form of religion.
Bombay Question & Answer Meeting 9th February 1984
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