A Wholly Different Way of Living
San Diego, California 1974
San Diego, California 25th February 1974 11th Conversation with Dr. Allan W. Anderson 'The Nature of Hurt'
A: Mr Krishnamurti, during our conversations one thing has emerged for me with I'd say an arresting force. That is, on the one had we have been talking about thought and knowledge in terms of a dysfunctional relationship to it, but never once have you said that we should get rid of thought, and you have never said that knowledge, as such, in itself, has something profoundly the matter with it. Therefore the relationship between intelligence and thought arises, and the question of what seems to be that which maintains a creative relationship between intelligence and thought - perhaps some primordial activity which abides. And in thinking on this I wondered whether you would agree that perhaps in the history of human existence the concept of god has been generated out of a relationship to this abiding activity, which concept has been very badly abused. And it raises the whole question of the phenomenon of religion itself. I wondered if we might discuss that today?
K: Yes. You know, a word like religion, love, or god, has almost lost all its meaning. They have abused these words so enormously, and religion has become a vast superstition, a great propaganda, incredible beliefs and superstitions, worship of images made by the hand or by the mind. So when we talk about religion I would like, if I may, to be quite clear that we are both of us using the word religion in the real sense of that word, not either in the Christian, or the Hindu, or the Muslim, or the Buddhist, or all the stupid things that are going on in this country in the name of religion.
I think the word 'religion' means gathering together all energy, at all levels, physically, moral, spiritual, at all levels, gathering all this energy which will bring about a great attention. And in that attention there is no frontier, and then from there move. To me that is the meaning of that word: the gathering of total energy to understand what thought cannot possibly capture. Thought is never new, never free, and therefore it is always conditioned and fragmentary, and so on, which we discussed. So religion is not a thing put together by thought, or by fear, or by the pursuit of satisfaction and pleasure, but something totally beyond all this, which isn't romanticism, speculative belief, or sentimentality. And I think if we could keep to that, to the meaning of that word, putting aside all the superstitious nonsense that is going on in the world in the name of religion, which has become really quite a circus, however beautiful it is. Then I think we could from there start, if you will. If you agree to the meaning of that word.
A: Yes. I have been thinking as you have been speaking that in the biblical tradition there are actual statements from the prophets which seem to point to what you are saying. Such things come to mind as Isaiah, taking the part of the divine, when he says, my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways, as high as the heavens are above the earth so are my thoughts and your thoughts, so stop thinking about me in that sense. And don't try to find a means to me that you have contrived since my ways are higher than your ways. And then I was thinking while you were speaking concerning this act of attention, this gathering together of all energies of the whole man; the very simple, be still and know that I am God. Be still. It's amazing when one thinks of the history of religion, how little attention has been paid to that as compared with ritual.
K: But I think when we lost touch with nature, with the universe, with the clouds, lakes, birds, when we lost touch with all that, then the priests came in. Then all the superstition, fears, exploitation, all that began. The priests became the mediator between the human and the so-called divine. And I believe, if you have read the Rig Veda, I was told about it because I don't read all this, that there, in the first Veda there is no mention of God at all. There is only this worship of something immense, expressed in nature and in the earth, in the clouds, in the trees, in the beauty of vision. But that being, very, very simple, the priests said, that is too simple.
A: Let's mix it up.
K: Let's mix it up, let's confuse it a little bit. And that began. I believe this is traceable from the ancient Vedas to the present time, where the priests became the interpreter, the mediator, the explainer, the exploiter, the man who said, this is right, this is wrong, you must believe this or you will go to perdition, and so on and so on. He generated fear, not the adoration of beauty, not the adoration of life lived totally wholly without conflict, but something placed outside there beyond and above what he considered to be God and made propaganda for that.
So I feel if we could from the beginning use the word religion in the simplest way. That is, the gathering of all energy so that there is total attention, and in that quality of attention the immeasurable comes into being. Because as we said the other day, the measurable is the mechanical. Which the west has cultivated, made marvelous, technologically, physically, medicine, science, biology and so on and so on, which has made the world so superficial, mechanical, worldly, materialistic. And that is spreading all over the world. And in reaction to that, this materialistic attitude, there are all these superstitious, nonsensical unreasoned religions that are going on. I don't know if you saw the other day the absurdity of these gurus coming from India and teaching the west how to meditate, how to hold breath, they say, "I am god, worship me" - it has become so absurd, and childish, so utterly immature. All that indicates the degradation of the word religion, and the human mind that can accept this kind of circus and idiocy.
A: Yes. I was thinking of a remark of Sri Aurobindo's in a study that he made on the Veda, where he traced its decline in the sentence. He said it issues as language from sages, then it falls to the priests, then after the priests it falls to the scholars or the academicians. But in that study there was no statement that I found as to how it ever fell to the priests.
K: I think it is fairly simple, sir.
A: Yes, please.
K: I think it is fairly simple, sir, how the priests got hold of the whole business. Because man is so concerned with his own petty little affairs, petty little desires, and ambitions, superficiality, he wants something a little more: he wants a little more romantic, a little more sentimental, something other than the daily beastly routine of living. So he looks somewhere and the priests say, come over here, I've got the goods. I think it is very simple how the priests have come in. You see it in India, you see it in the west. You see it everywhere where man begins to be concerned with daily living, the daily operation of bread and butter, house and all the rest of it, he demands something more than that. He says, after all I'll die but there must be something more.
A: So fundamentally it's a matter of securing for himself some...
K: ...heavenly grace.
A: ...some heavenly grace that will preserve him against falling into this mournful round of coming to be and passing away. Thinking of the past, on the one had, anticipating the future on the other, you're saying he falls out of the present now.
K: Yes, that's right.
A: I understand.
K: So, if we could keep to that meaning of that word religion then from there the question arises, can the mind be so attentive in the total sense that the unnameable comes into being? You see, personally I have never read any of these things, Veda, Gita, Upanishads, the Bible, all the rest of it, or any philosophy. But I questioned everything.
K: Not question only, but observe. And I - one sees the absolute necessity of a mind that is completely quiet. Because it's only out of quietness you perceive what is happening. If I am chattering I won't listen to you. If my mind is constantly rattling away, to what you are saying I won't pay attention. To pay attention means to be quiet.
A: There have been some priests, apparently, who usually ended up in a great deal of trouble for it, there have been some priests who had, it seems, a grasp of this. I was thinking of Meister Eckhardt's remark that whoever is able to read the book of nature doesn't need any scriptures at all.
K: That's just it.
A: Of course, he ended up in very great trouble. Yes, he had a bad time toward the ends of his life, and after he died the church denounced him.
K: Of course, of course. Organized belief as church, and all the rest of it, is too obvious. It isn't subtle, it hasn't got the quality of real depth and real spirituality. You know what it is.
A: Yes, I do.
K: So I'm asking, what is the quality of a mind, and therefore heart and brain, what is the quality of a mind that can perceive something beyond the measurement of thought? What is the quality of a mind? Because that quality is the religious mind. That quality of a mind that is capable, that has this feeling of being sacred in itself, and therefore is capable of seeing something immeasurably sacred.
A: The word devotion seems to imply this when it is grasped in its proper sense. To use your earlier phrase, gathering together toward a one pointed attentive...
K: Would you say attention is one pointed?
A: No, I didn't mean to imply focus when I said one pointed.
K: Yes, that's what I wondered.
A: I meant rather, integrated into itself as utterly quiet and unconcerned about taking thought for what is ahead, or what is behind. Simply being there. The word 'there' isn't good either because it suggests that there is a 'where' and all the rest of it. It is very difficult to find, it seems to me, language to do justice to what you are saying, precisely because when we speak utterance is in time and it is progressive, it has a quality, doesn't it, more like music than we see in graphic art. You can stand before a picture, whereas to hear music and grasp its theme you virtually have to wait until you get to the end and gather it all up. And with language you have the same difficulty.
K: No, I think, sir don't you, when we are enquiring into this problem, what is the nature, the structure of a mind, and therefore the quality of a mind, that is not only sacred and holy in itself, but is capable of seeing something immense? As we were talking the other day about suffering, personal and the sorrow of the world, it isn't that we must suffer, suffering is there. Every human being has a dreadful time with it. And there is the suffering of the world. And it isn't that one must go through it, but as it is there one must understand it and go beyond it. And that's one of the qualities of a religious mind, in the sense we are using that word, that is incapable of suffering. It has gone beyond it. Which doesn't mean that it becomes callous. On the contrary it is a passionate mind.
A: One of the things that I have thought much about during our conversations is language itself. On the one hand we say such a mind as you have been describing is one that is present to suffering. It does nothing to push it away, on the one hand; and yet it is somehow able to contain it, not put it in a vase, or barrel, contain it in that sense, and yet the very word itself, to suffer, means to under-carry. And it seems close to understand. Over and over again in our conversations I have been thinking about the customary way in which we use language as a use that deprives us of really seeing the glory of what the word points to itself, in itself. I was thinking about the word religion when we were speaking earlier. Scholars differ as to where that came from: on the one hand some say it means to bind, the church fathers spoke about that. And then others say, no, no, it means the numinous or the splendour that cannot be exhausted by thought. It seems to me that, wouldn't you say, that there is another sense to bind that is not a negative one, in the sense that if one is making this act of attention, one isn't bound as with cords of rope. But one is there, or here.
K: Sir, now again let's be clear. When we use the word attention there is a difference between concentration and attention. Concentration is exclusion. I concentrate. That is, bring all my thinking to a certain point, and therefore it is excluding, building a barrier so that it can focus its whole concentration on that. Whereas attention is something entirely different from concentration. In that there is no exclusion. In that there is no resistance. In that there is no effort. And therefore no frontier, no limits.
A: How would you feel about the word receptive, in this respect?
K: Again, who is it who is to receive?
A: Already we have made a division.
K: A division.
A: With that word.
K: Yes. I think the word attention is really a very good word. Because it not only understands concentration, not only sees duality of reception, the receiver and the received, and also it sees the nature of duality and the conflict of the opposites; and attention means not only the brain giving its energy, but also the mind, the heart, the nerves, the total entity, the total human mind giving all its energy to perceive. I think that is the meaning of that word for me at least, to be attentive, attend. Not concentrate, attend. That means listen, see, give your heart to it, give your mind to it, give your whole being to attend, otherwise you can't attend. If I am thinking about something else I can't attend. If I am hearing my own voice, I can't attend.
A: There is a metaphorical use of the word waiting in scripture. It's interesting that in English too we use the word attendant in terms of one who waits on. I'm trying to penetrate the notion of waiting, and patience in relation to this.
K: I think, sir, waiting again means one who is waiting for something. Again there is a duality. And when you wait you are expecting. Again a duality. One who is waiting about to receive. So if we could for the moment hold ourselves to that word, attention, then we should enquire what is the quality of a mind that is so attentive that it has understood, lives, acts, in relationship and responsibility as behaviour, and has no fear psychologically in that, we talked about, and therefore understands the movement of pleasure. Then we come to the point, what is such a mind? I think it would be worthwhile if we could discuss the nature of hurt.
A: Of hurt? Yes.
K: Why human beings are hurt. All people are hurt.
A: You mean both physically and psychologically?
K: Psychologically especially.
A: Especially the psychological one, yes.
K: Physically we can tolerate it. We can bear up with a pain and say I won't let it interfere with my thinking. I won't let it corrode my psychological quality of mind. The mind can watch over that. But the psychological hurts are much more important and difficult to grapple with and understand. I think it is necessary because a mind that is hurt is not an innocent mind. The very word innocent comes from innocere, not to hurt. A mind that is incapable of being hurt. There is a great beauty in that.
A: Yes, there is. It's a marvelous word. We have usually used it to indicate a lack of something.
K: I know.
A: Yes, and there it's turned upside down again.
K: And the Christians have made such an absurd thing of it.
A: Yes, I understand that.
K: So I think we ought in discussing religion we ought to enquire very, very deeply into the nature of hurt, because a mind that is not hurt is an innocent mind. And you need this quality of innocency to be so totally attentive.
A: If I have been following you correctly I think may be you would say, wouldn't you, that man becomes hurt when he starts thinking about thinking that he is hurt.
K: Look sir, it's much deeper than that, isn't' it? From childhood the parents compare the child with another child.
A: That's when that thought arises.
K: There it is. When you compare you are hurting.
K: No, but we do it.
A: Oh yes, of course we do it.
K: Therefore is it possible to educate a child without comparison, without imitation? And therefore never get hurt in that way. And one is hurt because one has built an image about oneself. The image which one has built about oneself is a form of resistance, a wall between you and me. And when you touch that wall at its tender point I get hurt. So not to compare in education, not to have an image about oneself. That's one of the most important things in life, not to have an image about oneself. If you have you are inevitably going to be hurt. Suppose one has an image that one is very good, or that one should be a great success, or that one has great capacities, gifts, you know the images that one builds, inevitably you are going to come and prick it. Inevitably accidents and incidents happen that's going to break that, and one gets hurt.
A: Doesn't this raise the question of name.
K: Oh yes.
A: The use of name.
K: Name, form.
A: The child is given a name, the child identifies himself with the name.
K: Yes, the child can identify itself but without the image, just a name: Brown, Mr Brown. There is nothing to it. But the moment he builds an image that Mr Brown is socially, morally different, superior, or inferior, ancient or comes from a very old family, belongs to a certain higher class, aristocracy. The moment that begins, and when that is encouraged and sustained by thought, snobbism, you know the whole lot of it, then you are inevitably going to be hurt.
A: What you are saying, I take it, is that there is a radical confusion here involved in the imagining oneself to be his name.
K: Yes. Identification with the name, with the body, with the idea that you are socially different, that your parents, your grandparents were lords, or this or that. You know the whole snobbism of England, and all that, and the different kind of snobbism in this country.
A: We speak in language of preserving the name.
K: Yes. And in India it is the Brahmin, the non Brahmin, the whole business of that. So through education, through tradition, through propaganda we have built an image about ourselves.
A: Is there a relation here in terms of religion, would you say, for the refusal, for instance in the Hebraic tradition to pronounce the name of God.
K: The word is not the thing anyhow. So you can pronounce it or not pronounce it. If you know the word is never the thing, the description is never the described, then it doesn't matter.
A: No. One of the reasons I've always been over the years deeply drawn to the study of the roots of words is simply because for the most part they point to something very concrete.
A: It's either a thing or it's a gesture, more often than not it's some act.
K: Quite, quite.
A: Some act. When I use the phrase, thinking about thinking, before, I should have been more careful of my words and referred to mulling over the image, which would have been a much better way to put it, wouldn't it?
K: Yes, yes. So can a child be educated never to get hurt? And I have heard professors, scholars, say, a child must be hurt in order to live in the world. And when I asked him, do you want your child to be hurt, he kept absolutely quiet. He was just talking theoretically. Now unfortunately through education, through social structure and the nature of our society in which we live, we have been hurt, we have images about ourselves which are going to be hurt, and is it possible not to create images at all? I don't know if I am making myself clear.
A: You are.
K: That is, suppose I have an image about myself - which I haven't fortunately - if I have an image, is it possible to wipe it away, to understand it and therefore dissolve it, and never to create a new image about myself? You understand? Living in a society, being educated, I have built an image inevitably. Now can that image be wiped away?
A: Wouldn't it disappear with this complete act of attention?
K: That's what I'm coming to gradually. It would totally disappear. But I must understand how this image is born. I can't just say, well, I'll wipe it out.
K: Use attention as a meant of wiping it out - it doesn't work that way. In understanding the image, in understanding the hurts, in understanding the education in which one has been brought up in the family, the society, all that, in the understanding of all that, out of the understanding comes attention; not the attention first and then wipe it out. You can't attend if you're hurt. If I am hurt how can I attend? Because that hurt is going to keep me, consciously, or unconsciously, from this total attention.
A: The amazing thing, if I'm understanding you correctly, is that even in the study of the dysfunctional history, provided I bring total attention to that, there's going to be a nontemporal relationship between the act of attention and the healing that takes place.
K: That's right.
A: While I am attending the thing is leaving.
K: The thing is leaving, yes, that's it.
A: We've got 'thinging' along here throughout. Yes, exactly.
K: So, there are two questions involved: can the hurts be healed so that not a mark is left; and can future hurts be prevented completely, without any resistance. You follow? Those are two problems. And they can be understood only and resolved when I give attention to the understanding of my hurts. When I look at it, not translate it, not wish to wipe them away, just to look at it - as we went into that question of perception. Just to see my hurts. The hurts I have received, the insults, the negligence, the casual words, the gesture, all those hurts. And the language one uses, specially in this country.
A: Oh yes, yes. There seems to be a relationship between what you are saying and one of the meanings of the word, salvation.
K: Salvare, to save.
A: To save.
K: To save.
A: To make whole.
K: To make whole. How can you be whole, sir, if you are hurt?
K: Therefore it is tremendously important to understand this question.
A: Yes, it is. But I am thinking of a child who comes to school who has already got a freight car filled with hurts.
A: We are not dealing with a little one in a crib now, we're already...
K: We are already hurt.
A: Already hurt. And hurt because it is hurt. It multiplies endlessly.
K: Of course. From that hurt he's violent. From that hurt he is frightened and therefore withdrawing. From that hurt he will do neurotic things. From that hurt he will accept anything that gives him safety - god, his idea of god is a god who will never hurt.
A: Sometimes a distinction is made between ourselves and animals with respect to this problem. An animal, for instance, that has been badly hurt will be disposed toward everyone in terms of emergency and attack. But over a period of time, it might take three or four years, if the animal is loved and...
K: So, sir, you see, you said, loved. We haven't got that thing.
K: And parents haven't got love for their children. They may talk about love. Because the moment they compare the younger to the older they have hurt the child. Your father was so clever, you are such a stupid boy. There you have begun. In school where they give you marks it is a hurt, not marks, it is a deliberate hurt. And that is stored, and from that there is violence, there is every kind of aggression, you know all that takes place. So a mind cannot be made whole, or is whole, unless this is understood very, very deeply.
A: The question that I had in mind before regarding what we have been saying is that this animal, if loved, will, provided we are not dealing with brain damage or something, will in time love in return. But the thought is that with the human person love cannot be in that sense coerced. It isn't that one would coerce the animal to love, but that the animal, because innocent, does in time simply respond, accept.
K: Accept, of course.
A: But then a human person is doing something we don't think the animal is.
K: No. The human being is being hurt and is hurting all the time.
A: Exactly. Exactly. While he is mulling over his hurt then he is likely to misinterpret the very act of generosity of love that is made toward him. So we are involved in something very frightful here: by the time the child comes into school, seven years old...
K: He is already gone, finished, tortured. There is the tragedy of it, sir, that is what I mean.
A: Yes,I know. And when you ask the question, as you have, is there a way to educate the child so that the child...
K: ...is never hurt. That is part of education, that is part of culture. Civilization is hurting. Sir, look, you see this everywhere all over the world, this constant comparison, constant imitation, constant saying, you are that, I must be like you. I must be like Krishna, like Buddha, like Jesus, you follow. That's a hurt. Religions have hurt people.
A: A child is born to a hurt parent, sent to a school where it is taught by a hurt teacher. Now you are asking, is there a way to educate this child so the child recovers.
K: I say it is possible, sir.
A: Yes, please.
K: That is, when the teacher realizes, when the educator realizes he is hurt and the child is hurt, he is aware of his hurt and he is aware also of the child's hurt then the relationship changes. Then he will in the very act of teaching, mathematics, whatever it is, he is not only freeing himself from his hurt but also helping the child to be free of his hurt. After all that is education: to see that I, who am the teacher, I am hurt, I have gone through agonies of hurt, and I want to help that child not to be hurt, and he has come to the school being hurt. So I say, all right, we both are hurt my friend, let us see, let's help each other to wipe it out. That is the act of love.
A: Comparing the human organism with the animal, I return to the question whether it is the case that this relationship to another human being must bring about this healing.
K: Obviously, sir, if relationship exists, we said relationship can only exist when there is no image between you and me.
A: Let us say there is a teacher who has come to grips with this in himself, very, very deeply, has, as you put it, gone into the question deeper, deeper and deeper, has come to a place where he no longer is hurt-bound. The child that he meets or the young student that he meets, or even a student his own age, because we have adult education, is a person who is hurt-bound and will he not...
K: Transmit that hurt to another?
A: No, will he not, because he is hurt-bound, be prone to misinterpret the activity of the one who is not hurt-bound?
K: But there is no person who is not hurt-bound, except very, very few. Look, sir, lots of things have happened to me personally, I have never been hurt. I say this in all humility, in the real sense, I don't know what it means to be hurt. Things have happened to me, people have done every kind of thing, praised me, flattered me, kicked me around, everything. It is possible. And as a teacher, as an educator, to see the child, and it is my responsibility as an educator to see he is never hurt, not just teach some beastly subject. This is far more important.
A: I think I have some grasp of what you are talking about. I don't think I could ever in my wildest dreams say that I have never been hurt. Though I do have difficulty, and have since a child, I have even been taken to task for it, of dwelling on it. I remember a colleague of mine once saying to me with some testiness when we were discussing a situation in which there was conflict in the faculty: 'Well the trouble with you is you can't hate.' And it was looked upon as a disorder in terms of being unable to make a focus towards the enemy in such a way as to devote total attention to that.
K: Sanity is taken for insanity.
A: So my reply to him was simply, well that's right and we might as well face it and I don't intend to do anything about it. But it didn't help the situation in terms of the interrelationship.
K: So the question is then: in education can a teacher, educator, observe his hurts, become aware of them, and in his relationship with the student resolve his hurt and the student's? That's one problem. It is possible if the teacher is really, in the deep sense of the word, educated, that is, cultivated. And the next question, sir, from that arises, is the mind capable of not being hurt, knowing it has been hurt? Not add more hurts. Right?
K: I have these two problems: one, being hurt, that is the past; and never to be hurt again. Which doesn't mean I build a wall of resistance, that I withdraw, that I go off into a monastery, or become a drug addict, or some silly thing like that, but no hurt. Is that possible? You see the two questions? Now, what is hurt? What is the thing that is hurt? You follow?
K: We said the physical hurt is not the same as the psychological.
K: So we are dealing with psychological hurt. What is the thing that is hurt? The psyche? The image which I have about myself?
A: It is an investment that I have in it.
K: Yes, it's my investment in myself.
A: Yes. I've divided myself off from myself.
K: Yes, in myself. That means, why should I invest in myself. What is myself? You follow?
A: Yes, I do.
K: In which I have to invest something. What is myself? All the words, the names, the qualities, the education, the bank account, the furniture, the house, the hurts, all that is me.
A: In an attempt to answer the question, what is myself, I immediately must resort to all this stuff.
A: There isn't any other way. And then I haven't got it. Then I praise myself because I must be so marvelous as somehow to slip out.
K: Quite, quite.
A: I see what you mean. I was thinking just a moment back when you were saying it is possible for the teacher to come into relationship with the student so that a work of healing, or an act of healing happens.
K: See sir, this is what happens if I were in a class that's the first thing I would begin with, not some subject. I would say, look, you are hurt and I am hurt, we are both of us hurt. And point out what hurt does, how it kills people, how it destroys people; out of that there is violence, out of that there is brutality, out of that I want to hurt people. You follow? All that comes in. I would spend ten minutes talking about that, every day, in different ways, till both of us see it. Then as an educator I would use the right world and the student will use the right word, there will be no gesture, we are both involved in it. But we don't do that. The moment we come into class we pick up a book and there it goes off. If I was an educator, whether with the older people, or the younger people, I would establish this relationship. That's my duty, that's my job, that's my function, not just to transmit some information.
A: Yes, that's really very profound. I think one of the reasons that what you have said is so difficult for an educator reared within the whole academic...
K: Yes, because we are so vain.
A: Exactly. We want not only to hear that it is possible for this transformation to take place, but we want it to be regarded as demonstrably proved and therefore not merely possible but predictably certain.
K: Certain, yes.
A: And then we are back into the whole thing.
K: Of course we are back into the old rotten stuff. Quite right.
A: Next time could we take up the relationship of love to this?
A: I would very much enjoy that, and it would seem to me...
K: ...it would all come together.
A: Come together, in the gathering together.
A Wholly Different Way of Living
San Diego, California 1974
San Diego, California 25th February 1974 11th Conversation with Dr. Allan W. Anderson 'The Nature of Hurt'
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