The Future Is Now
Discussion With Buddhists, Varanasi
The Future Is Now Chapter 3 11th November 1985 3rd Discussion with Buddhists Varanasi
KRISHNAMURTI (K): Sir, I would like to ask several questions. Is there a line, a demarcation, where self-interest ends and where a state which is not self-interest begins? We all have self-interest; it is in knowledge, in language, in science, in every part of our life. In every way of our life there is self-interest, and that has created havoc. And how far does it extend? And where do we draw the line and say: here it is necessary, there it is not necessary at all? - in daily life; not in science, in mathematics, in knowledge. I am talking factually, not theoretically.
First Participant (P1: This question is very difficult to answer if you lay down certain conditions, like the difficulties we meet with in society; but if you do not lay down conditions, then I shall try to answer.
K: All right, I remove the conditions. Not remove; life is this. I am not laying down the condition, I am not laying down the law, the way you should think, but life shows me that in every work in every part of the world self-interest is dominant. We play with religion, we play with K as a plaything, we play with all kinds of things, but the thread of self-interest is very, very strong, and I ask myself, where does it begin, and, is there an end to it. Where does it start, where does it end, or is there no end at all? God is my self-interest, so are ceremonies, scholarship, science. The man in the corner who sells tobacco there, is full of self-interest. P1: There is some book learning that underlies my answer, but I will try to answer from my experiences as an individual human being.
K: Yes, as a human being - even from your books, from your studies, you must have, they must all have, asked this question in different ways.
P1: When I try to understand myself, look at myself as I am, factually, then I put myself into certain categories. When I try to discover myself in action, in my relationship to other people, then I find an element of self-interest, and I can, with some effort, try to be free of this self-interest, and I do unburden myself to a certain extent.
K: But that is also self-interest.
P1: When I try to establish my existence, my being, then my actions become more self-centred, and to the extent to which I unburden myself, the self-interest decreases.
K: No, you are missing my point. I want to make it very, very simple. The more simply we think, the better the action, the better the way of looking at things. From childhood the problems begin - I have to go to school, I have to read and learn, I have to learn mathematics. The whole of life becomes a problem because, basically, I meet life as a problem. In the English language a problem means something thrown at you. Problema comes from Greek; it means something hurled at you and you have to reply to it. So, from childhood, my brain is conditioned to live with problems and solve problems - and those problems can never be solved. I keep this going, problem after problem; all my life becomes a problem, living becomes a problem. And I say, I don't want to live that way, it is wrong to live that way. So I am asking myself, does self-interest create the problem, or can the mind, brain, be free of problems and therefore tackle problems? You see the difference? I don't know if I am making myself clear. It is a fact that I have to go to school, learn, read, and so on. My brain gradually gets conditioned to living with problems, the brain becomes the problem - everything becomes a problem. So I come to you to solve the problem the brain has, which may be linked with self-interest.
P1: Creating or receiving problems and trying to solve them has become a rule of life for us, and this way of doing things nurtures my being.
K: Therefore your being is a problem. But you are missing my point. Your being is the identity with the country, with the literature, with the language, with the gods; you are identified, therefore you have taken root in a place, therefore that becomes the being. There is no separate being apart from that - no spiritual being, god-being - I don't believe in all that; I am entirely sceptical. So I say to myself, why have I, or you, made life, which is meant to be lived like a tree growing beautifully, into this? I can't live that way, I won't live that way. Whether god exists, etc. - I am totally indifferent to all that, I totally discard all that, and I say to myself, I won't live the way you are living; I won't. I will go away to the mountains rather than live that way. You have destroyed living, you have destroyed living by knowledge, by science, by computers - you have destroyed my living. I can retire into the mountains, but that makes no meaning.
P1: Why are you so keen to safeguard what you call living? Suppose I betray it, I break it, what difference does it make?
K: I am not saying I want to live; that is not my point. I say, why do I live this way? I am not safeguarding it by asking this. Why have I to go through all this appalling process? Sex becomes a problem, eating becomes a problem, everything is a problem. And I don't want to have problems, which does not mean that I deny life. I don't want problems, therefore I meet problems. Because my brain won't work in problems, I can meet all problems.
P1: As I understand it, you are saying that problems should not enter, problems should not constrain your being. You don't want to deny life, but you want not to be affected by problems.
K: No, no. You have thoroughly misunderstood me. I am saying, from birth to death life is treated like a problem: school, college, university, then job, marriage, sex, children - one of them is naughty or a genius and I utilize or exploit that boy and keep going all my life. Death then becomes a problem. Then I say, is there a living further, reincarnation and all that? You see what humanity has done? This is life. Why can't my brain be simple enough, free enough to say this is a problem and solve it? That is, the brain is free to solve it, not add another problem to it.
P2: If I may say so, sir, the problem does not come from outside; the problem arises in this brain, which feeds on this problem, which creates this problem. Why doesn't it immediately destroy it at that very instant?
K: Because it has not solved any problem.
P1: Does the brain have that capacity of ending?
K: Yes, but I must distinguish, make clear one point. The brain is the centre of all our nerves, all our sensations, all our reactions, our knowledge, our relationships, quarrels and all that. It is the centre of our consciousness, and that consciousness we treat as mine - my consciousness. I say, it is not mine; it is not personalized as K. And it is not yours because every human being on earth goes through this torture - pain, sorrow, pleasure, sex, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, hoping for something better and so on; that is our consciousness. So that consciousness is not yours; it is human. It is humanity. I am humanity - not all of you plus me. I am humanity.
P3: It seems to me that we know of two kinds of action: one which is thought out by the brain, calculated, and which therefore invariably contains the seed of self-interest, is motivated by self-interest. I don't think the brain is capable of doing anything that does not contain in it the seed of self-interest, because it is the instrument meant for that purpose. But there is also spontaneous action which we experience occasionally, which is born just out of love, not as a product of thinking. And because man does not know what to do with this kind of action, because there is nothing he can do about that kind of action, he has cultivated the other - he has cultivated what his brain can do well, what it can calculate, what it can achieve, and the whole world is therefore filled with such activity, such action. And that has become our life. And the other, which is the vital, is occasional.
K: I am not coming to that for the moment. The mind is different from the brain - totally dissociated - has no relationship whatsoever. Love has no relationship with self-interest. Don't bring in love for the moment. The fact is that love may exist. We may have sympathy, empathy, affection, pity - but that is not love, so I leave that aside. That's all for the moment. Love and self-interest cannot exist together. Problems and love cannot exist together. Therefore problems have no meaning if the other exists. If the other is, problems are not.
P3: I am not sure if they cannot co-exist. They are independent; but I think even a person who has self-interest and who has problems, occasionally acts without the interference of the brain - out of love. So I would not say that the existence of the brain denies love completely. K: Sir, I say it is like having occasionally a bad egg. I want a good egg every day - not occasionally. So I am asking you all, where does self-interest begin and where does it end? Is there an end to self-interest? Or is all action born out of self-interest? Don't tell me, `occasionally; I am not interested in that. Occasionally I look out of the window and that window is very narrow; I am in a prison.
So please follow me for a minute. There is a tremendous order in the universe. A black hole is a part of that order. Wherever man enters he creates disorder. So I say, can I, as a human being who is the rest of humanity, create order in myself first? Order means no self-interest.
P4: Sir, the problem is, it is not easy to deny on the basis of a common consciousness the nucleus that comes to shape itself as the limited self, the acquisitive self, for which all the problems are real, not imaginary. I mean I have disease, I have death - in what way could these be considered as no problems?
K: Are you saying that the self is the problem? Why do we make it a problem? Why do you say the self is the problem? perhaps we make it into a problem and then say, how am I to get out of it? We don't look at the problem. We don't say, the self is the problem, let me understand it, let me look at this jewel without condemning it. The very condemnation is the problem. Do you follow what I mean? Therefore, I won't condemn it, I won't suppress it, I won't deny it, I won't transcend it; but let me first look at it.
P4: Sir, consider a person who has a thorn in his body and is feeling pain. The pain of the thorn is similar to the constraints and problems impinging upon the self.
K: No, sir. If I have a thorn in my foot, I look at it first, I know the pain. I ask myself, why did I tread on it, why wasn't I aware of it? What is wrong with my observation, my eyes? Why didn't I see where I was going? I know if I saw it, I wouldn't touch it. Therefore I didn't see it. When the pain is there, then I act. I didn't see the thing that was in front of my foot. So my observation is at fault. So I say, what happened to my brain which didn't see that? Probably it was thinking of something else. Why was it thinking of something else when I am on the path? So you see, sir?
P5: But in the case of psychological problems, the observer and what is observed are hopelessly entangled.
K: No. We are going off to something else. Let us stick to one problem, one issue. Where does self-interest begin and where does it end, and is there an ending to it at all? And if it ends, what is that state?
P6: May I hazard an answer? Probably, self-interest begins with the self itself and the self comes with the body.
K: I am not sure.
P6: They go together. The idea of `I'-ness and my coming into being, they go together.
K: You say so, but I don't say so.
P6: To my mind the very notion of self begins with the coming into being of this body, and the self and self-interest go together. Self-interest can only end when the self ends. And a part of the self remains so long as the body remains. So, in an ultimate sense, it can only end with death. Short of that, we can only refine self-interest with the gradual perceiving of it, but we cannot wholly deny it so long as the body exists. That is how I see it.
K: I understand. They are discovering in science that when the baby is born and suckling, it feels secure and it begins to learn who are the friends of the mother, who treat her differently, who are against her; it begins to feel all this because the mother feels it. It comes through the mother - who is friendly, who is not friendly. The baby begins to rely on the mother. So there it begins. It felt very safe in the womb, and suddenly, put out in the world it begins to realize that the mother is the only safety. There it begins to be secure. And that's our life. And I question whether there is security at all.
P2: Sir, in the Mexican earthquake, babies were found alive eleven days after being buried completely under the earth and there was no damage to the newborn ones. And the Mexican ambassador was telling me, the child, when it was taken out of that dark place, behaved exactly as it does when it comes out of the womb.
K: It was like being still in the womb.
P3: Sir, the instinct of self-preservation is there in the animal too, but when it evolved into man, he started creating problems. The animal does not create problems. If we believe what the scientists say, that man evolved from the animal, then he has all the instincts which the animal has. The essential difference is that man has in addition the ability to think, and this ability to think has also created all those problems. And what you are asking is, can we use this ability not to create problems but to do something entirely different?
K: Yes, sir that's right.
P7: The brain is the source of all problems. It has created the self and also all the problems. You suggest that the brain can end the problems. Then what is the difference between that brain which has ended and the mind?
P6: You said that the brain is the source of problems and out of the brain comes the ending of problems. With that ending, the brain that remains thinks, perceives, receives intimations. What is the actual difference between that brain and the mind? K: I understand, I understand. Just a minute. See, you are asking a question that involves death. Before I can answer that question I must answer what death is. There is an Italian proverb that says: All the world is going to die, perhaps even I too! Do you see the joke of it? So, what is death? We know what is birth, mother, father, all the rest of it, and the baby is born and goes through this extraordinary tragedy. It is a tragedy; it is not something happy, joyous, free. It is a bigger tragedy than any Shakespeare ever wrote. So I know what is birth. Now, what is death? I am asking this; you tell me.
P1: When we were discussing time the other day, you spoke of a `now' in which was all time, both living and death. The brain, having the capacity to see the flow of living, also has the capacity to reveal that ending which is death. That is the answer.
K: I said, living is attachment, pain, fear, pleasure, anxiety, uncertainty, the whole bag, and death is out there, far away. I keep a careful distance. I have got property, books, jewels; that is my life. I keep it here and death is there. I say, bring the two together, not tomorrow, but now - which means end all this now. Because that's what death is going to say. Death says you can't take anything with you; so invite death - not suicide - invite death and live with it. Death is now, not tomorrow.
P1: There is something lacking in this. I may be able to invite death now and the brain may be still for a time, but the whole thing comes back again; then the problem of life comes back.
K: No, no. I am attached to him, he is a friend of mine, I have lived with him, we walked together, We played together, he is my companion, and I am attached to him. Death says to me, You can't take him with you. So death tells me, Free yourself now, not ten years later. And I say, Quite right, I will be free of him. Though I am still his friend, I am not dependent on him at all. Because, I can't take him with me. What's wrong with that? You are not arguing against that?
P5: Which means, sir, you have to end all gratification...
K: No, I am not saying that. I said, attachment.
P5: All attachment...
K: That's all.
P8: Sir, is it possible to end that so long as the two bodies exist?
K: Oh, yes, sir. Our bodies are not tied together; they are two separate bodies. Psychologically I take him as a friend and get slowly attached to him inwardly. I am not attached to him outwardly because he goes one way and I go another - he drinks, I don't, and so on. But still he is a friend of mine. And death comes and says you can't take him with you. That is a fact. So I say, All right, I will be detached now.
P3: Sir, isn't it that the problem comes not because you get pleasure from your friend or your wife, but because you begin to use that pleasure as a fulfilment for yourself, and therefore you want a continuity of that and you want to possess that person?
K: Yes. Therefore, what is relationship? I won't go into it, we have no time. You see, sir, you are not meeting my point. I asked you where self-interest begins and ends. Is ending more important than anything else? - ending? And what is then that state in which there is no self-interest at all? Is it death? - which means an ending. Death means ending - ending everything. So it says, `Be intelligent, old boy, live together with death.' P3: Which means die but keep the body. The other death is coming anyway.
K: Body? Give it to the birds or throw it into the river. But psychologically, this tremendous structure I have built I can't take with me.
P3: Is it an instinct, sir? Is it an inheritance through the genes?
K: Yes, probably. But animals don't think this way; I have watched several animals.
P3: No, therefore I am not sure if it is an instinct.
K: That's all I am saying. Don't reduce it to an instinct, sir.
P8: What was the joke you were going to tell us?
K: A man dies and meets his friend in heaven. They talk and he says, `If I am dead, why do I feel so awful?'
The Future Is Now
Discussion With Buddhists, Varanasi
The Future Is Now Chapter 3 11th November 1985 3rd Discussion with Buddhists Varanasi
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