The Impossible Question
Part 2, Public Dialogues Saanen 1970
Impossible Question Part II Chapter 5 6th Public Dialogue Saanen 7th August 1970
Krishnamurti: We are going to talk over together this morning what lies below the conscious. I do not know if you have enquired into it at all, or have merely accepted what the analysts and the psychologists have said. But if you go into it fairly deeply - as I hope we shall this morning - one or two major fundamental questions have to be asked. One has to discover, explore, learn for oneself, the whole content of consciousness. Why does one divide the unconscious and the conscious? Is it an artificial division brought about by the analysts, the psychologists, the philosophers? Is there a division at all? If one is to enquire into the whole structure and the nature of consciousness, who is it that is going to enquire? A fragment of the many fragments? Or is there an entity, an agency, that is beyond all this which looks into consciousness? Can the conscious mind, the daily operative mind, observe the contents of the unconscious or deeper layers? And what are the frontiers of consciousness? What are the limits?
This is a very serious subject. I think in the understanding of it most human problems will be resolved. It isn't a thing that you take up as a hobby to study for a couple of weeks superficially and then drop it to go on with your daily life. If one is to go into this deeply, it is a way of life. It is not that you understand that and leave it there. You can only understand the whole content of consciousness and the limits of consciousness if it is a daily concern. It isn't a thing you can play with. It must be your whole life, your whole calling, your vocation. Because we are enquiring into the very depths of the human mind, not according to your opinion, or the speaker's opinion, but learning the fullness of it and seeing what lies beyond it - not just scratching the surface and thinking you have understood it. It isn't a thing that you learn from a book, or from another. Please do let us realize this: it isn't a thing that you acquire as knowledge from books and then apply it. If you do that it will have no value, it will be secondhand. And if you merely treat it as a form of intellectual, spiritual or emotional entertainment, then equally it will have no effect at all in your life. We are concerned with the fundamental revolution of the mind, of the whole structure of oneself - for the mind to free itself of all its conditioning. So that we are not just educated and sophisticated, but real, mature, deep human beings.
This morning we are going to learn together, if we can, what is below the conscious, and seeing the many layers (or the one layer) to discover for ourselves the content of consciousness: whether that content makes up the conscious, or whether the conscious with its frontier contains `what is'. Does the content of consciousness make up consciousness? Do you follow? Or do all these things exist in the content? Do you see the difference? I am just investigating, I am moving slowly, so let us travel together. Don't ask me afterwards `Please repeat what you said' - I can,t.
First, why is there this division between the conscious and the so-called unconscious or the deeper layers? Are you aware of this division? Or does this division exist because we have got so many divisions in our life? Which is it? Is the conscious movement a separate movement and have the deeper layers their own movement, or is this whole thing an undivided movement? This is very important for us to find out, because we have trained the conscious mind, we have drilled it, educated it, forced it, shaped it, according to the demands of society and according to our own impulses, our own aggression and so on. Is the unconscious, the deeper layer, uneducated? We have educated the superficial layers; are we educating the deeper layer? Or are the deeper layers utterly untouched. What do you say?
In the deeper layers there may be the source and means of finding out new things, because the superficial layers have become mechanical, they are conditioned, repetitive, imitative; there is no freedom to find out, to move, to fly, to take to the wind! And in the deeper layers, which are not educated, which are unsophisticated and therefore extraordinarily primitive - primitive, not savage there may be the source of something new.
I do not know what you feel, what you have discovered. Is the superficial mind so heavily conditioned that it has become mechanical? If I am a Hindu or Christian I function as a Hindu or Christian, or whatever it is. And below that, is there a layer which education has not touched? Or has it, and therefore the whole content of consciousness is mechanical? Are you following?
Questioner: Sir, how can we know about the unconscious?
Krishnamurti: All right Sir, let's begin. When we use the word `know', what do we mean by that? I am not being merely verbal, but we must move into this very carefully. What do you mean when you say, `I want to know'?
Questioner: I haven't any experience of it.
Krishnamurti: Keep to that one word, go into it, don't introduce other words. What do you mean by that word `know'?, When you use that word, what does it mean? `I know something that has happened yesterday.' All knowledge is the past isn't it? Don't agree please, just see. I know you because I met you yesterday. I didn't meet the whole of you, I only met you when you were saying something; therefore knowing implies within a certain period of time. So knowledge always implies the past. When I say, `I know that is an aeroplane flying', though the flying is taking place at this moment, the knowledge that it is an aeroplane is of the past. How can the superficial mind learn about the deeper layers? How can that superficial mind learn about the other?
Questioner: Keep the superficial mind still, then it can learn about the deeper levels.
Krishnamurti: What is there to learn in the deeper layers? You assume there is something to learn; are you actually aware of the operations of the conscious mind? How it is ticking over? What its responses are? Is there an awareness of the conscious mind? Find out how extraordinarily difficult this is. The mind has to watch this entire movement very closely. You say in the unconscious there are many things. That's what all the professionals say - are there? The moment you divide the conscious from the deeper layers, the question arises: how is this superficial mind to enquire into the other? If there is no division at all, it is a total movement in which one is only aware of a fragmentary movement. This fragmentary movement asks: what are the contents of the unconscious? If it is a total movement you won't ask this question. Is the speaker making this clear? Be quite sure, not verbally but actually.
The moment you divide consciousness into fragments, one fragment says: `what are the other fragments?' But if it is a total movement then there is no fragmentation, therefore the question doesn't arise. This is really important to find out about. Then you go beyond all the specialists. Do you see consciousness as a whole, or do you see with one fragment which examines the other fragments? Do you see it partially, or wholly as a total movement, like a river that is moving? You can dig a ditch along the bank and call it the river - it isn't. In the river there is the whole movement. Then what is this movement? How is one to observe without fragmentation?
Questioner: May I say something please? You speak about an unconscious mind. But is there an unconscious mind? You cannot speak about something which is not. But we can speak about the conscious. Please define conscious and unconscious. The question is: are we now unconscious?
Krishnamurti: We asked this question earlier: are we aware of the frontiers of consciousness? Or are we aware of the many fragments that compose the conscious? Does one fragment become aware of the many other fragments? Or are you aware of the total movement of consciousness without any division?
Questioner: Both ways are conscious. Intellectually we are dividing ourselves into parts.
Krishnamurti: Please see we are not analysing. Where there is analysis there is the analyser and the thing analysed - one fragment assuming the authority of analysis and examining the other part. And in this division arise the conscious and the unconscious. Then we put the question: can the conscious mind examine the unconscious? - which implies that the conscious mind is separate from the rest. We say that from this false question you can answer this through dreams, through various forms of intimations and hints. All arising from a false assumption that the superficial mind is separate from the other; which means we have never seen or felt or learnt about the movement of consciousness as a whole. If you do, this question doesn't arise at all. I don't know if you see this?
Questioner: Obviously some people are suffering from neurosis without knowing the origin of it. Isn't that in the unconscious?
Krishnamurti: Do you suffer from a neurosis? Please, this is not a silly question. Are you aware that you are neurotic in some form or another? Questioner: Who decides if one is neurotic?
Krishnamurti: Don't you know when you are neurotic? Has somebody got to tell you that you are neurotic? Do please listen to this. When there is any exaggeration of any fragment then neurosis takes place. When you are highly intellectual that is a form of neurosis, though the highly intellectual is greatly regarded. Holding on to certain beliefs, Christian, Buddhist, Communist, attachment to any belief, is a form of neurosis. Sir, look at it, go slowly. Hold on to your question. Any fear is a form of neurosis, any conformity is a form of neurosis, and any form of comparing yourself with something else is neurotic. Aren't you doing all this?
Krishnamurti: Therefore you are neurotic! ( Laughter) No, no, please Sir, this is very serious. We have learned something from this. Any exaggeration of any fragment of the whole consciousness as we see it - which contains many fragments - any emphasis on any fragment is a form of neurosis. Sirs, get it into your hearts, feel it, move, take time, get involved in it, apply it to yourself, and you will see the next question.
As we are, we have divided consciousness; in this division there are many fragmentations, many divisions: the intellectual, emotional and so on; and any emphasis on that division is neurotic. Which means that a mind emphasizing a fragment not see clearly. Therefore the emphasis of a fragment brings about confusion. I am asking you to see for yourself whether there is not a fragmentation in you; that fragmentation laying emphasis on one thing, on its issues, on its problems, and disregarding the other fragments leads not only to conflict but to great confusion, because each fragment demands an expression, each demands an emphasis, and when you emphasize the one the others are clamouring. This clamour is confusion and out of that confusion come neurotic impulses, all forms of desire to fulfil, to become, to achieve. Questioner: Sometimes what you suffer from is not the apparent thing. If somebody doesn't dare to cross a square, it is obviously not the square he is frightened of. Or if one is afraid to be alone, it may be something in the unconscious which causes the fear.
Krishnamurti: Yes. The neurosis is only a symptom, the cause could be in the unconscious. Obviously this could be so and probably is. Then what is the question?
Questioner: It's a neurosis.
Krishnamurti: When we have understood this whole structure, then we can go into the particular; but to start with the particular will lead nowhere. Do you see that any emphasis on the fragment is a form of neurosis? There is the intellectual, the emotional, the physical, the psychosomatic; most of us have laid stress on one aspect of the many fragments. Out of that exaggeration, out of that disharmony, other factors of disharmony arise. Such as: `I can't cross a street', or `I am frightened in the dark; and the explanation is that in my childhood my mother didn't treat me properly!
Now our question is not why I can't cross the street, which I shall answer without going to the analyst, if I understand the fragmentation of consciousness. The moment I have understood that, then the problem of crossing the street doesn't exist at all. Are we meeting each other? When we see the greater, the totality, the immensity, the lesser disappears. But if we keep on emphasizing the little, then the little brings about its own little problems.
Questioner: But when you talk about seeing the totality of consciousness, what does `seeing' mean? For instance, sometimes I know something but I don't know how I know it.
Krishnamurti: No Sir, just look. Do you listen to the movement of that river totally? Just do it Sir. Don't speculate. Listen to that river and find out if you are listening completely, without any movement in any direction. Then after having listened, what do you say?
Questioner: Recognition plays no part in it.
Krishnamurti: That's right. Recognition plays no part in it. You don't say, `That is the stream to which I am listening; nor are you as an entity listening to the stream; there is only the listening to the sound. You don't say, `I know it is a river'. So let's go back. I want to go into this so much, please, let's move together.
Questioner: Is the emphasis on fragmentation the essence of neurosis, or is it the symptom?
Krishnamurti: It is the very essence and the symptom.
Questioner: Being intellectual is the essence as well as the symptom?
Krishnamurti: Isn't it? Look Sir. I emphasize my intellectual capacity. I think it is marvellous, I can beat everybody at an argument, I have read so much, I can correlate all that I have read, and I write wonderfully clever books. Isn't that the very cause and the symptom of my neurosis?
Questioner: It seems to be a symptom of our deeper disturbance.
Krishnamurti: Is it? You are saying that is a symptom, not the cause. I say, let's look. Is the mind whole, undivided, and therefore are the cause and the effect the same? See it, Sir. What was the cause becomes the effect, and the effect becomes the cause of the next movement; there is no definite demarcation between cause and effect. What was cause yesterday has become the effect, and the effect of today becomes the cause tomorrow. It is a movement, it is a chain.
Questioner: But isn't it essential to see this whole process, rather than just cause and effect? Krishnamurti: That's what we are doing and that is not possible if you emphasize the intellectual, the emotional, the physical, the spiritual, and so on.
So my question, which was the first question, is: why have we divided the mind? Is it artificial, or necessary? Is it just the invention of the specialist to which we have become slaves, which we have accepted, as we accept most things so easily? We say, `Great people say this' and we swallow it and repeat it. But when we see the fragmentation and the emphasis on this fragmentation; and when we see out of that arises the whole cause-effect chain and that it is a form of neurosis, then the mind sees the totality of the movement without division. Well Sir, do you see it?
Questioner: When there is no identification with the fragment.
Krishnamurti: Yes. If you identify yourself with any one of the fragments, obviously it is the same process. That is, the process of being identified with the one, and disregarding the rest, is a form of neurosis, a contradiction. Now put the next question. Can you identify yourself with the rest of the fragments? You, a fragment, identifying with the many other fragments. Do you see the tricks we are playing with this question of identification?
Questioner: I can only say that after the identification with one fragment; because then I feel that I am incomplete...
Krishnamurti: That's right. You feel you are incomplete, therefore you try to identify yourself with many other fragments. Now who is the entity that is trying to identify itself with the many? It is one of the fragments, therefore it is a trick - you follow? And we are doing this all the time: `I must identify myself'.
Questioner: Isn't it better to identify yourself with many fragments so that you are more complete?
Krishnamurti: No, not better. Look Sir, first let me explain it again. There are many fragments of which I am. One of the fragments says it brings about confusion to identify myself with a single fragment. So it says: `I'll identify myself with the many other fragments'. And it makes a tremendous effort to identify itself with the many fragments. Who is this entity that tries to identify itself with the other fragments? It is also a fragment, isn't it? Therefore it is only playing a game by itself. This is so simple! Now let's proceed, there is so much in this, we are just remaining on the very surface of it all.
We see there is no actual division at all. I see it non-verbally. I feel it that the observer is a fragment which separates itself from the rest of the fragments and is observing. In that observation there is a division, as the observer and the observed, there is conflict, there is confusion. When the mind realizes this fragmentation and the futility of separating itself, then it sees the movement as a whole. If you cannot do this you cannot possibly put the next question, which is: what is beyond the conscious? What is below, above, beside? - it doesn't matter how you put it.
So if you are serious, you have to find out what consciousness is and when you are aware that you are conscious. Do you understand my question? I am doing all the work! Sir, look, you have to learn about all this and when you learn you help others to learn. So learn now, for God's sake! That is your vocation. We are asking what is this thing called consciousness? When do you say, `I am conscious?'
Questioner: When there is thought.
Krishnamurti: Come nearer.
Questioner: When there is duality.
Krishnamurti: What do you mean? Come closer. You begin too far away.
Questioner: When you are in fragmentation. Krishnamurti: Sir, just listen. When are you at all aware that you are conscious? Is this so very difficult?
Questioner: When I am in pain.
Krishnamurti: The lady suggests you are conscious when there is pain, when there is conflict, when you have a problem, when you are resisting; otherwise you are flowing smoothly, evenly, harmoniously. Living without any contradiction, are you conscious at all? Are you conscious when you are supremely happy?
Questioner: What does that word `being conscious' mean?
Krishnamurti: You don t have to ask me, you'll find out. The moment you are conscious that you are happy, is happiness there? The moment you say, `How joyous I am', it has already moved away from you. Can you ever say that?
Questioner: You are then conscious of that.
Krishnamurti: Which is the past! So you are only conscious of something that has happened, or when there is some conflict, some pain, when there is the actual awareness that you are confused. Any disturbance in this movement is to be conscious and all our life is a disturbance against which we are resisting. If there were no discord at all in life would you say, `I am conscious'? When you are walking, moving, living without any friction, without any resistance, without any battle, you don't say `I am'. It is only when you say, `I will become, or,I am being', then you are conscious.
Questioner: Isn't this state that you are talking about still a process of identification with the tree...
Krishnamurti: No Sir. I explained identification. When I see a tree I don't mistake it for a woman or for the church: it is a tree. Which doesn't mean identification. Look Sir, we have discovered something, we have learned something. There is consciousness only when there is `becoming', or trying `to be something'. Becoming implies conflict: `I will be'. Which means conflict exists as long as the mind is caught in the verb `to be' please see that. Our whole culture is based on that word `to be'. `I will be a success', `I am a failure', `I must achieve', `This book is mine, it is going to change the world'. You follow? So as long as there is a movement of becoming, there is conflict and that conflict makes the mind aware that it is conscious. Or the mind says, `I must be good' not `I will be good'. To be good. Also it is a form of resistance: being good. Being and becoming are the same.
Questioner: Can one be conscious of conflict?
Krishnamurti: Of course Sir, otherwise you wouldn't be conscious.
Questioner: Can't you be so caught up in conflict that you don't see that you are in conflict?
Krishnamurti: Of course, it is a form of neurosis. Sir, look. Have you ever been to a mental hospital, any of you? I wasn't there as a patient, I was taken by an analyst, and all the patients from the top floor, where the most violent ones are caged in, down to the lowest floor where they are more or less peaceful, they are all in conflict an exaggerated conflict do you understand? Only they are inside the building and we are outside - that's all.
Questioner: I am trying to distinguish between consciousness and awareness.
Krishnamurti: Both are the same. Being aware implies awareness of division. To be aware without division and choice is not to be caught in the movement of becoming or being. Have you understood? The whole movement of consciousness is either to become or to be: becoming famous, becoming a social worker, helping the world. After looking at the fragmentation, after looking at the movement of consciousness as a whole, you find that this whole movement is based on that: `to become', or `to be'. You have learned it, Sir - not by agreeing with me.
Then you ask a totally different question, which is: what is beyond this movement of `becoming' and `to be'? You are not asking that question. But I am asking it. Do you understand my question Sir? Looking at this problem of consciousness, both from the analytical and the philosophical point of view, I have realized that division has been created through `becoming', or `to be'. I want to be a Hindu, because it promises me not only outward success but also spiritual achievements. If I reject that, I say I must `be' something else: I am going `to be myself', identify myself with myself. Again this is the same process. So I observe, I see that the total movement of consciousness is this movement of being something, or becoming, or `not to be', or `not to become'. Now how do I see this? Do I see it as something outside myself, or do I see it without the centre, as the `me', which observes the `becoming' and the `not becoming'? Have you understood my question? No, I don't think so.
I realize that all consciousness is this movement. When I say `I realize it', am I realizing it as something that I have seen outside of me, like looking at a picture hanging on the wall, spread out before me; or do I see this movement as part of me, as the very essence of me? Do I see this movement from a centre? Or do I see it without the centre? If I see it from a centre, that centre is the self, the `me', who is the very essence of fragmentation. Therefore when there is an observation from the centre, I am only observing this movement as a fragment, as something outside of me, which I must understand, which I must try to grasp, which I must struggle with and all the rest. But if there is no centre, which means there is no `me', but merely an observing of this whole movement, then that observation will lead to the next question. So which is it you are doing? Please this is not group therapy, this is not a weekend entertainment, this isn't a thing you go to learn from somebody, like `how to become sensitive', or `how to learn creative living; put all that aside. This is hard work, this needs deep enquiry. Now, how are you observing? If you don't understand this, life becomes a torture, a battlefield. In that battlefield you want to improve the cannon, you want to bring about brotherhood and yet keep to your isolation. We have played that game for so long! Therefore you have to answer this question if you are really profoundly serious. Are you watching this whole movement of consciousness, as we have seen it, as an outsider, unrelated to that which he is watching? Or is there no centre at all from which you are watching? And when you watch that way, what takes place?
May we sidestep a little? All of you dream a great deal, don't you? Have you ever asked why? Not how to interpret dreams, that is an irrelevant question which we'll answer presently. But have you ever asked a relevant question, which is: why do we dream at all?
Questioner: Because we are in conflict.
Krishnamurti: No Sir, don't be so quick. Look at it. Why do you dream? The next question is: is there a sleep without any dream at all? Don't say `Yes', Sir.
You all dream; what are those dreams, why do you dream? Dreams, as we said the other day, are the continuing movement of the daily activity, symbolized, put into various categories, but it is the same movement. Isn't that so? Don't agree or disagree, find out! It is so obvious. If dreams are a continuing movement of the daily action, then what happens to the brain if there is constant activity, constant chattering?
Questioner: It never rests.
Krishnamurti: What happens to it?
Questioner: It gets exhausted. It wears out. Krishnamurti: It wears itself out, there is no rest, there is no seeing of anything new. The brain doesn't make itself young. All these things are implied when there is a continuous movement of daily activity, which goes on in the brain during sleep. You may foretell what might happen in the future, because while you sleep there is a little more sensitivity, a little more perception and so on; but it is the same movement. Now, can this movement, which goes on during the day, end with the day? Not be carried over when you sleep? That is, when you go to bed the whole thing is ended. Don't answer my question yet. We are going to go into it.
Doesn't it happen to you when you go to bed, that you take stock of what you have done during the day? Or do you just flop into bed and go to sleep? Don't you review the day and say, this should have been done, this should not have been done? And ask yourself the meaning of this or that? Follow this very carefully. You are bringing order. The brain demands order, because otherwise it can't function efficiently. If you dream, if the movement of the daily activity goes on in your sleep, there is no order. As the brain demands order, the brain instinctively brings about order while you are asleep. You wake up a little fresher because you have a little more order. The brain cannot function efficiently if there is any form of conflict, any form of disorder.
Questioner: Aren't there other kinds of dreams in which communications of a different kind are transmitted?
Krishnamurti: First listen to this. Understand order. The movement of daily life continues through sleep because in this daily movement there is contradiction, there is disorder, disharmony. And during sleep, through dreams, through various forms of non-dreams, the brain tries to bring order into its own chaos. If you make order during the day, the brain does not need to put things in order during sleep. See the importance of this. Therefore the brain becomes rested, quiet, alive, fresh. I do not know if you have noticed that when you have a problem and you go on thinking it out during the day, and it is still going on during the night, you worry about it and you wake up the next morning weary of the problem; and during the next day you still worry about that problem, like a dog biting a bone. You are at it all day and still when you go to bed again; until the brain is exhausted. Then perhaps in that exhaustion you see something fresh.
What we are saying is something entirely different. It is this: to end the problem as it arises, not to carry it over to the next day or to the next minute - end it! Somebody has insulted you, hurt you - end it! Somebody has deceived you, somebody has said unkind things about you. Look at it, don't carry it over, don't bear it as a burden. End it as it is being said, not afterwards.
Disorder is a neurotic state of the brain and ends up by producing a mental case. Order implies the ending of the problem as it arises, and therefore the movement of the daytime through the night ends and there are no dreams, because you have solved everything as you are moving. I don't know if you see the importance of this. Because then you can ask the next question, which is: what is beyond all this? We will deal with that tomorrow.
7th August 1970.
The Impossible Question
Part 2, Public Dialogues Saanen 1970
Impossible Question Part II Chapter 5 6th Public Dialogue Saanen 7th August 1970
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