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Colombo, Ceylon 1950

Colombo Ceylon 3rd Public Talk 8th January, 1950

One of our major problems is this question of creative living. Obviously, most of us have dull lives, we have only a very superficial reaction. After all, most of our responses are superficial and thereby create innumerable problems. Creative living does not necessarily mean becoming a big architect or a great writer. This is merely capacity, and capacity is entirely different from creative living. No one need know that you are creative, but you yourself can know that state of extraordinary happiness, a quality of indestructibility; but that is not easily realized, because most of us have innumerable problems - political, social, economic, religious, family - which we try to solve according to certain explanations, certain rules, traditions, any sociological or religious pattern with which we are familiar. But our solution of one problem seems inevitably to create other problems, and we set up a net of problems ever multiplying and increasing in their destructiveness. When we try to find the answer, a way out of this mess, this confusion, we seek the answer at one particular level. One must have the capacity to go beyond all levels, because the creative way of living cannot be found at any particular level. That creative action comes into being only in understanding relationship, and relationship is communion with another. So, it is not really a selfish outlook to be concerned with individual action. We seem to think that we can do very little in this world, that only the big politicians, the famous writers, the great religious leaders, are capable of extraordinary action. Actually, you and I are infinitely more capable of bringing about a radical transformation than the professional politicians and economists. If we are concerned with our own lives, if we understand our relationship with others, we will have created a new society; otherwise, we will but perpetuate the present chaotic mess and confusion.

So, it is not out of selfishness, not because of a desire for power, that one is concerned with individual action; and if we can find a way of living which is creative, not merely conforming to religious, social, political or economic standards as we are doing at the present time, then I think we will be able to solve our many problems. At present we are merely repetitive gramophones, perhaps changing records occasionally under pressure; but most of us always play the same tunes for every occasion. It is this constant repetition, this perpetuation of tradition, that is the source of the problem with all its complexities. We seem to be incapable of breaking away from conformity, though we may substitute a new conformity for the present one, or try to modify the present pattern. It is a constant process of repetition, imitation. We are Buddhists, Christians or Hindus, we belong to the left or to the right. By quoting from the various sacred books, by mere repetition, we think we shall solve our innumerable problems. Surely, repetition is not going to solve human problems. What has the "revolutionary" done for the so-called masses? Actually, the problems are still there. What happens is that this constant repetition of an idea prevents the understanding of the problem itself. Through self-knowledge one has the capacity to free oneself from this repetition. Then it is possible to be in that creative state which is always new, and therefore one is always ready to meet each problem afresh.

After all, our difficulty is that, having these immense problems, we meet them with previous conclusions, with the record of experience, either our own or acquired through others; and so we meet the new with the old, which creates a further problem. Creative living is being without that background; the new is met. as the new, therefore it does not create further problems. Therefore it is necessary to meet the new with the new until we can understand the total process, the whole problem of mounting disaster, misery, starvation, war, unemployment, inequality, the battle between conflicting ideologies. That struggle and confusion is not to be solved by repetition of old ways. If you will really look a little more closely without prejudice, without religious bias, you will see much bigger problems; and being free from conformity, from belief, you will be able to meet the new. This capacity to meet the new with the new is called the creative state, and that surely is the highest form of religion. Religion is not merely belief, it is not the following of certain rituals, dogmas, the calling yourself this or that. Religion is really experiencing a state in which there is creation. This is not an idea, a process. It can be realized when there is freedom from self. There can be freedom from self only through understanding the self in relationship - but there can be no understanding in isolation.

As I suggested in answering the questions last Sunday, it is important that we experience each question as it arises, and not merely listen to my answers; that we discover together the truth of the matter, which is much more difficult. Most of us would like to be apart from the problem, watching others; but if we can discover together, take the journey together, so that it is your experience and not mine, though you are listening to my words - if we can go together; then it will be of lasting value and importance. Question: Do you advocate vegetarianism? Would you object to the inclusion of an egg in your diet?

Krishnamurti: Is that really a very great problem, whether we should have an egg or not? Perhaps most of you are concerned with non-killing. What is really the crux of the matter, is it not? Perhaps most of you eat meat or fish. You avoid killing by going to a butcher, or you put the blame on the killer, the butcher - that is only dodging the problem. If you like to eat eggs, you may get infertile eggs to avoid killing. But this is a very superficial question - the problem is much deeper. You don't want to kill animals for your stomach, but you do not mind supporting governments that are organized to kill. All sovereign governments are based on violence, they must have armies, navies, and air forces. You don't mind supporting them, but you object to the terrible calamity of eating an egg! (Laughter). See how ridiculous the whole thing is; investigate the mentality of the gentleman who is nationalistic, who does not mind the exploitation and the ruthless destruction of people, to whom wholesale massacre is nothing - but who has scruples as to what goes into his mouth. (Laughter). So, there is much more involved in this problem - not only the whole question of killing, but the right employment of the mind. The mind may be used narrowly, or it is capable of extraordinary activity; and most of us are satisfied with superficial activity, with security, sexual satisfaction, amusement, religious belief - with that, we are satisfied and discard entirely the deeper response and wider significance of life. Even the religious leaders have become petty in their response to life. After all, the problem is not only killing animals but human beings, which is more important. You may refrain from using animals and degrading them, you may be compassionate about killing them, but what is important in this question is the whole problem of exploitation and killing - not only the slaughter of human beings in war time, but the way you exploit people, the way you treat your servants, and look down on them as inferiors. Probably you are not paying attention to this, because it is near home. You would rather discuss God, reincarnation - but nothing requiring immediate action and responsibility.

So, if you are really concerned with not killing, you should not be a nationalist, you should not call yourself Sinhalese, German or Russian. Also you must have right employment, make right use of machinery. It is very important in modern society to have right employment, because today every action leads to war, the whole thing is geared for war; but at least we can find out the wrong professions; and avoid them intelligently. Obviously, the army, the navy, are wrong professions; so is the profession of law which encourages litigation, and the police, especially the secret police. So, right employment must be found and exercised by each one, and only then. can there be the cessation of killing which will bring about peace among men. But the economic pressure is so great in the modern world that very few can withstand it. Almost no one is concerned with seeking right profession; and if you are concerned not to kill, then you have to do far more than merely avoid the killing of animals, which means you have to go into this whole problem of right employment. Though the question may appear very petty, if you go into it a little more carefully you will see that it is a very great question; because, what you are, you make the world to be. If you are greedy, angry, dominating, possessive, you will inevitably create a social structure that will bring about further conflict, misery, further destruction. But unfortunately, most of us are not concerned with any of these things. Most of us are concerned with immediate pleasures, with everyday living; and if we can get them, we are satisfied. We do not want to look into the deeper and wider problems; though we know they exist, we want to avoid them. By avoiding these problems, they are increased, you have not solved them. To solve them, they cannot be approached through any particular ideology, either of the left or of the right. Look at these problems more closely and effectively and you will begin to understand the total process of yourself in relation to others, which is society.

But you will tell me that I have not answered the question about the egg, whether to eat an egg or not. Surely, intelligence is the important thing - not what goes into your mouth, but what comes out of it, and most of us have filled our hearts with the things of the mind, and our minds are very small, shallow. Our problem is to find out how to bring about a transformation in that which is shallow and small; and this transformation can come about only through understanding the shallow. Those of you who want to go into the question more deeply will have to find out whether you are contributing to war and how to avoid it, whether indirectly you are the cause of destruction. If you can really solve that question, then you can easily settle the superficial matter of whether you should be a vegetarian or not. Tackle the problem at a much deeper level and you will find the answer.

Question: You say that reality or understanding exists in the interval between two thoughts. Will you please explain..

Krishnamurti: This is really a different way of asking the question, "What is meditation?" As I answer this question, please experiment with it, discover how your own mind works, which is after all a process of meditation. I am thinking aloud with you, not superficially - I have not studied. I am just thinking aloud with you about the question, so that we can all journey together and find the truth of this question.

The questioner asks about the interval between two thoughts in which there can be understanding. Before we can enquire into that, we must find out what we mean by thought. What do you mean by thinking? Is this getting a little too serious? You must have patience to listen to it. When you think something - thought being an idea - , what do you mean by that? Is not thought a response to influence, the outcome of social, environmental influence? Is not thought the summation of all experience reacting? Say, for example, you have a problem, and you are trying to think about it, to analyze it, to study it. How do you do that? Are you not looking at the present problem with the experience of yesterday - yesterday being the past - , with past knowledge, past history, past experience? So, that is the past, which is memory, responding to the present; and this response of memory to the present you call thinking. Thought is merely the response of the past in conjunction with the present, is it not?, and for most of us thought is a continuous process. Even when we are asleep there is constant activity in the form of dreams; there is never a moment when the mind is really still. We project a picture and live either in the past or the future, like many old and some young people do, or like the political leaders who are always promising a marvellous Utopia. (Laughter). And we accept it because we all want the future, so we sacrifice the present for the future; but we cannot know what is going to happen tomorrow or in fifty years" time. So, thought is the response of the past in conjunction with the present; that is, thought is experience responding to challenge, which is reaction. There is no thought if there is no reaction. Response is the past background - you respond as a Buddhist, a Christian, according to the left or to the right. That is the background, and that is the constant response to challenge - and that response of the past to the present is called thinking. There is never a moment when thought is not. Have you not noticed that your mind is incessantly occupied with something or other - personal, religious, or political worries? It is constantly occupied; and what happens to your mind, what happens to any machinery, that is in constant use? It wears away. The very nature of the mind is to be occupied with something, to be in constant agitation, and we try to control it, to dominate it, to suppress it; and if we can succeed, we think we have become great saints and religious people, and then we stop thinking.

Now, you will see that in the process of thinking there is always an interval, a gap between two thoughts. As you are listening to me, what exactly is happening in your mind? You are listening, perhaps experiencing what we are talking about, waiting for information, the experience of the next moment. You are watchful; so there is passive watching, alert awareness. There is no response; there is a state of passiveness in which the mind is strongly aware, yet there is no thought - that is, you are really experiencing what I am talking about. Such passive watchfulness is the interval between two thoughts.

Suppose you have a new problem - and problems are always new - , how do you approach it? It is a new problem, not an old one. You may recognize it as old, but as long as it is a problem it is always new. It is like one of those modern pictures to which you are entirely unaccustomed. What happens if you want to understand it? If you approach it with your classical training, your response to that challenge, which is that picture, is rejection; so if you want to understand the picture, your classical training will have to be put aside - just as, if you want to understand what I am talking about, you have to forget you are a Buddhist, a Christian, or what not. You must look at the picture free of your classical training, with passive awareness and watchfulness of mind, and then the picture begins to unfold itself and tell its story. That is possible only when the mind is in a state of watchfulness, without trying to condemn or justify the picture; it comes only when thought is not, when the mind is still. You can experiment with that and see how extraordinarily true is a still mind. Only then is it possible to understand. But the constant activity of the mind prevents the understanding of the problem.

To put it around the other way, what do you do when you have a problem, an acute problem? You think about it, don't you? What do you mean by "think about it"? You mean working for an answer, searching for an answer, according to your previous conclusions. That is, you try to shape the problem to fit certain conclusions which you have, and if you can make it fit, you think you have solved it. But problems are not solved by being put into the pigeonholes of the mind. You think about the problem with the memory of past conclusions and try to find out what Christ, Buddha, X, Y or Z has said, and then apply those conclusions to the problem. Thereby you do not solve the problem, but cover it up with the residue of previous problems. When you have a really big and difficult problem, that process will not work. You say you have tried everything and you cannot solve it. That means you are not waiting for the problem to tell its story. But when the mind is relaxed, no longer making an effort, when it is quiet for just a few seconds, then the problem reveals itself and it is solved. That happens when the mind is still, in the interval between two thoughts, between two responses. In that state of mind understanding comes; but it requires extraordinary watchfulness of every movement of thought. When the mind is aware of its own activity, its own process, then there is quietness. After all, self-knowledge is the beginning of meditation, and if you do not know the whole, total process of yourself, you cannot know the importance of meditation. Merely sitting in front of a picture or repeating phrases is not meditation. Meditation is a part of relationship; it is seeing the process of thought in the mirror of relationship. Meditation is not subjugation, but understanding the whole process of thinking. Then thought comes to an end, and only in that ending is there the beginning of understanding.

Question: What happens to an individual at death? Does he continue, or does he go to annihilation?

Krishnamurti: Now, it is very interesting to find out from what point of view we are approaching this question. Please put this question to yourself and find out how you as an individual approach it. Why do you put this question? What is the motive that makes you ask about total annihilation? Either you are approaching the question because you want to know the truth of it and are therefore not seeking self-gratification; or you want a solution because you are afraid. If you approach it with the idea that you are afraid of death and want to continue, then your question will have a gratifying answer, because you are merely seeking consolation. Then you may just as well adopt a new belief that will satisfy you or take a drug that will make you dull. When you suffer you want to be made dull. Suffering is the response of sensitiveness; that is, sensitiveness makes for pain, and when there is pain you want a drug. So, either you want to find the truth of this question, or you are merely seeking a means to lull yourself to sleep - only you don't put it so crudely. You want to be comforted, you ask because you are afraid of death and you want to be sure of continuity. According to your approach you will find the answer, obviously. If you are seeking consolation, then you are not seeking truth; if you are afraid, then you are not trying to find out what is real. So, first you have to be very earnest in your thinking. Most of us are afraid of seeking the truth. Most of us are scared of there being no continuity, and we want to be assured that we will continue. Let us find out whether there is continuity - you may want it, but it may not be there.

What do you mean by continuity and coming to an end? What is it that continues? We are trying to find the truth of continuity and the truth of non-continuity, so we have to examine what it is that continues in your daily life. Have you noticed yourself in continuation - in relation to your property, your family, your ideas? You say a hundred times, "this is my property, my reputation", and it becomes continuity. You say, "this is my name, my wife, my work, my job, these are my ambitions, my characteristics or tendencies; I am a big entity, or a little entity trying to become a big entity" - and that is what you are in daily life, not spiritually but actually. Obviously, those are all memories, and you want to know if that bundle of memories, identified as yourself, will continue. "You" are not separate from the bundle. There is no "you" as an entity different from memory. The "you" may be placed at a higher level, but even at that level it is within the whole field of memory of thought; and you want to know whether it will continue. Memory is word, symbol, picture, image; without the word there is no memory The symbol, the image, the past picture, the memory of certain relationships - all that is "you", which is the word. You want to know whether that word, which is identified with memory, will continue. In other words, you are seeking immortality through memory identified as "you". You are not different from the various qualities which go toward making the "you". So, you are the house, the memory, the experience, the family; you are not separate from the idea. And you want to know whether that "you" continues.

Now, why do you want to know? What is the motive, what is the urge? You say, "I am finished, I must have space in which to grow, to become; life is too short, I must have another chance". Now, have you noticed that idea, thought, can continue? You can experience it for yourself - it is very simple. Thought as memory, as idea, continues. So you have the question answered. The "you" that continues is merely a bundle of memories; that is, when there is identification of thought as "I am" this superficial thing in some form or other continues, as thought did before. The "you" as an idea, as thought, continues; but that is not very satisfactory, because you have an idea that you are something more than thought, and you want to know if that something more continues. There is nothing more - "you" are merely the result of social, environmental influences; that is, "you" are the result of conditioning. You may say, "What nonsense it is to talk of a future life - it is superstitious rot; others, who are differently conditioned, believe there is something more. Surely, there is not much difference between the two. Both are conditioned, one to believe and the other not to believe, Belief in any form is detrimental to the discovery of truth. Belief in continuity and belief in non-continuity are both detrimental to the discovery of truth. To find out what truth is, there can be no fear and no belief - which fetter the mind. Only when continuity ends can you know the truth of what is beyond continuity.

To put it differently, death is the unknown, it is ever new, and to understand it you must go to it with a fresh mind, a mind that is new, not merely a continuation of the past. In that state you are capable of knowing the significance of death. At present we know neither life nor death, and we are anxious to know what death is. Thought must end for life to be. There must be death in order for life to flourish. When life is only the continuation of thought, such continuity can never know reality. If you are seeking continuity, you have it in your house in your work, in your children, in your name, in your property, in certain qualities - all that is "you", it is thought continued. Immortality can be known only when thinking ceases when through understanding, the process of thought comes to an end. You can only think about something that you know. So when you think of yourself as a spiritual entity, it is your own projection, something born out of the past; therefore it is not spiritual. It is only when you understand continuity that thought comes to an end - which is an extraordinary process requiring a great deal of alertness, not discipline, vows, dogmas, creeds, beliefs, and all the rest of it. There is immortality only when the mind is completely still, and that stillness comes when thought is wholly understood.

Question: I pray to God, and my prayers are answered. Is this not proof of the existence of God?

Krishnamurti: If you have proof of the existence of God, then it is not God; (laughter) because proof is of the mind. How can the mind prove or disprove God? Therefore your god is a projection of the mind according to your satisfaction, appetite, happiness, pleasure or fear. Such a thing is not God, but merely a creation of thought, a projection of the known which is past. What is known is not God, though the mind may look for it, may be active in the search for God.

The questioner says that his prayers are answered, and asks if this is not proof of the existence of God. Do you want proof of love? When you love somebody, do you seek proof? If you demand proof of love, is that love? If you love your wife, your child, and you want proof, then love is surely a bargain. So your prayer to God is merely bargaining. (Laughter). Don't laugh it off, look at it seriously, as a fact. The questioner approaches what he calls God through supplication and petition. You cannot find reality through sacrifice, through duty, through responsibility, because these are means to an end, and the end is not different from the means. The means are the end.

The other part of the question is, "I pray to God, and my prayers are answered. "Let us examine that. What do you mean by prayer? Do you pray when you are joyous, when you are happy, when there is no confusion, no misery? You pray when there is misery, when there is disturbance, fear, turmoil, and your prayer is supplication, petition. When you are in misery, you want somebody to help you out, a higher entity to give you a helping hand; and that process of supplication in different forms is called prayer. So, what happens? You put out your begging bowl to someone, it does not matter who it is - an angel, or your own projection whom you call God. The moment you beg, you have something - but whether that something is real or not, is a different question. You want your confusion, your miseries solved; so you get out your traditional phrases, you turn on your devotion, and the constant repetition obviously makes the mind quiet. But that is not quietness - the mind is merely dulled and put to sleep. In that induced quiet, when there is supplication there is an answer. But it is not at all an answer from God - it is from your own ornamental projection. Here is the answer to the question. But you do not want to enquire into all this, that is why the question is put. Your prayer is supplication - you are only concerned to get a response to your prayer because you want to be free from trouble. Something is gnawing at your heart, and by praying you make yourself dull and quiet. In that artificial quietness there is a response - obviously satisfying, otherwise you would reject it. Your prayer is satisfying, and therefore it is what you yourself have created. It is your own projection that helps you out - that is one type of prayer. Then there is the deliberative type of prayer, to make the mind quiet, receptive and open. How can the mind be open when it is conditioned by tradition, the background of the past? Openness implies understanding, the capacity to follow the imponderable. When the mind is held, tethered to a belief, it cannot be open. When it is deliberately opened, obviously any answer it receives is a projection of itself. Only when the mind is unconditioned, when it knows how to deal with each problem as it arises - only then is there no longer a problem. As long as the background continues, it must create a problem; as long as there is continuity, there must be ever increasing turmoil and misery. Receptivity is the capacity to be open, without condemnation or justification, to what is; and it is that from which you try to escape through prayer.

January 8, 1950


Colombo, Ceylon 1950

Colombo Ceylon 3rd Public Talk 8th January, 1950

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