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New York 1950

New York 1st Public Talk 4th June 1950

I think it is important to bear in mind that there is a difficulty in understanding each other. Most of us listen casually, and we hear only what we want to hear; we disregard that which is penetrating or disturbing, and listen only to the things that are pleasurable, satisfying. Surely, there can be no real understanding of anything if we listen only to those things which gratify and soothe us. It is quite an art to listen to everything without prejudice, without building up defences; and may I suggest that we try to set aside our acquired knowledge, our particular idiosyncrasies and points of view, and listen to find out the truth of the matter. It is only the truth that really and fundamentally frees us - not speculations, not conclusions, but only the perception of what is true. The true is the factual, and we are incapable of looking at the factual when we approach it with our private conclusions, prejudices, and experiences. So, if I may suggest it, during these talks we should try to hear, not only what is being said verbally, but the inward content of it; we should try to discover the truth of the matter for ourselves.

Now, truth can be discovered only when we are not pursuing any form of distraction; and most of us want to be distracted. Life, with all its struggles, problems, wars, business crises and family quarrels, is a bit too much for us, so we want to be distracted; and we have probably come to this meeting in search of distraction. But distraction, whether outward or inward, will not help us to understand ourselves. Distraction - whether the distraction of politics, of religion, of knowledge, of amusement, or the distraction of pursuing so-called truth - , however stimulating for the time being, ultimately dulls the mind, encloses, circumscribes and limits it. Distractions are both outward and inward. The outward ones we know fairly well; as we grow older we begin to recognize them if we are at all thoughtful. But though we may discard the obvious distractions, it is much more difficult to understand the inward ones; and if we merely make these meetings into a new form of distraction, a new stimulation, I am afraid they will have very little value in the understanding of oneself - which is of primary importance.

Therefore, one has to understand the whole process of distraction; because, as long as the mind is distracted, seeking a result, trying to escape through stimulation or so-called inspiration, it is incapable of understanding its own process. And, if we are to think out any of the innumerable problems that confront each one of us, it is essential to know the whole process of our own thinking, is it not? Self-knowledge is ultimately the only way of resolving our innumerable problems; and self-knowledge cannot possibly be a result, an outcome of stimulation or distraction. On the contrary, distraction, stimulation and so-called inspiration, merely take one away from the central issue. Surely, without knowing oneself fundamentally, radically, and deeply, without knowing all the layers of consciousness, both the superficial as well as the profound, there is no basis for thinking, is there? If I do not know myself in both the upper and the deeper layers of the mind, what basis have I for any thinking? And in order to know oneself, no form of distraction is helpful. Yet most of us are concerned with distractions. Our religious, political, social, and economic activities, our pursuit of various teachers with their particular idiosyncrasies, our clamouring after what we call knowledge - these are all escapes, they are obviously distractions away from the central issue of knowing oneself. Though it has often been said that it is essential to know oneself, we actu- ally give very little time or thought to the matter; and without knowing oneself, whatever we think or do must inevitably lead to further confusion and misery.

So, it is essential in all things to understand the process of oneself; because, without knowing oneself, no human problem can be resolved. Any resolution of a problem without self-knowledge is merely distraction, leading to further misery, confusion, and struggle - this, when one thinks about it, is fairly obvious. Seeing the truth of that, how is it possible to know the whole content, the whole structure of oneself? I think this is a fundamental question which each one of us has to face; and in considering it together, you are not merely listening to me giving you a series of ideas, nor am I expounding a particular system or method. On the contrary, you and I are trying to find out together how it is possible to know oneself - the `oneself' who is the actor, the observer, the thinker, the watcher. If I do not know the whole process of myself, mere conclusions, theories, speculations, are obviously of very little significance.

Now, to know myself, I must know my actions, my thoughts, my feelings; because, I can only know myself in action, not apart from action. I cannot know myself apart from my activities in relationship. My activities, my qualities, are myself. I can know the whole process of my thinking, the conscious as well as the unconscious, only in relationship - my relationship to ideas, to people, and to things, property, and money; and to study myself apart from relationship has very little meaning. It is only in my relationship to these things that I can know myself. To divide myself into the `higher' and the `lower' is absurd. To think that I am the `higher self' directing or controlling my `lower self', is a theory of the mind; and without understanding the structure of the mind, merely to invent convenient theories is a process of escape from myself.

So, the important thing is to find out what my relationship is to people, to property, and to ideas; because, life is a process of relationship. Nothing can live in isolation, except theoretically; and to understand myself, I must understand the whole process of relationship. But the understanding of relationship becomes extremely difficult, and almost impossible, when I look into the mirror of relationship with a sense of condemnation, justification, or comparison. How can I understand relationship if I condemn, justify, or compare it with something? I can understand it only when I come to it anew, with a fresh mind, a mind which is not caught in the traditional background of condemnation and acceptance.

To understand myself is essential, because, whatever the problems, they are projected by me. I am the world, I am not independent of the world, and the world's problems are my own. To understand the problems around me, which are the projection of myself, I have to understand myself in relationship to everything; but there cannot be understanding if I begin by comparing, condemning, or justifying. Now, it is the nature of the mind to condemn, to justify, to compare; and when we see in the mirror of relationship our own reactions and idiosyncrasies, our instinctive response is to condemn or justify them. The understanding of this process of condemnation and justification is the beginning of self-knowledge - and without self-knowledge, we cannot go very far. We can invent a lot of theories and speculations, join various groups, follow teachers and Masters, perform rituals, gather into little cliques and feel superior to others - but all this leads nowhere, it is merely the immature action of thoughtless people. To find out what is real, to discover whether or not there is reality, God, one must first understand oneself; because, whatever the conception one may have of reality or of God, it is merely a projection of oneself, which can obviously never be real. It is only when the mind is utterly tranquil - not forced to be tranquil, not compelled, nor disciplined - that it is possible to find out what is real; and the mind can be still only in the understanding of its own structure. Only the real, that which is not a projection of the mind, can free the mind from all the tribulations, from all the problems that confront each one of us.

So, we must first see the importance, the necessity of understanding oneself; for without understanding oneself, no problem can be resolved, and the wars, the antagonisms, the envy and strife, will continue. A man who would really understand truth must have a mind that is quiet; and that quietness can come only through the understanding of himself. Tranquillity of the mind does not come through discipline, through control, through subjugation, but only when the problems, which are the projections of oneself, are completely understood. Only when the mind is quiet, when it is not projecting itself, is it possible for the real to be. That is, for reality to come into being, the mind must be quiet - not m a d e quiet, not controlled, subjugated, or suppressed, but silent spontaneously because of its understanding of the whole structure of the `me', with all its memories, limitations, and conflicts. When all this is completely and truly understood, the mind is quiet; and then only is it possible to know that which is real.

Some questions have been given to me, and I shall answer a few of then this morning; but before doing so, let me say that it is very easy to ask a question, hoping for an answer. I am afraid, however, that life has no answer like `yes' or `no'. We have to discover the true answer for ourselves; and to discover the true answer, we must examine the problem. To examine the problem, especially a problem that concerns us intimately, is very difficult; for most of us approach it with a prejudice, with a desire to find a result, a satisfactory answer. So, in considering these questions, let us investigate the problem together, and not wait for me to tell you the answer; because, truth must be discovered each minute, not merely explained. Truth is not knowledge - knowledge is merely the cultivation of memory, and memory is a continuity of experiences; and that which is continuous can never be the truth. So, let us investigate these questions together. I am not saying this merely to be rhetorical: I actually mean it. You and I are going to find out the truth of the matter. If you discover it for yourself, it is yours; but if you wait for me to give the answer, it will have very little value, for then you will merely remain on the verbal level and hear only words, and the words will not carry you very far.

Question: What system would assure us of economic security?

Krishnamurti: Now what do we mean by a system? The world is torn at the present time between two systems, the left and the right. The world is broken up by beliefs, by ideas, by formulas, and we seek economic or physical security along certain lines. Now, can there be security according to any particular system? Can you base existence on any particular belief, conclusion, or theory? There is the system of the left, and the system of the right. Both of them promise economic security, and they are at war with each other - which means that you are not secure. You are not secure because you are quarrelling over systems and cultivating war in the process. So, as long as you depend on a system for security, there must be insecurity. Surely, that is fairly clear, is it not? Those who hold to beliefs, to Utopian promises, are not concerned with people: they are concerned with ideas; and action based on ideas must inevitably breed separatism and disintegration - which is actually what is taking place. So, as long as we look for security through a system, through an idea, obviously there must be separatism, contention, and disintegration, which invariably brings about insecurity.

The next problem is this: is economic security a matter of legislation, of compulsion, of totalitarianism? We all want to be secure. It is essential to be physically secure, to have food, clothing and shelter, otherwise we cannot exist. But is that security brought about by legislation, by economic regulation - or is it a psychological problem? So far, we have considered it merely as an economic problem, a matter of economic adjustment; but surely it is a psychological problem, is it not? And can such a problem be solved by economic experts? Since the economic problem is obviously the result of our own inclinations, desires, and pursuits, it is really a psychological problem; and in order to bring about economic security, we must understand the psychological demand to be secure. I do not know if I am making myself clear.

The world is now torn up into different nationalities, different beliefs, different political ideologies, each promising security, a future Utopia; and obviously, such a process of separatism is a process of disintegration.

Now, can there ever be unity through ideas? Can ideas, beliefs, ever bring people together? Obviously, they cannot - it is being proved throughout the world. So, to bring about security, not for a small group of people but for the whole of mankind, there must be freedom from this process of division created by ideas - the idea of being a Christian, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a nationalist, a communist, a socialist, a capitalist, an American, a Russian, or God knows what else. It is these things that are separating us, and they are nothing but beliefs, ideas; and as long as we cling to beliefs as a means of security, there must be separation, there must be disintegration and chaos.

So, this is fundamentally a psychological, not an economic problem; it is a problem of the individual psyche, and therefore we have to understand the process of individuality, of the `you'. Is the `you' in America different from the `me' that lives in India or in Europe? Though we may separate ourselves by customs, by formulas, by certain beliefs, fundamentally we are the same, are we not? Now, when the me seeks security in a belief, that very belief gives strength to the `me'. I am a Hindu, a socialist, I belong to a particular religion, a particular sect, and I cling to that and defend it. So, the very attachment to belief creates separatism, which is obviously a cause of contention between you and me. The economic problem can never be solved as long as we separate ourselves into nationalities, into religious groups, or belong to particular ideologies. So, it is essentially a psychological problem, that is, a problem of the individual in relationship to society; and society is the projection of oneself. That is why there can be no solution to any human problem without understanding oneself completely - which means living in a state of complete inward insecurity. We want to be outwardly secure, and so we pursue inward security; but as long as we are seeking inward security through beliefs, through attachments, through ideologies, obviously we will create islands of isolation in the form of national, ideological and religious groups, and therefore be at war with each other. So, it is important to understand the process of oneself. But self-knowledge is not a means of ultimate security - on the contrary, reality is something which has to be discovered from moment to moment. A mind that is secure can never be in a state of discovery; and a mind that is insecure has no belief, it is not caught in any particular ideology. Such a mind is not seeking inward security, therefore it will create outward security. As long as you are seeking security inwardly, you will never have security outwardly. Therefore, the problem is not to bring about outward security, but to understand the desire to be inwardly, psychologically secure; and as long as we do not understand that, we shall never have peace, we shall never have security in the outer world.

Now, one is horrified, very often, to discover in oneself appalling distortions. How is one to be free from them? There are different ways of attempting to be free, are there not? There is the psychoanalytical process, and there is the process of control, of discipline, and the process of escape. Can one be free fundamentally through the psychoanalytical process? I am not condemning psychoanalysis - but let us examine it. First of all, the `me', the whole structure of the `me', is the result of the past. You and I are the result of the past, of time, of many incidents, experiences; we are made up of various qualities, memories, idiosyncrasies. The whole structure of the `me' is the past. Now, in the past there are certain qualities which I dislike and want to get rid of, so I go into the past and look at them; I bring them out and analyze them, hoping to dissolve them; or, using the actions of the present as a mirror to reflect the past, I try to dissolve the past. Either I go to the past and try to dissolve it through analysis, or I use the present as a means through which the past is discovered; that is, in present action I seek to discover and understand the past. So, that is one way.

Then there is the way of discipline. I say to myself, `These particular distortions are not worthwhile, I am going to suppress, subjugate, control them'. This implies, does it not?, that there is an entity separate from the thought process - call it the higher self, or what you will - that is controlling, dominating, choosing. Surely that is implied, is it not? When I say, `I am going to dissolve the distortions', I am separate from those distortions. That is, I don't like the distortions, they hinder me, they bring about fear, conflict, and I want to dissolve them; so there arises the idea that the `me' is separate from the distortions and is capable of dissolving them.

Before we discuss this further, we will have to find out if the `me', the examiner, the observer, the analyzer, is different from the qualities. Am I making it clear? Is the thinker, the experiencer, the observer, different from the thought, from the experience, from the thing which is observed? Is the `me', whether you place it at the highest or at the lowest level - is that `me' different from the qualities which compose it? Is the thinker, the analyzer, different from his thoughts? You think that he is - that the thinker is separate from thought; therefore, you control thought, you shape thought, you subjugate, push it aside. The thinker, you say, is different from thought. But is that so? Is there a thinker without thought? If you have no thought, where is the thinker? So, thought creates the thinker; the thinker doesn't create thought. The moment we separate the thinker from the thought, we have the whole problem of trying to control, dissipate, suppress thought, or of trying to be free from a particular thought. This is the conflict between the thinker and the thought in which most of us are caught - it is our whole problem.

One sees certain distortions in one- self which one doesn't like, and one wants to be free of them; so one tries to analyze or to discipline them, that is, to do something about the thoughts. But before we do that, should we not find out if the thinker is actually separate from thought? Obviously he is not: the thinker is the thought, the experiencer is the experienced - they are not two different processes, but a single, unitary process. Thought divides itself and creates the thinker for its own convenience. That is, thought is invariably transient, it has no resting place; and seeing itself as transient, thought creates the thinker as the permanent entity. The permanent entity then acts upon thought, choosing this particular thought and rejecting that. Now, when you really see the falseness of that process, you will discover that there is no thinker, but only thoughts - which is quite a revolution. This is the fundamental revolution which is essential in order to understand the whole process of thinking. As long as you establish a thinker independent of his thoughts, you are bound to have conflict between the thinker and the thought; and where there is conflict, there can be no understanding. Without understanding this division in yourself, do what you will - suppress, analyze, discover the cause of struggle, go to a psychoanalyst, and all the rest of it - , you will inevitably remain in the process of conflict. But if you can see and understand the truth that the thinker is the thought, the analyzer is the analyzed - if you can understand that, not merely verbally, but in actual experience, then you will discover that an extraordinary revolution is taking place. Then there is no permanent entity as the `me' choosing and discarding, seeking a result, or trying to achieve an end. Where there is choice there must be conflict; and choice will never lead to understanding, because choice implies a thinker who chooses. So, to be free of a particular distortion, a particular perversion, we must first discover for ourselves the truth that the thinker is not separate from thought; then we will see that what we call distortion is a process of thinking, and that there is no thinker apart from that process.

Now, what do we mean by thinking? When we say, `This is ugly', `That is fear', `This must be discarded', we know what that process is. There is the `me' who is choosing, condemning, discarding. But if there is not the `me' but only that process of fear, then what happens? Am I explaining the problem? If there is not the one who condemns, who chooses, who thinks that he is separate from that which he dislikes, then what happens? Please experience this as we go along, and you will see. Don't merely listen to my words, but actually experience that there is only thought, and not the thinker. Then you will see what thinking is. What is thought? Thought is a process of verbalization, is it not? Without words, you cannot think. So, thought is a process of memory, because words, symbols, names, are the product, the result of memory. So, thinking is a process of memory; and memory gives a name to a particular feeling and either condemns or accepts it. By giving a name to something, you condemn or accept it, don't you? When you say someone is an American, a Russian, a Hindu, a Negro, you have finished with him, haven`t you? By labeling a thing you think you have understood it. So, when there is a particular reaction which you term `fear', in giving it a name you have condemned it. That is the actual process you will see going on when you begin to be aware of your thinking.

Is it possible not to name a feeling? Because, by calling a particular feeling `anger', `fear', `jealousy', we have given it strength, have we not? We have fixed it. The very naming is a process of confirming that feeling, giving it strength, and therefore enclosing it in memory. Observe it and you will see. It is possible to be free fundamentally only when the process of naming is understood - naming being terming, symbolizing, which is the action of memory; because memory is the `you'. Without your memory, without your experiences, the `you' is not; and the mind clings to those experiences as essential in order to be secure. So, we cultivate memory, which is experience, knowledge, and through that process we hope to control the reactions and feelings which we call distortions. If we would be free of any particular quality, we must understand the whole process of the thinker and the thought, we must see the truth that the thinker is not separate from thought, but that they are a single, unitary process. If you actually realize that, you will see what an extraordinary revolution takes place in your life. By revolution I do not mean economic revolution, which is no revolution at all, but merely a modified continuity of what is. But when the thinker realizes that he is not different from thought, then you will see that radically, deeply, there is an extraordinary transformation; because, then there is only the fact of thought, and not the translation of that fact to suit the thinker.

Now, what is there to understand about a fact? There is nothing, is there? A fact is a fact, it is self-evident. The struggle to understand comes only when the thinker is trying to do something about the fact. The action of the thinker upon the fact is shaped by his memory, by his past experience; therefore, the fact is always shaped by the thinker, and therefore he never understands the fact. But if there is no thinker, but only the fact, then the fact has not to be understood - it is a fact; and when you are face to face with a fact, what happens? When there is no escape, when there is no thinker trying to give the fact a meaning to suit himself or shape it according to his particular pattern, what happens? When you are face to face with a fact, surely then you have understood it, have you not? Therefore, there is freedom from it. And such freedom is a radical freedom, it is not just a superficial reaction, a result of the mind's trying to identify itself with a particular opposite. As long as we are seeking a result there must be the thinker, there must be the process of isolation; and a person who, in his thoughts, is isolated as the thinker, can never find what is true. The so - called religious person who is seeking God is merely establishing himself as a permanent entity apart from his thoughts, and such a person can never find reality.

So, then, our problem is this: being aware of a particular reaction, of a response of fear, of guilt, of anger, of envy, or what you will, how is one to be radically free of it? One can see that it is impossible to be free of it through discipline, because a product of conflict is never the truth: it is only a result, the effect of a cause. Whereas, if one sees as true, that the thinker can never be separate from his thought, that the qualities and memories of the `me' are not separate from the `me'-when one realizes that and has direct experience of it, then one will see that thought becomes a fact, and that there is no translating of the fact. The fact is the truth, and when you are confronted with truth and there is no other action but seeing it directly as it is, without condemnation or justification, that very recognition of the fact frees the mind from the fact.

So, only when the mind is capable of seeing itself in its relationship to all things is it possible for the mind to be quiet, to be tranquil. The mind that is tranquil through a process of isolation, of subjugation, of control, is not tran- quil, but dead; it is merely conforming to a pattern, seeking a particular result. Only a free mind can be tranquil, and that freedom does not come through any form of identification; on the contrary, it comes only when we realize that the thinker is the thought, and not separate from thought. The tranquillity of freedom, of understanding, is not a matter of knowledge. Knowledge can never bring understanding. Knowledge is merely the cultivation of memory, in which the mind seeks security, and such a mind can never understand reality. Reality can be found only in freedom, which means to face the fact as it is, without distorting it. There must be distortion as long as the `I' is separate from the thing it observes. Surely, the tranquil mind is a free mind, and it is only in freedom that truth can be discovered.

June 4, 1950


New York 1950

New York 1st Public Talk 4th June 1950

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