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New York 1950

New York 5th Public Talk 2nd July 1950

I think it is quite apparent that there must be a fundamental transformation in society, and it can only begin with a radical revolution within each one of us; for society is not very different from ourselves. What we are, society is. The problems of the world are not separate from our problems. We ourselves have projected them, and therefore we are responsible for them; and the fundamental revolution in outward circumstances, however essential and necessary, can be brought about only when there is a radical revolution in ourselves. A radical revolution, a transformation, a psychological upheaval in ourselves, cannot be brought about through any idea or according to any pattern. Revolution based on an ideology is no longer a revolution - it is merely the modified continuity of an old pattern. Thought can never be revolutionary, because thought is the response of memory. Ideas can never bring about a transformation in our selves, because ideas are merely the continuation of that response, either verbalized, or in the form of symbols, images, and so on. When we desire to bring about a transformation in our selves according to a pattern pre-established by thought, such a transformation is only the modified continuation of memory; being a projection of our selves in a different form, it is a continuation of the conditioned state, and therefore it is no transformation at all. Revolution based on an ideology, how ever inclusive, is not a revolution, because an idea is the projection of thought, which is memory. The response of memory can never bring about transformation. What can bring about transformation in ourselves, and therefore in society, is to understand the whole process of thinking, which is not different from feeling. Feeling is thinking - though we like to keep them separate and rely either on the one or the other, they are interrelated, they are not dualistic, but a unitary process.

So, as long as we do not understand the whole process of thinking and feeling, obviously there can be no radical revolution within and so without. The understanding of thought, which is feeling, is self-knowledge; and self knowledge cannot be bought. No study o,r books no going to lectures, will give self-knowledge. Self-knowledge comes only when we are aware of ourselves from moment to moment, naturally, spontaneously, easily, without any sense of enforcement; aware, not only of our conscious thinking, but also of the unconscious, with all its content. It is like looking at a map and allowing it to unfold; and the moment we block it by discipline, by any form of practice, the unfolding of self-knowledge comes to an end.

What is important, surely, is to be aware without choice, because choice brings about conflict. The chooser is in confusion, therefore he chooses; if he is not in confusion, there is no choice. Only the person who is confused chooses what he shall do or shall not do. The man who is clear and simple does not choose: what is, is. Action based on an idea is obviously the action of choice, and such action is not liberating; on the contrary, it only creates further resistance, further conflict, according to that conditioned thinking.

So, then, the important thing is to be aware from moment to moment without accumulating the experience which awareness brings; because, the moment you accumulate, you are aware only according to that accumulation, according to that pattern, according to that experience. That is, your awareness is conditioned by your accumulation, and therefore there is no longer observation, but merely translation. Where there is translation, there is choice, and choice creates conflict; and in conflict there can be no understanding.

As we have been discussing for the last four weeks, the difficulty in understanding ourselves exists because we have never given thought to it. We do not see the importance, the significance, of exploring ourselves directly, not according to any idea, pattern, or teacher. The necessity of understanding ourselves is perceived only when we see that without self-knowledge there can be no basis for thought, for action, for feeling; but self-knowledge is not the outcome of the desire to achieve an end. If we begin to inquire into the process of self-knowledge through fear, through resistance, through authority, or with the desire to gain a result, we shall have what we desire; but it will not be the understanding of the self and the ways of the self. You may place the self at any level, calling it the higher self or the lower self, but it is still the process of thinking; and if the thinker is not understood, obviously his thinking is a process of escape.

Thought and the thinker are one; but it is thought that creates the thinker, and without thought there is no thinker. So, one has to be aware of the process of conditioning, which is thought; and when there is awareness of that process without choice, when there is no sense of resistance, when there is neither condemnation nor justification of what is observed, then we see that the mind is the centre of conflict. In understanding the mind and the ways of the mind, the conscious as well as the unconscious, through dreams, through every word, through every process of thought and action, the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet; and that tranquillity of the mind is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom cannot be bought, it cannot be learned; it comes into being only when the mind is quiet, utterly still - not made still by compulsion, coercion or discipline. Only when the mind is spontaneously silent is it possible to understand that which is beyond time.

In considering these questions, as I have often reminded you, there is neither denial nor acceptance. We are going to explore each question, and the answer is not apart from the question. In going into the question as fully and deeply as we can, we shall see the truth of it; and it is that truth that will free us from the problem.

Question: You have shown me the superficiality and the futility of the life I am leading. I should like to change, but I am trapped by habit and environment. Should I leave every- thing and everyone, and follow you?

Krishnamurti: Do you think our problems are solved when we follow another? To follow another, no matter who it is, is to deny the understanding of yourself. And it is very easy to follow somebody. The greater the personality, the greater the power, the easier it is to follow; and in the very following you are destroying that understanding, because the follower destroys, he is never the creator, he never brings about understanding. To follow is to deny all understanding, and therefore to deny truth.

Now, if you do not follow, what are you to do? Since, as the questioner says, one is trapped by habit and environment, what is one to do? Surely, all that you can do is to understand the trap of habit and environment, the superficiality and the futility of your life. We are always in relationship, are we not? To be, is to be related; and if you regard relationship as a trap from which you want to escape, then you will only fall into another trap - the trap of the teacher whom you follow. It may be a little more arduous, a little more inconvenient, a little less comfortable, but it will still be a trap; because, that also is relationship, and there too there are jealousies, envy, the desire to be the nearest disciple, and all the rest of the nonsense.

So, we are trapped because we do not understand relationship; and it is difficult to understand relationship if we are condemning, identifying ourselves with something, or if we are using relationship as a means of escape from ourselves, from that which we are. After all, relationship is a mirror, is it not? Relationship is a mirror in which I can see myself as I am. But to see ourselves directly as we are is very unpleasant, and so we avoid it by condemning it, justifying it, or merely identifying ourselves with it. With out relationship there is no life, is there? Nothing can exist in isolation. And yet all our efforts are towards being isolated; relationship for most of us is a process of self-isolation, self enclosure, and therefore there is friction. When there is friction, misery, pain, suffering, unhappiness, we want to run away, we want to follow some one else, to live in the shadow of an other; and so we turn to the church, to a monastery, or to the latest teacher. They are all the same because they are all escapes, and our turning to them is obviously prompted by the desire to avoid that which is; and in the very running away we create further misery, further confusion.

So, most of us are trapped, whether we like it or not, because that is our world, that is our society; and awareness in relationship is the mirror in which we can see ourselves very clearly. To see clearly, there must obviously be no condemnation, acceptance, justification, or identification. If we are simply aware without choice, then we can observe, not only the superficial reactions of the mind, but also the deep and hidden reactions, which come out in the shape of dreams, or in moments when the superficial mind is quiet and there is spontaneity of response. But if the mind is conditioned, shaped, and bound by a particular be lief, surely there can be no spontaneity, and therefore no direct perception of the responses of relationship.

It is important to see, is it not?, that no one can give us freedom from the conflict of relationship. We can hide behind the screen of words, or follow a teacher, or run to a church, or lose our selves in a cinema or a book, or keep on attending talks; but it is only when the fundamental process of thinking is uncovered through awareness in relationship that it is possible to under stand and be free of that friction which we instinctively seek to avoid. Most of us use relationship as a means of escape from ourselves, from our own loneliness, from our own inward uncertainty and poverty; and so we cling to the outer things of relationship, which become very important to us. But if, instead of escaping through relationship, we can look into relationship as a mirror and see very clearly, without any prejudice, exactly what is, then that very perception brings about a transformation of what is, without any effort to transform it. There is nothing to transform about a fact; it is what it is. But we approach the fact with hesitation, with fear, with a sense of prejudice, and so we are always acting upon the fact and therefore never perceiving the fact as it is. When we see the fact as it is, then that very fact is the truth which resolves the problem.

So, in all this the important thing is, not what another says, however great or stupid he may be, but to be aware of oneself, to see the fact of what is, from moment to moment, without accumulating. When you accumulate, you cannot see the fact; then you see the accumulation, and not the fact. But when you can see the fact independently of the accumulation, independently of the thought process, which is the response of accumulated experience, then it is possible to go beyond the fact. It is the avoidance of the fact that brings about conflict; but when you recognize the truth of the fact, then there is a quietness of mind in which conflict ceases.

So, do what you will, you cannot escape through relationship; and if you do escape, you will only create further isolation, further misery and confusion; because, to use relationship as a means of self-fulfilment, is to deny relationship. If we look at this problem very clearly, we can see that life is a process of relationship; and if, instead of understanding relationship, we seek to withdraw from it, enclosing ourselves in ideas, in superstitions, in various forms of addiction, these self-enclosures only create more of the very conflict we are trying to avoid.

Question: What is wisdom? Is it dissimilar from knowledge?

Krishnamurti: What is knowledge? Surely, knowledge is the accumulating principle in all of us, which is memory. The acquisitive process is knowledge, is it not? Knowledge is experience and memory. The more we accumulate experience, the more we know. Knowing is a process of verbalizing; and that which has been accumulated, which is experience, memory, or knowledge, can never bring wisdom. Knowledge is the result of experience, and there is experience only when there is an experiencer who is accumulating. The experiencer is the result of his own accumulations, experiences, and knowledge; and what he experiences is according to his conditioning. Therefore, the more he experiences, the more he is conditioned, weighed down. When he experiences, he can only experience according to his background; so, the background dictates the knowledge, the translation of experience. Experience, the translation of a fact, cannot bring understanding. Understanding comes only with the suppression of knowledge.

After all, we experience according to our belief. If I believe that there is no God, obviously I experience according to my belief, because the background, the conditioning, the training, dictates and translates my experiences; and if I believe in God, then my experience is according to my conditioning as a believer. So, experiencing is a process of the response of the conditioned mind; and where there is knowledge, or the accumulation of experience, of memory, of words, symbols, images, there can be no understanding. Understanding can come only when there is freedom from knowledge. After all, when you have a problem, the more you think about it, worry over it, the less you understand it; but if you can look at it freely, without translating it, without bringing in all the background of your tradition, of your experiences, then you will see that understanding comes out of it.

So, understanding is not the result of accumulation, and wisdom is not knowledge. Wisdom is independent, it is dissimilar from knowledge. Wisdom is from moment to moment, whereas knowledge can never be free from the past, from time. Wisdom is free from time, and knowledge is the very process of time, and the two cannot possibly be joined together. The man who knows can never be wise, because the very knowledge of what he has, denies wisdom. Knowledge is the process of time, which is the accumulation of experience; and wisdom is freedom from time, which is experience from moment to moment without the process of accumulation.

Question: Though I am young, I am haunted by the fear of death. How am I to overcome this fear?

Krishnamurti: Surely, anything that is overcome has to be overcome again, does it not? When you conquer your enemy, you have to reconquer him again and again. That is why wars continue. The moment you vanquish one desire, there is another desire to be vanquished. So, that which is overcome can never be understood. Overcoming is merely a form of suppression, and you can never be free of that which is suppressed. So, the overcoming of fear is merely the postponement of fear.

Our problem, then, is not how to overcome fear of death, but to understand the whole process of death; and understanding it, is not a matter of being young or old. There are various forms of death, for the old as well as for the young. All of us are condition by our past, by conformity, by the sire for our own advancement, by the subtle accumulation of power; and though we are outwardly active, we may be inwardly dead. So, to under stand this process of death needs a great deal of exploration, and not merely adhering to a particular form of belief - that there is, or is not, a continuity after death. Belief in life after death may give you an ideological con solation; and there may be, and prob ably is, a form of continuity. But then what? What continues? Can that which continues ever be creative? And where there is continuity is there not always the fear of ending? So, death is a process of time, is it not?

What do we mean by time? There is chronological time, but there is also another kind of time, is there not? It is the psychological process of continuity. That is, we want to continue; and the very desire to continue creates the process of time and the fear of not continuing. It is this fear of not continuing that we are concerned with; it is ending of which we are afraid. We are afraid of death because we think that through continuity we shall achieve something, we shall be happy.

After all, what is it that continues? If we can really understand that, if we can actually experience it as we are sitting here, and not merely listen to words, then perhaps we shall know what it is to die from moment to moment; and knowing death, we shall know life, because the two are not very different. If we do not know how to live, we are afraid of death know how to live, then there is no death. Most of us do not know what living is, and so we regard death as a negation of life; and therefore we are afraid of death. But if we can understand what living is, then we shall know of death in the very process of living. To find that out, we must understand what we mean by continuity.

What is this extraordinary craving to continue that each one of us has? And what is it that continues? Surely, that which continues is name, form, experience, knowledge, and various memories. That is what we are, is it not? To divide yourself into the higher and the lower self is irrelevant - you are still merely the sum total of all that. Though you may say, `No, I am more than that, I am a spiritual entity', that very assertion is part of the process of thinking, which is the conditioned and conditioning response of memory. There are others who are conditioned to say, `We are not spiritual, we are just the product of environment'. So, you are your memories, your experiences, your thoughts. At whatever level you place the thought process, you are still that; and you are afraid that when death comes, that process, which is the `you', will come to an end. Or, you rationalize it and say, `I will continue in some form after death, and come back in the next life'.

Now, a spiritual entity obviously cannot continue, because it is beyond time. Continuity implies time - yesterday, today, and tomorrow; therefore, that which is timeless can have no continuity. To say, `I am a spiritual entity', is a comforting thought; but the very process of thinking about it catches it in the net of time; therefore, it cannot be timeless, and therefore it is not spiritual.

So, what we have is only our thinking which is also feeling. We have nothing but our name, our form, our family, our clothes and furniture, our memories and experiences, our responses, traditions, vanities, and prejudices. That is all we have; and that we want to continue. We are afraid it will all come to an end, that we shall be unable to say, `This for which I have struggled is all mine'. Now, can that which continues ever renew itself? Obviously not. That which continues can not be reborn, renewed; it can merely have a continuity. Only that which comes to an end can renew itself. There is creation only when there is an ending. But we are afraid to end, we are afraid to die. We want to carry on from yesterday, through today, to tomorrow. We are building Utopias and sacrificing the present to the future, liquidating people because of the de sire for continuity. If we examine very closely what it is that continues, we will see that it is only memory in various forms; and because the mind clings to memory, it is afraid of death. But surely, only in dying, in not accumulating, is there that which is beyond time. The mind cannot possibly conceive, formulate, or experience, that which is not of time. It can experience only that which is of time; because, the mind is the result of time, of the past.

So, as long as the mind is afraid of coming to an end, it clings to its own continuity; and that which continues must obviously decay. Our difficulty is to die to all the things that we have accumulated, to all the experiences of yesterday. After all, that is death, is it not? - to be uncertain, to be in a state of vulnerability. The man who is certain can never know that which is immortal, that which is beyond time. The man of knowledge can never know death, which is beyond time, the un known. It is only when we die from moment to moment to the things of yesterday and understand the whole significance of continuity, that there is the unknown, a new thing. That which continues can never know the truth, the unknown, the new; it can only know its own projection. Most of us live through accumulation; there fore, yesterday and tomorrow become far more important than the present.

There must obviously be chronological time, otherwise you will miss your train; but as long as we are caught in the projection of the mind, which is psychological time, there is no ending; and that which has continuity is not immortal. Only that which comes to an end is timeless, and that alone can know the immortal.

Question: There are several systems of meditation, both Occidental and Oriental. Which do you recommend?

Krishnamurti: To understand what is right meditation is really a very complex problem, and to know how to meditate, how to be in the state of meditation, is important; but to follow any system, whether Occidental or Oriental, is not to meditate. When you follow a system, all that you learn is to conform, to shape the mind to a particular pattern or drive it along a particular groove. If you pursue it ardently enough, you will produce the result that the system guarantees; but surely, that is not meditation. There is a lot of nonsense taught about meditation, especially by those people who come from the Orient. ( Laughter.) Please don't laugh or clap - this is not that kind of meeting. We are trying to find out what meditation is.

You can see that those who pursue a system, who drive the mind into certain practices, obviously condition the mind according to that formula. There fore, the mind is not free. It is only the free mind that can discover, not a mind conditioned according to any system, whether Oriental or Occidental. Conditioning is the same, by whatever name you may call it. To see the truth there must be freedom, and a mind that is conditioned according to a system can never see the truth.

Now, to see the truth that there can be no freedom through the discipline of any system, requires the understanding of the process of the mind; because, the mind clings to systems, to beliefs, to particular formulas. To discover the truth of that, surely you have to see that you are caught in a system; and to be aware of the process by which the mind gets caught in a system, is meditation. To be aware of the whole process of thinking is self-knowledge, is it not? So, meditation is the beginning of self-knowledge. Without knowing the process of your own thinking, merely to sit in a corner and go off into silence, or whatever you do, is not meditation - it is just a wish to become, to acquire, to gain something. And obviously, concentration is not meditation. Merely focusing the mind on an idea, an image, or a phrase, and excluding all other thoughts, is not meditation, is it? You may learn concentration in that way, but concentration is exclusion; and when the mind excludes, it is not free.

Why do we want to focus the mind on an image, or an idea, or practise a system of so-called meditation - the more mysterious the better? Because we think that by concentration, or through prayer, the constant repetition of certain words, the mind will be made quiet. As I said, concentration is a process of exclusion. We choose a particular idea or thought and dwell on it, and while we are forcing the mind to concentrate on it, other thoughts come in; so, there is a conflict going on, and we spend our energy in this wasteful battle. But if we can be open to each thought as it arises and understand it, then we shall see that the mind does not revert to any particular thought. The mind reverts to a thought because it has not understood it; that is, what is not understood is repeated over and over again, and mere exclusion will not prevent it. So, concentration, which is exclusion, is not medi- tation. Most of us want to live exclusively, with our private memories, private experiences, private knowledge; and concentration, which we call meditation, is merely a further process of self-enclosure, self-isolation. But the mind can never be free through isolation, however wide your projected idea may be.

Now, you can force the mind to be quiet through what is called prayer, the constant repetition of words; but when the mind is hypnotized into quietness, is that a state of meditation? Surely, that only dulls the mind, does it not? Though the mind may be pacified through discipline, which is based on the desire for particular results, such a mind is obviously not a free mind. Freedom can never come through discipline. Though we think we must discipline ourselves in order to be free, the beginning determines the end; and if the mind is disciplined at the beginning, it will be disciplined at the end; therefore, it can never be free. But if we can understand the whole process of discipline, control, suppression, sublimation, substitution, then there will be freedom from the very beginning; for the means and the end are one, they are not two separate processes, either politically or religiously.

So, discipline through concentration is not meditation, nor are the various forms of prayer. Those are all tricks by which the mind is forced to be still; and a mind that is made still through will, through desire, can never be free. If we really look at all these things - concentration, prayer, systems of meditation, and all the various tricks that we learn to quiet, to hypnotize the mind - , we shall discover that they are the ways of thought, the ways of the self; and this discovery is the beginning of meditation, which is the beginning of self-knowledge. Without knowing yourself, merely to concentrate, to conform to a pattern, to follow a system, to quiet the mind through a discipline, only leads to further misery, further confusion. But if you begin to know the ways of your own thought by being choicelessly aware of yourself in relationship, in your talking, in your walking, when you are observing a bird or looking at somebody else, then, in that awareness, the responses of your conditioned state come into being; and in that spontaneity there is the discovery of yourself as yourself. And the more you are aware of yourself without choice, without justification or condemnation, the more there is freedom. It is this freedom that is the process of meditation. But you cannot cultivate freedom, any more than you can cultivate love. Freedom comes into being, not through the search for it, but when you understand the whole process and structure of yourself.

Meditation, then, is the beginning of self-knowledge. When you begin very near, you can go very far; and then you will see that thought, which is the projection of the mind, comes to an end of itself without being compelled, forced. Then there is silence - not the silence that is willed, created by the mind, but a silence that is not of time; and in that silence there is the state of creation, the timelessness which is reality.

So, without understanding the ways of thought, merely to force the mind to meditate is an utter waste of time and energy, and only creates more con fusion, more misery. But to understand the process of the self as the thinker, to know the ways of the self as thought, is the beginning of wisdom. For wisdom to be, there must be the under standing of the accumulating process which is the thinker. Without under standing the thinker, meditation has no meaning; because, whatever he projects is according to his own conditioning, and that is obviously not reality. Only when the mind understands the whole process of itself as thought, is it capable of being free, and only then does the timeless come into being.

July 2, 1950


New York 1950

New York 5th Public Talk 2nd July 1950

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