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London 1952

Ojai 6th Public Talk 17th August 1952

We have become accustomed, I think, to the idea that struggle is inevitable, and that through struggle we shall come to understanding, we shall have peace, we shall realize something beyond the problems which evoke conflict. It seems to me important to understand this question of struggle, the conflict within and about us, and to find out whether it is necessary to creative understanding and to the release of human happiness. We accept struggle as an integral part of our daily existence, of our social contacts, of our inward, psychological being, and we think that without struggle, conflict, we shall stagnate. There is the fear of stagnation, of being nothing, of destroying ourselves if we do not make an effort, if we do not struggle towards an object, a goal, an end. We think that without struggle, without inward stress and strain, the ultimate happiness is not attainable. So we accept struggle as part of life, and through struggle we think we can bring about a radical change in ourselves. This morning let us find out, if we can, whether struggle is necessary, whether conflict contributes to understanding, enlightenment and human happiness.

We see that struggle is necessary in certain directions, at certain levels: struggle with the earth, struggle in resolving objective problems. At certain levels of existence, struggle seems to be necessary; but we carry on that struggle into the psychological realm, where it becomes the acquisitive survival of the "me", and it is there that we have to find out whether struggle contributes to one's own happiness, to human welfare, and to the creation of a peaceful society. This conflict in relationship is a complex problem, is it not? For centuries we have accepted it as in enviable, and it is therefore very difficult to examine the whole question anew, to go into it deeply and discover its full significance. If we can, let us try this morning to see how far it is valid, and whether struggle must end if we are to understand the further reaches of the human heart.

Why do we struggle psychologically, inwardly? We struggle in order to conform to a pattern of action; we struggle to express certain feelings, or because we have a problem which through struggle we hope to resolve; we struggle in order to achieve a continuity, a survival of the "me" as an entity. Now, this struggle to conform, to survive, expresses itself in belief, in the ideal, does it not? We project the ideal and strive to conform, to adjust our- selves to it, hoping through that struggle, through that adjustment to improve, to be happier, kinder, and so on. That is, we create a pattern of action through the desire to achieve a certain result, and thereby we establish the habit of constant in ward or psychological struggle be tween the various layers of our consciousness. We struggle with problems, both personal and collective; having problems, we examine them, analyze, go into them as fully as possible, hoping in this way to resolve them. We struggle with the trivialities of our mind in order to banish them, to put them aside and go beyond. Our life is a series of never ending struggles; we are always inquiring, always struggling to find out. We start to find out, but gradually establish the habit of a particular pattern of action; or, if we are more deeply concerned, we think that through struggle we shall be creative, that we must go through this process of conflict in order to achieve a certain peace of mind. All this is our life, the familiar pattern of our daily existence, and we need not go into it in more detail.

Now, I want to find out if struggle is necessary, if struggle can produce the radical inward change which is so essential. When we have a psychological problem, a problem of relationship, why do we struggle to solve it? Can such a problem be solved through struggle, through conflict? We struggle with a problem only when we want a particular result, a particular answer to that problem; but if our intention is to understand and go beyond the problem, surely this conflict with the problem will not help us, will it? We can understand the problem only when we are capable of looking at it without condemnation, justification, or any desire to find an answer outside of it. The moment we try to conform to a particular pattern which the mind has projected in the hope of solving the problem. there is a state of struggle; and the more we struggle, the more complex the problem becomes. So we see that, to understand a problem profoundly, there must, first of all, be no effort to find a particular answer to it.

When I have a problem, am I not always seeking a particular answer to that problem? I am not concern ed with understanding the problem, I want an answer to it; so a conflict is established. Whereas, if I would really understand the problem, I must be aware of the whole content of it, which is possible only when I am not identifying myself with a particular answer, when I am not judging, when I am not condemning. Being fully aware, the mind is quiet; and only then is the problem resolved, not when there is a struggle to find an answer. At one level we want an answer, and at another level we do not. We seek a particular solution to a problem, and yet we know, deeply, that the search for a particular solution involves conflict with in oneself and therefore only in creases the problem in another direction. So, what is required is insight into the problem, which means understanding the whole of one's consciousness, the total process of one self.

We see, then, that struggle to resolve a problem does not bring about freedom from that problem. On the contrary, it only makes the problem more complex. You can observe this for yourself.

Now, we think that survival is possible only through struggle, through contention, through conflict; and yet we see that where there is conflict between individuals, between groups, between nations, there is no possibility of survival at all; war and mass destruction are inevitable. As long as we are struggling for psychological security, there must be outward conflict, which results in war. We struggle to be psychologically secure, to survive acquisitively, to be the more; and as long as we are acqui- sitively struggling to be more, either in this world or in the psychological realm, there must be conflict, there must be incessant battle with in and about us.

We struggle to be secure, to be certain, because the mind is afraid to be uncertain, to be in a state of constant inquiry, constant understanding, constant discovery. There can be discovery, understanding only when there is a state of deep uncertainty. But the mind dislikes to be uncertain, so it proceeds from me memory to memory in order to be secure; it builds for itself various virtues qualities, attributes, habits, patterns of action in which it can function. Unconsciously as well as consciously, most of us are seeking this psychological survival, which denies survival in the physical world. As long as the "me", the self the "I" is cultivated, given nourishment, strength, there must be everlasting conflict.

So, that is our state, is it not? And if we want to change radically, then the walls which the mind has built around itself - the walls of virtue, belief, ideas, the desire for immortality and so on - must all be broken down so that the mind is completely free to discover what is real.

What is necessary, first of all, is to perceive for ourselves, without persuasion or argumentation, how we move from memory to memory, from knowledge to more knowledge; and this movement we consider a revolution. Tradition, environment, education, conditioning, can all be modified - and that is what every outward revolution tries to do, whether it be capitalist, communist, or fascist. They all try to change the environment, the conditioning, the tradition. It can be done, of course; but it does not release man from suffering, does it? And it is that we are considering: how to free the mind from sorrow, and whether sorrow can ever be solved through struggle. Does not cause of sorrow, which is the "me" with its self-centred activities? When I struggle to be virtuous, is that virtue? Though we have been brought up to believe that a virtuous state can be achieved through struggle, through conflict, through discipline, through influence, through education, does not that whole process strengthen the "me", which is the very cause of misery? When I try to discipline myself to be more generous, am I not strengthening the "me", which is the cause of greed? When I struggle to be humble, with out pride, is that not a self-centred activity?

This is a very complex problem, and it cannot be dealt with casually, at only one level. Seeing this complex problem, and being aware that the root of suffering is the "me", the "I", the self, the ego - what name you give it is of no importance - , how can that foundation, how can that basis be broken, destroyed? How can this self, the "me", be put aside without struggle? That is the real problem, and it is there that the revolution, the change, the transformation must take place. Is this transformation brought about through conflict? Do I resolve the "me" by trying to impose upon it various regulations, compulsions? Or, does its resolution come about when the mind is aware of this whole complex problem and becomes non-active with regard to it? After all, it is the mind that is the centre of the "me", is it not? Perhaps most of us have not thought about this problem. As long as the self exists, there must be conflict. misery; as long as the self exists, there can be no creative being. But most of us accept the self and cultivate it in various ways. Now, if we realize the nature of the self, if we are extensively aware of its complex problems, is it not possible for the mind to be non-active with regard to them so that it does not contribute to the "me", give it nourishment? I am concerned with the dissolution of the "me", of the "I", the negation of the self. How is it to be achieved without becoming an end? I see that suffering, frustration, conflict are inevitable as long as my mind is consciously or unconsciously occupied with the "me" and its activities. Now, how is all that to be resolved? Will the identification of myself with a nation, with an idea, with a belief, with what we call God, resolve it? Such identification is an activity of the "me", is it not? It is only an extension of the "me", an escape from the "me" of trivialities to what I call the immense, the universal - which is still part of my petty mind. So, identification does not resolve the "me", does not break down the walls of the "me; nor does discipline, the practice of a particular pattern of action; nor does prayer, supplication, nor the constant demand to resolve it. All this only strengthens the "me" gives it continuity - the "me" being a bundle of memories, experiences, pleasures, struggles, pains, suffering. Nothing will resolve the "me" as long as the mind is active in its resolution, for the mind is incapable of breaking down the barriers, the walls that it has created. But when I am aware of this whole complex structure of the "me", which is the past moving through the present to the future, when I am aware of the inward as well as the outward, the hidden as well as the open - when I am fully aware of all that, then the mind, which has created the barriers in its desire to be secure, to be permanent, to have continuity, becomes extraordinarily quiet, it is no longer active; and only then is there a possibility of the dissolution of the "me".

Now, in listening to a statement of that kind, how you listen matters, does it not? Because, after all, what are we trying to do in these talks? We are not trying to superimpose one set of ideas on another, or substitute one belief for another, or follow one teacher, renouncing another. What we are trying to do is to understand the problem, talk it over; and in talking it over, you are open to suggestions, you see the implications, and thereby you discover directly for yourself the falseness of this struggle. You do not make a conscious effort to change. The transformation comes when there is direct understanding, and therefore there is a certain spontaneity without any sense of compulsion. But that is possible only when you are capable of listening very quietly, inwardly, without any barriers. If you change because of argumentation, because logically it is so, because you are influenced, then you are only conditioned in a different direction, which brings again its sorrow. Whereas, if you understand this problem of sorrow as a whole, as a totality, and not as something to be escaped from superficially, then the mind becomes very quiet; and in that quietness there takes place a transformation which is not induced, which is not the result of any form of compulsion, of desire. It is that transformation which is essential; and that transformation is not possible through influence, through knowledge. Knowledge does not resolve our suffering - knowledge being explanations. Only when knowledge is suppressed completely, when we are no longer looking to knowledge as a means of guidance, only then is there a possibility for the mind to experience the unnameable, which is the only factor that brings about a radical transformation, a revolution.

Question: Great minds have never been able to agree on what is the ultimate reality. What do you say? Does it exist at all?

Krishnamurti: What do you say? Is that not much more important: what you think? You want to know if there is an ultimate reality, and you say that great minds have said there is or there is not. Of what value is that? You want to find out, don't you? You want to know if there is an absolute reality, something which is not changeable, which is permanent, which is beyond time. Now, how are you to find out? With what instrument are you going to find out? You have only the mind, have you not? - the mind being the result of time, the residue of memory, of experience. With that mind, you are going to find out if there is an ultimate reality. You have read about these matters, and what you have read has strengthened your own prejudices opinions or objections; and with that mind you are going to find out. Can you? And is this not really a foolish question to ask? If I said there is or there is not an ultimate reality, what significance would it have? Actually, what significance would it have in your life? It would merely strengthen your particular conception, your particular experience, your particular knowledge. But the strengthening of your idea, the corroboration of your belief, is not the ultimate reality, is it? So, what is important, surely, is for you to find out; and to find out, your mind must be in a state of creative experience, must it not? Your mind must be capable of discovering - which means it must be completely free from all knowledge as to whether there is an ultimate reality, or only a series of ever more extensive and significant experiences. But your mind is crammed with knowledge, with information, with experience, with memories; and with that mind you try to find out. Surely, it is only when the mind is creatively empty that it is capable of finding out whether there is an ultimate reality or not. But the mind is never creatively empty. It is always acquiring, always gathering, living on the past or in the future, or trying to be focussed in the immediate present; it is never in that state of creativeness in which a new thing can take place. As the mind is a result of time, it cannot possibly understand that which is timeless, eternal. So, our job is to inquire, not if there is an ultimate reality, but whether the mind can ever be free from time, which is memory, from this process of accumulation, the gathering of experiences, living on the past or in the future. That is, can the mind be still? Stillness is not the outcome of discipline, of control. There is stillness only when the mind is silently aware of this whole complex problem, and it is such a mind that can understand if there is an ultimate reality or not.

Question: With what should the mind be occupied?

Krishnamurti: Here is a very good example of how conflict is brought into being: the conflict be tween what should be and what is. First we establish what should be, the ideal, and then try to live according to that pattern. We say the mind should be occupied with noble things, with unselfishness, with generosity, with kindliness, with love; that is the pattern, the belief, the should be, the must, and we try to live accordingly. So there is a conflict set going be tween the projection of what should be, and the actuality, the what is, and through that conflict we hope to be transformed. As long as we are struggling with the should be, we feel virtuous, we feel good. But which is important: the should be, or what is? With what are our minds occupied - actually, not ideologically? With trivialities, are they not? With how one looks, with ambition, with greed, with envy, with gossip, with cruelty. The mind lives in a world of trivialities; and a trivial mind creating a noble pattern is still trivial, is it not? So, the question is not with what should the mind be occupied, but can the mind free itself from trivialities? If we are at all inquiring, we know our own particular trivialities: incessant talk, the everlasting chattering of the mind, worry over this and that, curiosity as to what people are doing or not doing, trying to achieve a result, groping after one's own aggrandizement, and so on. With that we are occupied, and we know it very well. And can that be transformed? That is the problem, is it not? To ask with what the mind should be occupied is mere immaturity.

Now, being aware that my mind is trivial and occupied with trivialities, can it free itself from this condition? Is not the mind, by its very nature, trivial? What is the mind but the result of memory? Memory of what? Of how to survive, not only physically, but also psychologically through the development of certain qualities, virtues, the storing up of experiences, the establishing of itself in its own activities. Is that not trivial? The mind, being the result of memory, of time, is trivial in itself; and what can it do to free itself from its own triviality? Can it do anything? Please see the importance of this. Can the mind, which is self-centred activity, free itself from that activity? Obviously, it cannot; whatever it does, it is still trivial. It can speculate about God, it can devise political systems, it can invent beliefs; but it is still within the field of time, its change is still from memory to memory, it is still bound by its own limitation. And can the mind break down that limitation? Or, does that limitation break down when the mind is quiet, when it is not active, when it recognizes its own trivialities, however great it may have imagined them to be? When the mind, having seen its trivialities, is fully aware of them, and so becomes really quiet - only then is there a possibility of these trivialities dropping away. But as long as you are inquiring with what the mind should be occupied, it will be occupied with trivialities, whether it build a church, whether it go to prayer or to a shrine. The mind itself is petty, small, and by merely saying it is petty you haven't dissolved its pettiness. You have to understand it, the mind has to recognize its own activities; and in the process of that recognition, in the awareness of the trivialities which it has consciously and unconsciously built, the mind becomes quiet. In that quietness there is a creative state, and this is the factor which brings about a transformation.

Question: I find I am a snob. I like the sensation, but I feel it is a wrong attitude. How am I to be free from this snobbishness?

Krishnamurti: We all like to be superior, or to feel that we are superior, do we not? We want to have friends who are prominent, who are in the centre of things, we want to know the great. We all want to be identified with the great, or be seen with the great, or be ourselves the great, either through heredity, or through our own particular endeavour. From the clerk to the highest of the land, we all want to be some bodies; so the snobbishness, the sense of importance begins. And though the questioner says the feeling of being somebody is pleasurable, he wants to know how to be free from that snobbishness. Surely, it is very simple to be free from that snobbishness, is it not? Be nobody. No, sirs, don't laugh and pass it off. It is very difficult to be nobody; because, our education, our social environment, our religious instruction, all encourage us to be somebody. In worldly, don't you want to be some body? Don't you want to be a good writer, or to know somebody who writes extraordinarily well and is popular, famous? Don't you want to be the first painter, the greatest musician, the most beautiful person or the most virtuous saint? To know, to acquire, to possess - isn't that what we are all striving after? If we are honest with ourselves, it is. All our struggle, our everlasting conflict is to achieve that: to be somebody. It gives great impetus, great energy, does it not? Ambition is a great spur, and we are caught in that habit of thought. Can you easily deny all that and be as nothing? And yet we must be as nothing - but not through discipline, not through compulsion. We are as nothing when we know what it is to love; but how can a man love when he is concerned with his own importance?

So, it is easy to say, "I must be as nothing; but to bring it about requires enormous vitality, energy. To break down the habits, the customs, the traditions, the educational influences, the sense of competition - to break down all those encrustations requires a great deal of watchfulness, alertness, not only at the superficial level, but profoundly, deeply. But to be conscious that you are as nothing, is to be something. To be as nothing is a state which comes without invitation; and one knows that state only when there is love. But love is not a thing to be sought after; it comes when there is inward revolution, when the self is not important, when the self is not the centre of one's existence.

August 17, 1952


London 1952

Ojai 6th Public Talk 17th August 1952

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